Out With The Circus Animals, In With The Holograms

As futuristic as holographic technology may sound, in a sense it’s actually already in widespread commercial use. Concerts and similar events already use volumetric projection, with a fine mesh (hologram mesh or gauze) acting as the medium on which the image is projected to give the illusion of a 3D image. The widespread availability of this technology has now enabled Germany’s Roncalli circus to reintroduce (virtual) animals to its shows after ceasing the use of live lions and elephants in 1991 and other animals in 2018.

For the sticklers among us, these are of course not true holograms, as they do not use a recorded wavefront, nor do they seek to recreate a wavefront. Rather they employ as mentioned volumetric projection to essentially project in ‘thin air’, giving the illusion of a tangible object being present. By simultaneously projecting multiple views, to an observer standing outside the projection mesh, it would thus appear that there is a physical, three-dimensional object which can be observed. In the case of the Roncalli circus there are 11 projectors lining the circumference of the mesh.

To a circus the benefits of this approach are of course manifold, as not only do they no longer have to carry lots of animals around every time the circus moves to a new location – along with the on-site demands – but they get to experiment with new shows and new visuals that were never before possible. Ironically, this could mean that after 3D fizzled out at movie theaters, circuses and similar venues may be in a position to make it commonplace again for the masses.

25 thoughts on “Out With The Circus Animals, In With The Holograms

  1. Nope.

    You go to a travelling circus to see animals and acts that you normally would not be able to.

    You do not go to watch a (yes, advanced, 3D, amazing, but still) movie.

    Animal rights – including human – are of course important, the welfare and safety of performers and spectators is paramount and things were done in a very bad way in some cases in the past.

    But IMNSHO if you can’t have a live Lion/Elephant/whatever, don’t show me a movie of one, just cut it out and I’ll go to a zoo where they have well cared for anmials and see a real one.

  2. “Ursus americanus. The magnificent American black bear. Brought to you by Montana Recreations!”
    “Canis lupus. The enigmatic gray wolf. Brought to you by Montana Recreations!”
    “Puma concolor. The fearsome cougar. Brought to you by Montana Recreations!”

    Science fiction once again inspires reality. In the post-apocolyptic video game “Horizon: Zero Dawn”, the player may encounter small figurines of then extinct animals, which when placed in a certain location in what used to be a visitor center in Yellowstone National Park, would trigger a hologram and audio playback.

    1. Yeah no kidding. Pretty much any time a projector throws an image on something that’s not an opaque, vertical wall, people go “oooOOooo hologram!”

      Few have any idea how mind-bendingly strange and cool actual holography is

  3. This isn’t a volumetric projection. The mesh is a 1D sheet which surrounds an open performance area. (Sort-of like a convex, holey, IMAX screen.) The projections are not going to look 3D at all.

  4. This has nothing to do with holograms. The circus director heard that term from that prince duet. (Which could kinda fly as holograms a little.) He is just projecting a 2D Video on a curved but 2D screen. Nothing is volumetric. Nothing is shown from different perspectives. It is a 5 minute video ahead of the rest of the show, projected 3 times around the arena.

    If not for free advertisements like this, nobody would remember this as anything special. And its nothing new. They do this since 2018…

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