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Oculus Story Studio's illustrated short film 'Dear Angelica' makes creative use of VR

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New tools are making it possible for artists to use classic art forms to create immersive VR film experiences

As virtual reality continues to make its way through the culture, it’s having more of an impact than just compelling people to buy faster gaming PCs to handle it. VR is making its way into the arts as well, as more filmmakers use VR to put audiences right in the middle of the story.

Most VR films use techniques that are more animated and even interactive, all the better to create the most immersive experience possible — which is precisely what VR usually aims to achieve. However, as the VR film Dear Angelica demonstrates, artists are nothing if not creative, and illustration is a medium that can also be effective in VR, as Engadget reports.

More: Quill will provide the means to create 3D works of art in virtual reality

Specifically, VR system maker Oculus created VR drawing software, called Quill, specifically for the new animated VR short film by Oculus Story Studio. Quill made it possible for illustrator Wesley Allsbrook to draw within a 3D space, resulting in a captivating VR landscape that’s both static and immersive at the same time.

Dear Angelica is a story about a young girl, voiced by actress Mae Whitman, dealing with her mother’s death. The VR film has some star power, with actress Geena Davis voicing the mother, and it’s being shown at Sundance and then offered for free to Oculus Rift customers. As viewers watch and move through the 3D world, the illustrations creating it are literally drawn out in space as the story unfolds — as if one is inside the artist’s mind as the illustrations are created.

Quill has since been offered to the public as a beta, and will be free to use. It’s similar in purpose to Google’s Tilt Brush project, which also seeks to make it easier for 2D artists to make their way into 3D. The recently announced Tilt Brush Toolkit seems like it could be equally important in helping create animated features like Dear Angelica.

With tools like Quill and Tilt Brush now available, it’s likely that we’ll be seeing more VR experiences using classic artistic forms to create immersive environments. That should result in VR making an even more significant impact on the culture by greatly expanding its reach to different audiences and art forms.