This isn’t the first year that virtual reality experiences have been eligible for Emmy consideration, but the growth in the area is evident.
A trio of VR projects on Thursday were nominated for outstanding original interactive program: Mission: ISS, a virtual visit to the International Space Station, produced by Oculus and Magnopus; Dear Angelica, which reflects on the way we remember loved ones, directed by Pixar alum Sascha Unseld via Oculus Story Studio, the recently shuttered VR content creation arm of Oculus; and The People's House – Inside the White House With Barack and Michelle Obama, a tour of the White House from Felix & Paul Studios, along with Oculus and Samsung.
In the category for outstanding creative achievement in interactive media within a scripted program, Emmy voters nominated three VR productions based on popular series: The Mr. Robot Virtual Reality Experience (USA, Universal Cable Productions, Here Be Dragons, Esmail Corp. and Anonymous Content), Stranger Things VR Experience (Netflix and CBS Digital) and The Simpsons' Planet of the Couches (Gracie Films in association with 20th Century Fox, Google Spotlight Stories).
“This is a huge encouragement to all VR developers,” said Ben Grossmann, VR director on Mission: ISS (and an Oscar and Emmy-winning VFX veteran).
The interactive categories, often a mixed bag of digital, linear and experimental projects, also handed out nominations to Amazon for its Resistance Radio project, a companion to its alternative history drama series The Man in the High Castle. Nominated for outstanding creative achievement in interactive media within a scripted program, the project offers up a series of fictional radio broadcasts. The Discover Westworld website, a promotion for the HBO drama that nabbed 22 total Emmy nominations on Thursday, also was nominated in the same category.
Meanwhile, in the category for outstanding creative achievement in interactive media within an unscripted program, there were two nominations that were the first of their kind. Stand for Rights: A Benefit for the ACLU With Tom Hanks has become the first Facebook Live broadcast to receive an Emmy nomination, and comes a little more than a year after the live feature rolled out on the social networking giant.
That category also yielded the first nomination for an original Snapchat show, The Voice on Snapchat. The show, a companion series to the popular NBC competition show and one of several originals that the app has commissioned over the last year, streams on Snapchat's Discover platform and is set to return with a new season on Sept. 25.
"Our goal is to use our content to bring people together in new ways and across platforms, so receiving the most Emmy nominations in digitally driven categories is a huge win for us," said Rob Hayes, executive vp of NBC Entertainment Digital. "It's also a huge win for our partners in storytelling, and Snapchat has been an incredible partner to innovate with. We can't want to celebrate the first nomination of an original show on that platform with them."
Added Nick Bell, vp content at Snapchat's parent company, "The Voice on Snapchat has broken new ground from the beginning — it is exciting that the first show produced by a TV network for our platform is our first show to get nominated for an Emmy. This is a testament to the great talent and creativity of our partners at NBC Entertainment and we're thrilled for them."