Joseph Gordon Levitt goes on stage to talk about Oculus’ latest film project

Chalk one more up on the list of the converted. Following his admittance that he didn’t know much about virtual reality, actor Joseph Gordon Levitt said at this year’s Sundance Festival that he “can’t wait” to get involved in the process of virtual reality filmmaking.

Godron-Levitt was given the role of speaking at a special Oculus presentation, which was part of Sundance’s New Frontier program, which helps to showcase innovation from emerging artists in a curated platform. As part of his role as guest speaker, Gordon Levitt was given access to a number of different VR demos and experiences and came away very impressed.

“I’m not particularly experienced in VR, maybe that’s why I’m standing here,” he said. “I’ve had the chance up here at Sundance to see some incredible work. Things that I’ve just found so inspiring. And I have no experience in what it takes to make that stuff but I’m very interested to try.”

And that became the theme for much of his short talk at the show. What will trying to make a movie in virtual reality be like? The big change, as he sees it, is how we deal with the age old hinge-point in any story, the protagonist. Traditionally the protagonist is the center of the story. In books they talk to the reader, in movies they can silently influence everything. But in VR, the protagonist might be the viewer themselves.

That’s where VR movie making could become something else entirely, Levitt believes, though he admits he has no idea how people are going to make that work.

There were plenty of alternative movies giving it a try at Sundance. Oculus’s Story Studio is kicking things into high gear with new projects of its own, and an exciting look at 3D animation and painting in virtual reality. A film it’s developing called Dear Angelica explores a young girl’s dreams in real time, as the drawings of her imagination are rendered in front of, and around, the viewer.

As with the developers Oculus has partnered with in the past, the company has helped fund the development of VR movie making since the early days of its headsets. Animators, CG artists and story tellers from all over the world are trying new types of film making through virtual reality.

Oculus is also looking to help foster future VR movie makers with the launch of a new Story Studio University, set to work in tandem with New York University and the University of Southern California. Together they will run workshops on telling tall tales inside virtual reality, and will be holding masterclasses as soon as April.


To bolster that, in the future Oculus plans to create a number of visual assets, video tutorials and how-to-guides from VR studios on how to create something wonderful in VR. It’s laying the foundation for the future, because as many of the creators said in the above video, it believes that VR will be the dominant art form of the 21st century.

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