Industrial Light & Magic’s virtual reality arm xLab is looking to some major Hollywood talent to create its next virtual reality experience, and the subject is as big as it gets. Writer David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, Man of Steel) took the stage at Star Wars Celebration today, after it was announced that he is working on the next major initiative the company is working on. Lucasfilm creative executive Pablo Hidalgo broke the news, describing it as an original Star Wars narrative experience that will let viewers experience and be part of the story — and it will be all about Darth Vader.
Goyer is been a major creative force in genre films and TV shows, working on everything from Nolan’s Batman films to the television show FlashForward, but working on something with xLab is clearly a different kind of challenge altogether. The project is an entirely original story within the Star Wars universe that will be contributing to series canon, Hidalgo said, with xLab’s John Gaeta describing the project as “experiential storytelling”. “You can walk into it, you can touch it,” Gaeta said, noting that it is very different than what audiences experience when they go into a movie theater.
Since we first talked to the team at xLab last year, it was clear their focus just wasn’t on promotional tie-ins or gaming; it was the potential to use virtual reality to create an new kind of narrative experience — and the world of Star Wars was going to be the creative backbone of their efforts. While xLab has been turning out several experimental projects (and announced earlier today that its lightsaber game Trials on Tatooine would be getting a proper release this Monday), the untitled Vader project seems to be the first attempt to realize that grander vision.
“The difference between cinema and television and VR — particularly with the fidelity that [the xLab] team is working on, is that you really feel like you there. The sense of presence isn’t just a buzzword,” Goyer said. “And it’s surprisingly very emotional. It can make you sad, and make you lean in, and make you feel for a character in a way you haven’t before. In a way that you can’t really do in any other medium. And it can scare you.”