Pour one out in remembrance of Google’s Oscar nominated, Emmy award-winning platform.
In an official statement released yesterday by Google, the company confirmed the termination of their popular immersive film program, Google Spotlight Stories, after an impressive six years of AAA VR storytelling.
“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,” confirmed Spotlight Stories executive producer Karen Dufilho in a satement made to Variety.
Founded originally by Motorola with the goal of producing 360-degree content exclusive to Android phones, the studio eventually fell into the hands of Google after their 12.5 billion USD acquisition of the mobile phone company in 2011. Since then, the studio has produced an impressive catalogue of 13 eclectic VR short films, some of which award-winning; the studios 2016 release Pearl took home an Emmy and was the first VR film ever to be nominated for an Academy Award.
The exact reason of the shut down currently remains unclear, although considering their abandonment of their Daydream and Lenovo Mirage VR headsets, it’s becoming increasingly apparent the company is shifting its priorities away from VR in favor of AR. The company has already invested a significant amount of time and capital developing their ARCore platform, as well as their Pixel Playground and upcoming Google Maps AR navigation functionality.
In a statement sent to press, a Google Spokesperson expressed the companies pride towards their ambitious immersive studio.
“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, the Spotlight Stories team left a lasting impact on immersive storytelling. We are proud of the work the team has done over the years.”
It’s a shame to see such an impactful studio terminated while in the prime of its life. Google made the decision from the very beginning not to monetize the work produced by Spotlight Stories, choosing instead to let the team focus entirely on pushing the boundaries of immersive filmmaking. The result is a catalogue of groundbreaking short films developed without a fear of failure. With VR and AR technology still in the process of gaining mainstream appeal, it’s imperative that well-funded companies such as Google continue using their resources to experiment and accelerate the market.
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