Dio Drummer Reveals Downside of Hologram Shows
Former Dio and AC/DC drummer Simon Wright discussed the downside of taking part in the Dio Returns hologram concerts ahead of the show’s first run of U.S. dates.
First presented in 2016, the projection of late icon Ronnie James Dio, created by Eyellusion, has undergone redevelopment – known as Dio 3.0 – before the month-long road trip commences on May 31. Each performance includes the hologram performing alongside a live band including Wright, while Tim “Ripper” Owens and Oni Logan take turns on lead vocals.
Recalling the first performance, Wright told Billboard it had been “pretty nerve-racking,” continuing: “It was a little strange at first to see it, but you got used to it. When we play live, I’m off to one side, so I can’t really see it, which is probably a good thing. I’m playing to a click [for the numbers with Dio], so I’ve got to really concentrate on what I’m doing.”
Although he’s played to a click track during studio work, he’d never previously done so live. “I’ve gotten used to the click,” he said. “[I]t’s just a whole different thing live because you’re sweating a lot more and you’re putting your all into it. The headphones start filling up with sweat. You go through a few sets of headphones.”
He suggested that fans who feel uncomfortable with the hologram consider that it wasn’t an attempt to “resurrect the dead,” adding: “It’s just basically a screen with an image on it. It’s not voodoo… There’s a lot of work gone into this, and it’s done with respect and love and care. A lot of people never got the chance to meet Ronnie or see him play live, and this is a good way to see him. It’s not him live obviously, but it’s a good show, and it’s all about Ronnie.”
Chad Finnerty, Eyellusion’s director of creative development, said it could take up to a month to prepare each single-song hologram performance. “We use computer software to digitally sculpt the likeness, and once we get approval on likeness, then we move into all the other phases of the animation,” he said. “I’ve got a team of animators to do one song’s animation start to finish using motion capture and facial capture.”
For now, the performances are rendered in advance; but Finnerty looked forward to the time when the images can be operated live. “The computing power isn’t quite there, or if it is, it’s super, super expensive to do it all in real timeæ One day, it will all be photo-real, and that’ll be pretty amazing. We’ll be able to light it all interactively at the same time as the band is getting lit.”