2015 has been a huge year for blockbuster movies with new entries in The Avengers, Jurassic Park and Fast and Furious franchises while the likes of James Bond are still set to make a return. Undoubtedly the biggest event of the year, however, is the return of Star Wars with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The new movie kicks off several years’ worth of brand new entries into the franchise, including a set of ‘Anthology’ films that explore the universe beyond the core episodes. Work has already started on the first of these, Star Wars: Rogue One, and virtual reality (VR) is helping to make it.
The Verge recently posted a new video feature on the recently-announced Industrial Light & Magic Experience Lab (ILMxLAB). In one interview, it was revealed that Star Wars: Rogue One director Gareth Edwards used VR to help design the film early on. “One of the tools we created was for Gareth on his film to help him pre-visualise some of the sets,” Lucasfilm’s Head of New Media, Rob Bredow explained. Apparently, Edwards used a VR head-mounted display (HMD) similar to the Oculus Rift to explore a rough version of his set before it had been made in real life.
“He was in virtual reality for the first time,” Bredow continued. “And this was a very rough set, it wasn’t a high degree of finish or anything. And he was in there exploring and a couple of minutes in he said: “This looks way better in real life.” So I leaned over to Doug Chang who’s a production designer and I said: “Doug, have you built this yet? Is he talking about real life or is he talking about–” he’s like “No, he’s talking about the VR headset. And when he– two minutes in to having the headset on referred to it as real life, I was like “Okay, we’re onto something here.””
ILMxLAB is currently experimenting with a range of technologies including VR and exploring how they can be used both to enhance filmmaking and provide new experiences. In a video revealed earlier this year, the company is seen using the Oculus Rift to drive the iconic speeder bike, while the HTC Vive is also featured. If these experiences could ever be released to consumers remains to be seen, but the work going on at the new studio looks promising to say the least.
VRFocus will continue to follow ILMxLAB closely, reporting back with any further updates on it.