Nickelodeon is stepping towards a deeper level of immersion and exploring the boundaries of virtual reality by way of its gaming business and the software engine it used to get them there — Unreal Engine. According to James Stephenson, senior VP of animation and games at the network, Nickelodeon is in the initial stages of VR development and currentlyusing the latest tools and content to discover the limits of what is achievable for storytellers who wish to work within this realm
“For us it was an offshoot of a lot of the technical development we were doing for CG animation,” says Stephenson.
Stephenson stopped short of revealing exact details of projects within this area, but according to Kim Libreri, chief technology officer for Epic, which makes Unreal Engine, they have been collaborating with Nickelodeon for some time on tools made specifically for their projects. “They’ve been asking all the right questions and they’re very smart (about) how they’re looking at this process,” says Libreri, who adds that the modular qualities of Unreal Engine makes it flexible enough to adapt to different uses, even when the content creators aren’t exactly sure what those uses might be.
According to Stephenson, the network is also working with leading tech agencies such as Apple, Google, and Amazon in exploring the virtual reality arena, but is primarily focused on finding content creators who can work in an entirely new area and find new ways to tell their stories. This opens the door for creators from all backgrounds and experience levels, even the network’s short film or other development programs.
“I think it’s going to emerge as a platform, so it will have its own storefronts, its own medium and business rules,” says Stephenson.
Given Nickelodeon’s current streak of high quality original content, including hit new series 'The Loud House' and upcoming digital release 'Bug Salad', it seems safe to expect great things from their VR department in the future.