LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Facebook-owned Oculus just won its first Emmy: The virtual reality (VR) company’s Oculus Studio unit has been awarded the Emmy for Outstanding Original Interactive Program for its animated VR short film “Henry,” which was released for the Oculus Rift earlier this year.

“Henry” is the story of a hedgehog that likes to hug. It’s narrated by Elijah Wood, and has been directed by Ramiro Lopez Dau, who previously worked on animations for movies like “Brave,” “Monsters University” and “Cars 2.”

“We hope this represents a tipping point for the VR industry,” Dau told Variety. “We’ve wanted to show that VR is an art form – a place that welcomes storytellers and that even at this very, very early stage it can be a powerful tool for storytelling. This Emmy validates that vision.”


In this photo taken Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, an art director works on visual development at the Oculus Story Studio, a hub for digital animators and experimental filmmakers in San Francisco’s trendy South of Market district. Storytelling techniques in virtual reality are just in their infancy, and the consumer version of the industry-leading headset Oculus Rift is only due to ship later in March 2016.

Oculus officially launched its Story Studio in early 2015 with the unveiling of “Lost,” a first animated VR short film. “‘Lost’ and ‘Henry’ are our contributions to a big and exciting conversation with the VR audience, with many VR movie studios and VR storytellers about what’s possible in VR,” said Oculus Story Studio Producer Edward Saatchi. “We feel that these are still just steps on the path to whatever a VR movie will become.”

This isn’t the first Emmy for VR content; the “Sleepy Hollow” VR experience was awarded an Emmy for user experience and visual design last year. However, it’s the first VR original to receive such an honor, and the first VR experience period to be to win the Emmy for Outstanding Original Interactive Program. That award previously went to apps like “AMEX Unstaged: Taylor Swift” and online video projects like “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.”

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