I’m on Industrial Light & Magic’s motion capture stage, standing inside what they call “the cave.” It’s not much to look at: Two big screens angled at 90 degrees, awash in a smeary blur of images. But put on a pair of modified 3-D glasses, and bam — it’s the Holodeck, and I’m on Tatooine standing face to face with one of the most famous robots in movie history. I walk around C-3PO, crouching one moment, then jumping the next. The mo-cap performer across the room raises his hand, and the CG Threepio waves. It’s exhilarating and immersive, and it’s all happening in real time.
The cave is a place for filmmakers to test out worlds that don’t exist yet, and for ILM to demo and build augmented reality experiences for its recently unveiled skunkworks division, ILMxLab. The lab is a developmental playground for any and all kind of interactive or immersive experience. Virtual reality, AR, theme park attractions; it’s all up for grabs, uniting decades of visual effects expertise, computer wizardry, and Lucasfilm’s own creative team into a self-contained entertainment studio of the future.
The goal isn’t to just create what people will be trying out on their Oculus Rift next year. It’s to come up with the interconnected virtual experiences we’ll be having 10 years from now. And you’d better believe they’re starting with “Star Wars.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.