John Gaeta, known for his work as visual effects supervisor on The Matrix trilogy and for launching Lucasfilm’s immersive media branch ILMxLab, is joining the mysterious augmented reality start-up Magic Leap.
As reported by The Verge, Gaeta says he’s joined Magic Leap as Senior Vice President of Creative Strategy. “It will be a new chapter in a long story for me of pursuing frontiers that I think will one day create compelling experiences for people,” he told The Verge.
As the senior VFX supervisor on The Matrix trilogy, Gaeta pioneered the series’ iconic camera technique ‘bullet time’, the results of which nabbed him an Academy Award for Visual Effects and a BAFTA for Best Achievement in Special Effects in 2000, both for The Matrix (1999).
Going on to become executive creative director and co-founder at ILMxLab in 2015, Gaeta set out to expand the ‘galaxy far far away’ to immersive platforms including AR and VR. To wit, ILMxLab and Magic Leap announced a “collaboration lab” last year at the WIRED Business Conference, a strategic partnership that would see the companies work together on immersive experiences using Magic Leap’s technology.
Gaeta says he’ll continue to work with the ILMxLab team on its Magic Leap projects in his new role.
We sat down with Gaeta at GDC last year to figure out where AR and VR fits in the existing cinema landscape of storytelling. Gaeta told us his team was “very interested in changing the way films are made,” saying that immersive media could be used to “step inside films before they’re made”—somewhat foretelling a time when the relationship between traditional media and its virtual counterpart becomes more intertwined.
Referring to his new position at Magic Leap, he says “[i]t’s something that I think I can grow as a creator and innovator, and I feel, always, I have a role to help enable others to grow in some of these new platforms, [a]nd Magic Leap is a company that really wants to foster enabling people to be creative in new spaces.”
Magic Leap has yet to show its AR tech to anyone outside the confines of a non-disclosure agreement, but the company recently revamped their website, saying they want to “[take] you with us on this journey to launch.” Shortly afterwards, the company announced a Series D investment round of $502 million, bringing its total investment to $2 billion. A recent report contends the Magic Leap headset could between $1,500 and $2,000, and is set to ship its first device “to a small group of users within six months.”
Update (10/27/17, 9:50AM PT): An earlier version of this article referred to Gaeta’s new position as SVP of Creative Strategies and has been correctly adjusted to SVP of Creative Strategy.