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Google is shutting down Spotlight Stories, its immersive film studio

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‘Shutting its doors after over six years of making stories’

Google has announced that it’s shutting down Spotlight Stories, its in-house film studio focused on producing 360-degree videos for phones. “Google Spotlight Stories is shutting its doors after over six years of making stories and putting them on phones, on screens, in VR, and anywhere else we could get away with it,” reads a statement given to Variety by Google.

It’s been a busy six years for the studio, which has released 13 films over its relatively short life. These have included tie ins with The Simpsons and the Wes Anderson film Isle of Dogs, as well as original films such as Help (from Fast and the Furious director Justin Lin), Aardman Animation’s Special Delivery, and Pearl — which was nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the 2017 Academy Awards.

Google declined to say why it’s shuttering the studio, but in a statement given to The Verge said it was proud of the work done by the team over the studio’s lifetime.

“Since its inception, Spotlight Stories strove to re-imagine VR storytelling. From ambitious shorts like Son of Jaguar, Sonaria and Back to The Moon to critical acclaim for Pearl (Emmy winner and first-ever VR film nominated for an Oscar) the Spotlight Stories team left a lasting impact on immersive storytelling. We are proud of the work the team has done over the years.”

Variety reports that the studio’s permanent employees are expected to be offered other roles within Google.

Spotlight Stories originally began as a team within Motorola producing 360-videos exclusive to the manufacturer’s Android phones, but became part of Google after the company’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola in 2011. In 2015, the studio’s films became more widely available after its app came to non-Motorola Android devices, iOS, and YouTube’s 360-degree film platform.