|Origin||Horror Films meet Music |
|Genre(s)||Rock, Britpop, Hip-Hop, Trip Hop|
Gorillaz (pronounced "gorillas") are an animated, fictional, virtual band, comprising four animated band members: 2D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russel. They play a variety of music styles – to quote one of their lyrics, they have recorded everything from 'Rap, Hip-Hop, Punk, Ska, to Heavy Metal'. The band was created by Damon Albarn (of Blur) and Jamie Hewlett, the creator of Tank Girl.
Early career (1998-2000)
Hewlett's artwork in their early career was more detailed than Phase One's, despite the animation not being computer enhanced that much.
The people behind Gorillaz, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, formed in April 1998. They originally identified themselves under the name "Gorilla," and first song they recorded was "Ghost Train" (1998), later released as a B-side on their single "Rock the House" and "G-Sides".
Phase One: Celebrity Take Down (November 2000 - October 2002)
The band's first release was the EP Tomorrow Comes Today, released in 2000, which was very well received in the UK underground music scene, generating a lot of word-of-mouth advertising, as well as a large shroud of mystery over who was behind Gorillaz and what could be expected from the band in the months to come. A promotional booklet was circulated through promo outlets to promote the backstory behind the band. The band's official website, www.gorillaz.com, was a virtual representation of Kong Studios, the band's fictional studio and home: inside, you could browse through each member's bedroom, their recording environment and even the hallways and bathrooms. Each room also had bonus surprises and games to play: for example, the lobby had a remix machine, the cafeteria contained the message board on the wall and Murdoc's Winnebago (accessible only by using the enhanced section of the Gorillaz album) contained a voodoo doll of 2D. Each member also had their own computer which contained pictures, sound bits from various takes of songs, their favorite websites and their e-mail inboxes. Because of the nature of the site, an official fansite, fans.gorillaz.com, was created to hold the standard band website information, including news, a discography and the band's touring schedules. The band's first single, "Clint Eastwood", was released on March 5, 2001. The blend of raw hip-hop, cheesy horror music and a haunting melodica solo struck chords around the world, thrusting Gorillaz into the global limelight. Due to this, the fictional band members' Hotmail accounts were abandoned (and later hacked) and the inboxes on the site were never updated. Later that same month, their first full-length album, the self-titled Gorillaz was released, producing four singles: "Clint Eastwood", "19-2000", "Rock the House" and "Tomorrow Comes Today". Each of the singles' videos contained humorous and often ridiculous storylines and imagery, though "Clint Eastwood" and "19-2000" were the only singles to break through the American music scene. "19-2000" became popular after being featured in an Icebreakers commercial. The only time the video for "Tomorrow Comes Today" was played in the States was when Toonami broadcasted a "Midnight Run" special where they played animated music videos from Gorillaz, Daft Punk, and Kenna.
The Gorillaz artwork by Hewlett during Phase One was very cartoony
Around this time, a half-hour TV mockumentary entitled Charts Of Darkness was released, which follows Channel 4 news reporter Krishnan Guru-Murthy attempting to track down Albarn and Hewlett after they were placed in an insane asylum. The special also interviews Rachel Stevens of S Club 7 fame and a few of the band's voice talents, who had been given roles to play. The end of the year brought the song "911", a collaboration between the Gorillaz and rap artists D12 (sans Eminem) and Terry Hall about the September 11, 2001 attacks. Meanwhile G-Sides, a compilation of the B-sides from the first three singles was released in Japan and quickly followed with international releases in early 2002. The new year also saw a spectacular performance at the 2002 Brit Awards, featuring the band in 3D animation, weaving in and out of each other on four large screens along with rap accompaniment by Phi Life Cypher. Finally, Laika Come Home, a dub remix album, containing most of the tracks from Gorillaz reworked by Spacemonkeyz, was released in June 2002. The single to follow, "Lil' Dub Chefin'", contained an original track by the Spacemonkeyz titled "Spacemonkeyz Theme".
Phase One Point Five (November 2002 - November 2004)
Hewlett's art for the Gorillaz changed to a darker, more detailed style at some point between Phase One and Phase One Point Five. Note the presence of a reanimated Del and a Phase One Noodle in the picture
Along with the November 2002 release of the DVD Phase One: Celebrity Take Down the band's website closed down almost completely, with the fictional Kong Studio no longer accessible. The DVD contains all five videos (including the abandoned video "5/4"), the "Charts Of Darkness" documentary, the five Gorilla Bites (short vignettes), a tour of the website by the MEL 9000 server and much more. The DVD's menu was designed much like the bands website and depicts an abandoned Kong Studios (only eight rooms, including the lobby, are accessible.)
Rumors were circulating around this time that Gorillaz were busy preparing a film, but an EMI interview later revealed that plans for the film were abandoned. In an interview with Haruka Kuroda (the voice of Noodle), Kuroda stated that Jamie Hewlett rejected many scripts before giving up on the movie.
Phase Two: Demon Days (December 2004-now)
Like mentioned, Hewlett's art for Gorillaz changed to a darker, more detailed style between Phase One and Phase One Point Five, resembling the picture above. Note the disappearance of Del and a more aged Noodle
On December 8, 2004, the website reopened with an exclusive video entitled "Rock It" (which has not been released anywhere else as of December 9, 2005) and the announcement of a new album on the way, including production by DJ Danger Mouse and a guest appearance by De La Soul. A contest entitled Search For A Star was also announced, allowing fans to send in a minute-long clip of video or audio they had made. The prize included collaborating with the band in some way, shape or form, as well as getting their own virtual room on the newly rebuilt Kong Studios website.
Soon a second promotional booklet was issued, recapping the previously issued booklet, as well as detailing the failed movie production in Hollywood and the breakup and reforming of Gorillaz. A culture jamming project named Reject False Icons was formed to strike down modern pop figures. The new album was first reported to be released in March 2005, but was later changed to May of the same year. The name of the album was originally reported to be We Are Happy Landfill, but has been changed to Demon Days. The first release off the album was a white label 12" promotional single of the song "Dirty Harry" featuring Bootie Brown and the Childrens' Choir San Fernandez. "Dirty Harry" was ineligible for the charts due to its status as a promotional single.
The first proper single from the album was "Feel Good Inc.", released as an EP in Japan and as a CD single in Europe and Australia. The single entered the UK Singles Chart at #22, several weeks before the CD single was released, because the single was released as a 7" vinyl in April and new charts regulations included sales at online music stores, where the song had been available since March 22, if there is a physical equivalent. "Feel Good Inc." managed to reach #2 in the UK Singles Chart the week it was released, being the band's highest ever positioned single. The single stayed in the top ten for eight consecutive weeks. In the United States, it peaked at #14.
The Album, Demon Days, was #1 in the Album Charts on it's first week but fell as low as #29 in just seven weeks. However, as the music video for the second single "DARE" started getting played on MTV and other music channels, Demon Days rose up to the top 10 again. "DARE" was released on August 29, 2005 in the UK, where it debuted at #1. A Japanese EP followed September 7. As of December 9, 2005, "DARE" has not been released in the United States. However, due to its availability on iTunes, "DARE" charted on the Billboard "Bubbling Under Hot 100" chart, and reached #1 on it – one spot below reaching the Hot 100. It also became a Top 20 hit on the Modern Rock listings.
The third single off Demon Days was "Dirty Harry", which had already been released as a promotional single earlier that year. It was released in the UK on November 21, 2005. On its first week, it charted at #6. However, the release of the single raised the album back up to the top 10.
On November 6, 2005, Gorillaz-Unofficial  announced Jamie Hewlett had revealed that the song "El Mañana" would be the fourth single from Demon Days, and that it would be released in early 2006 – most likely some time in February.
IMDb has reported that there will be a Gorillaz movie released in 2007.  Some of the voice talents credited for the band members are false and this is the only source to suggest a movie is in production. It is on the whole unconfirmed and only a rumor.
Fictional band history
The storyline of the Gorillaz, as established by Albarn and Hewlett.
Stu-Pot (real name rumored to be Stuart Tusspot, but this is only a rumor, as it has never appeared in a single official source), was a mentally deficient keyboard enthusiast and star employee at Uncle Norm's Organ Emporium, until a chance encounter with Satanist hoodlum Murdoc Niccals. Murdoc had decided to ramraid Uncle Norm's Organ Emporium to procure synthesizer equipment in order to establish a "chart topping" musical group. However, Murdoc ended up driving his Vauxhall Astra through the building and directly into Stu-Pot, permanently damaging Stu-Pot's left eye and putting him into a catatonic state. Murdoc was sentenced to "30,000 hours of community service, plus 10 hours every week of caring for the vegetabilised Stu-Pot". Not long after, Murdoc again injured Stu-Pot in an accident in Nottingham's Tesco parking lot, permanently damaging Stu-Pot's right eye, but reviving him from his coma. Murdoc then recruited the newly recovered (albeit still mentally defective) Stu-Pot as the keyboardist and vocalist for his group, re-dubbing him 2D for the matching pair of dents in his head from the accidents.
Murdoc then found a drummer for the group in a Soho rap record store, African-American expatriate Russel Hobbs. Russel was a middle-class New York native and a deeply troubled youth, having been expelled from an expensive private school for suffering from demonic possession. The trauma of said possession resulted in a four year coma from which Russel was roused only by an elaborately executed exorcism. After his recovery, Russel began attending Brooklyn High, where he quickly cultivated friendships with a group of rappers, DJs, and street musicians. Some would say that "hip-hop saved his soul." This was a short-lived respite, however, as all of Russel's newfound friends would be gunned-down in a drive-by shooting. Being that he was the sole survivor, he became the unwilling receptacle for the spirits of all of his slain compatriots, most notable of whom was the rhyme dropping blue phantom of his late friend Del. With their latent possession of his body, Russel gained incredible musical prowess in percussion, rap, and hip-hop as well as a disturbing side-effect: his eyes now glow an eerie white. With this new and violent turn of events, Russel's family shipped him off to England in hopes of helping him recover from his traumas quietly, not realizing they'd put him directly into the path of Murdoc's aspirations to superstardom, and the excesses that came along with it.
At that point, all the fledgling group needed was a guitarist. Like so many british bands before them, the trio placed an advertisement in NME. The very day the ad ran, a FedEx freight container from Japan was delivered to their doorstep and out jumped a mysterious amnesiac 10-year-old wielding a Gibson Les Paul. The tiny girl made an incomprehensible introduction in Japanese and tore into a "riff to end all riffs" which ended with an impressive karate kick to the air. She then spoke a single word to the stunned boys in English, which became her moniker: "Noodle". In the later part of 1998, the Gorillaz played their first show at the Camden Brownhouse which ended prematurely due to a riot during their song "Punk". EMI A&R man Whiffy Smiffy discharged several rounds from shotgun to disperse the crowd enough to make his way to the stage and quickly signed them to the label. Ten months later they had recorded their self-titled debut LP.
In the winter of 1999 Murdoc acquired the property of Kong Studios, a sprawling haunted studio with a rather shady history, situated atop a hill in the midst of a run-down cemetery and landfill in Districtshire, Essex. The Gorillaz lived and recorded in Kong Studios up until their 2002 11-month tour of North America. At the end of July of that year, the Gorillaz took a six month break in L.A.. There they attempted to get a movie project off the ground. Meanwhile, that Halloween, Kong Studios had been shut down tight in its owner's absence by local law enforcement after an unknown man was seen running, naked and in hysterics, in the marshes near the studio. The police proceeded to keep the area secured while they investigated the strange paranormal events surrounding Kong. The Gorillaz spent the interim period working on their movie, while living in a large rented home in the Hollywood Hills.Alas, the film was not meant to be, due in part to extensive over-partying, in-fighting, and disagreements with producers, directors, and a notable incident of Murdoc getting himself banned from the Playboy Mansion for stealing ashtrays. Understandably, at this point the Gorillaz went on a year and half hiatus, each of the members going their separate ways to find themselves. Murdoc headed to Mexico to booze it up in Tijuana brothels, getting himself arrested for passing bad cheques in the process, and enjoying little company in his Mexican jail cell aside from his raven, Cortez, and two Mexican mobsters who would later help break him out. 2D went back home to work for his father in his carnival, re-establish his grip on reality, and come to terms with his newfound pop icon status with the ladies. Russel disappeared into the States to literally and figuratively exorcise his personal demons, regrettably including the ghost of Del, leaving Russel a mentally and spiritually exhausted wandering shadow of the man he once was. After shambling around Los Angeles for some time, Russel was taken in by Ike Turner and helped to recover, and while living in Turner's basement Russel recorded his own solo album which was shelved due to strange supernatural activity inherent in the music itself, what Russel described as something of a "cosmic disruption". Noodle travelled to Japan, in a fruitful attempt to uncover the secrets of her own past which included not only the revelation that she was a test subject in a secret government super soldier project, but that she also speaks fluent English. Armed with her newfound knowledge and iron resolve, Noodle was the first to return to Kong Studios. There she went to task battling the zombie and monster-infested darkness of the building, set up the "Search For A Star" contest, and began the process of pulling the band back together to record their new album, Demon Days
- 2D (Alias: Stu-Pot) (about 27, rumored to have been born March 23, 1978) - vocals, keyboards
- Murdoc Niccals (sometimes spelled 'Nicalls') (39, born June 6, 1966) - bass
- Noodle (about 14, rumored to have been born October 31, 1991) - mainly guitars, vocals
- Russel Hobbs (about 32) - drums, percussion
In phase one, Del, the blue phantom in the "Clint Eastwood" & "Rock the House" music videos and the Gorilla Bite "Jump The Gut" was, one could say, another band member. He was the spirit of Russel's old friend that had been killed in a drive-by shooting, and had taken residence in Russel's head, using it as a receptacle. In 2003, he was exorcised; it took Russel a year to recover. (In real life, it seemed Albarn and Hewlett didn't ask the real Del to come back.)
2D's ex-girlfriend Paula was the band's original guitarist. She was ultimately dropped and replaced with Noodle after Paula was caught having an affair with Murdoc in the studio restroom. The state of Murdoc's nose today is a direct result of Russel breaking it in seven or eight different places. This would not be the last affair Murdoc would have with one of 2D's girlfriends; the second affair was with Rachel Stevens of S Club 7. (In reality, Paula was removed because Albarn & Hewlett thought she was too similar to Murdoc.)
Note that the establishment of Murdoc's birthday and the celebration of it numerous times on the official fansite proves that the cartoon band members do age. The music video for "DARE" has also seen physical change in Noodle over 4 years although in the "Rock It" video, released less than a year before DARE, she does not look that much aged. In 2000 when the "Tomorrow Comes Today" EP was released, the accompanying promotional booklet stated that their ages were 23, 34, 10 and 27. These are not their current ages, as they have obviously aged, yet they do not appear to be aging uniformly. Noodle has repeatedly referred to herself as '13' during 2005, yet by the ages that were given out in the official literature of their first biography in 2000, she should be 14 or 15. It's impossible to ascribe Noodle's repeated assertions during 2005 that she was '13' to error by magazine editors alone, since she stated it during a (live) Habbo Hotel interview, and in direct interviews (e.g. her 2005 NME interview) where there is no room for error. This should not be a cause for alarm, since there are many, many inconsistencies in the information that the Gorillaz have given out in their story over the years.
Noodle's birthday is rumored to be Halloween, October 31, but this is not confirmed. Either way, her birthday must be sometime in October or early November for her to be 10 years old when numerous events, including the release of "Tomorrow Comes Today", happened in 2000. Another theory about Noodle's age is as a government super soldier project she is said to age slower.
2D's birthday is rumored to be sometime in March, usually March 23, 1978 – exactly 10 years after Damon Albarn's birthday. 2D wears a shirt with "78" on it in one official artwork, and the date would align with his age at the release of Tomorrow Comes Today. However, fans should not take this seriously, as this is not a common rumor like Noodle's birthday is, and does not appear in any official source anyway.
Russel was born sometime in the early 1970's but the exact date is entirely unknown.
There have been waves of speculation and controversy surrounding who is actually behind Gorillaz ever since "Tomorrow Comes Today" was first released. In the half-hour TV mockumentary Charts Of Darkness it was explicitly stated that Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett were behind the project; quoting Albarn, "There could be fifty [people] here, but there's two."
Many fans have simply assumed that the guest artists in the liner notes of the first album complete the band. Usually the unknowledgable matchup cites Albarn as 2D, Hewlett or Dan "The Automator" Nakamura as Murdoc, former Cibo Matto vocalist Miho Hatori as Noodle, and Del Tha Funkee Homosapien of Deltron 3030 as Russel. This is however false, and so is any other attempt to determine each cartoon band member's "real world" equal. In fact, the only permanent 'member' behind the music happens to be Albarn, while all artwork and music videos are created by Zombie Flesh Eaters (Hewlett's own company) and Passion Pictures (animators including Pete Candeland and 2000AD artist Rufus Dayglo).
For example, there are several people who make up the identity of "Noodle", including: Miho Hatori, who provided singing vocals for Noodle on the first album; Haruka Kuroda, an actress who provides Noodle's speaking voice; Rosie Wilson, who performs Noodle's lead vocal in "DARE"; or Simon Katz, Simon Tong, and Damon Albarn himself, who have all played guitar for Gorillaz at some point.
During the "hidden" credits to the DVD Phase One: Celebrity Take Down, it states the names of the creators, the voice talents and those responsible for performing live. The list of integral performers in the group changed drastically for the second album, with the exception of Albarn himself.
In short, the Gorillaz as real human beings don't exist. Rather, they represent all the people working on the project. For a more or less complete list of people involved in Gorillaz, see this site.
For the tours affiliated with the debut album, the physical band played behind a specially designed screen which covers the stage area. Videos, animatics and image collages were projected onto the audience side of the screen, while choreographed lights behind the screen lit up silhouettes of the physical band, creating a meld of the physical and animated. For their first tour of the United States, two screens were used; one was simply the animatics, while the second, lower screen displayed the band's silhouettes along with various quotes from interviews.
2005 radio tour
Following the release of their Demon Days album, Gorillaz began an American radio tour. In keeping with the style of the band the 'Demon Detour' featured a set of pre-recorded songs played on select radio stations, along with comments by the four band members.
2005 Europe Music Awards
At the 2005 MTV European Music Awards (Lisbon, Portugal), Gorillaz performed live using technology similar to that of Pepper's Ghost. This technology allows the cartoon band members to be projected onto the stage as three-dimensional holograms. This marked the first time that a band has used this kind of technology, and it is planned to be used in the Gorillaz 2007-2008 tour. Although the technology limits the band's movements, it creates a feeling that the band members are actually present on the stage.
Demon Days Live
From November 1-5, 2005, there was a Gorillaz "festival", billed as 'Demon Days Live' with collaborators from Demon Days (De La Soul, Shaun Ryder and Roots Manuva appearing) and Damon Albarn performing songs from the album live on those five nights at the Opera House in Manchester. The visual element of the evenings was provided by Gorillaz co-creator Jamie Hewlett. Reportedly the event was filmed by an EMI film crew for a future DVD release.
Future live shows
Gorillaz have also made plans for a huge world tour in 2007-2008 which would include the band members being projected by smoke and mirrors. This is an old Victorian technique also known as Pepper's ghost. The Gorillaz are using digital animation projected on special transparent foil in a way that appears holographic. These shows are going to be pre-recorded and Damon Albarn has stated that he will not even be there when the performance will happen.
The band's art is deeply rooted in horror film imagery and ideals. Here are a few of the works they refer to in their photos, videos and songs:
- 28 Days Later
- The Amityville Horror
- Dawn of the Dead
- Day of the Dead
- Friday The 13th
- The Head that Wouldn't Die
- The Exorcist
- Night of the Living Dead
- Resident Evil
- The Shining
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
- Michael Jackson's "Thriller"
- The Wicker Man
- Zombi II
DVD cover of Phase One: Celebrity Take Down
There is a series of animated shorts, called Gorilla Bites, starring the Gorillaz. They are available at various places, some on the enhanced CD, DVD versions of the records or as bonus content available upon buying the "Feel Good Inc." single (as an album) on iTunes, others on the band's official homepage. Most of them were released on the DVD Phase One: Celebrity Take Down. The cover greatly resembles the artwork in Samurai Jack.
- "The Eel"
- "Hey! Our Toys Have Arrived"
- "Fancy Dress"
- "Free Tibet Campaign"
- "Game Of Death"
- "Gorillaz Talent Quest"
- "Gorillaz On Set"
- "Jump The Gut"
- Gorillaz (26 March 2001) first studio album - #3 UK, #14 US
- G-Sides (11 March 2002) b-sides collection - #65 UK, #84 US
- Laika Come Home (1 July 2002) dub remix of Gorillaz - #156 US
- Demon Days (23 May 2005) second studio album - #1 UK, #6 US
An edit of "Feel Good Inc." was featured in an Apple iPod commercial in 2005. The song "Feel Good Inc." is also widely pictured as the 'demo' song on iPod packaging and advertisements, along with Bono, the lead singer of Irish rock band U2. When Steve Jobs showed a demo of Front Row - Apple's take on the idea of media centers - in 2005, songs from the album "Demon Days" were in his extensive list of songs. Songs by the band have also commonly been shown in other Apple-related media.
- The Apex Tapes (Interview CD that was sent to members of the press to promote the release of Gorillaz)
- We Are the Dury (Interview CD that was sent to members of the press to promote the release of Demon Days)
- Gorillazish Mix (A mixtape made by producer Dan The Automator, released in 2001 when he was still the band's producer. The mixtape was released on The Cornerstone Player 24 being one disc of the 2 released.)
- Roadkill: The Mixtape (A mixtape of songs from Demon Days and its collaborators. This was given away at public signings.)
- Vivir Mata (Soundtrack, features Gorillaz' "Latin Simone")
- Blade II OST (Soundtrack, features "Gorillaz on My Mind" by Gorillaz & Redman)
- Bad Company OST (Soundtrack, features "9/11" by Gorillaz & D-12 featuring Terry Hall)
- Kevin and Bean - Swallow My Eggnog (Compilation, features "Don Quixote's Christmas Bonanza")
- XFM The Remix (Features "19/2000' (Remix compilation, Ben Brown's UKFUNK.COM Remix As Chosen By Gorillaz)")
- Help: A Day In The Life (Charity compilation, features "Hong Kong")
- MTV Music Generator 2 (Video game, features "Dub Dumb" (also contains the music video for "Clint Eastwood"))
- Redman - Smash Sumthin' / Let's Get Dirty (Double A-side single, features "Let's Get Dirty (Gorillaz Remix)")
- Nathan Haines - Squire For Hire (Features vocals from 2D on "FM")
|UK Singles Chart||US Hot 100||US Modern Rock|
|2001||"Rock the House"||#18||-||-||Gorillaz|
|2001||"911" (with D12 feat. Terry Hall)||-||-||-||Non-album single|
|2002||"Tomorrow Comes Today"||#33||-||-||Gorillaz|
|2002||"Lil' Dub Chefin'"||#73||-||-||Laika Come Home|
|2005||"Feel Good Inc." (feat. De La Soul)||#2||#14||#1 (8 weeks)||Demon Days|
|2005||"DARE" (feat. Shaun Ryder)||#1 (1 week)||-||#16||Demon Days|
|2005||"Dirty Harry" (feat. Children's Choir San Fernandez and Bootie Brown)||#6||-||-||Demon Days|
- Gorillaz.com (Official website) - (Includes a 'Cinema Theater Room', where you can watch all of their music videos released and four Gorilla Bites)
- Fans.Gorillaz.com (Official fansite)
- Reject False Icons (Official website)
- Gorillaz at MusicBrainz
- Gorillaz-Unofficial (Unofficial fansite)
- GorillazForum (Gorillaz Fan Forum)
|2D | Murdoc Niccals | Noodle | Russel Hobbs|
|Albums and EPs|
|Tomorrow Comes Today | Gorillaz | G-Sides | Laika Come Home | Demon Days |
|Phase One: Celebrity Take Down|
|"Clint Eastwood" | "19-2000" | "Rock the House" | "911" | "Tomorrow Comes Today" | "Lil' Dub Chefin'" |
"Feel Good Inc." | "DARE" | "Dirty Harry" | "El Mañana"
|Britpop | Blur | Damon Albarn | Jamie Hewlett | Dan the Automator | DJ Danger Mouse|
Pepper's ghost is a patented illusory technique used in some magic tricks. The illusion is named after John Henry Pepper, a chemistry professor at the London Polytechnic Institute, who developed the effect for use in a theater in 1862. Using a single mirror and special lighting techniques, it can make objects seem to appear or disappear, or make one object seem to "morph" into another.
A viewer looking through the red rectangle sees a ghost floating next to the table. The illusion is created by a large piece of glass or a half-silvered mirror, situated between viewer and scene (green outline). The glass reflects a mirror-image room (left) that is hidden from the viewer.
If the mirror-image room (left) is darkened, it does not reflect well in the glass. The empty room (top) is brightly lit, making it very visible to the viewer.
When the lights in the mirror-image room are raised (with the empty room being dimmed slightly to compensate), the ghost "appears" out of nowhere.
In order for the illusion to work, the viewer must be able to see into the main room, but not into the hidden mirror room. The edge of the glass may be hidden by a cleverly designed pattern in the floor. Both rooms may be identical mirror-images; this approach is useful in making objects seem to appear or disappear. This effect can also be used to make an actor reflected in the mirror appear to turn into an actor behind the mirror (or vice versa). This is the principle behind the Girl-to-Gorilla trick found in many haunted houses. The mirror room may instead be painted black, with only light-colored objects in it. When light is cast on the objects, they reflect strongly in the glass, making them appear as ghostly images superimposed in the visible room.
The world's largest implementation of this illusion can be found at the Disneyland theme park, in the Haunted Mansion attraction. The 90-foot-long ballroom scene is one immense Pepper's Ghost effect. Guests travel along an elevated mezzanine overlooking the empty ballroom. Animatronic "ghosts" perform out of sight, in black rooms beneath and above the mezzanine. The reflections in the glass create the appearance of three-dimensional, transparent ghosts swarming through the ballroom. This scene is also replicated in Disney parks in Orlando, Tokyo, and Paris. This use of the effect is notable for two other reasons:
- It uses a vertical plane of glass that is parallel to the scene, and
- The reflected objects are located both below and above the viewers.
- Sorrell, Jason (2003) The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies, Disney Editions, New York (p. 72) ISBN 078685419-7
- University of Westminster: Link to the University of Westminster (descendent of the London Polytechnic Institute) mentioning John Henry Pepper and his illusion. Search the text within the page for references since it is lengthy.
Thanks if you got this far - ZPD