That’s correct, you read the title right, ABBA are back! After 40 years, ABBA have returned with 2 new tracks from their upcoming album ‘Voyage’. But that’s not all they are bringing to us! Agnetha, Benny, Anni-Frid and Bjorn have created digital ABBAtars and will be performing a Virtual Reality concert to help promote their latest album!
The Virtual Reality concert will use digital technology to take fans on a captivating and immersive time-travel experience during which the members of ABBA will perform a number of tracks from their latest album alongside a 10-piece band. Opening in May, ABBA Voyage is presenting a cutting-edge technology to bring Virtual Reality versions of the band members back onto the stage from their heyday.
From industrial light and magic, the special effect studio founded by George Lucas, will use motion capture and Virtual Reality to recreate ABBA for each concert. However, some sacrifices needed to be made as Bjorn and Benny had to shave off their iconic beards due to the motion team needing to map their faces.
According to Simon Fuller (the creator behind the Spice Girls and The X Factor);
“The creativity and ideas flowing from the members of ABBA over the past few months have filled me with great excitement. We are exploring a new technological world, with virtual reality and artificial intelligence at the forefront, that will allow us to create new forms of entertainment and content we couldn’t have previously imagined.”Simon Fuller
Virtual Reality in the Performing Arts Industry
Whilst ABBA will be showcasing this cutting edge technology to the masses, the group are not the first group to experiment with VR. For many years, the performing arts industry has been utilising VR and other visual technologies to create a highly entertaining and engaging experience for fans. Additionally, more and more entertainment brands are incorporating virtual reality into their marketing strategies. Some use VR features on apps such as instagram, while others create custom apps.
One way in which VR has been utilised in the performing arts industry is through live shows, performances and events to create an innovative experience for audiences. For example, English virtual band Gorillaz have used various digital technologies to create eye-catching performances for their fans. A notable example of this can be seen in the video below at the 2010 MTV EMA Awards where the band used holograms to perform the hit ‘Feel Good Inc’.
Virtual Reality in Music Videos
In addition to live events, VR has also been widely used to create highly engaging and interactive music videos. One of the most popular examples of this is when Icelandic singer/songwriter Bjork shared her 360-degree video of her track ‘Stonemilker’. Since this release, more bands and artists (including The Weekend and Foals) have jumped on the VR bandwagon and used spherical cameras to create 360-degree music videos. As VR becomes more accessible, you can expect to see more bands following pursuit of The Weekend, Foals and Bjork and creating more 360-music videos.
VR at Home!
Due to the challenges and obstacles caused by the Coronavirus and subsequent global lockdowns, the performing arts industry found new and creative ways to showcase live performances by utilising virtual reality. For example, French composer jean-Michel Jarre streamed an event in June to a worldwide audience, his concert drew hundreds of thousands of views across both VR and non VR streaming platforms. The event allowed his fans who were using a VR headset to interact with one another through virtual avatars.
With the release of devices such as the Oculus Quest and Playstation VR, virtual reality is becoming an increasingly popular variety of visual technology. Furthermore, with smartphone brands such as Google and Samsung developing cost-effective accessories to help transform smartphone devices into virtual reality headsets, virtual reality is becoming increasingly accessible to the public. As a result, there are over 171 million virtual reality users globally (Statista, 2018) and a further 5.5 million units are estimated to be further shipped to customers worldwide in 2020 (Statista, 2020).
As more and more people gain access to VR experiences, we can only expect to see more artists and businesses operating within the performing arts industry utilising this technology to create engaging and immersive experiences for their fans.
At Eon Visual Media we are incredibly passionate about creating visually stunning and engaging virtual reality experiences to engage, educate and inspire your stakeholders.