5 must-see short VR movies

Virtual reality finally started to become big business last year. By far the largest market for this VR revolution will 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 achieve 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're looking 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.

This article originally appeared in issue 203 of 3D World magazine; subscribe here

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Ian Palmer develops and teaches programmes in digital media, games, animation and VFX.