Hologram effects and many related optical presentations and illusions have advanced mightily in the last several years. There are many avenues to producing this type of imaging, from updated applications of the classic theater trick of Pepper’s Ghost to the use of holo-gauze to project lifelike, seemingly three-dimensional imagery. Hologram effects and many visually similar and related concepts are on the rise.
A variety of technological improvements and innovations have allowed hologram effects to take center stage in a variety of contexts, from conferences full of professionals to music festivals packed with avid fans. Why are these a rising trend?
Visually Impressive Outcomes
Modern technology allows for hologram effects that meet a number of general, informal criteria for audiences: They’re bright, accurate and clearly visible to the point where their presence is a help and not a hindrance. The 2012 posthumous appearance of musician Tupac Shakur during a headlining performance by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival is just one of the first widely recognized uses of such an effect, it’s still discussed to this day by fans and those interested in the technology.
As National Public Radio noted, response to the visuals and syncing of music with the projected image was roundly positive, a reaction that continues to occur in most situations in which these holograms are used. It’s worth noting that the Tupac projection wasn’t technically a hologram. Rather, it’s an updated version of Pepper’s Ghost. That technical distinction holds true for many of the hologram-like images seen in modern popular culture, although audiences and the general public continue to call all of these similar effects holograms.
“Modern hologram effects are bright, accurate and clearly visible.”
There are plenty of other instances of music-related hologram effects appearing in recent years, with new approaches to this visual presentation offering many different creative avenues. Billboard detailed the progression of holograms in the music industry and their growing popularity and acceptance among fans of all genres.
Some of the most impressive include the projection of 3D animated characters, like the rock band, Gorillaz, and more recently Japanese pop singer character Hatsune Miku. Moving past the editing and repurposing of existing footage and vocals, this type of hologram effect can entertain viewers with entirely new creations.
The development of an entire touring show based around hard-rocker Ronnie James Dio is an intriguing blend of archival footage and audio recordings to create a new experience. Billboard reported on Eyellusion Hologram Production’s past use of a Dio hologram and plans to stage an entire show around the simulation. The Gorillaz, Hatsune Miku and Dio all represent paid performances where audiences knowingly buy tickets to watch a partially or mostly virtual performance – a major progression from the limited use of holograms as a surprise or novelty just a few years beforehand.
There are plenty of different tools, machinery and devices that can be used to create a hologram or similar effect. While the final presentation to the audience is similar, the steps needed to create the effect differ greatly:
• Pepper’s Ghost: The oldest of the effects, this concept was first developed in the 19th century. It traditionally involves using a piece of glass tilted at an angle to produce the effect of an image materializing to the audience. More modern applications include the Tupac appearance already described, although these more modern efforts include lots of additional technology.
• Rear projection: A semi-transparent screen paired with projectors behind it is another method to display holograms, as used by the crew mounting the Hatsune Miku performances.
• Holo-gauze: This reusable material is flexible and can be deployed in a number of locations throughout a facility, making it a great choice for events and conferences.
Event and Conference Applications
While conferences and meeting events feature different structures, intentions and desired outcomes as compared to concerts and festivals, there are still plenty of similarities. Audiences, no matter who or where, tend to respond positively to new, exciting presentations and become more engaged because of them.
Hologram effects are, of course, more than a simple novelty – they allow keynote speeches to present information in different ways and don’t always have to focus on real people or imaginary characters. There are plenty of applications where these effects can present charts, graphs and other visual representations of data, whether in a static format or in motion. There are also many opportunities to create the appearance of interactivity, with the speaker or presenter pointing to a specific area on the hologram visual to kick off a number of predetermined effects managed by a capable crew working behind the scenes.
One recent example of this type of hologram usage – developed, managed and executed by Alford – occurred at an annual meeting of managers and executives of Bell Helicopter produced by Snap! Productions. Held in late January, the event included a keynote address that used a hologram to stand out to the audience during one of the most important parts of the event.
Using two Barco RLM 12K projectors with lenses merged on the projection point, a piece of reusable holo-gauze that offered superior durability and many more deployment options, we successfully integrated the hologram into the event. With the holo-gauze hung from a fixed point on the ceiling and lit from the sides to present the best possible image to the audience, the visuals were clear, vivid and powerful.
As the technology behind hologram effects continues to develop, there will only be more innovative ways to use them – at events and conferences and beyond. Alford is committed to staying up to date with this technology and using it in the most effective ways possible.