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Oculus Uses 'Henry' Premiere To Whet Appetites For Its Virtual Reality Headset


And let's move from a look at the past to a glimpse of the future, a virtual future. The company Oculus is moving closer to releasing a consumer headset. It would cover your ears and cover your eyes. And in that sealed virtual world, you'd play games or watch movies, like an animated film watched by NPR's Mandalit del Barco.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: At an opulent Beverly Hills mansion, reporters were invited to try out the Oculus Rift headsets.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Hold it like a set of binoculars, like that. And then place it on your head like a baseball cap.

DEL BARCO: And then voila, it's as though you're inside a 360-degree cartoon.


UNIDENTIFIED NARRATOR: Once upon a time, there was a little hedgehog named Henry.

DEL BARCO: There's Henry, looking straight at me. The story of Henry the Hedgehog, a spiky creature who likes to hug, is Oculus' first film with a story. It was directed by animator Ramiro Lopez Dau, who worked on Pixar's "Brave" and "Monsters University." He and his colleagues from Hollywood now work for Oculus's Story Studio, developing content for the headsets.

RAMIRO LOPEZ DAU: We're like a small core team of people, all from like Pixar, DreamWorks, Lucasfilm, trying to experiment with it, just trying new ideas.

DEL BARCO: Oculus hasn't even launched yet, but Facebook already bought the company for $2 billion. The Rift headsets will reportedly sell for a few hundred dollars, but users will need to have high-powered personal computers, the kind serious video game players have. Palmer Luckey, the 22-year-old who founded Oculus, says all this talent, content and advanced technology sets his company apart from competitors.

PALMER LUCKEY: There has to be a certain quality level for people to even be interested in it. If it's something that makes people feel disoriented, if it's something they - where they - you can barely read text, they're going to have a hard time being interested no matter how cool it is because it's just not good enough to do anything with. The Rift is one of the first VR headsets that is above that critical line.

DEL BARCO: Oculus plans to release more previews, including one film to make users feel they're inside a bullring. Mandalit del Barco, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition,, and

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