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Oculus Launches Story Studio to Promote Virtual Reality Filmmaking

Amidst the premieres taking place at the Sundance Film Festival is one for “Lost,” a virtual reality movie that’s the first project to come out of Story Studio, a new inhouse production arm of Facebook’s Oculus that aims to help filmmakers figure out how to produce VR projects.

Led by former Pixar Animation Studios vets, Story Studio is essentially Oculus’ answer to another division that is developing games for when the Rift headset becomes available to consumers later this year. Because VR is still a new, untested medium, Oculus wanted to help Hollywood tackle not only the technical but conceptual elements of developing creative concepts for headsets.

For now Story Studio will focus primarily on animated fare, given that other directors already have started experimenting with live-action films, some of which are also are on display at Sundance.

But it’s also partly because of the background of the 10 individuals running Story Studio.

That includes Saschka Unseld, who serves as creative director. A former Pixar cinematographer, Unseld directed the company’s short film, “The Blue Umbrella.” Maxwell Planck, is Story Studio’s supervising technical director, who spent the past decade at Pixar solving the company’s creative technical problems behind “Cars,” “Wall-E,” “Up,” “Brave and “Monsters University.” Edward Saatchi serves as a producer.

Lost” revolves around a giant robot lost in the dark woods, with the viewer able to crouch in the foliage as they watch the mechanical beast.

The story is meant to unfold in five minutes but is designed to pause depending on what the viewer is looking at, factoring in the ability for audiences to be able to explore the 360-degree environments around them.

Story Studio already has several other projects in development, including “Bullfighter,” in which viewers come face to face with a raging bull; the comedic “Henry”; and “Dear Angelica,” which places audiences in an illustration.

Like its gaming group, Oculus sees Story Studio as a division to have content ready for people to view on Rift or its other headsets that it hopes to sell later this year.

Oculus is showing off “Lost” at the St. Regis, in Park City, with appointments to view the project being taken through an app that can be downloaded on iTunes or on Android devices.

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