Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Google’s award-nominated VR studio is shutting down

Google has taken the decision to shut down its virtual reality video studio, Spotlight Stories, according to Variety.

The studio was quite a high profile undertaking, working on a number of films headed by Oscar-winning directors over the last six years. Amongst the interactive content the studio created for Google’s own Daydream View VR headset and YouTube, was Pearl – the first VR film to be nominated for an Academy Award, when it was shortlisted for Best Animated Short Film in 2017.

Over the course of its six-year lifespan, Spotlight Stories released 13 films. As well as Pearl, the studio made tie ins with The Simpsons and the Wes Anderson stop-motion move Isle of Dogs.

Related: Best VR headsets

Starting out life as a small Motorola project, creating 360-degree videos solely for the company’s handsets, it became Spotlight Stories and expanded further after it became Google’s property as part of the $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola in 2011.

Variety states that Google gave its full-time Spotlight Stories employees the chance to look for other positions within the company, but given the majority of the studio’s artists were contractors employed on a per-project basis, that’s likely at best a semi-empty gesture.  

Related: Best VR games

The Hollywood Reporter got hold of an email sent out by Karen Dufilho, the studio’s executive producer. “As many of you know, Google Spotlight Stories is shutting its doors after over six years of making stories and putting them on phones, on screens, in VR, and anywhere else we could get away with it,” she wrote. “The opportunity to contribute to story, animation, and tech has been like winning the lottery. You’ve all played a part and I’m so so proud of the work we’ve done together. Congratulations! My deepest gratitude to all of you.”

Does the end of Spotlight Stories spell trouble for VR film? Let us know what you think on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have 9 million users a month around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.