Even as the smash hit movie Baahubali: The Conclusion winds down its extraordinary theatrical run, the creators of the epic action-fantasy franchise are gearing up several additional entertainment projects to captivate fans anew with the characters, settings and stories first introduced in the films. Among them are new TV series, animated shows, books, comic books, apparel, and more.
Perhaps most exciting of all is the virtual reality (VR) experience Sword of Baahubali, which has been several years in the making and is now being readied for release starting in India this year.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the AMD studio in Hollywood where many of the technical and creative aspects of the VR experience have been managed. Hosting my visit were Project Manager James Knight, and Senior Tech Developer Anthony Huertas.
Mr. Knight and Mr. Huertas gave me a look at an early build of Sword of Baahubali, similar to the experience that had premiered in New York back in April at the Tribeca Film Festival, via a VR headset connected to an Oculus kiosk.
James Knight and Anthony Huertas of AMD
It was a delight to see. Stepping into the virtual world of Baahubali and his ancient kingdom of Mahishmati brought an immediate smile to my face. The world is near-photo-real, authentic enough to make your heart race as you confront villains, seek treasures, and face off with a very angry elephant. The scale and grandeur of the films is nicely captured in the architecture and vistas that you traverse from a first-person POV. The motion is seamless, and the music, drawn from theBaahubali oeuvre, helps create the uncanny sensation that one is actually inside the movie.
The version of Sword of Baahubali that I saw was run on a powerful AMD Ryzen 1800X processor, boosted by AMD Jewel GPUs. As Mr. Knight explained, AMD is seeking to build a bigger presence in the real-time visualization market, and with the company's focus on high-powered GPUs, the virtual reality business is a natural place for the company to work.
The team began development of Sword of Baahubali during the early stages of production of the second Baahubali film. A natural connection between AMD was established by GPU pioneer Raja Koduri, who is not only the Senior Vice President and Chief Architect at AMD's Radeon Technologies Group, but also a co-founder of Baahubali's lead VFX house Makuta, and cousin toBaahubali director SS Rajamouli.
The Sword of Baahubali will be introduced to the public as a location-based experience that will release this summer at mall kiosks across India, in what will be the first stage of a multi-country rollout.