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Usher Opts For Digital Dancers At Next Concert; Actors Next? Let’s Talk…

Usher Opts For Digital Dancers At Next Concert; Actors Next? Let's Talk...

I almost glossed over this with nothing more than a head shake, but then a thought came to me…

It’s a question that’s come up before, but I don’t believe we’ve ever addressed it here; on the heels of my post yesterday set up to answer questions from actors trying to get into the film/tv biz (read it HERE), I’m really curious what all you actors feel about this, and whether this kind of news makes you at all nervous about the future of your craft.

The New York Times is reporting this morning that Usher will use digital dancers (essentially, computer-generated dancers) to back him up during his concert at London’s Hammersmith Apollo on June 11. The show will be streamed online on Usher’s VEVO channel, and viewers will be able to interact with the show from wherever they are.

The first thought that came to me was, damn, there are some pro background dancers out there who could’ve booked this concert and made some money, but who will be replaced with computer-generated background dancers.

And then it led me to a similar thought about actors.

Like I said, it’s been brought up before by others in the media – the concern that, given the advances in technology we’ve seen in recent years, as CG creations continue to impress and look more and more like the real thing (although when it comes to human beings, I think there’s still a long way to go), what does this mean for real-life actors? Does it mean anything? Is it all just fodder for entertaining conversation, or is there some reality to it all that we (specifically actors) should indeed be considering – essentially, that they might be gradually replaced with digitized stars, rendering them somewhat obsolete. 

That 2002 Al Pacino film, S1m0ne, immediately comes to mind; in it, a film producer (Pacino) digitally creates an actress who becomes an overnight sensation, that everyone thinks is a real person. It wasn’t a great film, but I point it out as a recent example of a work that broached the topic; and this was 10 years ago. So, as I already said, this is something that’s been in the air for a while, and that I think will continue to come up from time to time, especially when films that use this technology, are produced.

I thought the entire Tupac hologram was a bit bizarre; and now Usher seems to be pushing it even further, which might inspire other acts to do just that. 

The question is what these advances mean for real-life dancers and actors, if anything… maybe not today, or even next year; but eventually. Especially in a profit-driven industry, when keeping costs low is on every agenda. And if these technological advancements end up being cheaper than the real thing, and just as good, what’s stopping the financiers from opting for the CG-created star?

So, I ask all you actors out there, is this at all something you’ve given any thought to whatsoever? And if so, what have been your thoughts? Or do you think it’s all just child’s play, and your craft/work/jobs aren’t in any jeopardy, even decades from now? General thoughts, even if you’re not an actor.

This Article is related to: Features