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A French presidential candidate is using his ‘hologram’ to reach more voters

Why it matters to you

The technology provides another way for politicians and other communicators to get their message across.

We’ve heard plenty of stories about famous musicians “returning from the dead” for performances using hologram-like effects, but now politicians — living ones — are turning to the same technology to reach more voters in a bid to boost their popularity ahead of elections.

Take French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon. Just a few days before the first round of nationwide voting on April 23, the left-wing politician appeared simultaneously at seven different rallies across France — six of them as a “holographic” projection.

Also very active on social media, tech-savvy Melenchon addressed supporters at a rally in Dijon in the east of the country, while his “3D” image appeared in real time in six other cities, including one on Réunion Island, a French department in the Indian Ocean.

The politician, who sits four percentage points behind front-runner Emmanuel Macron in the latest opinion poll, spoke to a combined audience of 35,000 people, many of whom seemed impressed by the technical wizardry.

“It was great, very lively,” one supporter told France 24, adding, “It seemed like he was here with us.” Another said it was “cool and crazy to imagine Jean-Luc Melenchon was in Dijon and six other cities at the same time. It’s incredible he can spread his ideas in such a widespread and original way.”

Organized by London-based Musion 3D, Melenchon’s image required a custom-made lighting rig to obtain the most realistic effect, with the set-up replicated on all of the other stages. The signal was beamed live by satellite to the other French cities, presenting audiences with an extremely life-like version of the presidential candidate on the stage.

In Musion’s own words, its “holographic projection system takes advantage of the most innovative 21st century technologies, transforming the Victorian-age Pepper’s Ghost optical illusion into a state-of-the-art multimedia platform that enables 3D holographic projection … Unlike traditional 3D, viewing Musion does not require 3D glasses because holographic projection is not a stereographic effect. Instead, the hologram illusion is created by using projection to provide the viewer’s eyes with other visual cues – reflection, light, shadow, movement, and contrast – that fool the brain into thinking it is seeing a 3D image.”

It’s certainly a neat idea for helping Melenchon to reach more voters in the most realistic way possible outside of being there in person, and the candidate has enjoyed a surge in the polls in recent weeks. You never know, maybe a few more simultaneous rallies in multiple cities — with the help of his trusty hologram — might help see him over the line.