Lucasfilm’s special-effects department is working on a new frontier of immersive entertainment, and you can get a taste of that on Facebook.
This morning, the Star Wars account on Facebook launched the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Immersive 360 Experience. This is a new kind of video on the social-media website that enables viewers to point a camera around a environment to see a recording in every possible direction. Industrial Light & Magic — the special-effects skunkworks that George Lucas founded to help film the original Star Wars — founded a new division called ILMxLab earlier this year to build this kind of content, and it’s already delivering. While this is part of Facebook’s introduction of 360-degree video, ILMxLab is one of the few companies prepared to take advantage of this technology and to build on for other projects.
You can check out the Star Wars 360-degree video for yourself below — once it’s playing, just click or tap and drag:
Lucasfilm formed ILMxLab in June with the promise to explore the next generation of storytelling. The division is working on content for virtual reality, augmented reality, real-time cinema, and theme parks. One of its biggest innovations is the capability to produce cinema-level 3D visuals in real-time.
To get an idea of what that means, skip ahead to about 33 seconds in the video below to check out how Lucasfilm can instantly translate the motion of an actor wearing a tracking suit into a 3D video of a stormtrooper:
ILMxLab noted in June that it was working on “several premium” Star Wars-based experience for later this year. That means this 360-degree video is likely just the first. And it’s a sample of what we can expect from the company as virtual-reality headsets like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR hit the market over the next several months.