Independent animation studio Reel FX announced that it is launching a new division – Reel FX VR – dedicated to the creation of cutting edge virtual reality content for virtual reality platforms including the Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition and Oculus Rift. The division will be primarily focused on client work for major studios and commercial agencies as well as content needs for Reel FX’s original films such as The Book of Life (Guillermo del Toro, Jorge R. Gutierrez) with 20th Century Fox, in theaters Oct. 17.
The move to establish Reel FX VR comes after the release of multiple high-profile VR projects in early 2014, ranging from stylized family-friendly content for Chuck E. Cheese to a slick visual experience for Legendary Picture‘s Pacific Rim which debuted at 2014 ComicCon. More content debuted at IFA in Berlin in early September including a mobile version of the Pacific Rim Jaeger Pilot experience and a stereoscopic trailer for the studio’s film, The Book of Life.
Reel FX’s history and relationship with Oculus Rift dates back to Oculus’ 2012 Kickstarter campaign. Company founder and ECD Dale Carman was an early adopter of the technology and one of the first to begin developing for the platform.
“As a studio, we are passionate about finding, using, and pushing technology,” said Carman. “I knew the moment I encountered Oculus on Kickstarter that it was magic. Creating these experiences for clients like Legendary and our own films and working closely with Samsung and Oculus has been a great journey so far and we are excited about the future.”
The relationship with Oculus and expertise in the technology has made Reel FX VR one of Oculus Rift’s top developers.
“Legendary is always seeking out new entertainment frontiers and technology that can offer our fans a greater level of immersion,” said Emily Castel, chief marketing officer for Legendary Pictures. “Reel FX was a fantastic partner and their VR team did a terrific job at bringing the transportive universe of Pacific Rim to life.”
“Samsung Gear VR offers the next-level of cinematic experiences by blending industry-leading mobile technology with advanced virtual reality capabilities,” said Chan-Woo Park, vice president of Samsung’s mobile product strategy team. ”We are pleased Reel FX is expanding its exceptional virtual reality content with our newly announced Gear VR.”
In anticipation of the Reel FX VR launch, Reel FX has brought on multiple team members over the past year that will focus on and grow the VR business. Reel FX VR will be overseen by Carman, general manager Keith McCabe and executive producer Gary Banks. Veteran interactive executive Dan Ferguson joined the team in late 2013 as director of digital interactive. Rounding out the unit is interactive account manager Tina Ghezzi. Artists from Reel FX’s feature and commercial crews will lead the creative teams.