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BEST VR/360 FILMS FOR KIDS

If you are self-isolating with your family and have a VR headset — it is time to share it with your loved ones and especially kids.

It is a grey area indeed when it comes to the question whether to let the kid less that 12–13 years old to try VR, but if you are stuck at home and what give it a try — here is a selection of both 360 and interactive projects which are safe to show to kids.

360 Content Platforms

First of all, let’s think of all those NYTimes and other branded Google cardboards many of you received around 4 years ago. If they are still somewhere around and you are willing to watch non-interactive 360 content on iPhone or Android – some of 360 video platforms are still alive.

You can choose to install on of those apps:

WITHIN — https://www.with.in/

SAMSUNG VR — https://samsungvr.com/

Veer VR— https://veer.tv

INCEPTION VR — https://inceptionvr.com/

of course, there is an option of using Youtube VR (or simply Youtube in VR mode on your smartphone), but first three platforms have a better curation of the content so most probably the content would be safe to watch there.

However, for most of the readers it is not the question where to watch or even how to watch. Most of you have found this article while googling for something around the title of this article.

Major question is what to watch and what might be suitable for younger audience, be creative, innovative yet simple and positive.

Additionally, there is a strong idea behind our selection – we want to show works which are cinematic in its nature, and would keep you or your kid still and less active (which means more safe) than most of zombie-action-fps-vr shooters available.

As our team is working on “Under the pillow XR” project right now about kitten Mormitten (Mormotik in Russian), we’ve been around the subject for a while, getting inspiration and ideas from those who did a great job creating incredible works.

Baobab Studios: Invasion — Asteroids — Rainbow Crow — Bonfire

Baobab Studios are #1 production company and if you own VR headset or tried apps above — you have already seen one or two works produced by the team leaded by Eric Darnell and Maureen Fan. Most of their projects exist in tradition “flat” animation, 360 video and Interactive Version.

“Invasion” (6 min, 2016) is the most well-known work, 2017 Emmy® winner for “Outstanding Interactive.
360 version might be found any platform, f.e. here (Youtube), as well as in Within and InceptionVR.
Interactive version — for Oculus and Steam.

“Asteriods” (7 min, 2016) brings back two characters from the first episode. However, I would advice to try interactive version, which gives you interactive choices of the story and makes you more involved in the story.
Interactive version — Oculus Go version
360 version — Youtube.
360 version — dedicated app for Iphone

“Crow: The Legend” (20 min, 2018)
In this animated movie, Crow is the most admired animal in the forest with his magnificent colors and beautiful voice. But when the very first winter arrives, can Crow make the personal sacrifices needed to save his friends? Starring John Legend, Oprah Winfrey, Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians), Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One), Diego Luna (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), and Liza Koshy.
Interactive version — Oculus Rift app
360 version — Youtube
360 version — Samsung VR
360 version — Oculus Go / Gear VR app

One more project from Baobab doesn’t have a 360 version, but if you own a headset, you should definitely try this one:

“Bonfire” (15 min, 2019)
You’ve just crashed your spaceship on a strange planet. Your only tools for survival are a fading bonfire, a surly robot and a limited supply of nourishment cylinders. And what’s that sneaking around out there in the dark alien jungle?
Interactive Oculus Rift version ($5)
Interactive Oculus Quest version ($5)
Interactive Viveport version

Next part — 360 videos:

Google Spotlight Stories is the Oscar nominated, Emmy award-winning platform for immersive stories. Google Spotlight Stories got its start in 2013 as part of Motorola, where the group was formed to explore the future of storytelling for mobile devices. It was closed in 2019 and now you can watch the works they’ve created either as a 360 videos on their channel or using the dedicated apps on different platforms — more info might be found on their web-site: https://atap.google.com/spotlight-stories/

One of their highlights, was an animated film “Pearl” which is more for adults, but worth adding for its positive and warm message:

As for the kids, here are the videos you could show them without worries.

Special Delivery:

Buggy Night:

Rain or shine:

Back to the moon:

Now let’s move to other works. Here is the selection of different 360 videos:

Qumi-Qumi — Hocus Pokus (7 min, 2018)

In this video created by Cyprus-based studio Toonbox you have 4 different endings. You can find those at their youtube channels. The idea behind the projects was really interesting — to create a multi-ending stories with the ability of the viewers to choose the director of the story. However, “Hocus Pokus” was the only film made within this project by Toonbox.

Om Nom (Cut the rope — Unexpected guest (2 min)

“Cut the rope” is quite a popular mobile game and animation series as well, so here producers decided to give it a chance to a 360 video. They have one more, but second one has less storytelling, but worth checking for those who need more content to show:

Wings / Aripi (8 min 10 sec, Moldova):

Here we have a project of an amazing quality and story from Simpals, studio in Moldova. Projects has already received some awards and exist in interactive, 360 and flat versions. However, online you can find only 360 and flat versions. Anyway, it pushes the limits of quality quite high, right?

The Prospects. Beauty of science (2 min 20 sec):

Prospects VR was made by Chinese artists and scientists within “Beauty of Science” initiative. A CG 360 VR animation about why humans are driven to uncover the secrets of the world through 4 scenes: the room of knowledge, the neutrino detector, the DNA, and the cosmos.

