Jeff Pezzuti, CEO of hologram production company Eyellusion, which created the Ronnie James Dio hologram, has told LA Weekly that a digital version of Dio is the next best thing for fans who have never seen Ronnie live.
"I love to get people's impressions of what they think they're gonna see and what they see," Pezzuti said. "It's always the same thing — a lot of kids who never got a chance to see Ronnie but heard about him through their parents. Or the other direction — they saw Ronnie in the '80s but hadn't seen him since. People who want to go back in time as well. You have all these stories, and at the end we've had many standing ovations. I hate the idea that it's just the hologram; what makes us special is the show creation. It's how it flows. The set list, the live vocals, the visuals, Ronnie, all those elements come into play and most that have seen the show understand that and are super stoked about seeing it. We as a company have spent a lot of time and money to create this."
Eyellusion developer Chad Finnerty, who is responsible for making the Dio hologram appear as lifelike as possible, said that the "whole process" involved "a lot of computer animation and a lot of hours. We build a digital likeness of the person we're trying to put on stage," he explained. "Just like you'd have a sculptor working with clay, we have a digital sculptor working with Ronnie. We had to get approval from Wendy [Dio, Ronnie's widow], style his hair digitally — many hours went into making his hair right. We had all the skin details that we had to paint in the computer using programs like Photoshop. A lot of hours went into that. Every bit of stubble on his face. There's a lot of detail, and that's only the beginning. Then we have to animate the whole set."
The Dio hologram production uses audio of Ronnie's live performances from throughout his career, with the DIO band playing live, consisting of Craig Goldy on guitar, Simon Wright on drums and Scott Warren on keyboards, along with Bjorn Englen on bass. Also appearing with them are former JUDAS PRIEST singer Tim "Ripper" Owens and LYNCH MOB frontman Oni Logan.
The legendary heavy metal singer died in 2010 at the age of 67 from stomach cancer. His hologram made its debut at the Wacken Open Air festival in August 2016 in front of more than 75,000 fans.
After the tour's initial seven-date run was completed in December 2017, Ronnie's hologram underwent "some changes" before the launch of the 2019 leg of the "Dio Returns" world tour.
Eyellusion recently signed with the Agency for the Performing Arts (APA), represented by agency partner Steve Martin.
Photo credit: Stephanie Cabral