Star Wars VR Experience - A New Platform for Creativity.


from our First Year correspondent, Ryan Orgill



When it comes to the big blockbuster films like 'The Avengers' and 'Jurassic Park' you might wonder, who is behind those amazing visuals? The answer is simple: ILM  otherwise known as Industrial Light & Magic. That’s who!

From 'Star Wars' series, 'The Abyss' all the way to the MCU, ILM is responsible in bringing all these amazing special effects to life. But now ILM has teamed up with its partners Lucasfilm and Skywalker Sound to Create ILMxLAB. They're looking into VR (Virtual Reality) technology to find new ways of telling and creating stories in more immersive ways.

Thanks to the Animation & Visual Effects course at Falmouth University I was invited by ILM London to the European Star Wars celebration in London. Here I got the chance to join ILMxLAB as a volunteer to help  show off their latest demo in VR technology in 'The Trails of Tatooine' powered by Steam and the HTC vive.. I also got the chance to try the game for myself and talk to a few technicians behind it.

Our correspondent Ryan is in there somewhere. A prize to the person who spots him first!

The Experience is amazing. I was completely immersed on the deserts of Tatooine: repairing the Millennium Falcon, interacting with R2 D2 and then having the chance to use the iconic Star Wars weapon of choice, the 'Lightsaber' against Stormtrooper blaster fire.  This was incredible. After trying the experience for myself I joined the other volunteers helping to manage the demo getting the public kitted out with the HTC vive head gear and hand controller. Seeing people’s reaction when jumped in to the VR world and use a Lightsaber for the first time was priceless. The atmosphere was awesome.

While working with the VR kit I got the chance to talk to some of the technicians. I asked them what it was like working for ILMxLAB and with projects like this. One said: 

"...it's awesome working on projects like this, as it’s not just technicians you're working with, you’re also working with Lucasfilm and their artists, and storyboard artists that produce amazing concert art and ideas, as well as sound engineers from Skywalker sound to create something new and exciting"

Another went on to say:

"That the applications for this technology are still an ongoing experiment and that it’s interesting where they can take digital interaction".

One example of this was that similar techniques used to create the 'Trails of Tatooine' are also used on the up-coming 'Star Wars - Rogue One'.  These techniques allowed the studio to create a virtual version of a set used in the film allowing the director to move and change elements of the set in 3D space. This allowed them to fix problems before constructing it in real life. Hearing about all of this has got me really excited about the future of VR and I cant wait to see where ILM will take it.

Working at the celebration has been an amazing opportunity for me. I’ve met some great people who not only have a love for Star Wars, but  also have a desire to tell great stories. With ILMxLAB and other companies spearheading new techniques and developing approaches to storytelling in new and interactive ways it’s a really exciting time to be working and studying in the creative industry. 

Ryan Orgill. First Year Animation & Visual Effects Undergraduate
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