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ILMxLab Is Turning Star Wars Into A Virtual World

Lucasfilm’s ILMxLab wants to turn Star Wars and other movies into portals for destinations. That can be visited with virtual and augmented reality headsets. Executives said during a panel at the Virtual Reality Intelligence.

“We are thinking very heavily about creating a dynamic destination where stories flow through,” said ILMxLab Executive Creative Director John Gaeta.

Star Wars in particular had uniquely captivated the imagination of audiences. Ever since the first movie nearly 40 years ago, he said. “People were so compelled by that universe that they wanted to get inside of it.”

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ILMxLab has been experimenting with various forms of mixed and virtual reality for some time now. The lab unveiled a first preview of a Star Wars-themed VR experience dubbed Trials of Tatooine earlier this year. They announced in July that it was working on a Darth Vader VR experience directed by David S. Goyer. In addition, ILMxLab is also working on a short film about migration with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.


Vicki Dobbs Beck, Executive in Charge at ILMxLAB, said that earlier experiments like Trials of Tatooine helped the lab to figure out some of the rules of storytelling in the new medium.

“Pacing was one of the important learnings,” she said. Especially audiences that are new to VR need some time to settle in, and are quickly overwhelmed if they are confronted with too many things at the same time. “People will literally shut out something,” she said. “They will shut out voice-over, they will shut out certain cues.”


ILMxLab has also been experimenting a lot with augmented and mixed reality. At Sundance earlier this year, the lab debuted a mix reality installation called Holo-Cinema. That allowed multiple people at the same time to explore a room full of holographic characters. The big lesson from that was that social is a powerful force for mixed reality, said Gaeta.

“It’s full immersion, but with your friends — I think that’s what we are all gonna do.”