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The best VR short films to watch on your Oculus headset

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Although virtual reality might seem like platform best suited for gaming at a first glance, it has actually opened up many new possibilities for visual and interactive storytelling. VR has the power to transport you to inside a story the way that films on the small or the silver screen never could.

It offers a new immersive perspective, not the least because of its 360-degree view. Virtual reality also lends itself incredibly well to the short film format, often delivering brief but powerful experiences. Of course, as with every new medium, filmmakers are still experimenting and finding how to best utilize VR to weave their narratives, but there already are some captivating experiences to be found. This is why we've compiled a list of the best short films and experiences the Oculus platform has to offer. Get your headset ready and let's go!

Marshall from Detroit

As the name suggests, this 21-minute experience directed by Caleb Slain, allows you to see the Motor City through Eminem's eyes. You join the legendary rapper and radio host Sway Calloway in a night ride through the city, as Marshall Mathers answers questions about his early career - his struggles and triumph mirrored in the decline and revival of the city. The setting is both immersive and intimate, as you sit across from the rap legend and listen to him talk candidly. Of course, you are also shown gorgeous views of the city itself - from the car, and from Detroit rooftops, virtually transporting you to the Motor City.

Marshall from Detroit doesn't have a classic story structure, but that's to its benefit, not to its detriment. The atmospheric journey it takes you on is breathtaking. It's an experience you will enjoy even if you are not a hip-hop fan.

Length: 21 minutes

Where to get: Oculus Store

Price: Free

Traveling While Black

The next virtual reality film on our list is a documentary from Academy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams. Inspired by The Green Book, a mid 20th century travel guide for African Americans designed to point them safe places to rest and eat on the road, Traveling While Black explores the discrimination many were faced with in the days of segregation. However, it also masterfully demonstrates how much and little things have changed since, with firsthand accounts from people of various ages.

The main setting of the film is Ben’s Chili Bowl, a 50s style diner, which was one of the safe places listed in The Green Book. The visuals are stunning and although this is the direction's first experience with VR, the juxtaposition between past and present is masterfully done, often with the past being displayed in the mirror wall of the diner, while the present is unfolding in front of you. The documentary doesn't shy away from the topic of police brutality either and features an interview with Tamir Rice's mother. It's not a comfortable experience, but it shouldn't be. It is designed to confront us with the uncomfortable reality of both past and modern-day struggles of African Americans.

Length: 19 minutes

Where to get: Oculus Store

Price: Free


As an Oculus Studio Story production developed by talent that previously worked on Brave and Toy Story 3, it's no wonder this film reminds us of Pixar shorts. It tells the story of Henry - a hedgehog that lives alone and who is preparing to celebrate his birthday. As he blows the candle on his birthday cake, all he wishes for is a friend, but that can be hard when you're prickly! Narrated by Elijah Wood, this short but touching film relies more on showing rather than telling. It's lively and adorable animation pulls at your heartstrings, as you feel for Henry. There are magical and chaotic moments - objects flying around you in 360 degrees that take advantage of the VR medium to tell the hedgehog's touching story. It's ideal for both adults and children, and it definitely deserves its Emmy Award.

Length: 12 minutes

Where to get: Oculus Store

Price: Free

Coco VR

If you can expect one studio to bring the magic of animation to a new medium, it's Disney. The Oscar winning Coco has made its way onto VR with a short interactive film that transports you to the magical land of the dead. You meet Miguel, Ceci and Hector while traversing familiar locations from the feature length movie. The visuals are just as stunning as those from the original film, as you are taken on a train ride across a city full of lights.

The best part, however, is that Coco VR is interactive. In my opinion, not enough virtual reality films take advantage of this - it makes the experience even more immersive. Here, you get to play dress up in Ceci's shop, dance on stage while merrily playing the maracas and more. And although short, the film is cute and enjoyable. I also recommend checking out other Disney VR works when you download the app - you will find Star Wars experiences, Beauty and the Beast shorts, and coming soon MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) ones!

Length: Varies because it's an interactive experience

Where to get: Disney VR app/Oculus Store

Price: Free

Dear Angelica

We've saved the best for last. Created with the Quill tool, which lets illustrators animate directly in VR, Dear Angelica is an experience like no other. From the Oculus Story Studio, starring Geena Davis and Mae Whitman, its stunning hand drawn animation tells the story of a daughter remembering her mother Angelica, as she watches her epic movies - mixing up memories and moments from the silver screen. It's poignant, moving and full of life. Angelica's movie adventures come to life all around you and you don't want to miss a single frame. It is a true work of art. We won't spoil you any further because Dear Angelica is something you need to experience yourself. If there's one VR film that deserves your attention, it is this one.

Length: 13 minutes

Where to get: Oculus Store

Price: Free

This is our list of the best short films you can watch on your Oculus headset. We are eagerly awaiting the release of Wolves in the Walls, based on a Niel Gaiman's book of the same name, but until then feel free to share your favourites in the comments.

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