Disney Pixar is launching Coco VR, which marks their first entry into Virtual Reality.
The VR app debuts today as an exclusive for free on the Oculus Rift. A stripped-down version featuring less content and none of the Rift’s precise hand tracking will show on Gear VR when the film premieres next week.
The exclusive Oculus Rift VR experience is a 20-minute interactive story that serves as a promotion for Coco, a film about a young musician’s journey into the Land of the Dead, which is based on Mexico’s holiday tradition of Dia del Los Muertos.
Pixar’s VR experience is both interactive and social, as you can journey through the Land of the Dead with up to three other people in VR and you can model outfits or decorate your calaca head.
The VR team worked closely with their film counterparts to create assets and animations that stayed true to the movie while still creating an experience that feels inherently VR.
Coco VR not only allows viewers to explore the gorgeous world of Coco, it also takes viewers behind the scenes, with unreleased footage, actual concept art, and storyboards from the film.
Disney previewed the experience at select Dia de Los Muertos festivities. Oculus has a VR partnership with Disney, which also created other VR experiences such as Moana’s Kakamora Orchestra, a 360-degree video on Facebook, and Lumiere’s Dress Rehearsal, an interactive experience available through the Disney Movies VR app on Rift and Gear VR.
Even though Coco VR seems like an example of a large media company embracing the new medium of VR, it might take a while for Pixar to tell a new story totally through VR.
“I think we're still evaluating it. We're still learning about what audiences like, what stories we would want to tell in VR, so it remains to be seen,” Marc Sondheimer, Coco VR producer and Academy Award winner, said in an interview with GamesBeat.
Pixar has a reputation for excellence in animation and the lack of control from virtual reality is the main reason for the delay in warming up to the technology.
“We are kind of control freaks at Pixar. We normally control everything – where your eyes look, what your eyes see and the whole creation process. In VR, we have to give up a lot of those controls,” Sondheimer said.
Coco VR will be available for viewing by anyone at an unspecified number of Disney Stores and movie theaters until November 22nd when the full film premieres.