Does Dance Monsters use holograms?

The innovative technology behind Netflix’s Dance Monsters

Dance Monsters does display the monsters on the main stage, though they are technically not holograms, but rather CGI avatars.

Many films and television shows have implemented CGI to augment their shows and this technology has now become even more prevalent in shows like Dance Monsters.

Dance Monsters uses CGI to create real-time rendered avatars of the dancers while they are performing, which looks similar to a hologram, but is not entirely the same thing.

The use of CGI in film and television

From dinosaurs and monsters, to aging – special effects, artists can use computer-generated images in many different ways to augment the images that we see on our screens. The use of CGI in shows and films has also evolved over the years.

When Steven Spielberg first released Jurassic Park in 1993, many people could not believe that filmmakers could create entire creatures from nothing.

By the time that Avatar: The Way of Water premiered in 2022; James Cameron had created an entire CGI world above and below water.

Now the use of CGI has become so prevalent that even low-budget reality television shows, like Netflix’s newest dance competition show, Dance Monsters, has implemented this technology to make their shows a little less real, but a lot more entertaining.

Does Dance Monsters use holograms?

The use of CGI in film and television shows may be an everyday occurrence at this point, but the world of performers prancing around in motion-capture suits with white dots and green screens can still be quite confusing for people who are watching these behind-the-scenes videos from their favourite shows at home.

In fact, in the case of Dance Monsters, this is exactly what seems to fascinate most people about the show.

While it does a pretty good job explaining to the audience that the real dancers perform in motion-capture suits backstage and then their performances are showcased in monster form on the main stage in front of the judges and the live studio audience, the finer details may still be unclear to some people.

People who are not directly involved in post-production or special effects may often use the terms “CGI” and “hologram” interchangeably, but the monsters that you see on the main stage of the show are in fact CGI and not holograms.

The main difference between the two is that holograms are generally three dimensional representations of objects that are created by refracting beams of light.

Whereas the CGI monsters on the show are VFX CGI avatars produced through a complicated process whereby the data from the motion-capture suits are programmed and edited in real time, and fed into a motion builder program and then a graphics engine.

Why does the show create these CGI avatars?

Many of the Dance Monsters contestants, as well as the judges on the show, have mentioned that they appreciate that the CGI monsters allow the audience and judges to simply focus  on the dancing, instead of the contestants’ real-life appearances.

However, this is not the only benefit that these CGI avatars provide. In the first season of the show, these avatars have ranged from robots, aliens, cuddly bears, and mummies to marshmallow monsters.

This has allowed the show to feel more like an animated Pixar or Disney movie rather than a repetitive competition show. It also adds an extra level of intrigue to the entire show.

How does Dance Monsters capture the dancers’ performances for their CGI avatars?

In order to create the VFX that Netflix required for the Dance Monsters show, they partnered with two companies called IMS (Imaginarium Studios) and Mo-Sys, which specialise in performance-capture technologies.

IMS constructed a special stage for the dancers to perform on in their performance-capture suits, fully equipped with sensors, head gear, and moving cameras.

Next, Mo-Sys used the information from these performances and fed it through a motion builder, and then Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, to render the CGI avatar performances in real time.

Does the show ever reveal who the dancers behind the CGI avatars are?

Dance Monsters does try to balance the CGI monsters’ anonymity with personal stories from the dancers’ pasts.

This often involves “confessional” style snippets on the show during which the CGI monsters inform the audience about their struggles with breaking into the professional dance world in the past.

Even though some of the behind-the-scenes footage of the dancers on the show will reveal their real, human form, the contestants’ faces are always blurred out.

The contestants’ real faces are only ever shown after they are eliminated from the show by the judges, and this often leads to shocking reveals at the end of episodes.