Former Pixar and Bungie man Tom Sanocki shows off his new project
Hello, my name is Tom. I’ve been playing games for almost all of my life, and I started writing my own when I was a kid. I spent 11 years at Pixar making characters for animated films (Finding Nemo, Cars, Up, and a few more), and then four years at Bungie making characters and cinematics for Destiny. And now I’ve started a virtual reality company to take two things that I love — movies and games — and blend them into something new.
At GDC this year we’re showing Gary the Gull — a virtual reality “interactive movie”. It tells a story like a movie, but it’s interactive like a game.
You start on a beach with a cooler full of tasty food in front of you, and because it’s in VR it looks and feels like you’re actually there. Then a seagull lands next to you — and starts talking!
You can respond to him — you can talk back, answer his questions by nodding or shaking your head, or just ignore him. He tries to distract you by making you look away, and if you lean in too close he’ll jump back. Because VR makes him like he’s there in front of you, it feels natural and fun to be part of his story just like he is part of yours.
Gary the Gull was particularly fun for us to make because we didn’t do it alone! We partnered with our friends at Motional, a VR creative company founded by Mark Walsh — an ex-Pixar writer-director and animation supervisor who made movies for 18 years at Pixar and directed the Partysaurus Rex Pixar short film.
We want as many people building great virtual reality content for PSVR, so we’re making the interactive character technology used in Gary the Gull available to other game developers through our Limitless VR Creative Environment, built by a team of ex-Pixar and ex-Bungie devs.
We’d love for you to meet Gary in person! We’re showcasing for the very first time in the VR Lounge at GDC, running on PlayStation VR. And if you can’t make it to the conference, we’re excited to release it on PSVR later so you can enjoy it on your PS4 at home.
This is our first step in making characters in VR games feel engaging and real. We’re excited to hear what you think and what we can do to make the next set of games and interactive movies even better!