Key members of the former Oculus Story Studio team unveiled their new company at the Sundance film festival Thursday. Fable Studio, which was co-founded by Story Studio co-founder Edward Saatchi and filmmaker Pete Billington, aims to be a technology company slash studio for augmented and virtual reality content.
One of the first projects of Fable is “Wolves in the Walls,” an animated three-part series based on the Neil Gaiman children’s book by the same title. “Wolves in the Walls” will premiere at Sundance as part of the festival’s New Frontiers selection Friday.
Fable also announced four additional projects Thursday: “Origin,” an animated scavenger hunt that has artists working together to try to discover stolen art; “10 – 10,” which is being described as “an illustrative real-time documentary” that has been produced with Quill, a VR drawing tool originally developed by Oculus Story Studio; “Derailed,” a social experience around the theme of sleep anxiety; “Magic River Yacht Club,” which follows the up-stream travels of a salmon.
Oculus Story Studio was originally launched as an in-house production studio of Facebook’s Oculus VR unit. The studio produced landmark VR pieces including “Henry,” which won an Emmy in 2016, and “Dear Angelica,” which was nominated for an Emmy in 2017.
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However, Facebook shuttered Story Studio in early 2017 as it shifted to support outside productions. “When Story Studio began, the mission was (to be) a lighthouse to people,” said Oculus VR head of experiences Colum Slevin during a recent interview with Variety. But very quickly, other studios and startups followed Story Studio in developing their own narrative experiences independently of Oculus. “We came to the realization that the time for in-house incubation had passed,” Slevin said.
One of the beneficiaries of these investments is Fable, which quietly continued to work on “Wolves in the Walls” even after Story Studio was dissolved, and is now using Sundance as a kind of public coming-out.
A key goal of the studio is to use characters that respond to their audience to tell complex stories in VR, said Fable Studio head of creative production Jessica Shamash. “‘Wolves’ is just a baby step” on that journey, she said.