Gorillaz live performance

THEIR show is a stunning mixture of animation, music and 3D technology. But the truth behind the cutting edge Gorillaz live experience can now be revealed: it is a Victorian illusion you can do at home.

Last night, Damon Albarn’s 10 million-selling creation made history by performing simultaneously at the MTV Europe Awards in Lisbon and at the Opera House, Manchester.

The Portuguese audience saw ghostly, billboard-sized versions of the characters 2D and Murdoc perform their award-winning hit Feel Good Inc on virtual instruments.

But at a behind-the-scenes visit to their Lisbon rehearsal, The Times learnt that the truth is far less hi-tech than audiences might think. In reality, it is a “smoke and mirrors” illusion.

Cara Speller, producer of the Gorillaz live extravaganza at the London animation house Passion Pictures, said: “It’s quite old technology. It’s essentially Pepper’s Ghost, which was a Victorian invention of reflection and projection on to mirrors.”

Pepper’s Ghost was the key precursor of the cinema show on British fairgrounds. In 1862, John Henry Pepper of the Royal Polytechnic Institution in London created a machine that used mirrors and lenses to project a ghostly image.

To make Pepper’s Ghost appear, someone offstage would be highlighted so that the light waves bounced off a piece of glass, strategically placed at an angle. The reflected image would appear to be onstage. It is the same principle used in fighter aircraft, where a ghostly image of graphic flight and radar data float before the pilot.

Ms Speller said that they had merely updated the process with special materials “to do what we need to”.

Amateur animators could create their own chart-topping multimedia project at home with a glass mirror, candle, a piece of black fabric and a grounding in GCSE physics.

However, a state-of-the-art software package and the vision of Jamie Hewlett, a graphic designer and founding Gorillaz member, would be needed truly to match the effect. Ms Speller added: “Our Gorillaz aren’t holograms because holographic technology isn’t quite up to what we need. It is digital animation projected on special transparent foil in a way that appears holographic.”

Gorillaz have held discussions with George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic studio about incorporating further advances in 3D computer technology for a global tour in 2007.

Gorillaz are performing for five nights in Manchester, where the audience were told that 2D and Murdoc could not attend last night because they were in Lisbon. Blur singer Albarn formed Gorillaz with Tank Girl artist Hewlett in 2001, selling six million copies of their debut album. The follow-up, Demon Days, has passed the four million mark.

Niamh Byrne, Gorillaz’ manager, said: “We debuted Gorillaz live at the Brits four years ago but only now has the technology caught up with Damon and Jamie’s vision. Even now we have only touched the surface of what will be possible on the world tour in 2007 in terms of skin tone, moving hair and interaction with the audience.”

MTV Europe Awards 2005, 9pm, MTV. Gorillaz play the Opera House, Manchester, today and tomorrow.

WOW!! ... that is so cool ... genuis ... i mean who would have ever taught an animated characters band could sell 10!! MILLION albums :prayer: but yup thier songs are very catchy and good
yeah, the animation is cool.
and thank god its an animation. performing on stage, with just an underwear on.... 8O
he even got a chance to scratch "it".
wonder how the guys really look like.
anyone got any real pics of them?
*blinks* wasn't a huge fan of Gorillaz before but now I am! the animation was just so cool. And the bassist being onstage in just his underwear...-lol-
yup i had a video of the real band playing live @ london wit the lead vocals begin damon of blur ... hmmmm they actually played behind a white screen ... where a huge spotlight shown from the back .. so u can onli see thier shadows ... and there was an animation video begin played on another screen wit the fiction characters in it .... very COOl! ... creative guys ...
i think that damon albarn is a genius...... gorillaz are kewl... just wonder why he couldn't make that music with blur.... hahaha... wanted a better image perhaps?
heard from my friend.. he's a hardcore gorillaz fan.. gorillaz is a one man band.. damon plays everything.. when come to live i juz they ask stand ins.. not sure how far true.. mayb it's blur hu's playing, juz change the name did abit of repackaging.. haa..