It might be time to get familiar with Legendary Entertainment, the company behind Warcraft and Pacific Rim. The company has some very big ambitions for AR and VR if recent efforts with Magic Leap and Microsoft’s HoloLens are any indication.
While Google led the Series B investment in Magic Leap back in 2014, Legendary Entertainment was also a prominent investor in that early but huge $542 million round. The company backed the startup long before Alibaba led a $794 million round earlier this year, meaning Legendary likely has a relatively sizeable stake in Magic Leap. Now comes details from Microsoft about how Legendary used its work on Warcraft and Pacific Rim to visualize characters, robots, and monsters from those films in mixed reality.
Until the industry settles on verbiage here, I have to include the disclaimer that mixed reality and augmented reality are essentially the same thing. The problem is that people at Magic Leap and Microsoft know “augmented” is an awkward word for consumers to wrap their heads around. Instead, the two companies are rallying behind the term “mixed reality” to essentially mean “augmented reality on steroids.” I tend to agree that AR is largely understood to be the Pokemon GO variety of experience, which is pretty technically limited compared to what HoloLens and Magic Leap are aiming to offer buyers. (Sidenote: Legendary is making a movie connected to Pokemon.)
Mixed reality, therefore, can be useful for creators to see a realistic preview of something — whether it be a scene in a movie or a Mars rover — before it is actually constructed. It can also be used for fan movies too, like those above, that can let people realistically merge with virtual content that can be easily shared on social media.
In a blog post, Microsoft explained how they capture 3D models of the characters:
With HoloLens, creators now have more than one way to make holograms, whether characters are played by actors or are CG-based. To capture actors and real objects as holograms, we use a holographic video capture studio. We record the actors using dozens of synchronized RGB and infrared cameras on a calibrated green-screen stage. We are able to capture the motion, shape, and appearance of the performer, producing something like video but viewable from any angle, at any moment of recording. Life-sized holograms of CG-created characters can also be made using 3D data.
Legendary was bought earlier this year for $3.5 billion by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group Co. in the biggest ever Hollywood-China deal at that time. It’s part of a steady stream of investments by Asian companies in Western entertainment and technology companies. In addition to its mixed reality efforts, Legendary also has VR experiences for Crimson Peak as well as the two blockbusters mentioned earlier.