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It’s time to put your face into a galaxy far, far away.
Disney is amping up its marketing for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which debuts worldwide December 18, and the company is using virtual reality to hype up the movie. The official Star Wars app on iOS and Android just got an update that opens up a new feature called “Jakku Spy.” This is another example of how Hollywood is turning to emerging technologies to market their products. Studios like Lionsgate are fully embracing virtual reality as a way of getting people excited about their films. And recent horror release Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension had VR kiosks set up in AMC theaters to give people a chance to simulate a haunting.
Jakku Spy is an episodic VR experience that will tell you a story about the universe of The Force Awakens as we move closer to that film’s release. It has nine parts that will unlock over the next two weeks. You can use Google Cardboard or Gear VR (or other VR devices) to experience the short digital films in first person — although you can also just watch them on your phone without using a VR viewer. This is the latest bit of digital wizardy from Lucasfilm’s recently created ILMxLab division. This experimental group came together in June within Industrial Light & Magic, Lucasfilm’s special-effects company, specifically to make virtual-reality videos and real-time 3D visuals.
We’ve captured a video of the first Jakku Spy episode below — although, be warned, the footage is shaky:
ILM’s VR division is actively exploring how to use this technology for storytelling, and Jakku Spy is obviously an early example of how that will work. But this should all lead into bigger and better VR software built specifically for devices like Gear VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive in the future. With analysts predicting that virtual and augmented reality could generate a market worth $150 billion by 2020, ILMxLab could make Lucasfilm the go-to company for VR tech in the same way that ILM proper has made it the go-to firm for special effects in film. And that could make Disney’s $4 billion purchase of Star Wars and Lucasfilm look like an even better deal than it already does.
ILMxLab previously built the immersive The Force Awakens clip for Facebook that gives you a tour of a downed Star Destroyer, the massive Imperial starships.
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