SM Entertainment expecting holograms to replace live performances
By Kim Tong-hyung
Three-dimensional (3D) content is the new frontier in film and television. SM Entertainment, one of Korea's leading music companies, is now attempting to push the stereoscopic era in music.
The company, whose army of sugary pop bands includes Girls' Generation and Super Junior, plans to open a concert venue that specializes in virtual performances, with a set of advanced projectors creating moving 3D holographic images of its stars as if they are real. The tentatively-named V-Theater, the V standing for virtual, could open in Seoul as early as during August, according to SM sources.
SM has been experimenting with the idea for more than a decade, although its attempt to make a stereoscopic hit out of H.O.T., a now-defunct boy band, fell flat in 1998. The company believes it's now more polished in terms of both technology and experience. Its holographic concert of Girls' Generation at Gangnam Station last month cooked up a storm on social media sites.
Holographic concerts could be an astute economic decision, says SM, which also plans to establish branches of V-Theater in other Asian countries where K-pop is big. As its artists gain popularity, so does the firm's spending on air tickets and hotels as they move frenetically to meet screaming teenagers in different nations.
The holographic theaters will allow the bands to go ''live'' in different places at the same time, SM says, the irony being that nothing about it will be live at all.
''Fans of K-pop will be able to enjoy concerts at anytime. We could establish separate theaters for Super Junior and Girls' Generation for example. The first theater will open by the end of the year at the latest,'' said an SM spokesman.
Hologram theaters are probably something that were to emerge in a technology-obsessed country like Korea. Traditional music listeners, however, may talk apocalyptically about the future of live entertainment, considering SM's decision to replace live performances with holograms, at least partially, with it becoming as soulless as its music seems to be.
The most famous use of virtual technology in music was Tupac's holographic appearance at the Coachella festival in the United States last year. But the iconic rapper is dead and the projectors were needed to enable a posthumous revival.
Members of Girls Generation are alive and well, although their new single ''I Got a Boy'' suggests their music may not be.