Henry will allow users to enter an immersive virtual environment

Oculus Rift releases second virtual reality movie

Virtual reality (VR) headset maker Oculus Rift has released a movie that uses its technology to tell the story of a hug-obsessed hedgehog.

In 'Henry', viewers will be able to virtually enter a treehouse in which they can look around the 360-degree environment and sit at a table as Henry celebrates his birthday.

The Facebook-owned company doesn’t plan to sell the second film from its film division Story Studios, but it will provide 'Henry' and 'Lost', its debut film about a mechanical creature that comes to life in a forest, free with its consumer headset next year.

"Right now there are no plans for the monetisation of Story Studios. It's to develop experimental stuff," Oculus founder Palmer Luckey told Reuters in an interview.

A series of five short animated films will be created over the next year and the company hopes they will convince filmmakers to use the technology and produce content that attracts consumers to its forthcoming headset.

The firm's film division employs both video game engineers and former Pixar animators and award-winning directors such as Guillermo del Toro, as well as Walt Disney's LucasFilm, are testing out the platform.

While he concedes that the technology is in early days, Oculus's chief operating officer Laird Malamed is confident filmmakers will "see that VR is a place for them to bring their great creative ideas and make it available to people."

The world's top movie streaming site Netflix has not been won over yet though. "We're open to it and looking at different things," Chief content officer Ted Sarandos told Reuters. "But there's nothing that has moved us."

Oculus' first headset is expected to cost roughly $1,500 and Luckey expects early adopters to come from the gaming world, but Luckey says that allowing consumers to try to the technology will be crucial so the company is planning to stage demonstrations at retailers and do tours of major cities to stoke interest.

"You can't really understand it by just hearing about it. You have to try it," he said. "I'm a strong believer not everyone is going to love VR right now, but everyone has a use for VR eventually."

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