Technology 2 min read

Google Confirms Shut Down of its VR Film Division

Image via Google Spotlight

Image via Google Spotlight

After six years of creating immersive content, Google has announced that it will now be shutting down its VR film division, Spotlight Stories.

Karen Dufilho, Spotlight Stories executive producer, confirmed the decision:

“Google Spotlight Stories is shutting its doors after over six years of making stories and putting them on phones, on screens, in VR, and anywhere else we could get away with it.”

In a separate statement, a Google spokesperson said:

“Since its inception, Spotlight Stories strove to re-imagine VR storytelling. From ambitious shorts like Son of Jaguar, Sonaria and Back to The Moon to critical acclaim for Pearl (Emmy winner and first-ever VR film nominated for an Oscar) the Spotlight Stories team left a lasting impact on immersive storytelling. We are proud of the work the team has done over the years.”

Google’s VR Film Division Spotlight Stories

Spotlight Stories began as part of Motorola. The group was initially in charge of exploring potential storytelling opportunities for the mobile device maker.

Spotlight was then acquired by Google’s Advanced Technologies and Products group and became its VR film division. The group was able to produce some 360-degree videos and VR experiences with content creators like Jorge Gutierrez, Justin Lin, and Aardman Animation who made ‘Wallace and Gromit.’

One of Spotlight’s stories titled Pearl, which was directed by Disney’s Oscar-nominated director Patrick Osborne.

Aside from Pearl, the group also worked with Wes Anderson to create a virtual reality behind-the-scene featurette on the making of the movie ‘Isle of Dogs.’

Last November, Spotlight Stories released one of its significant works titled ‘Age of Sail‘, a narrative film for VR systems and mobile devices.

Unfortunately, like Facebook’s ill-fated Oculus Story Studio, Google has invested a tremendous amount of money on Spotlight Stories but never made a move to monetize its creations.

While Spotlight was making a significant push in the realm of virtual reality, it failed to contribute to the gains of Google who has been struggling with finding an audience for its Daydream VR headset.

Eventually, Google reportedly decided that VR content creation is not profitable and decided to close the group. According to reports, Google gave Spotlight’s artists the opportunity to take on other roles within the company.

Read More: Pros And Cons Of VR, AR As Teaching Tools

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Chelle Fuertes

Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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