Dance Monsters is Netflix’s newest reality show that uses a combination of specially-built performance-capture stages and suits to project holograms of dancers on the stage.
Although reality television shows always draw big audiences, these shows also always have to invent new formats to keep audiences interested.
Netflix’s Dance Monsters has a very unique format whereby real amateur dancers perform on a special performance-capture stage. The live studio audience and judges only get to see 3D monster holograms of their performances.
Why do people enjoy watching reality competition shows?
Reality television has always been a popular genre, but with the increasing amount of content being developed for streaming platforms every day, these shows constantly have to come up with new gimmicks and formats to hook their audience.
The additional tension built into a competition format, in which a grand prize is on the line, has proven to be one format that works to attract audiences, like in the case of shows like America’s Got Talent, Top Chef, Blown Away and more.
Not only do these competitions give ordinary people the chance to live out their dreams, but they are also incredibly entertaining to watch, which is what usually makes them so popular.
How does Dance Monsters work?
One of the newest reality competition shows to put this tried and true format to the test is Netflix’s Dance Monsters.
This show is a dance competition show in which 15 amateur dancers perform in the hopes of winning the grand prize of $250 000 by outshining their competition.
However, there is one very important aspect about this new show that sets it apart from other similar shows.
Instead of featuring dancers live on stage like in So You Think You Can Dance or Dancing with the Stars, or even having dancers in mascot suits like in The Masked Dancer, Dance Monsters keeps the identities of the dancers on the show hidden using VFX, live-motion capture, and CGI that transform these dancers into virtual monster holograms that perform on stage.
The easiest way to understand how all of this happens is to consider that the show basically has two identical stages.
The real stage is what the judges and the live studio audience see and what the holograms are projected on to, and the second stage is a custom performance-capture stage that was built for the show.
On this stage, the dancers perform in motion capture suits for five continuously moving cameras. These cameras track and capture the data from the motion-capture suits.
This information is then fed to a motion builder and processed by Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, which renders the footage of the performance in real time, but with the dancer replaced by an adorable monster.
What can the audience and judges see during the performances?
While audiences watching Dance Monsters from home often get behind-the-scenes glimpses of what the dancers look like and feel like before, during, and after their performances, the live studio audience is not as lucky.
The judges and live studio audience on Dance Monsters do not get to see any of the backstage action.
However, they do get to watch the impressive 3D hologram monsters perform in real time with their backgrounds and backup dancers, just as they appear on the show.
How does the voting work on Dance Monsters?
Dance Monsters, unlike many of the other dance competition shows on television, does not use a public voting format.
Instead, the judges on the show, namely, Ne-Yo, Lele Pons, and Ashley Banjo, make pretty much all of the decisions about which dancers stay and which dancers are eliminated.
Throughout the competition, the surviving dancers have to perform various solo and group routines to prove that they are worthy of being chosen by these judges to win the grand prize.
Why would dancers want to perform on Dance Monsters?
Besides the allure of winning the grand prize, it almost seems counterintuitive for performers to want to perform on a show where no one can actually watch them on stage.
However, the creators of the show have explained that they hope that in the process of creating these CGI monsters to represent the dancers in front of the audience, they give the dancers the chance to perform freely without the fear of being judged.
Some of the dancers who have been on the show have also explained that they really enjoyed the additional challenge of embodying their CGI monster and getting to do bigger and more dramatic movements for the performance-capture technology.
The dancers also get the opportunity to share stories about the challenges and hurdles that they have faced in their personal lives throughout the show.