Comcast- and Fox-backed animation startup Baobab Studios released its second animated VR film “Asteroids!” for a wide variety of VR headsets Thursday. Baobab previously released “Invasion!” as its first project, for which the studio won a Daytime Emmy.
“Asteroids!” once again follows Mac & Cheez, two lovable aliens who first appeared in “Invasion.” In this new VR film, we can see them doing their daily chores on their ship, floating through space, where the mundane and the outright dangerous are often hard to distinguish.
The studio was able to win actress Elizabeth Banks as well as YouTube star Ingrid Nilsen to voice key characters of the film. “I’ve never done anything like this before,” Nilsen told Variety in a recent interview about her participation. Nilsen said that she had previously seen some VR documentaries, but never an animated movie. “This was something completely different,” she said. “It was really amazing.”
“Asteroids” lasts 11 minutes, and includes some advanced interactive elements. Viewers can play fetch with a robot dog called Peas, who is voiced by Nilsen, who said that he reminds her of her own dog. They can roam freely to explore the spaceship. Oh, and they might even have to save the day in a very dramatic moment.
Baobab Studios CEO Maureen Fan has been outspoken about increasing diversity in VR. That’s why it was perhaps a good fit to cast Nilsen, who has been outspoken about both being a lesbian and having a biracial background. Nilsen said that it as very important to have diverse voices present in a new medium, adding that she hoped to help to lay the foundation for other people of diverse backgrounds. “I’m honored to be part of this project,” she said.
Asteroids has been released for for free for Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream, Windows MR, YouTube 360, Facebook 360, and the Baobab VR app for iOS and Android. The studio plans to bring it to high-end VR platforms in 2018.