Some see it as an appropriate way to celebrate the talents of an iconic artist, while others are, to put it simply, creeped out by the whole thing.
We’re talking about technology that’s used to create virtual simulations of famous singers — usually ones no longer with us — to give fans past and present another chance to see their idol perform on stage. Well, sort of.
The idea of sending deceased artists back on the road is back in the headlines after the father of Amy Winehouse announced a world tour in 2019 featuring a “hologram” of his daughter on stage.
Winehouse, who died in 2011 from alcohol poisoning at the age of 27, will, in a manner of speaking, perform some of her most popular tracks during the concerts, among them Rehab, Back to Black, and Valerie. The show will include backing from a live band, backing singers (living ones, not digital projections), and “theatrical stagecraft,” according to the organizers, Base Entertainment.
In a tweet posted over the weekend, Amy’s father, Mitch, said his family is “delighted” to be teaming up with the Los Angeles-based digital effects company “to continue celebrating the life and work of Amy.”
He added that all proceeds from the tour will go to the Amy Winehouse Foundation, which works to help vulnerable and disadvantaged youngsters.
Speaking to Reuters about the planned tour, Mitch Winehouse said: “Fans have been clamoring for something new from Amy, but really there isn’t anything new,” adding, “We felt this would be a tremendous way for Amy both to revisit her fans through a hologram, and also an incredible way to raise money for our foundation.”
Base Entertainment, the company tasked with putting Amy Winehouse back on stage, albeit in holographic form, says it creates events where “audiences are not watching a show [but] are drawn into an ultra-realistic experience where fantasy becomes reality and ‘life comes back to the stage.'”
It should be noted that the technology does not produce actual holograms, but instead a 2D image that Base Entertainment CEO Brian Becker described in an interview earlier this year as “a 3D illusion,” adding that “‘holographic technology’ or ‘hologram’ is just a good name that people recognize.”
Creating an accurate digital representation of Amy Winehouse could be key to the tour’s success, and could even influence whether or not it actually goes ahead. A similar tour organized by another company — Hologram USA — that featured a likeness of Whitney Houston was called off by the late singer’s estate after it decided the representation was of poor quality.
The idea of using digital effects to create representations of artists first came to prominence in 2012 when Hologram USA put Tupac on stage at the Coachella festival, while Michael Jackson showed up at the Billboard Music Awards in 2014.
A hologram of Billie Holliday currently shows nightly at a theater in Los Angeles, while Base Entertainment is operating another performance featuring a representation of Roy Orbison.
But the projection technology isn’t only being used for dead artists. Abba, whose four band members were very much alive the last time we checked, are planning an “avatar tour project” for 2019 featuring their first new tracks in 35 years.
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