I Saw Disney’s First VR Film “Cycles” And My Mind Is Blown

    Jeff Gipson's directorial debut Cycles is the first of its kind VR film.

    Lighting artist-turned-Director, Jeff Gipson's debut Cycles is the first of its kind VR film. It's based on a family and the lifecycle of their home before, during, and after living there.

    The story follows the lives of Bert, Rae, and their daughter Rachel. Bert and Rae are named after his actual grandparents.

    You see furniture appearing before your eyes and you slowly see the empty house become a fully furnished home.

    They move throughout the house — enjoying dinners together in the kitchen, to celebrating Christmas, birthdays, to taking a dip in the pool.

    "We were able to place flat drawings into a 3-D space using Jose Luis Gomez Diaz's (Staff Software Engineer) scout tool. But then our animator and Quill storyboard artist Daniel Peixe helped make those flat drawings into Quill storyboards which gave us a sense of volume. So we could move around our characters and get sense of scale and how it felt to be close to them."

    Gipson's mother, Jaquie Gipson — a professional musician performed and composed the score for the film.

    I don't have any more actual images to show you, but hold my hand as I walk you through this emotional experience using Disney GIFS...

    The film starts off with the family moving into an empty home and by following their movement throughout the home you're intimately experiencing their memories.

    It's really fascinating because whenever you turn away from the focal point your surroundings actually lose its chroma. It becomes dull and less saturated.

    Now, once you fully understand that you have a front row seat in this family's memories, you're in for an emotional roller coaster ride.

    You get to live through the newlyweds initial excitement of moving into their first home together.

    But you're standing right in the middle of it all. So you feel like you have an invisibility cloak on and you're hoping to not be detected. Especially when the characters get closer to where you're standing.

    You see their daughter Rachel quickly growing before your eyes in a way that's never been done in a Disney film.

    Careful because it all happens so fast, if you blink or you stop paying attention for a second you'll miss it.

    But right when you get comfortable and you feel like you're a part of the family...

    ...the tough conversation of moving Rae into assisted living is had and you're more than likely a blubbering mess.

    So I left the VR headset with chills on my arms and even more of an appreciation of family.

    And finally with the idea that every home tells a story.

    Cycles is premiering August 12th at the SIGGRAPH 2018 conference in Vancouver, Canada.