Startup looks to virtual reality to transform movie industry

Global Business

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Virtual reality is considered one of the hottest new technologies, but up until now it’s largely been focused on the gaming industry. A young company in Silicon Valley feels the medium has just as much, if not more potential, for the world of film.

CGTN’s Mark Niu reports.

Startup looks to virtual reality to transform movie industry

Startup looks to virtual reality to transform movie industry

Virtual reality is considered one of the hottest new technologies, but up until now it's largely been focused on the gaming industry. A young company in Silicon Valley feels the medium has just as much, if not more potential, for the world of film. CGTN's Mark Niu reports.
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In 2016, Baobab Studios released the six-minute short ‘Invasion!’ which made viewers a first-person character in a virtual reality animation movie.

“In VR, people believe that little bunny in ‘Invasion!’ was real. You would never in a normal theater have a character hide behind you, so it’s the sense of space and reality is completely different,”co-founder and chief executive, Maureen Fan said.

Fan is a former Zynga executive who oversaw the popular online social media game FarmVille. Her Baobab team also includes top directors and animators from Dreamworks and Pixar.

With a recent $25 million round of funding that includes 20th Century Fox and Shanghai Media Group, Baobab set the bar even higher for its next film ‘Asteroids!’, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival.

Baobab conducted thousands of tests to learn everything from where people would look to how they would react as a robot using different types of hands.

In ‘Asteroids!’, viewers are challenged by how to use robotic hands to interact with their surroundings. But it’s not like a video game where you decide the fate of the story.

Baobab Studios’ chief creative officer Eric Darnell said, “If the viewer chooses not to participate, just like life, the story will move on without them.”

Baobab isn’t revealing details about its next film yet, although it will be part of a continued experiment to figure out how the audience best lives inside a story.


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