Yesterday The Los Angeles Times reported on a concert by Roy Orbison. Roy Orbison died in 1988. The concert was done with a hologram.
The article reports:
Thirty years after his death, Orbison (at least the digital version of him) is going on a national tour, the latest and possibly the most ambitious example to date of how holographic technology is transforming the music industry. The hologram’s 65-minute show, which features 16 songs and orchestral accompaniment, is among the first full-length concerts to feature a holographic dead singer.
Such images and shows are becoming more common, as families of deceased celebrities look for new ways to prolong and capitalize on their legacies. But as technology evolves and it becomes easier to create three-dimensional, lifelike visuals of artists, there’s growing debate over how those images will be portrayed — and whether they truly represent how the artists behaved when they were alive. That has prompted some celebrities to add language in their contracts about holograms and to be more meticulous about selecting who is in charge of their estates. It has also sparked threats of lawsuits from estates to bar companies from profiting from a celebrity’s image without their permission.
“This is a big issue,” said Aaron Moss, a partner with law firm Greenberg Glusker. “With new technology, you could essentially make somebody an unwitting and involuntary actor in a film that a celebrity has no part of.”
The article further reports:
Orbison (Alex Orbison) said he was nervous when the show had its first opening night in London. The pressure was so great, “it was almost like stage fright,” Orbison said.
But as the holographic version of his father reached the high notes and fans cheered during “Crying,” it was Orbison’s turn to cry — from relief.
“It was seeing couples holding hands and the way that these families looked at each other,” Orbison said. “The fact that these people were having the experience of my dad … in 2018 is just so incredible.”
Still, there were some awkward moments during Tuesday night’s performance. When a song finished and the hologram said “Thank you,” some audience members laughed, unsure of the appropriate response to a programmed event.
Orbison’s hologram wasn’t static during the concert. He turned to acknowledge the orchestra, though for most of the concert, he faced the audience. There were no dance moves. Organizers said that was typical of concerts Orbison did in his lifetime.
Sho Guo, 34, said she would have liked to see Orbison interact more with the audience. When people yelled “Encore!” Orbison didn’t acknowledge them.
“You don’t have that in the hologram,” Guo said.
I have very mixed emotions about this. It is encouraging to me that Alex Orbison, Roy Orbison’s son, was part of the project and approved of the project. However, I really wonder about how this type of concert blurs the line between reality and something that isn’t real. I am also concerned about what had to be the static nature of the concert. Artists in concert do not always follow the script, and that is part of what makes live concerts fun. It seems to me that a hologram concert would simply be like listening to the artist sing on a recording–it wouldn’t have the spark of life to it.
After saying that, I love Roy Orbison’s music, and I am willing to bet that even a hologram concert by Roy Orbison would be a really fantastic concert.