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Holographic Anime Pop Star

Hatsune Miku is the latest J-Pop star – with a twist: she’s not real. In fact, she’s an anime “holograph” (Actually, she’s projected onto a mesh screen so it’s technically flat). Finally a use for motion capture I approve of. At least, I think its mo-cap… the company behind this, Crypton Future Media, won’t admit that either. Here’s a sample performance – and the song is catchy too:

(Thanks, Paul Dini)

  • Zach Bellissimo

    This is pretty cool! But I think I’ll always favor the Gorillaz holograms: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdAXIj5QViw

    • GhaleonQ

      Yep, but then they can’t market video game soundtracks with Gorillaz.

    • I love that we live in a bizzaro world where animated characters can be rock stars in real life.

  • Oh God. I saw Brazil this weekend and there wasn’t nearly a thing in that movie that is as frightening as this. Is this a new definition of worshiping false idols? Maybe this is what Disney is going to use to replace Miley Cyrus.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Japan had already been warned of that in such classics as “Megazone 23” and “Macross Plus”.

      • NC

        @Chris You read my mind!

      • Tanuki

        From a Christian point of view, the Shinto Gods and the Buddha are also “false idols”. But Japan is not a Christian country.

  • doozer

    Can you say Jem and the Holograms?

    • Gamma

      I know, right? Now they have to remake it!

  • I wonder if the hologram is skewed if you were viewing it at an angle since it’s on what I am guessing is a flat screen?

  • Ben

    It’s kind of strange how Vocaloids are just now getting a lot of coverage. Most people seem to be more interested in this one live concert’s rear-projection technique than the voice software and all the crazy fan-made stuff that’s been produced over the past few years. A few more likes on their Facebook page and we get an English voice mod so I’m sure we’ll be seeing some weird youtube videos in the future.

  • I guess it’s no more absurd than going to any other arena concert and spending 90 minutes watching the jumbotron instead of the dot down on stage.

    Extra points for irony if this venue actually has a jumbotron view of the character also.

    But I’m sure the fans will be scandalized when it comes out that this performance was lip-synched.

  • purin

    That’s impressive! I also would like to know how they manage to get something to appear so three dimensional if she’s technically flat. I like the goofy/cute Hatsune Miku better. They do have leek-shaped light sticks, though. That’s a clever in-joke. Well, there are some English-aimed Vocaloid voices, but they just don’t have characters the way the Japanese ones do. Moe personifications are a very Japanese thing.

    Well, when it comes to manufacturing pop stars, I suppose this is preferable to sticking a real life person into a mold and marketing her as a product. There’s no question that Hatsune Miku is a product, and you can’t confuse her image with her actual personality, because… she doesn’t have one. Besides, the manufactured pop stars generally aren’t THAT good at singing and are mixed to death and sometimes practically drowned out by special effects and music. So, skip the mediocre singer.

  • I was thinking Sharon Apple myself.

    • victoria

      Ha! I was thinking the same thing, except Sharon Apple was flying through the air with pretty colors, watching that anime girl dance got kinda boring after a few minutes.

      • Daphne Yue

        If they are able to do what they are doing already, I wouldn’t be surprised if they managed to get something like Sharon Apple in the near future, considering the rate of which technology advances.

  • Chris

    Guitar Hero LIVE. Personally, I’m not at all drawn to the character. It’s a cool idea, but executed in such a lame way. It would be so much cooler if the character would move either more realistically, or more like a cartoon character.

  • Wait, so what aspects of this video are real? Is her movement based on real movements? The term “vocaloid” leads me to think that the singing is synthetic as well, is it?

    I find idol singers a bit creepy in general, I guess this is no more creepy than any other one.

    • TheGunheart

      Yeah, Vocaloids are commercially released singing voice synthesizers that got so popular in Japan that pretty much became the exclusive market for them. The early English-singing ones were just a voice, but the Japanese versions soon picked up characters to go with these voices, with Hatsune being the biggest seller.

  • uncle wayne

    Jee-zuss CHRIST, what a great bod! I’m dumping my gf!! This IZZ impressive!!

  • I’m with Superdeformed. Sharon Apple was an actual hologram. Jem is a real person whose appearance is alter by holograms.

    This is the kind of information that fills space in my memory that would probably otherwise store the location where I just set my keys down.

  • I want this on my bedroom wall.

  • The virtual band Gorrillaz has done this before too…

  • If you’ve ever been to the Haunted Mansion, then you’ve seen this same effect. It’s called Pepper’s Ghost. Check out around the 1:00 mark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nm1EF9PcYUQ

    Basically, for an effect like this, you would sink a monitor in the stage, and angle the glass so the audience couldn’t see it. It works best against very dark backgrounds. In the Haunted Mansion, they do it against light backgrounds, making the characters see through and adding to their ghostly appearance.

    • Thanks for answering my suspicious about this and the Haunted Mansion!

