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19 Jun 2019

Famous German circus replaces live animals with cruelty-free holograms
BY Andy Knaggs

3D holographic animals perform a series of circus tricks

3D holographic animals perform a series of circus tricks
photo: Circus Roncalli

Germany's Circus Roncalli has replaced its live animals with holograms in an attempt to raise awareness of animal cruelty in the industry.

The show, which has been touring since 1976, previously featured animals such as elephants and horses performing tricks and stunts for the viewing audience. Now the circus has done away with these animal performances, instead using 3D holograms projected into the ringmaster's circle – a world first.



Roncalli's agency, Tag/Traum, worked with installation company Bluebox and Optoma laser projectors to put together and put on a mesmerising sequence within the 32-metre wide (105ft) and 5-metre deep (16ft) circus arena, with holographic "stardust" horses parading around the circle and an elephant performing manoeuvres such as head-stands.

The laser projectors needed to be high contrast units, capable of 360 degree projection, and capable of projecting great colours for the 3D effect. Optoma's ZU850 projectors ‒ which have a contrast of 2,000,000:1 ‒ were chosen for the job.

The project was first conceived by Circus Roncalli's founder and director Bernhard Paul. It cost around €500,000 (US$560,000, £445,000) to put together and involved a team of 15 3D designers and software engineers. The creation of the horses alone required the animation of more than a million particles.

The alleged mistreatment of animals in the attractions industry has been a growing topic in recent years. Captive cetaceans have been a hot-button issue in particular for operators such as SeaWorld, while concerns for the treatment of show animals have been increasing, with the UK last month passing a bill which will ban circuses using wild animals in their performances. In the US, New Jersey became the first state to ban the use of wild animals in travelling acts in 2018, while both Los Angeles and New York City have also banned using wild animals in circuses.



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