Thursday, July 30, 2015

This Cute Hedgehog May Change Movies & Virtual Reality

Description: A cartoon illustration of Henry, a hedgehog, looking
at the  viewer, smiling and waving hello.
 Henry is the star of a self-titled animated short. It's about a hedgehog who likes to hug that feels lonely on his birthday. He makes a wish for friends to celebrate with... which is when a little birthday magic  grants his wish... in the form of baloon animal friends, which is a little difficult for a hedghog to hug. The short is an original story created by former Pixar animator Ramiro Lopez Dau, who is also the director of the animated short. He is joined by fellow former Pixar artist Bernhard Haux and a former Dreamworks production designer Kendal Cronkhite who halped the director and animation crew develop the signature  look and feel of the project. Sounds like a cute, promising animated film, right? Henry isn't just a short-- it's an animation experience because it's also an interactive virtual reality. Take a look at the sneak peek below:

Sure, the team could have gone with something more action packed or gritty or science fictionish or, well, game-like, since this short will ship for free with the rollout of the virtual reality Occulus Rift system to consumers. In a WIRED featured article entitled "The Most Important Movie of 2015 Is a VR Cartoon About a Hedgehog" (seriously), the team explains that they wanted to give the experience an emotional connection, too:
It wasn’t just that Story Studio needed Unreal to do something it wasn’t made for. They also wanted to do things that had never been done in movies, period: they want Henry to look you in the eye, no matter where you are in his virtual world. At its core, Henry is a simple story... There are emotional ups and downs, and when Henry experiences a certain feeling, he looks at the viewer to share his sadness or excitement. This is an incredibly rare thing. It’s also unnerving; the first time I tried an early demo, I immediately felt like a voyeur, as if I was spying on this poor hedgehog during his sad solo birthday. But in VR, the whole point is that you’re meant to feel as though you’re physically there ... it’s weird if Henry doesn’t [notice]. “It’s just like ‘Why don’t you look at me? I’m right here!'” Unseld laughs. But when he does it carries an emotional connection, an empathy, that even those abused action figures in Toy Story 3 didn’t quite muster. 
You can read the whole article here and read more about Henry here.

No comments:

Share This Post