Weta Workshop, Lucasfilm Debut Augmented Reality Content at Magic Leap Developers Confab

Weta Workshop launched AR shooter game 'Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders' during the event.
Courtesy of Magic Leap
'Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders'

Augmented reality startup Magic Leap’s first L.E.A.P. developers conference got underway Tuesday in downtown Los Angeles with the unveiling of content for its recently-launched AR headset, including projects created by Weta Workshop, Lucasfilm’s ILMxLab and Andy Serkis’ Imaginarium Studios.

The Magic Leap One Creator Edition — the debut headset from the Florida-headquartered company that has famously raised a jaw-dropping $2.44 billion in funding since it was founded in 2011 — sells for $2,295 and is targeted at content developers in an effort to build an ecosystem around its technology, which was demoed in controlled environments at the confab.

Weta Workshop and Magic Leap unwrapped Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders, an AR shooter game in which evil robots come out of the walls of a living room to stage an invasion. Featuring the voices of Stephen Fry and Rhys Darby, it’s now available as a free download for the Magic Leap One.

The project is based on original IP from, and created by, Weta Workshop. Magic Leap funded the development of the game, though the amount was not disclosed.

Weta Workshop is in the early stages of developing additional content for the headset, according five-time VFX Oscar winner Richard Taylor (The Lord of the Rings), co-founder and creative lead at Weta Workshop and a founding Magic Leap board member.

“We are five years into this technology,” Taylor said, “where it's going to go and what it will be in a year … or 20 years is mind-boggling.”

Asked if The Lord of the Rings-themed content could follow, he responded, “I dream of the day … to ride with the elves across Rivendell, that would be a beautiful moment and definitely achievable.”

Lucasfilm’s immersive entertainment arm ILMxLAB, which like Weta Workshop has been collaborating with Magic Leap for several years, delivered an experimental demo featuring the Star Wars' Porgs. In the experience, Anthony Daniels-voiced C3PO instructs the participant on how to feed and interact with the bird-like creatures.

Vicki Dobbs Beck, executive in charge of ILMxLAB, told THR that with this project, the studio is exploring how viewers develop relationships with characters in AR. A free Porgs Magic Leap experience is slated for release toward the end of the year.

Andy Serkis and his U.K.-based Imaginarium Studios, which also has a content agreement with Magic Leap, previewed its previously announced project featuring a performance-capture-based Orc-like character named Grishneck, brought to life by Serkis.

Additionally, Imaginarium demonstrated live performance capture applied to an AR-generated CG character, as an example of real-time previs for motion picture production.

Also at the L.E.A.P. conference, demos included the first Magic Leap game based on the Angry Birds franchise. Angry Birds FPS: First Person Slingshot is now available from Rovio Entertainment and Resolution Games.

Numerous developers, including Taylor, are expected participate in L.E.A.P.’s keynote on Wednesday, when, according to Magic Leap, an estimated 1,100 capacity crowd is expected to converge on the confab.