Friday evening I decided to have a look at the featured experience on the Oculus Store: Dear Angelica. I knew that this was some kind of 360-video experience, since there was a Sundance Film Festival in the corner of the tile… and I surely prefer interactive experiences. Furthermore in the description there was written that the story was about some kind of girl remembering some episodes of her life… and I was like: “oh God why, this surely will be some kind of super-boring stuff”. I want an action game Super Hot, not this kind of soap opera stuff. But I said to myself: “ok, let’s watch it anyway… so I can review it for my dear readers” (I was sacrificing for you!).

Well, the first 10 seconds I got bored by it… but in the end I was like “it is fu*king awesome”. But not a standard “awesome”… but an “awesome” as is said by the voice of Unreal Tournament when you make lots of kills in a row.

Honestly I don’t even know how to review it: the only way to understand what Dear Angelica is… it is watching it. It is undescribable, like all virtual reality experiences. Follow this link, download it and live it. Take 5 minutes of your time and watch it… you won’t regret it… it is an experience you have to live.

Dear Angelica Oculus storytelling
The girl lies in the bed and thinks about her mother… (Image by Oculus)

Anyway, I’ll try to do my job. Dear Angelica is an animation movie made by Oculus Studios. It is absolutely NOT a 360-video, it is a 3D animation movie, like Henry. It has been made all using Quill (the 3D drawing application of Oculus… like an improved version of Tilt Brush) by some great artists. It has been showcased at Sundance Festival. It talks about a girl that is in the bed and thinks about his dead mother and all beautiful moments she had with her. During the experience you’ll live this memories with the girl and you will see what her visualizes in her mind. It is a high-budget experience: at the end you will see various names in the final credits… and voice of the girl is made by Geena Davies (!!) so it is surely not an indie production.

Dear Angelica Oculus storytelling
The girl and her mother, like Thelma and Louise…look at the Van-goghish style of the drawing… it is beautiful (Image by Oculus)

All the experience is like entering a painting and living it, with all emotions that the painting can convey you. Even better: it is like entering in a painting while the artist is still drawing it and living all the emotions that pass through the artist’s mind. For every memory of the girl, you’ll see the brush strokes composing images all around you… slowly a black scene gets covered by people, animals, landscapes and words. You’ll see lots of words all around you… while the girl thinks, you’ll see her thoughts in your ears, while her words also fill all the environment around you. Everything is made in Quill, so you’ll really see strokes that make scenes gathering life around you.

Music, words, images… everything is beautiful and fills completely the space around you, in all dimensions. The result of this is pure emotions. I always say that virtual reality is something that enhances the emotions of the experiences you’re living and emotional experiences are the best to be lived in VR. In Dear Angelica you really start feeling the emotions of the girl and in the end you try manly not to cry, but it’s very hard: it is like the beginning of Pixar’s UP movie: even the Rock would be in tears watching it. Removing the headset after Dear Angelica you feel like emptied inside… you want this story to never end. This movie made me understand how the buzzword “storytelling” can be really something crucial for virtual reality. Dear Angelica is the essence of storytelling.

Dear Angelica Oculus storytelling
A dragon can make everything look cool…wow! (Image by Oculus)

For Oculus it is also great because it showcases how cool can be the drawings made with Quill, so it is also a great marketing move.

Ok, now it is right to talk about its little downsides, too:

  • It is sad, so don’t watch it before you’re going to a party;
  • In 2 scenes in the end, there are automatic camera movements, so motion sickness;
  • It suffers from all problems of VR movies: first of all the fact that while you’re looking to a part of the scene around you, you miss what happens in all the other parts. That’s really an issue, because you lose too much of the scene in construction.

I remain quite skeptical of Hollywood going completely VR for now, for various practical reasons, but today more than ever I’m convinced that short movies in VR can be really the future of art and cinematography.

So, again, take your time and have a look at Dear Angelica… but before, like and share this article!

P.S. If you don’t have an headset… here you are a video on Youtube with all the experience recorded… but if you have a HMD, please watch it in VR!

(Header image by Oculus)