Never mind a galaxy far, far away: Lucasfilm is looking to bring the Star Wars universe straight to your living room through a new partnership with Magic Leap. The companies want to use Magic Leap's mixed reality technology, which combines virtual and augmented reality elements with the physical world, to bring brand new storytelling experiences to audiences.
Virtual reality and its affiliate technologies represent the bleeding edge of 21st century technology, but have a long way to go before they can epitomise everything we envisage for it. That's because we've yet to find a killer app for it, and while gaming will no doubt be one of the biggest markets for virtual reality, it is the technology's uptake in additional industries that will ultimately seal its success.
Lucasfilm and Magic Leap want to prove that VR and AR are not just the future of gaming, but the future of film, too. By using Magic Leap's closely-guarded mixed reality know-how, the companies told Wired they want to convince filmmakers that it can be a legitimate storytelling tool and not just a superfluous gimmick.
A video uploaded to YouTube shows the standard the two companies are aiming for. In it, we see Star War's R2-D2 and C-3PO projected into a room in front of someone wearing Magic Leap's as yet unannounced mixed reality headset. These are no rough-cut AR projections: this is something you would have no hesitation in calling a hologram, and it looks incredible.
The video shows the virtual C-3PO and R2-D2 moving around the room with an awareness of the physical environment: R2 projects a hologram showing soldiers searching a village on to a real coffee table in the middle of the room, and as each droid moves around the space they avoid furniture, rather than passing through it. This makes the entire spectacle hugely convincing, and is made all the more exciting by the fact that the whole thing has been shot directly through Magic Leap's headset.
Disney has proved an enthusiastic advocate of virtual reality. The company plans to beef up future releases from Walt Disney Studios with additional VR content, which it will create using Nokia's Ozo hardware. It has also launched a free app for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift that allows users to immerse themselves in its many fictional movie universes. Clearly however, their end-goal goes far beyond novelty smartphone apps.
Lucasfilm and Magic Leap told Wired that they plan to establish a "semi-secret" joint lab near the headquarters of ILMxLab, Lucasfilm's AR/VR unit, where they'll continue to develop Star Wars experiences for Magic Leap hardware.
Rony Arovits, founder and CEO of Magic Leap, told Wired: "We've been testing these experiential story moments and trying to make mixed reality not a novelty, but a way for filmmakers and others can actually create real experiences and things that elevate and add to the universe of something like Star Wars.
"We want to be a medium how to tell stories—and ultimately, maybe the medium."
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