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Want photo-realistic VR? Industrial Light & Magic thinks an 8-GPU rig can help

Image used with permission by copyright holder
Industrial Light & Magic is known throughout all corners of the film industry as one of the biggest names in special effects, having been assembled for the production of Star Wars, and working on movies ranging from Jurassic Park to Harry Potter since. Now, the company is moving into new frontiers.

ILMxLab is a subdivision of Industrial Light & Magic that focusses on creating immersive experiences that use new technology. The group was responsible for Trials on Tatooine, a piece of virtual reality content set in the Star Wars universe that was released on July 18.

Lutz Latta is the principal engineer and technology development lead for ILMxLab, and this week he’ll be appearing at the SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference to discuss new rendering techniques for virtual reality content.

Latta and his team are interested in “closing the gap” between the quality of assets used in movies and VR content, according to a report from Road to VR. To that end, they’re experimenting with a robust hardware setup that has sufficient muscle to integrate pre-rendered assets into an experience that’s rendered in real-time.

ILMxLab is using between four and eight Nvidia graphics cards in league to push the current boundaries of VR, as detailed in a blog post published by the GPU giant. While this sort of setup wouldn’t be feasible for most users to have in their home, it could certainly be of use to companies like The Void that create large-scale, on-site experiences.

It’s certainly exciting to see Industrial Light & Magic commit to VR content in such a big way. The company has played a big role in advancing special effects over the last four decades, and it seems that ILMxLab could potentially facilitate similar advances in this field.

Brad Jones
Brad is an English-born writer currently splitting his time between Edinburgh and Pennsylvania. You can find him on Twitter…
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