Virtual reality firm Oculus debuted its first ever VR motion picture at the Sundance Film Festival this week.
Called Lost, the film puts the viewer in the middle of a spooky, darkened forest when a giant, robotic hand begins moving through the woods, reports TechCrunch’s Josh Constine, who viewed the film. The robotic hand eventually reattaches itself to a massive, lumbering robot, and as the robot approaches the viewer face-to-face, the screen fades to black.
While the film, from Oculus’ new movie outfit Story Studio, is only about five minutes long and its interactive features are somewhat limited for the moment, studio Edward Saatchi told TechCrunch this is only the first step in creating quality virtual reality motion picture experiences.
“A lot of stuff we’ve seen in virtual reality felt like empty sets with no characters just environments that you were in,” Saatchi told the outlet. “The thing that’s most easily missed is the most important: we told a story in VR,” the producers said of the new film.
Viewers can reportedly control the lens through which they experience Lost by tilting their head, moving around, and even sitting down. Sitting down enables the viewer to get a closer look at the ground, peering through shrubs while the robot romps through the trees.
“Initially we thought we needed to figure out how film language works in VR,” Lost director Saschka Unseld, a former Pixar animator, told the Verge. “Cinema is a sequential medium. It’s like a dictatorship of the director. Look at this, look at this face, look at this detail.” That is not the case with virtual reality films, Unseld said, where the viewer can decide what to focus on.
Oculus’ Story Studio will reportedly unveil five new virtual reality films in the near future, including Bullfighter, which puts the viewer in the ring with an angry bull, Dear Angelica, which places the viewer in a comic book, and Henry, a comedy about a hedgehog who loves balloons.
Oculus is not the only company beginning to experiment with virtual reality film. Earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Fox Searchlight debuted Wild – The Experience, a short, three-minute virtual reality film where viewers are immersed in a forest scene with Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern from this year’s Oscar-nominated film, Wild.