You, C-3PO, and R2-D2 are in trouble: the Millenium Falcon just jetted out of Dodge and Stormtroopers are on the way—oh, and you're in your living room. That's the scene in a new "cinematic reality" demo just dropped by Lucasfilm, Industrial Light and Magic's experimental ILMxLAB, and the enigmatic mixed reality startup Magic Leap, who are announcing a new partnership today.
The Florida-based Magic Leap has dropped several proof-of-concept videos over the past year, bringing robots, planets, and and monsters to life through the technology that had MIT's Technology Review's Rachel Metz "wide-eyed" at its realism. Thanks to this new union, announced at the the WIRED Business Conference in New York, we're about to see a lot more familiar faces in Magic Leap's mysterious "Mixed Reality LightfieldsTM." ILMxLAB has been working to bring the company that pioneered special effects in the 70's into the world of new media, demonstrating their progress with virtual reality at the Star Wars: The Force Awakens-based experience at Sundance Film Festival. Working with Magic Leap offers them a chance to use Magic Leap's secret weapon, described by Metz as, an "itty-bitty projector that shines light into your eyes—light that blends in extremely well with the light you’re receiving from the real world."
This month the two companies are opening a joint research lab at Lucasfilm’s San Francisco campus to, "propel storytelling into the future through new media platforms," according to ILMxLAB Executive in Charge Vicki Dobbs Beck. Magic Leap Founder, President, and CEO Rony Abovitz adds, “Lucasfilm has created some of the most iconic characters of our time. Ones that dare us to dream, unlock our imagination and excite us to go on a journey with them." Magic Leap's success depends on people choosing its technology over already-available virtual reality options like Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, as well as competing augmented reality devices like Microsoft's Hololens. Gaining access to the Star Wars fandom is certainly one way to do that.
Abovitz continues, “Magic Leap is creating a whole new medium: Mixed Reality LightfieldsTM, designed to harness the power of your imagination and take you to places you never thought possible. Collaboration between our two companies is a perfect fit, and I can't wait to share the results with the world.” On that note, Magic Leap is developing original content in the form of Weta Works' steampunk shooter, Dr. Gordbord's Infallible Aether Oscillators, plus the practical applications demonstrated in this video. At the conference, Abovitz revealed that Magic Leap's first production line will start this summer, creating prototypes resembling final production units, according to The Verge. While he didn't give a ship date, he teased, "it is coming soon."