Los Angeles based production studio, Gentleman Scholar, whose unique animation and commercial work have included clients like Audi, Taco Bell, HP, and Lexus, have taken a leap into virtual reality storytelling with their latest “Truffle Pig” experience for Oculus Rift.
What began as a small internal endeavor, turned into something much bigger when Creative Directors and Partners, William Campbell and Will Johnson, began playing with the idea of extending the animated experience into VR. “We always love the challenge of attempting something we’ve never done before. For us, creating an Oculus experience seemed like a perfect combination of animation and storytelling through new technologies,” says Campbell. “We just jumped in.”
Jumping in is indeed what Gentleman Scholar did with the visually stunning world of “Truffle Pig”. The story is about a man (Gustav) and his pet truffle pig on their daily morning expedition into a dark French countryside forest in search of truffles. Their journey is interrupted when the two suddenly find something far more intriguing than a mushroom. The experience becomes immersive upon their unexpected discovery, transporting the viewer into the body of our hero. It is now up to the player to find their way home through a series of visually striking – and sometimes perplexing – settings and milestones.
The project was a very collaborative experiment, with Associate Creative Director JP Rooney, CG Supervisor/Unreal Developer Tim Hayward, and Art Director Trevor Conrad leading the project. From concept to animation and building multiple worlds in Unreal Engine, the Gentleman Scholar team had complete freedom to create the whimsical and surreal framework of “Truffle Pig.”
“Sometimes creating projects for ourselves is harder than creating work for a client. We tend to be impossibly hard on ourselves, in a good way,” says Rooney. ‘Truffle Pig’ allowed everyone in the studio to bring something to the table.”
As Gentleman Scholar’s first foray into an Oculus Rift and VR experience, it looks impressive. It is indeed a stunning adventure and we can’t wait to see what other amazing stories they have planned for VR. “We have a long way to go to really tap into the true potential of what VR can offer the commercial and storytelling community. It’s all about feeling something, a connection to the world you’re journeying through,” Johnson added.
Production Company: Gentleman Scholar
Creative Directors: William Campbell & Will Johnson
Executive Producer: Jo Arghiris
Head of Production: Rachel Kaminek
Associate Creative Director: John-Patrick Rooney
CG Lead/Unreal Developer: Tim Hayward
Art Director: Trevor Conrad
Producer: Sabrina Futrell Designers: Sarah Beth Hulver, Macauley Johnson, Jordan Lyle, Michael Tavarez, David Park, Lauren Tom
Lighting/Look Development: Ovi Bogdan
Cel Animator: Harry Teitelman
3D Generalist: Ben Grangereau
3D Modeling & Texturing: Tiffany Chou, Caleb Ollivant, Xiaoya Zhao
2D Animators: Sarah Beth Hulver, Macauley Johnson, Shawn Lee
2D Compositor: Justin Mays Music – Intro Video: The Purge – David Wingo & Explosions in the Sky
Music – VR: The Light – The Album Leaf