Henry, a “heartwarming comedy about a lovable hedgehog,” is the latest virtual reality film from the studio associated with the Oculus VR headset, Oculus Story Studio. The family-friendly animated movie will be debuted at a premiere event on July 28, and will be available to Oculus headset buyers for free.
The VR film is the second of six planned for this year alone, as the Oculus gears up to position itself as a device for all consumers. Ramiro Lopez Dau, known for animation on Pixar films Brave and Monsters University, directed the film.
“[Henry]’s a good guy,” explains Dau in the teaser trailer. “He’s a nice guy, but the problem with him is he’s a guy that likes to hug people and that – being a hedgehog — is not cool. You know, you scare people away.”
A original character created for virtual reality, Henry was created by Story Studio’s new consulting production designer Kendal Cronkhite (of the Madagascar series) and Bernhard Haux (formerly of Pixar). After Henry makes a wish for friends on his birthday, the viewer is pulled into the story for a fully immersive VR experience.
“When it starts, you’re in Henry’s home,” said Oculus Story Studio creative director Saschka Unseld. “You sit right there where Henry lives. His house takes advantage of the whole new dimension of virtual reality where you can discover his bedroom down there, peek into his kitchen and discover how he’s cooking his cake.”
This upcoming film is certainly aimed at the non-traditional VR consumer, as Oculus hopes to market itself beyond hardcore gamers, and appeal to families and regular movie fans. Considering the heartwarming appeal of Henry, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. In the trailer, we see the film’s designers wanting to hug Henry and — honestly — we do too.
“We forget that as kids, these characters in the films we watch are alive,” said Unseld. “With VR, it makes me feel like I’m a kid again because I can see this character is real.”