AR & VR World Summit Speaker interview - Vicki Dobbs Beck, Executive in Charge at ILMxLAB (Lucasfilm)
Discover how Lucasfilm's immersive entertainment studio, ILMxLAB, are utilising AR & VR technology as well as other immersive technologies to move from storytelling to storyliving.
Can you tell us a bit about your position at ILMxLAB and your experience?
I was a part of the core strategic team that established ILMxLAB, Lucasfilm’s immersive entertainment studio, in June, 2015, and I now have the privilege of running the ILMxLAB team. In so many ways, ILMxLAB is the culmination of almost three decades of a personal passion for cross-platform storytelling and the creation of experiences that leverage not only high-quality visuals and sound but incorporate meaningful interactivity.
Throughout my twenty-seven year career with Lucasfilm, I have striven to be a catalyst for innovation and transformation. A number of years ago when I led Strategy for Industrial Light & Magic, I was inspired by the book “Blue Ocean Strategy”, written by Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne. At its core, the book encourages companies to fundamentally redefine their competitive landscape and find a ‘blue ocean’ where there is room for discovery and opportunity. For me, that ‘blue ocean’ came in the form of Immersive Storytelling enabled by new technologies such as VR and AR that would allow people to ‘Step Inside Our Stories’ in ways never before possible. We could leverage Lucasfilm’s existing strengths in storytelling, cinematic quality media and sound, and augment that with Experience Designers and Gameplay Engineers who could leverage real-time technologies and interactivity thereby giving our experiences depth and a new level of engagement. Ultimately, we gave fans the ability not only to ‘Step Inside Our Stories’ but to ‘Step Inside of Star Wars.’
How is ILMxLAB utilizing Immersive Technologies?
ILMxLAB focuses on using VR, AR and other forms of media to transition from storytelling to this idea of storyliving where it’s no longer one-way communication – you’re in a world and you matter. We are interested in what can be done in location-based immersive adventures where we control 100% of the environment and can, therefore, invoke all of the senses – what we see, hear, feel, smell and – perhaps one day – what we taste. Location-based immersive adventures provide an opportunity for scope and scale whereas the home – our other area of focus – allows for an extended engagement. By creating story-driven content for both locations and the home, we can take a greater holistic view of the narrative and design experiences that weave from one place to the other. While each experience stands on its own, together the whole is truly greater than the sum of the parts.
Why did ILMxLAB start to utilize Immersive Technologies?
As a part of Lucasfilm, we come from a legacy of innovation. Not only did George Lucas create one of the richest and deepest narrative universes ever brought to life, but he also instilled a pioneering spirit. At ILMxLAB, we believe Immersive Technologies enables new ways to tell stories. VR & AR could be platforms for expression, establishing meaningful relationships with characters, plot, and place. Most importantly, we have learned that immersive experiences designed to leverage VR & AR’s strengths have the potential to create lasting memories.
What are the obstacles ILMxLAB faced utilizing Immersive Technologies to create entertainment?
Every day is an adventure into the unknown. When we approach an ILMxLAB project, we must acknowledge that it is not a film, not a game, and not an attraction, but we can learn from all of these. We’ve had to innovate on virtually every dimension– creative, technological, production and even business models. We’ve brought together people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, collaborating to chart a course toward something that’s never been done before. When we began, we believed that interactive, immersive narrative had the potential to reach a broad audience, however, the early adopters of platforms such as VR tended to be gamers who often brought a different set of desires and expectations. That notwithstanding, ILMxLAB’s win for Best VR/AR Game for the Vader Immortal series at the recent Game Developers Conference Awards has given us confidence that we can potentially bridge those audiences and continue to break new ground as we push the state-of-the-art.
To what extent do you believe Immersive Technologies will impact the entertainment industry?
I believe that Immersive Technologies have already begun to permanently impact the entertainment industry. People are discovering that they can step into other worlds and create memories as if they were really there. VR, in particular, uniquely delivers on the power of presence or ‘being there’ and the power of connection. That said, as content creators, we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. We will continue to learn and evolve alongside the advancing technology.
Why will events such as AR & VR World Summit be important?
Events like the AR & VR World Summit provide opportunities to showcase pioneering work in the immersive space. Such projects challenge the status quo and spark conversations and collaborations that lead to new and more ambitious undertakings. Especially in these early days, it is important that we learn from one another and support the expansion of the greater ecosystem.
You can attend Vicki's session at the AR & VR World Summit 2020 (2-3 September) and many more for free. Register for your free visitor ticket today.