The Star Wars expansion extends far beyond The Force Awakens. With new anthology films debuting in between installments of the upcoming trilogy, comic books and video games, Lucasfilm continues to capitalize on their franchise. The latest development, however, will allow fans to set aside the boundaries of 2-dimensionality and step inside their favorite movie scenes.
ILM (Industrial Light & Magic), the special effects company George Lucas conceived in order to pull off the effects in the original Star Wars films, is developing ILM’s Experience Lab, aka ILMxLab. The new venture will offer fans a virtual reality experience in order to become a part of their favorite Star Wars movie moments and even see specific storylines that the directors may not have explored previously. The company is currently experimenting with iPad and Oculus Rift technology to pull this off.
USA Today witnessed a demo of the technology. One example showed a scene in which C-3PO and R2-D2 are hiding from Stormtroopers in a dusty village, and a visitor was able to turn his iPad 360 degrees in order to see the scene from every angle. In another room, the same scene was played, although another person was wearing virtual reality goggles, taking the perspective of an X-Wing pilot flying overhead. The vehicle also responded to banking commands and head tilts. Watch the technology play out in the video below.
ILM executives believe the ILMxLab technology will be ready for debut later this year, hopefully alongside the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. However, the company is already working with other filmmakers in order to bring their movie worlds to life in this way. For one, Disney, Lucasfilm’s parent company, is mulling over the idea of using this tech for its theme park attractions.
Studios are looking for new ways to capitalize on the hype surrounding their properties. It was one thing to split the final installments of on-going series into multiple movies (e.g. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Allegiant, etc.), but there have been other opportunities to continue franchises outside the borders of the big screen. Lionsgate, for one, teamed up with Discovery Times Square to bring The Hunger Games Exhibition to life, and it’s also developing a theme park attraction. As for Star Wars, which along with the other properties in Lucasfilm were purchased by Disney for $3 billion, the ILMxLab is something we haven’t seen before.
J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18, so keep an eye out for this new tech around then.