May 27, 2015
Oculus Story Studio, a lab program within Oculus VR dedicated to experimentation with the goal of helping virtual reality grow as a platform, is using “Lost Director’s Cut,” a new version of the studio’s short VR film as the basis for a new social experience that promises to change the paradigm of VR experiences from solitary to shared. The purpose of the new demonstration is to show filmmakers and other creatives how far they can push virtual reality beyond current single-person, isolated experiences.
When Facebook acquired Oculus VR for $2 billion in March 2014, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted, “…this is just the start. After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences.” Now, as Edgar Alvarez of Engadget reports, Oculus Story Studio is taking the first steps to make VR more social.
Alvarez described his experience: “Essentially, this allows two viewers (or more), each wearing an Oculus headset, to be a part of the same world and explore it simultaneously. In the case of ‘Lost Director’s Cut,’ the person giving the demo and I were both fireflies in the movie; we could look at each other or fly closer toward one another, all while a scene was taking place next to us. It’s breathtaking and weird at the same time, and that’s a good thing.”
Max Planck is Story Studio’s supervising technical director. “We want to tell stories that people can come out of it together and have water-cooler moments,” he said.
“Like you’re around the campfire and someone’s telling you a story,” Planck added, “or you go to a movie or a theater performance and you see it with other people, and you come out of it and you want to talk with people.”
According to Edward Saatchi, a Story Studio producer, “We think the future of VR in cinema is social, that you’re with your friends. You’re not in the same room, maybe; maybe you’re all going in together at the same time, and that’s where the lines between cinema and an MMO [massive multiplayer online] start to blur.”
“This is really a new communication platform,” Zuckerberg wrote in his acquisition post. “By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life.”
Oculus Acquires Surreal Vision to Bring the Real World to VR, TechCrunch, 5/26/15
Oculus Rift Hack Transfers Your Facial Expressions onto Your Avatar, MIT Technology Review, 5/20/15