For a few years now, virtual reality filmmakers have fought for recognition and acceptance among traditional directors and studios. Last night, Oculus’ filmmaking arm, Story Studio, got a taste of the kind of validation they’ve been looking for: an Emmy for its animated VR experience Henry.
The award, for Outstanding Original Interactive Program, isn’t the first Emmy to be given to a VR project—that distinction goes to the Sleepy Hollow VR experience—but it is the first original VR short to be given such an honor. It is also, according to Story Studio creative director Saschka Unseld, “what every storyteller hopes for: to have the world validate the risks we were worried to take.”
Henry, released last year and directed by Pixar vet Ramiro Lopez Dau, tells the story of a lonely hedgehog who throws himself a birthday party. It’s a fairly simple tale, but it set out to prove there could be an emotional connection fostered in VR that was different than what viewers experience looking at movies or TV. When you look at Henry in Henry, he looks back, and it’s simultaneously intense and heartbreaking.
“From the start we’ve wanted to show that VR is an art form—a place that welcomes storytellers and that even at this very, very early stage it can be a powerful tool for storytelling,” Dau says. “This Emmy validates that vision. We hope this represents a tipping point for the VR industry.”
Oculus Story Studio’s next project, Dear Angelica, is slated for release later this year.
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