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Virtual reality is going to enable us to enter fantasy and sci-fi worlds beyond our imaginations, but it’s also going to let us watch cute stories about fuzzy anthropomorphic animals.
Oculus VR, the wholly owned subsidiary of Facebook, has just released Henry, which is the latest project out of the company’s Oculus Story Studio. It enables Oculus Rift owners to experience the adventures of a little brown hedgehog who loves to hug people — only that’s a problem for a guy covered in spiky spines. If that sounds adorable to you, that’s because the VR short film comes from some of the minds that worked on Pixar films like Monsters University and Dreamworks’ Madagascar.
By bringing in these experienced animators and artists from the world of CG film, Oculus is setting a high standard for the kinds of storytelling that people can do in VR. The company is establishing that not everything in VR has to revolve around gritty realism. Check out the video below to see what Oculus’s team has created:
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Henry is an original story from former Pixar animator Ramiro Lopez Dau, who directed the film. He worked with ex-Pixar artist Bernhard Haux and former Dreamworks production designer Kendal Cronkhite on the look and feel of the VR movie experience.
“So much virtual reality has been focused on science fiction and the future,” Oculus Story Studio producer Edward Saatchi said. “We wanted to step back and make something that would delight audiences and make kids laugh. Something that could show how virtual reality can be a really fun mainstream offering.”
We’ll see if they succeeded when we get our hands on the consumer version of the Oculus Rift in the first quarter of 2016. Henry is free for anyone who buys that device. But I kinda already can’t wait to go spend time with that cute little guy, and I’d even risk a few sharp pokes to give him a hug.
“Henry is our second movie, but it’s really our first character in virtual reality,” said Saatchi. “We’ve noticed that he’s starting to feel more like a friend. I want to hug him.”
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