Former Oculus Studio Employees Launch VR Film Startup Fable, Plan to Debut First Project at Sundance Festival

Courtesy of Fable Studio

After Oculus announced last spring that it would shut down its VR film studio, a team of alumni got together and hatched a plan for a new company that would continue to explore how to tell immersive and interactive stories.

That venture, Fable Studio, quietly formed about six months ago. Now the team behind Fable is going public with their plans ahead of the Sundance Film Festival debut of their first project, Wolves in the Walls.

Co-founded by Oculus Story Studio veterans Edward Saatchi and Pete Billington, Fable launched Thursday with a slate of “made in VR” film projects that will explore how to bring interactivity to immersive storytelling.

Billington, who explains that they had already put significant work into Wolves when the program was shut down.

Their first film, an adaptation of the Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean children’s book Wolves in the Walls, began as an Oculus Story Studio project in 2015. After Story Studio shuttered, the future of Wolves was up in the air. But Facebook-owned Oculus ultimately agreed to fund Wolves, allowing Fable to finish the under 10-minute project and submit it to Sundance, where it will debut Friday, Jan. 19 as part of the New Frontiers program.

“We had this legacy of Story Studio that we wanted to continue,” says Billington, who explains that they had already put significant work into Wolves when the program was shut down. “To inherit that work and be able to continue it, it felt like something that had to be done. There was never really a moment where we questioned whether we should do this or not.”

The first of three planned Wolves chapters introduces people to Lucy, a young girl who enlists participants on her quest to prove that there are wolves in the walls of her home. The character of Lucy is interactive, meaning that she can hand objects to the viewer and recall actions that the viewer takes.

But the Lucy who appears in Wolves is just the beginning for Fable’s interactive technology. The company ultimately hopes to bring Lucy to augmented reality, creating an interactive character that can do all the things a voice assistant like Alexa or Siri can do.

“Imagine you come home and there’s an interactive character in the home,” explains Saatchi, adding that the character could play games with children, visually transport someone to the Himalayas or serve as a replacement for set-top boxes like the Apple TV. “Kids and adults are building a deep connection with this character. She is able to become a part of the family.”

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SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter, Natalie Jarvey