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The Circus of the 21st Century: How Germany is Leading the Way With Holograms

The Circus has been entertaining people throughout the world for centuries. It’s a time-honored tradition, but the practice of training animals to do silly things for the amusement is definitely a thing of the past and there are many reasons why it’s not a popular as it once was. The treatment of circus animals is one of the biggest criticisms of modern circus companies and many people don’t feel that animals should be forced to perform for our entertainment.

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Activists have accused many circuses of beating, starving and keeping their animals in unsanitary conditions while they perform for large crowds according to very tight schedules. The failure of the circus industry to effectively address these concerns has also resulted in dwindling ticket sales.

An Answer to the Rising Concerns

Germany’s Circus Roncalli has heard those criticisms and taken them to heart. You can go to a Roncalli performance and see animals like elephants and horses, only now the animals aren’t real, they’ll be high definition holograms. For a very long time, people couldn’t have imagined a circus without horses, elephants, monkeys, and lions. But recently, Circus Roncalli has shunned tradition, swapping flesh and blood for holograms.

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Circus Roncalli has been entertaining crowds with its animal shows since 1976 but has decided to change things up to fight against animal cruelty in the industry. The company phased out using live animals in its shows back in 2017, but the addition of holograms is a relatively new development. The bold move comes amid increasing worldwide concerns about show animals living much of their lives under horrible conditions in captivity.

Technology to the Rescue

Circus Roncalli said their focus was on clowns, acrobats and poetic acts from the start so this was an easy transition. Roncalli partnered with a company called Bluebox to install a holographic display system built by Optoma.

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A total of eleven Optoma devices make up the system. The performances are totally animal-free, but the shows remain just as spectacular. The idea came to the founder of Circus Roncalli, Bernhard Paul when he was watching the NFL Super Bowl half-time show in 2018. During the performance, Justin Timberlake was seen singing alongside a hologram of the music legend Prince, who had passed away two years earlier.

Animals in 3-D

After the show, Bernhard Paul was determined to find a way to make the technique work within his circus. Now the circus uses 11 projectors to create the 3D holograms and other projections in their show and the results are breathtaking.

It took a crew of 15 designers and software engineers to pull the whole thing off. Now there are hologram horses that appear out of nowhere, stampeding around the circus ring, as well as elephants and even fish.

A Thrilling Experience

The Circus Roncalli creates an entertaining show that includes all the elements of a circus that you loved as a kid. Holograms may not be enough to substitute the feeling of seeing an actual animal, but it sure beats the guilt that can come with observing the traditional circus.

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The stunning and innovative acts feature computer-generated hologram animals. The performance is brought to life by projectors laser and lenses— is not only enchanting to watch, but also completely cruelty-free. The move has been dubbed a ‘wonderful stop to the cruelty of animals’ with others calling it a ‘brilliant idea’. At 105 feet wide and 16 feet tall, the projections can’t really be missed. Or forgotten easily either.