Going to Sundance as a ten-year-old filmmaker is the next step for the Lucy virtual being. Back in November, we covered the release of Fable’s “Wolves In The Walls” on Oculus Quest, a film in which Lucy, the AI-driven character, was the star. This kind of entertainment is a different kind of immersive, allowing an audience member to form a relationship with an NPC within the world of the story and on the outside as “friend.” Now, the company behind the virtual being Lucy, Fable, is pushing the limits of the virtual being by showcasing the AI’s take on expressionist cinema and interacting with Sundance festival goers, socializing in real world situations.
Fable was founded in 2017 as a VR film studio. After launching “Wolves In The Walls”, the company started promoting Lucy as a “virtual being,” going as far as to rebrand itself as a “virtual beings company,” dropping “studio” from Fable Studios' name. CEO Edward Saachi is the former head of Oculus Story Studios. During his tenure, the studio produced award winning VR experiences Henry and Dear Angelica, which also won an Emmy Award. These two productions helped refine the Oculus illustration and animation tool, Quill, which is free in the Oculus Store (Rift only right now), in addition to paving the way for the immersive entertainment provided by Lucy at Sundance.
As expected, Lucy is the first virtual being to attend Sundance virtual and premiere an AI short film. According to Lucy director Phillip Mass, “Sundance is about community building, risk taking and the new and crazy in storytelling. The festival gave us a perfect opportunity to put Lucy, an aspiring animator, in the midst of this community. Also, Lucy was at Sundance in 2020 as a star of a VR movie and in 2021 she is there as an artist, it is a full circle.” With the help of other artists attending the virtual festival, Lucy made and presented her 2D animated short film “Dracula (working title)” and even held a Q&A. Halley Lamberson, the Producer of Lucy told us, “as an aspiring artist and a work of art, she relates to festival goers on multiple levels. The meta creative process for our [Fable] team, trying to capture the behind the scenes of creation, the layers of creativity between character, team, and movie….Nostalgic style yet simultaneously a paradoxical mix of old tech and new tech.”
Befriending people is what Lucy and all virtual beings from Fable were designed to do. After the launch of “Wolves in the Walls”, users could apply to become Lucy’s friend, playing games and building a relationship with her that she will remember. Over 100 people signed up to be Lucy’s friend, mostly 15–25-year-olds. Unlike Lil Mikela which shoves content at you on social media, this is a genuine two-way relationship in which you and Lucy communicate, essentially role playing for empathetic people. You wouldn’t shoot Lucy, and steal her car, or drugs, or anything like that. Fable CEO Edward Saachi said, “users care about her feelings, and she knows all about them. Users feel very protective of her.”
Two new female Virtual beings are in the works at Fable: Beck, an athlete, and Charlie, a singer living in Paris. Fable expects to launch them later this year and iis thinking about the business model, direct sales, and maybe virtual being ads and sponsorship. Saachi says they first want to see how the virtual beings develop. This is just the alpha stage to the future era of NPCs and virtual beings. You can sign up to be one of Lucy’s alpha friends here.
Originally published at https://www.forbes.com.