Why Facebook Is Shutting Down Oculus' VR Film Studio

Friday, 05 May 2017 - 11:39AM
Technology
Virtual Reality
Friday, 05 May 2017 - 11:39AM
Why Facebook Is Shutting Down Oculus' VR Film Studio
Image credit: Oculus Rift, Story Studio
When Oculus Rift was acquired by Facebook, a lot of VR nerds were cautiously optimistic—we've grown used to trusting that a small group of extremely smart Silicon Valley visionaries will bring us the future, no matter how weird the path is (ie, Google's "moonshot" projects division). Whatever Facebook wanted out of Oculus, the point was that they had the funding and the clout to bring VR to the mainstream. And strangely enough, shutting down Oculus' award-winning VR Story Studio may be the next step.

To bring you up to speed: one division of Oculus was created to craft VR movies, dubbed Story Studio. Story Studio came out with two films, Lost and Henry (the latter of which won an Emmy award), and has one more film on the way, titled Dear Angelica. If you haven't see Henry, check out the video below for a taste.



Despite the success of the studio, however, it was recently announced that Facebook's block of funding for VR movies is going to be taken from Story Studio and used instead to fund independent VR filmmakers. This effectively means shutting down the studio and shifting the focus away from in-house productions. In a statement by Jason Rubin, Oculus VP of Content:

Opening quote
"We're still absolutely committed to growing the VR film and creative content ecosystem," wrote Rubin. However, "now that a large community of filmmakers and developers are committed to the narrative VR art form, we're going to focus on funding and supporting their content."
Closing quote


It's a worrying move to defund one of the pioneers in VR entertainment, but if Rubin is telling the truth, the passing of the torch to independent creators could help to spur the VR community to create content for a platform in desperate need of it. Companies like Oculus are in the strange position of building hardware and content for a market that doesn't really exist yet, so part of their job is willing that market into existence.

As we say goodbye to Story Studio, remember that it still has one more film in the works—Dear Angelica. Check out the trailer below!

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