Weta Workshop partners with Google-backed Magic Leap

A still from Magic Leap's first teaser video for the Dr. Grordbort's game developed by Weta Workshop and Magic Leap.
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A still from Magic Leap's first teaser video for the Dr. Grordbort's game developed by Weta Workshop and Magic Leap.

Weta Workshop has partnered with a billion dollar Google-backed technology company, which aims to bring the digital world beyond smartphones and movies.

The Wellington film business is working with Florida-based startup Magic Leap to create "entertainment and computing's next giant leap forward".

A group of 20 interactive staff based at Weta Workshop in Wellington are involved in developing creative technologies for the cinematic reality company, which is valued at $4.5billion.

On Wednesday Magic Leap, which started in 2011, announced it raised $793.5 million in new funding, which was led by listed Chinese internet giant, Alibaba Group. Among other new investors were Warner Bros, financial institution Fidelity Management and research company J.P. Morgan Investment Management.

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Weta Workshop chief executive Richard Taylor is a founding director of Magic Leap, which has remained tight-lipped about its product, releasing only a few videos to demonstrate its augmented reality technology.

It is developing a head-mounted virtual retinal display that superimposes 3D computer-generated imagery over real world objects, by projecting a digital light field into the user's eye.

Weta Workshop is set to play a pivotal creative role in what Magic Leap are calling a watershed year for its Mixed Reality Lightfield technology.

The interactive division in Wellington are engaged in helping to shape a "creative vision" of Mixed Reality, which they say is "entertainment and computing's next giant leap forward" and "a work of science fiction".

Weta Workshop is providing creative input for the Magic Leap interface and a game for the Magic Leap hardware based around the world of 'Dr. Grordbort's Invaders'.

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Taylor said Magic Leap held the keys to new worlds for storytellers and creatives to play in.

"These are not born of print or film or TV, but rather, they are images and experiences, entertainment, education and information laid into our own reality. Our design team has fully embraced the possibilities of this new frontier.

"The unique possibilities of Magic Leap's Mixed Reality Lightfield have already sparked incredible creative evolutions within our company. The ability to design and create these new experiences is not just the future for entertainment; it has the potential to be the future of everything."

Two decades ago, Wellington established a film-based economy that has helped to shape the capital's creative credentials, he said.

"Now, with the help of a bit of magic, it looks like we're all set for the next big leap forward, into 2016 and beyond."

Magic Leap chief executive Rony Abovitz said a creative partnership Weta Workshop had helped set the stage for the future of Mixed Reality Lightfield experiences.

Since joining the Magic Leap Board in 2010, Taylor and his Weta Workshop team had provided invaluable creative direction, strategic thought leadership and drive to Magic Leap, he said.

Weta Workshop would continue to play a pivotal role in deciding what that face of Magic Leap will look like; blending both physical and digital experiences together in ways that we have not seen before, he said.

Magic Leap, which employs 500 people, also has offices in Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, UK, New Zealand, and Israel.

In 2014 it completed a $542 million Series B financing, which was led by Google Inc.

Google and telecommunications company Qualcomm Incorporated continue to invest.

 - Stuff

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