Industrial Light and Magic shows off never before seen Star Wars VR content at Oculus Connect

by Will Mason • September 26th, 2015

With Oculus Connect now officially underway the news has started to roll in. First up we learned that Facebook had finally enabled 360 videos in the news feed, something we have known the company was planning to do since F8 earlier this year. The feature debuted with a 360 Star Wars video, but that isn’t the only new Star Wars VR content we will be seeing today.

As Rob Bredow, Head of ILMxLabs, took to stage for a session titled “The Force of Virtual Reality at Lucasfilm” he promised us that we would be seeing some new, never before seen content from the studio.

V-Scout

V-Scout is a “virtual scouting tool,” which runs in VR and on the iPad and allows you to explore the set of a scene. This allows for some awesome things like previsualization of a set, as well as interactive scenes where the user has control of the camera. “The idea here is that you can mock up your shots very intuitively,” says Bredow.

“We tried lots of different navigation systems for this,” says Bredow. “But what we found would be best is using the same camera controls on the iPad with the VR version,” this is because the iPad was found to be the “most intuitive form of input.”

One of the big things that ILM was looking to focus on with this project was a small footprint. All the system requires is a computer, a VR headset (optional), iPad, and a wireless transmitter.

Scene Exploration and Interactivity

ILM believes there are multiple different levels of storytelling opportunities in VR.

ILM is working with the Lucasfilm team on all of the immersive storytelling experiences, both Star Wars and others.

“Is it more like films, or is it like games?” asks Bredow, “it’s a little of both. Maybe experiences like this are like walking down main street at Disneyland.”

One of the things that ILMxLabs demonstrated next was a full scene, complete with voice acting and characters that was rendered in photorealistic CG. What made the scene particularly interesting was the ability to move the camera around at your own will, jumping from a number of concurrently running narratives, allowing you to get the whole picture on a scene. You are even able to jump into a first person perspective of any character. The system works similarly to V-Scout meaning that you can control the scene with an iPad and also view it in VR.

There is also some level of interactivity with the platform. Bredow demonstrated the ability to hop into the pilot seat of an X-wing and fly in the cockpit while also firing. Another element of interactivity they showed was being able to hop into a speeder bike and traverse the scene, using your head to control the turning. Everything was running fully in real time.

ILMxLabs is currently hiring, so if you love Star Wars and VR and are a developer your dream job has an opening.

One thing though is it doesn’t seem that we will be seeing full length features from ILM yet, “if the answer is yes, we haven’t figured it out,” says Bredow.

 

The talk is currently underway but we will be updating this post as it goes along with the newly shown content. Editor’s note, my laptop is almost out of battery, so there may be a gap in the updating.

 

 

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