  • This was done with Homer Simpson at a convention to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Simpsons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwDlVoNzlfo

  • My buddy Jeremy who is living abroad at the moment in Japan and obsessed with all things technological and anime-related over there has informed me it’s motion capture. In his words:

    “Yeah, there’s some videos on nico nico douga about how they do this. Most of the dancing is from the Project Diva game, which is completely motion captured. Everything else is all modeling and physics engines.”

    So, there you go. The scale of thing is pretty impressive but, I’ll admit to being more into the stuff Gorillaz is doing. Modeling and character animation is stronger but I think stiffer characters can get by in the ‘Moe’ subculture of Japan.

  • This Reminds me of Macross Plus.We’re getting closer to future.

  • That doesn’t look like motion capture to me. It seems way too rigid for that. If I had to guess I’d say it’s simple inverse kinematics animation.

  • Steamboat Bill

    Those Japanese gets weirder by the year.

  • dt

    Am I the only one a little freaked out by this?

    • Eric

      No. No you aren’t. *shudder*

  • Michel Van

    J-pop with synthetical Idols reach finale level: we don’t need singer anymore !
    the first “Idols” need Anime voice actress für Singing or Interviews
    Hatsune Miku creators “Crypton Future Media” replace her with Yamaha’s Vocaloid software.
    In this Video you hear clear the software today limits

    I wonder wen the Music Industry in Europe or USA jump on those low cost CGI Idols
    were they have Total control on it: no more Diva Problems and keep the total profit.
    Move over Lady Gaga, Hatsune Miku & Co are overtakeing you !

  • aaannonn

    How could someone think this means we don’t need real singers anymore? That isnt going to happen, and really, you think CGI idols are less expensive than real people? The gorillaz wanted to do a tour, projecting the characters on the stage like they were really there, but decided against it. want to know why? THE RIGGING IS TOO EXPENSIVE. animating these characters is too expensive.
    Vocaloids are great and all, they’re interesting, and fun to play around with, but we will always have a need for human connection, and you can’t get much in the way of english language singing out of vocaloids.. All the vocaloids are sampled from real singers, that are still popular. Gackt, a majorly popular star lent his voice to one of the popular male vocaloids, but he hasnt been put out of business. They don’t suddenly stop needing Gackt because they have a vocaloid that sounds like him. Vocaloids are mainly meant for pop tracks, or electronic tracks, or amateur song writers wanting to make a draft of their idea. They hit popularity because they started making characters to go on the box the programs come in.

    It is far more expensive to fabricate a fake idol. It’s more expensive and tedious to pay a whole bunch of people to help make a electronic voice sing, dance, move, simply APPEAR, when you could easily put a real person on the stage or infront of a camera crew of a few good people. Vocaloid programs are kind of difficult to work with.

    If someone was doing this with Josie And the Pussy Cats, i have a feeling everyone would think this was super awesome, because even though Josie and the Pussycats had such cheap animation, it’s older, and of course much better than this new fangled stuff.

  • X

    I did some work for the London-based company “MUSION” who were responsible for the “Gorillaz” event. Though I don’t believe they are responsible for the Hatsune workings, despite working globally.

  • So would this hologram actually be a Pepper’s Ghost or related?

    This is also my question about Disney’s Haunted House ride.

  • Paul Penna


  • Connie Pinko

    My head hasn’t been this confused since I peeked at the animatronic Showbiz Pizza band in 1989.

  • using technology to make fake pets, fake violinists, fake manga, fake actresses, fake singes, these people sure are screwed up.

    • Christina S.

      fake manga what. How can you ‘fake’ manga?

  • i mean Gorillaz looks and sounds organic and is an authentic musical project from a team of artistically talented people. Not that generic J-pop trash!

    • Chris Sobieniak

      At least someone knows how to call it trash. I keep telling guys here about that but they never listen, so I gave up!

  • Alissa

    Oi, don’t knock it ’til you tried it, Miku is pretty creepy/morbid at times in awesome ways. ‘Alice Human Sacrifice’ and ‘Dark Woods Circus’ come immediately to mind.

    That’s the best part of Vocaloids actually. They’re anything you want them to be.

  • d

    c’mon, it’s just another gimmick, it works for some stuff more, for others less, the rest is just taste and to argue about it is kinda pointless i think.
    i got to work with these guys about 13 years ago during an internship, before they split and one went to japan and the other one stayed in europe. we were using it for realtime anim, but you can imagine the limitations back then if it’s not even working well enough today ;). loved the gorrilaz one though. btw. back then it was projected on a special coated film, that was spanned diagonal from bottom front to top back of the stage…

  • Hal

    I see the plus side of this – completely fabricated pop starlets can cut themselves, go on coke binges and end up in rehab. Only thing publicists need to worry about is the compromising tentacle sex tapes leaking on the internet.

  • I don’t think Motion Capture. Pretty cool.

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    Look at it this way: now idol singers no longer have to worry about their careers having an expiration date. Forever young, forever fresh on stage; this is where the idol singer has been heading all along.

  • udx

    I wonder how long till Star Trek the Next Generation’s Holodecks become a reality?

  • Is she truly outrageous?