The Weeknd’s recent concert may have been held on an app, but it still looked a lot like one of his real-world performances. “Animated shows are a really close representation of what in-person shows are like, but rendered in an interactive, virtual environment,” says John Petrocelli, the chief executive officer of Bulldog DM, a company that helps artists create online events. The Weeknd was even able to interact with fans via his avatar, or cartoon-like version of himself. “At an in-person concert, you wouldn’t get to meet the performers,” says Journi Easter, a 13-year-old from Chicago, Illinois, who watched The Weeknd’s concert on a laptop with her brother. “But during this concert people got to talk to The Weeknd!”
All of the moves The Weeknd’s avatar made during his performance were based on the singer’s actual motions recorded using motion capture technology. This requires an artist to wear a special suit covered in dots. This technology can even be used to animate a concert in real time, like the show that singer John Legend performed live on YouTube last June. As Legend sang, a computer tracked the dots on his suit to create an animation that replicated his facial expressions and body movements.
Because The Weeknd and Legend performed as avatars, they could do all sorts of amazing tricks, like teleport around or dance on a floating stage. These online shows can be full of surprises, says 12-year-old Jack Simpson from Los Angeles, California. “You can do a lot of things in an animated world that you can’t do in real life.”