Bananza (2 min 30 sec):

Bananza is a pretty funny work by artists TeYosh, which received prize at CINEKID, huge festival dedicated to kid’s content. It was also part of various festivals (including goEast Open Frame Award) and Inception VR competition.

The Dream Collector (12 min):

Dream Collector is a production by Pinta Studios and might be watched as a 360 video on VEER VR platform or on Steam.
The Dream Collector tells the story of an old man and his playful dog to live together in a garbage dump, where they spend their days sorting through the trash left behind by others.

Lightning A VR Story (14 min):

After getting the light scared out of him, a little firefly named LIGHTNING must find the courage to turn his light back on to save his friend from the dangers of the forest.

This work was created almost by one person in a special tool for creating animation inside the virtual reality “Tvori”.
Basically, if you’ve watched all previous works and decided to start doing animation in VR by yourself — that’s the first and easiest tool to start doing it.

Also, if you want to add some educational element to this VR kid’s playlist, we would strongly advice you to add one of the films within “Virtual Plant Cell” project in Australia — children loves it and even remember something about the Plant Cell after the screenings:

Virtual Plant Cell:

Interactive

Let’s stop with 360 content and more to a world of immersive interactive one!

You don’t have lots of 100% targeted kids content there because headset manufacturers set the age limit to 12–13 years line. There are many discussions why it is so, but for now it is hard to create content openly stating “hey hey we are here for kids!”.

So let’s check the content which at least suitable for them.
First of all, we have works developed by now closed Oculus Story Studio as well as bunch of the projects appeared thanks to the explorations they’ve made in interactive storytelling:

Lost (Oculus Rift)

From the director of Pixar’s The Blue Umbrella, experience the wonder of an unexpected encounter in a magical forest. An Oculus Story Studio production.

Henry (Oculus Rift)

Narrated by Elijah Wood, and developed with former creative talent on the Brave and Toy Story 3 teams, Henry is the story of a little hedgehog with a big problem…he loves to hug! After ending up alone on his birthday, he’ll make a wish that changes everything. An Oculus Story Studio production.

Wolves in the walls (Oculus Rift and Quest)

This one actually might be a little scary for the kids, so check it by yourself before — it’s not a simple storytelling and definitely an achievement in how to tell the stories using virtual reality, but might be quite difficult for young audience. However, it is the project started within the Oculus Story Studio before its closure which was finished by ex-head of the studio Edward Saatchi and his team within Fable Studio.

What makes the noises we can’t explain? Eight year old Lucy is convinced it’s ​wolves.​ Her family is not so sure.But something has been stealing Mom’s jam, glitching Brother’s games, and howling over Dad’s music. Lucy desperately wants to warn them all, and she needs your help. Will you believe her Because when the wolves do, in fact, come out of the walls, it’s all over. Winner of the 2019 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Innovation in Interactive Media.

Coco VR (Oculus Rift)

Coco VR is Pixar’s stunning debut into virtual reality: an adventure into the beautiful Disney-Pixar film, Coco. You can choose either a single or multi-player experience, and follow the magical alebrije into the luminous world of Coco filled with lovable characters and beautiful settings from the film.

Disney Movies VR (Oculus Rift)

Transport yourself into the wonderful world of Disney from your very own living room with Disney Movies VR. This app is a fully immersive experience where you visit themed worlds, including Disney, Marvel and Lucasfilm, and interact with some of your favourite characters in their natural environments. Choose from multiple scenes in Disney films and be part of the action! Disney Movies VR is your ticket to full immersion into the many Disney experiences optimised for virtual reality. Brought to you by the imaginative minds at Disney.

Gloomy Eyes (Viveport)

With the voice of Colin Farrell, Gloomy Eyes narrates the story of the sun who got tired of the humans and decided to hide and never rise again. The darkness awoke the dead from their graves. A zombie kid called Gloomy and a mortal girl called Nena fall in love and immerse in a deep connection that not even the most powerful man in town can destroy. Gloomy Eyes is an animated VR-series in 6DoF & 3D real time.

Gloomy Eyes is one of the hits of the previous year which is available at VIVEPORT Platform, which we strongly advice to install and subscribe to with the Infinity Subscription to get lots of content, both gaming and storytelling. There you can also find bunch of great works at Viveport Video platforms, so don’t miss a chance to test it all while in self-isolation, monthly payment worth the chance to test it all!

And now we are at the part which might be called

“great experiences we’ve tried but you could not because they are not published”:

Arden’s Wake: Tide’s Fall by Penrose Studio

Penrose Studios is doing incredible work which wins the best festivals around the world, but their major production, Arden’s Wake: Tide’s Fall is not available.

But you can download and watch their previous animation projects — AlumetteOculus Rift version, Steam Version:

and “Rose and I” — Oculus Rift version, Steam version.

Another winner of The Biennale — Venice International Film Festival VR Competition is Buddy VR, which is also unavailable for purchase:

Last year, Geneva International Film Festival and their amazing programmer Paola Gazzani made a special program with kids oriented interactive content. Aripi (Wings) and Bonfire were there alongside with three more works which would be great to publish for wider audiences:

Ello:

Feather:

The Line:

If you have more works to add to this list — drop a mail to vrfilmfest@gmail.com or leave a comment!

And, of course, take care of yourself!

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