×

Disney Animation’s First VR Film, ‘Cycles,’ Set to Premiere

Walt Disney Animation Studios will debut its first virtual-reality short film next month, marking a new experiment by a major studio to use the power of VR to enhance storytelling.

The short film, “Cycles,” is directed by Disney Animation lighting artist Jeff Gipson, marking his VR directorial debut. It centers around the true meaning of creating a home, inspired by Gipson’s childhood spending time with his grandparents in their home and then later helping them move to an assisted-living residence.

The film will premiere at the SIGGRAPH 2018 conference, Aug. 12-16 in Vancouver. It will be hosted at the confab’s Immersive Pavilion, a new space for this year’s conference dedicated to VR, augmented reality, and mixed reality.

“We wanted to create a story in this single place and be able to have the viewer witness life happening around them,” Gipson said in a statement. “It is an emotionally driven film, expressing the real ups and downs, the happy and sad moments in life.”

Gipson joined Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2013 and has worked as a lighting artist on Disney films including “Frozen,” “Zootopia” and “Moana.”

“VR is an amazing technology and a lot of times the technology is what is really celebrated,” Gipson said. “We hope more and more people begin to see the emotional weight of VR films, and with ‘Cycles’ in particular, we hope they will feel the emotions we aimed to convey with our story.”

Disney Animation’s production team completed “Cycles” in four months in conjunction with about 50 collaborators. Instead of traditional storyboarding, Gipson and his team instead used a mix of Quill VR painting techniques and motion capture as a means of pre-visualization for the film, incorporating painters and artists to generate sculptures or 3D models of characters early on and draw scenes for the VR space.

While “Cycles” represents Disney’s first VR film, the Mouse House has been plenty active in different areas of VR, AR and mixed reality.

Last fall, Disney’s Pixar released its first VR experience with “Coco VR” for Oculus Rift, combining social elements. Lucasfilm has worked with location-based VR startup The Void to launch a Star Wars VR experience in multiple locations, including Orlando and Las Vegas.

In addition, Disney Research launched a project to turn natural language scripts into VR pre-visualizations. Also, Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB R&D unit has been working with mixed-reality startup Magic Leap to develop Star Wars content for Magic Leap’s forthcoming headset.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Still from "Andhadhun"

    Microsoft Streaming Deal Lifts Shares in India’s Eros

    Shares of leading Bollywood film distributor Eros International soared by 38% on Thursday following news of the company’s link up with Microsoft to develop a new generation of video streaming platform. The multinational company said that its Eros Now video operation would work with Microsoft Azure to develop its technology in three ways. They seek [...]

  • Comcast X1 DAZN

    Comcast Adds DAZN Sports-Streaming Service to Xfinity Flex, Sets Launch on X1

    DAZN, the digital sports service headed by ex-ESPN boss John Skipper, is now available to Comcast broadband customers on Xfinity Flex and will be available on Xfinity X1 this fall. It’s the first distribution deal for DAZN with a major U.S. provider since it debuted the combat-sports-oriented service in the States a year ago. In [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Raises Bar for Channel Verification, Stripping Some Creators of Verified Status

    YouTube is making it harder for channels to receive a verification badge indicating their authenticity — and the program’s new requirements mean that some channels won’t be eligible for verification. Like other internet platforms, YouTube indicates to viewers that specific channels are officially run by the creator, artist, celebrity or company they represent with an [...]

  • BuzzFeed - Katie Sitter

    BuzzFeed Taps Activision Blizzard's Katie Sitter as Head of HR (EXCLUSIVE)

    BuzzFeed hired Katie Sitter, most recently an HR exec at Activision Blizzard, as senior VP of people. Sitter, who starts at the company Sept. 30, will lead the BuzzFeed HR organization and oversee strategic initiatives related to organizational planning, talent acquisition, learning and development, performance management, compensation and benefits, labor relations, and diversity, equity, and [...]

  • Kano

    Kano Tipped to Launch ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Frozen’ Coding Kits

    Educational consumer electronics startup Kano is getting ready to release “Star Wars” and “Frozen” coding kits, according to regulatory filings. Recent FCC filings made by the company reveal plans to release a product called “The Force Coding Kit” as well as one called “The Disney Frozen Coding Kit.” Kano representatives didn’t respond to multiple requests [...]

  • Apple Arcade

    Apple Officially Launches Apple Arcade Game Subscription Service

    Apple officially cut the ribbon for its new game subscription service Thursday: Priced $4.99 per month, Apple Arcade offers unlimited access to over 100 exclusive games. Apple Arcade was released alongside iOS 13, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. Some of the titles available through the subscription package include “Lego Brawls” from Lego [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content