Exploring Immersive Storytelling with Eric Darnell

Eric Darnell came out to our May event to share with us “The Nature and Challenges of Immersive Storytelling.” This is a fantastic talk with valuable insights for anyone interested in creating narrative experiences in VR.

Eric Darnell, Chief Creative Officer of Baobab Studios

Crafting a VR Story

– Discussing the nature and challenges of immersive storytelling in VR

Eric Darnell is Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of the Emmy award winning and leading VR animation studio Baobab Studios, whose mission is to inspire you to dream by bringing out your sense of wonder. Started by industry leaders Maureen Fan (Zynga VP of Games, Farmville Franchise), Eric Darnell (Director of all 4 Madagascar films), and Larry Cutler (Dreamworks’; Head of Character Tech, Pixar TD Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, Oscar tech judge), the company’s Emmy- award winning VR animation, INVASION!, starring Ethan Hawke, launched to substantial critical acclaim and has become the top downloaded VR app. In a first, Hollywood is taking IP from VR to become a feature film: Roth Kirschenbaum Films (Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman) has signed on to adapt INVASION! into a big screen feature film “flattie”.

Right out of the gate, Baobab Studios garnered laurels from film festivals globally including Sundance Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival and Cannes. INVASION! is currently a top ranking download on major VR platforms including Oculus, VIVE, PSVR, Samsung, Within, Hulu and others. Baobab’s 2nd VR animation, ASTEROIDS! starring Elizabeth Banks was an official 2017 Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival selection and won Best VR Experience at the Unity Vision Conference. Their latest Rainbow Crow, starring John Legend, Diego Luna, and Constance Wu premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and Cannes this year. Baobab was named Most Innovative Company for 2018 in the VR/AR category by Fast Company. Baobab has raised $31M to date making them one of the largest independent VR studios today. Baobab’s vision is to create experiences with the empathy of film, the agency of games, and
ultimately the motivation of real life.

Eric’s career spans 25 years as a computer animation director, screenwriter, story artist, film director, and executive producer. He was the director and screenwriter on all four films in the “Madagascar” franchise, which together have grossed more than $2.5 billion at the box-office. He was also executive producer on “The Penguins of Madagascar.” Previously, Eric directed DreamWorks Animation’s very first animated feature film, “Antz,” which features the voices of Woody Allen, Gene Hackman, Christopher Walken, and Sharon Stone. Eric earned a degree in journalism from the University of Colorado and a master’s degree in experimental animation from The California Institute of the Arts.

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