VR brings Swedish pop group ABBA back to its glory days

by Dror Denishman

VR brings Swedish pop group ABBA
back to its glory days

If your first thought at seeing the virtual-reality crafted avatars of stars like Roy Oribson and Whitney Houston and automatically thought “this needs to happen for ABBA”, well friend this is your lucky day.

The legendary Swedish disco group that powered the dance clubs of the late 1970s and early 1980s with tunes like “Mamma Mia,” “Dancing Queen,” and “Take a Chance On Me” is promoting its first album in 40 years by returning to the stage as digital avatars - or should be we say ABBAtars.

Using motion-capture technology like that used in Marvel, Star Wars, and the Lord of the Rings franchise, the ABBA group members - Benny Andersson, Agnetha Fatlskog, Bjorn Ulvaues, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad - have been recorded in concert along with a 10-piece band while wearing mocap suits, which more or less make them look like they are extras in one of the Tron films. 

Image Credit: ABBA

The band was supervised on an indoor stage/recording studio by choreographer Wayne McGregor, who typically does work for the London Royal Ballet. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), the special effect house that was created by George Lucas, and has done everything from creating the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park to Star Wars’ lightsabers took on the project of restoring the Abba quartet to their performance prime through deaging.

The band opened its official TikTok account on September 1, one day before the announcement of a new album and the release of the first two new tracks.
In that short time span, theband garnered just short of 1 million followers on the social media platform and the songs generated 5.5 likes.
 Virtual and augmented performances have become all the rage of late, particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns cancelling concerts around the world for a year and sometimes more.
A new hologram-based technology has popped up that depicts realistic projections of deceased music stars on a stage interacting with live dancers and musicians. 

The company behind that tech is Base Hologram, and it has impressive videos on its site of the likes of Houston, Orbison, Buddy Holly, and Maria Callas looking very vivid on stage or screen.
Base Hologram has branched out past just music stars to take on an experience along with paleontologist Jack Horner, who served as the dinosaur consultant on Steven Spielberg’s 1993 masterpiece “Jurassic Park” and whom the character of Dr. Alan Grant from the novel by the same name by Michael Crichton.
This technology allows participants to sit in a theater and interact to a limited degree with a hologram version of Horner at a dig site in another part of the world.
That same dig site is then animated and holographic dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures are added to it to showcase how that part of the Earth would have looked 65 million years ago during the time of the dinosaurs.