Mamma Mia! Here we go again
May 12, 2022
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ABBA, one of the most successful pop bands of all time, are reforming. Along with a new album – their first in more than 40 years – they are performing a series of concerts in London in 2022. But not in person. Instead, they will be using motion capture technology to present digitised versions of themselves on stage.
The technology, similar to that used to portray computer-generated beasts in Hollywood films, is being overseen by a special effects company called Industrial Light & Magic, originally founded by George Lucas of Star Wars fame. The four band members, Benny Andersson, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Björn Ulvaeus, have called their new project “the strangest and most spectacular concert you could ever dream of”.
“They performed every song in this show to perfection over five weeks, capturing every mannerism, every emotion, the soul of their beings,”
Entitled ABBA Voyage, the concerts will be staged in a custom-built, temporary 3,000-seat concert hall in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which will later be transported on a world tour. While the musicians’ avatars (or “ABBAtars”, as they have dubbed them) appear on the stage, a 10-piece live band of real musicians will accompany them.
Ludvig Andersson is producer on the project. He explained how the four band members – now all in their 70s – wore motion-capture suits, and then performed their most famous songs on a stage in front of 160 cameras, while being filmed from every possible angle. Special effects experts then gave them all a digital makeover so that the avatars resemble their younger selves in their 1970s prime.
“They performed every song in this show to perfection over five weeks, capturing every mannerism, every emotion, the soul of their beings,” explains Ludvig Andersson. “That becomes the great magic of this endeavour. When you see this show, it is not a version of or a copy of four people pretending to be ABBA. It is actually them.”