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Google’s Virtual Reality Spotlight Story ‘Pearl’ Gets Oscar Nomination

Variety logo Variety 1/24/2017 Janko Roettgers
© Provided by Variety

Add Google to the list of contenders for an Academy Award: “Pearl,” a Google Spotlight Story from Patrick Osborne, the director of Disney’s Oscar-nominated short film “Feast,” received an Oscar nomination in the animated short category Tuesday.

“Pearl” is a sweet coming-of-age story that follows a daughter, her musician father and the family car over a span of years, following the duo as the daughter grows from a tiny tot to a young woman ready to take her father’s legacy to the next level.

It’s part music video, part road movie, and entirely immersive, thanks to it being a 360-degree animated short that lets viewers tilt their phones to look around in the car and find their own vantage point as the story unfolds around them.

“Pearl” is one of a number such Spotlight Stories that have come out of Google, which in the past cooperated with animation legends like “Ariel” creator Glenn Keane and Aardman Animations of “Wallace and Gromit” fame, and is currently working on a new project from “Book of Life” director Jorge Gutierrez.

However, it was the first such project to also support a full-fledged VR headset with the HTC Vive, allowing viewers to move around in the car and even stick their head out of the sun roof.

Google officially debuted “Pearl” at the Tribeca Film Festival last April, and subsequently released it on YouTube as well as on the HTC Vive.

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