Vote for “Pearl” for the FoST Prize!


Pearl is one of twenty finalists for the Future of Storytelling Prize! Now’s your chance to vote for Pearl!


In other news, we’ll also be showing Pearl at the Kaleidoscope VR Summer Showcase, which travels around the world to London, Seoul, Berlin, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. I’ll be at the SF event on September 30th.

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-8-51-01-amPearl has also been nominated in three categories (Narrative, Mobile, and Original Score) for the Virtual Reality Foundation’s third annual Proto Awards, coming up on October 8th. The nominees all look amazing. I can’t wait to meet them!

On the rules for VR

SIGGRAPH attendees are a sophisticated audience, so demoing Pearl in the VR Village last week led to some really interesting conversations.  One thing I heard more than once was this idea that to do storytelling in VR, we have to throw out all the rules of traditional cinema. While I appreciate the swashbuckling spirit of that sentiment, I don’t think it’s actually true.

drawing by Elizabeth Floyd
drawing by Elizabeth Floyd

I had a life drawing instructor in college who used to teach us rules like “highlights are circular, and shadows are triangular.” As a math major, this really bothered me at the time, because taken literally it was provably false– just give me a flashlight and a grapefruit and I’ll show you! But that was missing his point. The human body is made of smooth, convex masses, and the highlights on them do indeed tend to be round. And when one limb casts a shadow on another, the contour of the shadow’s edge wraps around and hits the silhouette at an angle, forming a sharp point. In other words, “triangular”. So my teacher’s rule, within the context of human figure drawing, was totally valid and actually pretty insightful. But it wasn’t a law of nature, it was something he invented. And to construct it, he had to synthesize knowledge from human anatomy, physics, geometry, and visual perception.

The rules of filmmaking seem atomic and universal to us, but they’re not. Like the “triangular/circular” rule, they’re chimaeras, hybrid creatures assembled from bits of wisdom from different disciplines. They’re not real the way math and biology are real, we’re just so used to them that we mistake them for reality.

illustration of the 180-degree ruleFor example, take film’s 180º rule. That’s the rule that says if you’re shooting a conversation between two characters, there’s an imaginary line connecting them, and when you cut from shot to shot, you always have to keep the camera on the same side of it. Cross that line, and you risk confusing your audience. This rule has elements of geometry (projecting 3D space to a plane), perception (how humans construct mental models of 3D space) and psychology (how we organize those models based on relationships between people). That’s a lot of moving parts! Now imagine trying to apply this rule to a VR experience where you can walk around the scene. Some of those elements change (the flat screen becomes a volume) but the perception and psychology parts are still there. So the question is not whether to keep the 180º rule or throw it away.  The question to ask is which parts do we keep, and what else do we add into the mix, to construct a new rule that works for VR?

For VR storytelling, we shouldn’t have to throw out the rules of the mediums we know and love. But we can unpack them, dismantle them into their component parts, and analyze them at a deeper level than we’re used to doing. And that’s going to be a fun way to spend the next few years, for all of us.

“Pearl” at SIGGRAPH 2016


Pearl will have a big presence at SIGGRAPH this year! We’re doing our making-of presentation in a Production Session on Sunday, July 24th from 10:45-12:15, and showing it on the Vive in the VR Village all day from Sunday through Thursday. Pearl will also be shown at the Appy Hour event on Wednesday, July 27th from 5-7 pm.

I’ll only be there Sunday-Tuesday, but I’m sure looking forward to it!

More press about “Pearl”

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 9.41.08 PM

Banana Frog, June 2: The Making of Google Spotlight Stories’ Short Film: Pearl

Nerd Reactor, June 2: Patrick Osborne on ‘Pearl’ VR-animated short and life after Disney

Cartoon Brew, June 1: Nine Can’t-Miss Events at Annecy 2016

iAnimate Podcast, May 31: Interview with Animator & Director Patrick Osborne

Fast Company Design, May 27: Don’t Be Surprised If Google’s New Animated Short Wins an Oscar

Beyond the Cartoons, May 22: Patrick Osborne’s ‘Pearl’ Launched at Google I/O Conference


VR at Annecy

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 8.58.51 PMThe Annecy Animation Festival will have a flurry of VR demos and presentations this year, including recent work from Google Spotlight Stories, Aardman, Nexus, Penrose, Baobab, and more.

Several directors and producers from Google Spotlight Stories will discuss their experiences on a panel on Monday, June 13 at 6pm.

Our own short Pearl, as well as Penrose Studios’ beautiful Allumette, will be shown on Tuesday, June 14 from 10am to 5pm.

The next Spotlight Story, Nexus’ charming Rain or Shine, will have its worldwide debut alongside NFB’s Minotaur on Wednesday, June 15 from 10am to 5pm.

And the thoroughly fun creative VR painting app Tilt Brush will be available for live demos on Thursday, June 16 from 9am to noon.

And oh yes, lots of good old linear, non-interactive rectangular films will be shown at the festival too! Here’s the full program. I’ll be there Sunday through Thursday. Vive le lapin!

“Pearl” goes live today!


The short I’ve been working on for the past year finally goes live today! It should play nicely on any iPhone, iPad or Android device made in the past few years. Here are all the ways to see it:

If you’re on iOS: download the Google Spotlight Stories app.
If you’re on Android: visit Google Spotlight Stories using the YouTube app.

(If you’re on a desktop computer or older device, fear not: you can still see Pearl, as a non-interactive 360º video. But the experience is made for mobile, so that’s really the best way to see it.)

Whatever device you’re using, I recommend plugging in your very best pair of headphones so you can enjoy the 360º ambisonic sound and music!


Cassidy Curtis's splendid display of colorful things.