Over the last two years, we’ve seen virtual reality expand well beyond games into more unexpected areas like cinema and storytelling. This week as part of the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, we’re excited to announce a new experimental virtual reality cinema project: Oculus Story Studio.
Oculus Story Studio is made up of a small, all-star team of film and game developers dedicated to exploring ‘immersive cinema’ — realtime story-driven VR experiences that let the viewer step inside and become part of the story. The goal was to learn more about cinema and storytelling in VR and to share that knowledge with the community.
Story Studio is debuting its first, short (4-minute) experience this week at Sundance called ‘Lost’. Lost takes the viewer on a journey to a moonlit forest inhabited by an unexpected creature. The piece is directed by Story Studio’s creative director Saschka Unseld, who was also the director of Pixar’s short film ‘The Blue Umbrella’.
Lost was built in Unreal Engine 4 for Crescent Bay and mixes hand animation with procedural animation to better transport the viewer. The team has been working to expand Unreal 4’s cinematic and storytelling toolset — Lost uses custom gaze controls to tailor the experience to the individual viewer, allowing for a unique pace to the story each time.
In addition to its own creative team, Story Studio is also building experiences with guest directors including Rob Stromberg (Maleficent), Robin Hunicke (Journey), and Jillian Tamaki to create entirely new immersive stories as well.
So far, we’ve discovered that mixing great storytelling and art with the magic of VR presence allows for something really special. Lost is just the beginning for Story Studio, and we’re looking forward to sharing it, along with the team’s other upcoming films, in the months ahead.
We’ll have more news from the Oculus Story Studio soon, but you can learn more about the team and follow their work at oculus.com/storystudio.
Oculus Now Supported in Unity Free (PC & Mobile)
In case you missed the announcement over the holiday, Oculus is now supported in Unity 4.6 Free. If you haven’t already, you can download the integration from the Oculus Developer Center.
Unity continues to be one of the easiest ways to build high-quality VR experiences for the Rift and Gear VR. This latest release of the Oculus-Unity integration supports Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android (Gear VR). The desktop version also includes full access to LibOVR through a pure C# wrapper.
Some of the features of the latest release:
A few of the other updates, though not included in the release today, are simpler direct-to-Rift rendering (without DirectToRift.exe) and targeting PC or Mobile from within a single project.
HeroBound for the Gear VR Innovator Edition
We’re also collaborating with Unity on a number of VR specific features for a deeper Oculus integration including a seamless, robust integration for Unity 4.6, improved Unity Editor workflow when using the Rift, and rendering optimizations specifically for VR in Unity 5.Unity also just made a major update in audio latency on Gear VR, improving it from over 130ms to roughly 30ms. A huge thank you to Unity team for their help addressing this.
If you have suggestions on additional features you’d like to see, let us know on the Oculus Developer Forums. We’re looking forward to seeing what you create!
Oculus @ GDC 2015
We’ll be at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco March 2-6, showing the latest prototypes of the Rift and Gear VR. We’ll also be giving a series of talks on VR rendering, 3D spatialized audio, and the future of virtual reality.
As part of GDC, we’re co-hosting an event with Women in Games International (WIGI). You can join us Tuesday, March 3, at The Village (969 Market St, 3rd Floor) to meet members of the Oculus team, chat with experts and enthusiasts about VR, and try out the latest Oculus demos. Registration for the event will open soon — Stay tuned to the official event page for more details.
We’re looking forward to seeing you there!
— The Oculus Team