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Oculus Story Studio, the Facebook-owned company’s first foray into virtual reality filmmaking, is shutting down.
Launched two years ago, the Story Studio aimed to accelerate the growth of virtual reality movies for traditional filmmakers. Critically, it did just that, with the likes of Dear Angelica — a story of a teenage girl told through a multi-dimensional series of paintings. It was billed by many as the work that virtual reality movies needed.
Its previous project, the Elijah Wood-narrated Henry, also won the Emmy Award in 2016 for Outstanding Original Interactive Program.
But Oculus believes virtual reality movies no longer need its Studio. Instead, the company will look to fund individual, independent movie maker’s projects.
Oculus Story Studio might be shuttering but its commitment to the medium isn’t
“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,” states Jason Rubin, Oculus head of first party-content.
“This helps us turn our internal research, development, and attention towards exciting but unsolved problems in AR and VR hardware and software.
“We’re still absolutely committed to growing the VR film and creative content ecosystem,” he adds.
Initially, US$50-million will be made available for “non-gaming, experiential VR content”.
“This money will go directly to artists to help jumpstart the most innovative and groundbreaking VR ideas,” Rubin adds.
But for those who don’t get a piece of that pie, Oculus Story Studios will ensure its shorts remain on the Oculus Store for people to view.
Additionally, Rubin also reconfirmed the company’s commitment to “providing resources and programs to help creators get started, including video tutorials, production and distribution tips, best practices for VR development, and chances to connect with leaders in the community.”
Does this mean virtual reality movie making is dead? No. Not at least in terms of the medium’s financial potential.
According to a Variety report, revenue from virtual reality content is expected to hit US$7.17-billion by the end of 2017. By 2021, that’s expected to grow ten-fold.