The scene you’re about to see shows Captain Phasma and a couple of stormtroopers from the Star Wars universe. Unless you were present at an Epic Games / Unreal Engine presentation this week, you’ve probably never seen what we’re about to show you. This is both a demonstration of the newest in real-time ray tracing in Unreal Engine 4 and a potential moment in time in events taking place DURING Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Obsessive Star Wars fans will realize through clues in the video where these events take place in time with the movies. Two points of reference can be heard, one having to do with Kylo Ren, the other having to do with the current state of Phasma herself. Also there’s a real reason why this video was made, and it’s not really all about fan fiction.
The video above was titled Reflections, and it was made to show off real-time ray tracing technology in Unreal Engine 4. Not only that, but that technology was running on Microsoft’s DXR framework, delivered by NVIDIA VOLTA GPUs inside an NVIDIA DGX station – that’s when it was first shown at the live demo.
The folks at ILMxLAB were originally meant to be creating VR, AR, and mixed reality experiences in the Star Wars universe. With the major advances in computer-generated effects and realistic rendering in the last year alone, they’ve moved in on the ability to film scenes within 3D, VR worlds, composing shots and making movies from within the computer – so to speak.
“At ILMxLAB, our mission is to create real-time rendered immersive experiences that let audiences step into our stories and connect with cinematic universes that look and feel as real as the ones on the movie screen,” said Mohen Leo, ILMxLAB Director of Content and Platform Strategy. “With the real-time ray-tracing technology that Epic and NVIDIA are pioneering, we are a pivotal step closer to that goal”
As the scene above runs, the filmmakers were able to use an iPad running ARKit as a virtual camera. This is not the first time this sort of thing’s been done, but it’s a perfect demo for how the technology will create opportunities for new types of filmmaking in the near future. Watch the video above and see if you can tell what parts are real and what parts are rendered. Spoiler: You really, truly can’t.