Oculus wins its first Emmy for virtual reality short film ‘Henry’

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In what is certainly the first of many pieces of VR original content to receive a prestigious award, “Henry,” a short film by Oculus, has just received an Emmy for Outstanding Original Interactive Program.

The virtual reality film chronicles the story of Henry, a cute little hedgehog that loves to hug despite his prickly spines. Things turn interesting rather quickly when he has a birthday party with a bunch of balloon animals as guests…

The short film is narrated by Elijah Wood, and is directed by Ramiro Lopez Dau, an ex-Pixar animator who worked on projects like “Brave” and “Cars 2.”

The short film came out of Oculus Story Studios, a division of the company flush with talented filmmakers and animators tasked with reimagining storytelling for the medium of virtual reality.

Oculus is generally heralded as a virtual reality gaming company more than anything and the company generally seems a bit more reticent than others (at least their current primary competitor HTC) space at highlighting the non-gaming content available on their platform. “Henry” is a perfect example of some of the brilliance coming out of Oculus Story Studio, a group that is really trying to explore some of the more base elements of VR storytelling. Cinematic experiences in VR are in their early, early days, but the creativity that is going in to producing these works is succeeding in capturing the attention of those in the most influential circles.

“We hope this represents a tipping point for the VR industry,” director Ramiro Lopez Dau told Variety. “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. This Emmy validates that vision.”

Virtual reality is attracting the attention of Hollywood studios in an increasingly non-trivial capacity. In the past year, many studios have moved from building gimmicky VR promotional content to acquiring actual VR teams tasked with creating original content.