Google's Spotlight Stories have served as more than just demos of 360-degree content. They've emotional, funny, deep stories of human emotion. As such, they've become quite popular over the time they've been available on YouTube and as apps on Android. Soon however, a recently released Spotlight Story will be able to make the claim of being the first to head to another platform entirely. Pearl, a Spotlight Story that came out in May, was shown off in a work-in-progress retooled form at a recent trade show, SIGGRAPH, in Anaheim, California, and it drew some seriously long lines.
Pearl was special among the Spotlight Stories put out thus far because it worked in a different way. Much like the Christmas Spotlight Story, Special Delivery, Pearl contained some hidden content that could be seen and interacted with by looking directly at it. Unlike Special Delivery however, Pearl would wait for the viewer to explore, ensuring they could take it all in without worrying about missing out on anything. The whole experience is built around the soundtrack, which is central to the story and can change to accommodate the user. The heart-wrenching story centers on a father and daughter, but perhaps more on the beloved car that they call home for a good part of the story, and second home for the rest of it.
The experience shows itself as truly VR-ready during a particular moment in the story. At one point, the daughter sticks her head out of the car's sunroof, which is open most of the time. In all of the normal 360 degree versions of the film, you can watch her stick her head out from any angle you want, but you're stuck in your seat. In the upcoming Steam version, compatible with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, you can do the same. You can, in fact, watch the whole story from outside the windows and sunroof, if you wish, and according to at least one viewer who was at SIGGRAPH, that is one of the big ways that the full VR version differentiates itself and gives the viewer a little taste of what VR is really capable of.