Computer Graphics World

April-May-June 2021

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18 cgw a p r i l • m ay • j u n e 2 0 2 1 H ave you ever dreamed of traveling to a galaxy far, far away to experience your own adventures? Now you can, thanks to ILMxLAB, Lucasfilm's immersive en- tertainment studio. With the year-end 2020 release of Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy's Edge, players don VR headsets and travel to the planet Batuu, where they can interact with classic and brand-new Star Wars char- acters and villains, and explore familiar areas as well as never-before-seen regions. Set between the events of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, Tales is an Oculus Quest adventure where a person plays as a droid repair technician operat- ing near Batuu before things go awry and the player escapes, crashing on the planet. "You get to explore some of the worlds that connect with the themed areas of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge from the parks, but we're not duplicating what exists there," says Michael Koperwas, mixed-reality supervisor at ILMx- LAB and lead character artist on Tales. "That [park area] acts as a starting point to Tales, allowing you to explore and jump into new adventures that take you to far-off locations." Koperwas, who has worked at ILM for approximately two decades in visual effects, explains that the ILMxLAB team – compris- ing talent from a number of areas, including film and gaming – uses some of the same processes from those genres for its interac- tive projects, including Tales. That includes the writing of a narrative script, previs, story- boarding, and motion capture, along with the game element of grayboxing, whereby interactivity is mapped out. The content-creation pipeline also is simi- lar to that used for a film or high-end game, with the process for Tales leaning more to- ward game creation. "Tales is much more of an open world than Vader Immortal, and it's a lot more open to wandering and exploring," says Koperwas, referring to the three-part Oculus/PlayStation VR series ILMxLAB first debuted in 2019. "However, there is still a story at its heart, with narrative beats." For Tales, the artists relied heavily on Autodesk's Maya for modeling and Adobe's Substance for texturing, as well as other tra- ditional DCC soware used across films and games. Aer the characters, environments, and assets were built, the group ported them over to a "heavily customized" Epic Games Unreal Engine, where the majority of the experience was developed and the remainder of the work occurred. "We used many tools that we also use on the VFX side, but then use Sim Stream, which we developed for some previous proj- Living on the Edge ILMXLAB CRAFTS THE VR EXPERIENCE STAR WARS: TALES FROM THE GALAXY'S EDGE BY KAREN MOLTENBREY Images courtesy ILMxLab.

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