Oculus Story Studio Explains How it Uses Unreal Engine 4 for VR Movies

Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 is one of the most popular middleware options out there for virtual reality (VR) developers. The engine is being used in a wide range of VR videogames such as Untold Games’ Loading Human and White Lotus Interactive’s XING: The Land Beyond. It came as something of a surprise, then, to find out that Oculus VR was also using the engine for a very different purpose; films. Oculus Story Studio, the film-focused division of the VR specialist, confirmed the engine’s use when showcasing its latest project, Henry, last month and has now explained more.

Henry Oculus Story Studio screenshot

As explained by Oculus Story Studio’s Max Planck in a recent blog update, the group uses Unreal Engine 4 was its real-time engine. “UE4 is where we assemble our experience, adding shading, lighting, animated effects, audio, set dressing, and any interaction-driven programming,” Planck explained. “To manage multiple team members working together simultaneously, we setup our project so the persistent level has an always-load sub-level for every story beat. Every story beat sub-level has its own Matinee Actor and the set of Actors unique to that beat, including a unique copy of any characters.”

It’s a surprising use of the engine although an undeniably smart one. UE4 seems to be being utilised in each of Oculus Story Studio’s current projects, which also includes its debut effort, Lost. Henry itself stars a hedgehog that longs for some company on his birthday, and viewers will follow him around his home as he prepares for his big day. The piece will be released for free for those that purchase the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) when it launches in the first quarter of next year.

VRFocus will continue to follow Oculus Story Studio’s work closely, reporting back with the latest from the group.