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Watch PEARL: The First VR Animated Short To Earn an Oscar Nomination

While the concept of virtual reality has been around for decades, it’s still a relatively young medium for filmmakers. Though we haven’t yet reached the point where a movie filmed in VR is counted among the Academy Awards’ Best Picture nominees, this year Pearl took a big step forward by becoming the VR animated short to be nominated for an Oscar. And while you don’t need VR to watch Pearl, the experience is truer if you do.

Pearl was released last year for the Google Spotlight Stories app, which allowed viewers to experience it on Google Daydream and other VR devices. The story revolves around an unnamed father and his daughter, Sara, through the many years spent in their beloved hatchback. Kelley Stoltz voices the father, while Nicki Bluhm portrays Sara; and both performers sing “No Wrong Way Home,” the song that carries viewers through the short. Along the way, we see the father take Sara across the country as he imparts his love for music to her. And Sara proves pretty quickly that she is very much her father’s daughter.

The car passes to Sara when she gets older, as she pursues her own musical ambitions alongside her band. The VR aspect comes into play by letting the viewer look around the hatchback in every direction, so you can see what everyone in the car is doing. The animation is a little primitive compared to standard 3D animation, but director Patrick Osborne and the entire team behind Pearl really put a lot of heart into this project. Even the 2D cut of Pearl has a terrific grasp on the audience’s emotions. We suspect that will be the key to future VR films as well. Once virtual reality becomes less of a gimmick, it can become a powerful tool in the storyteller’s arsenal.

What did you think about Pearl? Play us out and share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Image Credit: Evil Eye Pictures

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