Rock legend Elton John announced his final concert tour in spectacular fashion with a virtual reality showcase revealing the upcoming “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour, a three-year 300-date whirlwind leading up to his retirement.
Ad Week has the details on the event held at Gotham Hall in New York City, where more than 100 journalists decked out with Samsung Gear headsets joined a worldwide streaming audience to embark on a VR journey through his decades-long career. The event ended with a short live performance by Elton John.
You can watch the six-minute VR video here via YouTube. It can be viewed in Google Cardboard or Google Daydream, as well as in regular 2D video. You can also watch a full 34-minute stream featuring live performances and interviews in VR here.
The video features John’s first U.S. show from 1970 at the Troubadour in New York, as well as his legendary Dodgers Stadium concert from 1975. There were no VR cameras around to capture those events, of course, so John turned to the special effects wizards at Spinifex to recreate it.
Using a combination of motion capture and CGI, Spinifex recreated John’s entire career, using a body double for his younger self. “It was one of the most amazing parts of the process, because we’d done the green screen shoot, and we shot the Troubadour on August 25th last year, and his opening show was just two blocks down the road,” said Spinifex CEO Ben Casey. “47 years ago to the day when we shot.”
The team authentically recreated all of the iconic singer’s outfits and the evolution of his distinctive eyewear through the ages, down to the last sequin. John himself even donned a motion-capture rig to play 10 songs on the piano.
“This isn’t just tech for tech’s sake, the digital assets we are capturing and creating will extend Elton’s magic for generations to come,” said Casey. “Great songs endure the test of time and we believe bringing them to life in this way will enable people 50 years from now to discover and experience the full impact of Elton’s music.”
Casey’s team made their pitch to John at an Oscar party in Los Angeles. Memorializing his career in VR certainly wasn’t John’s idea, but he’s amazed with the result. “I’m a Luddite,” he said in a CNN interview after the New York presentation. “I’ve never downloaded anything in my life. Even porn.”
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