The partnership, which Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz announced today at WIRED Business Conference in New York City, pairs the mixed-reality company with what might be Lucasfilm’s most forward-looking division: xLab formed last year in order to create experiences for immersive platforms like virtual/augmented/mixed reality. We have covered Xlab before here at fxguide and it is lead by ILM xLab co-founder John Gaeta and xLab CTO Rob Bredow.

The team shows real footage from a test piece and announced a joint collaborative research lab in San Francisco. This has been more than a year in development and discussion. The new collaborative will not just be ILM R&D with Magic Leap but also centrally involve Skywalker Sound. In viewing the demo thoughts of the original Star Wars holographic Chess game being one huge step closer to reality quickly come to mind.

From the WIRED story:

John Gaeta reached out to Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz through social media, and they started to talk. Abovitz introduced Gaeta to Graeme Devine, a longtime game developer who had recently come to Magic Leap, and in fall 2014, the pair invited Gaeta down to Florida to see their technology.

What Gaeta found wasn’t pretty—the company was working with a huge, unwieldy prototype they called The Beast—but it was also unprecedented. “I’ve seen some pretty mad-scientist labs with convoluted constructions, so that part didn’t faze me at all,” Gaeta says. “But even with the first few things they showed me, I experienced something I’d never in my life experienced: I was able to look at a computer-generated construct, focus along the length of it at any point, and it would abide by my natural eye focus.”

That’s the kind of thing that makes a visual effects pro into a believer. Gaeta was sold

And together, they’ll be developing Star Wars-related content for Magic Leap’s much-discussed (and still mostly unrevealed) technology (see our Insider Story for more on Magic Leap).


“From the beginning, they impressed us with their approach,” says xLab CTO Rob Bredow. “Their whole pitch about ‘adding magic’ was something that was very consistent with what John and I were looking to do with xLab, which is to put you in the middle of the spectacular worlds we create.”

Bredow calls that “experiential storytelling,” like what happens when you walk down Main Street at Disneyland. “You’re not being delivered a narrative in the same way as in a movie theater,” Bredow says. “The kind of experiences we can deliver in immersive entertainment will be somewhere between the two.”

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