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Oscar Nomination For 'Pearl' Shines Spotlight On VR

Oscar Nomination For 'Pearl' Shines Spotlight On VR

Months after its release, Google’s short film Pearl remains the best of its Spotlight Stories series of 360-degree films. The Oscars seem to agree.

The nominations for the 2017 edition of Hollywood’s prestigious awards ceremony were announced today. While movies like La La Land are stealing the usual headlines for leading the pack, there’s a small victory for the VR industry in the Animated Short Film category: Pearl has been listed.

As far as we can tell this is the first time a VR-compatible film has been nominated for an Oscar, though Oculus Story Studio’s Henry did walk away with an Emmy last year. It is important to note, however, that Pearl wasn’t just available as the 360-degree video you can view right now; its creators also made a theatrical version similar to what you might see before a Disney movie. We confirmed with Google this theatrical version, which isn’t available for wide viewing yet, is the one that was nominated. All the same, the nomination brings enormous attention to VR as a medium.

Pearl was directed by Patrick Osborne, who previously won an Academy Award for his 2014 short film, Feast, that ran before Disney’s Big Hero 6. Pearl tells of a father and his relationship with his daughter, documenting their lives through the perspective of a passenger seat of a car they both share. The project includes a beautiful backing track that runs throughout and, if you’re not holding back a few tears by the end of the near six-minute running time, there may be no help for you.

Another version of the project with support for positional tracking was released for the HTC Vive. The Oscars will be held on February 26th, 2017. The big question now is if VR could be in for its first big Academy Award? We’ll find out next month.

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