I was in Las Vegas last week and managed to see two Cirque du Soleil shows. My favorite part of both shows was actually quite similar. And I suspect we’re going to see a lot more of it in the future.
In The Beatles show (more about that here), things kicked off with giant silhouettes of the band playing one of their songs. This was topped in the Michael Jackson show by a hologram of the artist performing “with” the Cirque artists.
One was great. The other was spectacular.
This begs the question: why don’t we see more of this? That is, live performances of music where holograms (or at least silhouettes) stand in for the missing performers?
I suspect everyone has heard the legend of hologram Tupac1 from Coachella in 2012 at this point. If not, enjoy. It’s a fairly amazing performance and the one in the Michael Jackson Cirque show is even better because it’s even more interactive.
Word is that these holograms cost in excess of $100,000 to produce for short segments. So it’s not cheap. But it actually seems fairly cheap if you’re talking about re-creating some of the biggest acts in the world no longer with us. People would undoubtedly pay insane amounts of money for this experience.
The best part is that you don’t even technically need old video footage perfectly matched with the environment. Hollywood special effects studios such as Digital Domain can create holographic artists from the ground up to work into pretty much any scene. And because the audience remains far enough away, the illusion seems shockingly real.
And this doesn’t have to just be used for concerts. Imagine a lecture on physics “given” by Albert Einstein. Or a book “reading” by Jane Austen.2
Would this be creepy? Sure, a little bit. Sacrilegious? Perhaps to some. But to those skeptics, I simply suggest this: go see the Michael Jackson show in Las Vegas. Wait for the hologram performance. It’s fucking amazing.
I suspect the bigger holdup here will be with the estates of the artists/people most desired in holographic form. Just as so many artists initially held out in putting their music into digital form, the estates will see money everywhere they look with this new type of performance and the negotiations will undoubtedly be lengthy.
And some estates will likely view any sort of faux-performance as disgraceful. But in the end, I suspect money will talk. And walk. On to the stage. In hologram form.
(And here’s the part where I’ll sheepishly admit to watching the American Idol Celine Dion/Elvis Presley duet in 2009 in utter amazement as well. This has to happen.)