The Oculus Story Studio is ready to give the world another representation of how the Oculus Quill works through Dear Angelica, the animated movie that unfolds before your eyes in VR – and in real time too. This is the third movie that the Oculus Story Studio plans to release since its inception – being preceded by Lost, a film-centric virtual reality experience, and Henry, the 3D animation.
Dear Angelica, however, promises a whole new type of depiction of just what virtual reality – and most importantly, a tool that allows real time manipulation of objects in VR – is capable of. That is why Dear Angelica can’t exactly be considered a movie per se, but an interactive experience more than anything else.
The movie in question follows the memories of a young girl – the memories of her mother who used to be a movie star. The surroundings and the story itself are not something prepared beforehand: every visual element is created before the viewer’s eyes and it unfolds in every direction your eyes can see. You can either follow the story or look at every single scene from any perspective you wish as it takes life before you.
The entire experience is based inside the Rift – both the viewers and the artists create it only inside the virtual world. And the only way that any of this is possible is through the Oculus Quill. Currently, it is a tool only available to Oculus illustrators at the Oculus Story Studio, but in essence it is the source of all the magic. Never before has conveying emotions been such a direct and “hands-on” experience.
The artists make use of two components of the device, one that controls the orientation and allows them to move around the invisible canvas and the other one that acts as a brush. Seeing illustrator Wesley Allsbrook give a small demonstration of the process feels almost identical to watching a painter work in real time, and even highly resembling a pantomime actor – an amazing way of showing emotion.
And the most beautiful part of it all is the fact that the Oculus Quill – even if not currently made available to anyone other than staff and in-house graphic artists – wasn’t even a planned release of the company. According to the studio’s visual effects supervisor, Inigo Quilez, the Quill started off as a personal initiative to exceed some limitations the studio was facing. To be more exact, the main issue that prevented the studio from achieving what they hoped to achieve was the inability to make 2D illustrations look good in virtual reality.
Thus Quilez took a two week long break from work; and that’s all the time he needed to code what was to become Quill – the gateway device to transform regular illustration techniques into what we can downright call modelling directly into virtual reality space. Anything, starting with appearance and ending with the way the artists chooses to animate their work, directly according to the way they move as they draw, is created inside the virtual world. And while that allows anyone to see exactly what the artists sees with the use of a screen, the true experience remains in the virtual presentation.
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