SIGGRAPH: Defunct Oculus Story Studio Alums "Still Believe" in VR

Dear Angelica Still - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Wesley Allsbrook

During a Wednesday SIGGRAPH panel, members of the Oculus Story Studio that made the Emmy-nominated virtual reality animated short Dear Angelica addressed Story Studio's recent closure and restated their belief in the potential of VR.

“It was too bad; we felt like we had more to explore,” admitted Maxwell Planck, Dear Angelica’s producer and the Story Studio’s technical founder, of the shutdown.

He generated applause from the large crowd at the Los Angeles Convention Center as he added, “We continue to believe in the potential of VR. We are still working in VR. We believe this is a long journey worth taking.”

In announcing the closure of the Story Studio in May, Jason Rubin, vp content at Oculus, said in a statement: "After careful consideration, we've decided to shift our focus away from internal content creation to support more external production. As part of that shift, we'll be winding down Story Studio."

Story Studio had been created to help drive content creation at VR-headset maker Oculus, which was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion in 2014.

During the SIGGRAPH presentation, Planck, VFX supervisor Inigo Quilez, FX lead Robert Chen and art director Wesley Allsbrook discussed the technical developments and workflow behind Dear Angelica, which reflects on the way people remember loved ones. "I think we have a good sense of how to use presence," said Planck. "We need tools; it still takes too long."

Dear Angelica was directed by Story Studio alum Saschka Unseld and is one of several VR projects nominated for a Creative Arts Emmy.