5 must-see short VR movies

Discover some of the virtual reality movies that are challenging our concept of filmmaking.

Virtual reality is set to become big business this year with a number of high-profile VR headsets due for launch, including the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. By far the biggest market for this new VR revolution is going to be in games, but beyond that there are exciting new opportunities in the realm of 3D movies.

VR represents an entirely new way to immerse viewers in a narrative, dropping them into believable 3D environments where they can experience stories up close and feel as if they're part of the action. Straddling the divide between games and film, VR movies could be the ultimate escapism; here are five amazing examples of this thrilling new 3D art form.

01. Sightline: The Chair

  • Director: Tomas Mariancik
  • Country: Czech Republic

This unique virtual reality movie points the way to how filmmakers could produce seamless shot transitions within VR. Sightline is a movie set in a surreal world, where every time the viewer's gaze moves the environment seamlessly changes.

02. The Last Mountain

  • Director: Avram Dodson
  • Country: US

A VR movie that aims to experiment with the medium and solve some of the issues raised by creating immersive movies, including using camera cuts in a 360-degree environment controlled by the viewer and seeing how far a director can 'push' the viewer.

03. Der Grosse Gottlieb

  • Director: Daniel Ernst
  • Country: Netherlands

This real-time movie creates an environment where the viewer can construct their own narrative through interactive puzzles and events. The aim, to follow the fabled Der Grosse Gottlieb as he builds a chair-tower to the stars.

04. Colosse

  • Producer: Joseph Chen
  • Country: International

You have no direct control over what is seen, instead the movie uses a unique 'gaze' system that develops the story based on what you look at. This goes beyond simply waiting for the you to 'trigger' events by looking at them as it 'reads' how and what you're looking at.

05. Butts: The VR Experience

  • Director: Tyler Hurd
  • Country: US

Butts is credited as being the first animated cartoon for virtual reality, and while some may debate that, its influence is clear. The short film is a simple real-time animation packed with great facial animation, body language and... butts. Exploding butts.

Words: Ian Palmer

Ian develops and teaches programmes in digital media, games, animation and VFX. This article originally appeared in issue 203 of 3D World magazine.

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