Facebook's Oculus forms in-house virtual-reality film studio

Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:44pm EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - Facebook Inc's Oculus VR is getting into movies with an in-house studio dedicated to making virtual-reality films and premiered its first short piece at the Sundance Film Festival on Monday.

Tapping talent from both Pixar, the animation studio behind computer graphics imagery (CGI) films "Toy Story" and "Monsters Inc," and the video gaming world, Oculus' Story Studio will develop film content for virtual reality and advise other filmmakers seeking to try the technology.

Facebook bought Oculus last year for $2 billion. So far the business has largely focused on video games for its pioneering wrap-around Rift headset.

But virtual reality has recently been enticing Hollywood's filmmakers to expand into the 360-degree panoramic view offered by headsets.

Oculus debuted "Lost" on Monday, the first of five short animated films that it is making over the next year.

Directed by former Pixar artist Saschka Unseld, now the creative director of Story Studios, "Lost" places the viewer in the midst of a forest where a mechanical creature bounds into the scene.

Oculus' Chief Executive Brendan Iribe described it as "a real-time version of a Pixar experience that you're inside of."

This year at Sundance, the largest U.S. independent film gathering, part of the event has been dedicated to virtual-reality short movies by filmmakers including Chris Milk and Felix & Paul, to draw the independent film community.   Continued...

The sign outside the Oculus VR booth is seen at the International Consumer Electronics show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada January 6, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking