Are virtual jams the future of rock?

Intel CEO Paul Otellini closed the first day of CES in Las Vegas on Monday with the first ever "virtual" performance by rock band Smash Mouth. The musicians, all in separate locations with only singer Steve Harwell on stage with Otellini, played a song together over the Internet. The physically separated rockers “met” in a virtual garage created using Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3. The result was their live-motion-captured video avatars jamming on one giant screen.

The performance used three separate technologies: e-Jamming, a social networking site which uses peer-to-peer technology to allow musicians to play along with each other in real time over the Internet, software called Big Stage to create avatars of the band members and a system called Organic Motion which was used to represent each musician. This new motion-capture technology eliminates the need for skintight suits and reflective balls, instead using a new camera system that registers volume within a motion-capture box. Computers record a subject's movements inside the box and translate them into data that realistically replicates motion.

So, looks like being called a “garage band” gained a new, posh – and commercial – meaning. Long live garage rock!

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