The Walt Disney Animation Studios are set to debut a new short “Cycles” next month, but it won’t be playing in front of a new feature. Instead, “Cycles” will mark Disney’s first virtual reality short film.

  • As Variety reports, “Cycles” will debut at the SIGGRAPH conference taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia from August 12-16 and will be featured at the Immersive Pavilion.
  • The short was directed by Jeff Gipson, who served as lighting artist on numerous Disney Animation projects, including Big Hero 6, MoanaFrozen, and Zootopia.
  • Gipson says the short was inspired by his childhood, spending time with his grandparents, and later helping them move to an assisted-living residence.
  • “Cycles” was apparently created in a four-month timespan, during which the team “used a mix of Quill VR painting techniques and motion capture to pre-visualization for the film, incorporating painters and artists to generate sculptures or 3D models of characters early on and draw scenes for the VR space.”
  • Although this is the first Disney short specifically created for VR, it is not Disney’s first venture into the technology. Last year, the company created “Coco VR” for the Oculus Rift.
  • Additionally, the virtual reality experience Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire from The Void is currently available at Disney Springs, Downtown Disney, and other locations.

What They’re Saying

  • Jeff Gipson, director, on creating “Cycles”: “We wanted to create a story in this single place and be able to have the viewer witness life happening around them. It is an emotionally driven film, expressing the real ups and downs, the happy and sad moments in life.”
  • Gipson on virtual reality technology:  “VR is an amazing technology and a lot of times the technology is what is really celebrated. We hope more and more people begin to see the emotional weight of VR films, and with ‘Cycles’ in particular, we hope they will feel the emotions we aimed to convey with our story.”


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