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Virtual-reality ‘Star Wars’ is a real thing that is happening

Yes, this is real.


Eric Geller


Posted on Jun 12, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 2:41 pm CDT

Industrial Light & Magic has spent decades bringing cinema’s most groundbreaking special effects to life, from the spaceships in the original Star Wars film to the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, and from Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean to the Terminator in Terminator 2. Lucasfilm‘s visual-effects shop has revolutionized filmmaking—and it’s about to do it again.

ILM is setting up a team called the ILMxLab to bring virtual reality and augmented reality to Hollywood productions. The first products from ILMxLab will be Star Wars-related and will be released later this year.

Watch ILMxLab test its amazing technology in this launch video.

ILMxLab, also known as the Experience Lab, is using iPads and VR technology modeled on the Oculus Rift to map out computer-generated virtual worlds. John Gaeta, the lab’s creative director, said his team’s goal is to “open the two-dimensional world of the movies and allow fans to walk into those worlds with the same visual fidelity.”

The team gave USA Today a special demo, and it sounds incredible:

Gaeta fired up a Star Wars-inspired scene where R2D2 and C-3PO are hiding from Storm Troopers in a dusty village. Instead of just watching the scene on a screen, a visitor holding an iPad can turn 360-degrees and see all around the main characters’ world.

One room over, the same scene is played on a monitor while a visitor pops on a pair of Oculus Rift virtual-reality goggles. This time, the point of view is from on board an X-Wing fighter jet, which not only flies around the village but also responds to banking commands with head tilts.

“It’s the Wild West out there with new frontiers, and we’re all figuring out these new tools,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “Today, technology is in search of content. But we can bring an emotional experience to that technology.”

Screengrab via ILMVisualFX/YouTube

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*First Published: Jun 12, 2015, 12:37 pm CDT