Penrose Studios Releases Animated Virtual Reality Experience
Penrose Studios created an animated feature called Allumette. Allumette shows people exactly why VR films need to be taken seriously, like normal films that we’re used to.
The people at the Tribeca Film Festival as well as Sundance Film Festival know this as each of these festivals showed virtual reality at their festivals in 2016. Of course since virtual reality is still in its infancy, every VR experience is different as for the quality.
Allumette is a VR film that’s 20 minutes in length, however it doesn’t feel as though it’s long. Penrose Studios, which was founded by Oculus’ Eugene Chung, did a great job in developing a VR film that makes the viewer want to watch more when it’s over.
The experience was debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival and Penrose said that there’s an Allumette teaser that’s coming to the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift soon. It’s expected to be accessible to anybody that has a VR rig sometime “later this year” is what Penrose says.
Eugene Chung, said, “Most of my career’s been guided by, when I think back, to my parents… So my mother was an accountant and my father was an opera singer. I’ve always had this duality of left brain-right brain throughout most of my career. They’re very much on each side of the spectrum.It’s always sort of guided my career. On the creative side, I’ve been a filmmaker. I’ve made films the normal way, part of stage, part of theater, and then on technical side I’ve been coding and hacking since I was very young. I played a lot of video games as well. … I get a lot of motion sickness very easily, so I can’t play first-person shooters, actually.You can imagine what it was like working at a VR company.”
He added, “So I’ve always had this creative and analytical side. But because my dad’s an opera singer, I’ve recognized that art forms change over time. … When we think about the opera, 150 years ago Richard Wagner … called dramatic opera a “total work of art.” … 50 years later, we had this group of guys with cameras come around, and they started making the first films. … And this change was so dramatic that if I were to ask you to name a major movie company you’d say “OK, sure, Disney, Fox, Warner Bros,” but then if I were to turn around and ask you, could you name a major stage play or opera company of the 1800s, you’d have no idea. … It’s because they were completely disrupted. And some people say, “Well, 100 years ago is a long time,” but then I remind them Paramount Pictures is over 100 years old. So art forms do in fact change. And I was wondering … “When will I see the day that an art form will change? … I probably won’t live to see it.” But then a few years ago I saw virtual reality come back around.”
In regards to Chung’s history with Oculus, he said, “I was the first film and cinematic hire at Oculus, and I basically had a blank slate, because no one else was doing this. So I remember thinking: VR and AR are the next major computing platform, in the same way that in the last 50 or 60 years we’ve had five major computing platforms. We had the mainframe in the 60s, then the minicomputer, followed by the personal computer, followed by desktop Internet, followed by mobile Internet, which is the era we live in today, and I think that augmented and virtual reality will be that next phase of computing platforms. So then I said, let’s go back to the last time we’ve seen a major computing platform.”
“… If you thought about the summer of 2007 when Steve Jobs launched the iPhone, if you asked someone to build an iPhone app, they wouldn’t know how. …. if you asked a serious person to build a real mobile app, they’d be like, “I don’t know how to build a mobile app,” and then they’d take Microsoft Word for the desktop and jerry-rig it onto the phone, and that would make for a bad mobile app. So what did Apple have to do? They had to create several example apps. … So I realized we had to do the same, and I hired some of my former colleagues from Pixar, and we created this thing called Oculus Story Studio, and created some of the first VR films, like Lost was our first one.
But then along the way we got acquired by a little company called Facebook, and that changed the nature of the entire industry. So what I thought would take something like ten years got condensed into something like one year — and that was just an incredible moment. And I stayed on for a while building out the team after the acquisition, but what I wanted to do before even joining Oculus was create my own company, and so I created Penrose Studios.”
When asked when Chung left Oculus, he said, “I guess last year? We’re one of the few companies that has a publishing deal with Oculus — one of the few companies paid by Oculus for content.”
When asked if Chung would feel weird having Allumette tested on the HTC Vive, he said, “Well, right next to you was CV1, so our premier will have Oculus Rifts and HTC Vives. What’s great about this industry in general now is there’s so much excitement that there’s just a lot of collaboration in virtual reality today, even with different headset makers.”
When asked what Allumette means, Chung said, “It means matchstick in French. It was kind of a working title … and then, by the time it came to name the film, we were like, “Let’s just call it Allumette.” When asked if he feels pressure, Chung said, “I don’t really feel pressured. I think we’re excited to be making this new medium. Because that was the case with film. With VR, it’s almost like, we have all this talent on the team, and it’s about trying to be humble enough to understand that we don’t know everything that we need to know about this medium. That’s a very difficult thing. The biggest problem with the stage play directors in cinema is that they knew too much.”