Tupac Shakur resurrected as ultra-realistic "hologram" for live performance


April 17, 2012

Despite appearances, the long-dead musician actually appeared as a 2D projection, rather than an actual hologram

Despite appearances, the long-dead musician actually appeared as a 2D projection, rather than an actual hologram

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Last Sunday, attendees of the 2012 Coachella music festival were shocked when infamous rapper, Tupac Shakur, took the stage in the form of a hologram to give a live performance - quite a feat, considering the man has been dead for over 15 years. Fans gawked and cheered as the incredibly realistic-looking "hologram" moved around the stage, called out to the audience, and even performed a song alongside his old friend, Snoop Dogg, before disappearing in a burst of light. The impressive show has already caught the imaginations of many music lovers, and it's all thanks to the work of AV Concepts and effects studio, Digital Domain, who worked together to bring the deceased rapper back to life.

Tupac has become a musical legend ever since his widely-publicized, unsolved murder from a drive-by shooting in 1996. Like Elvis before him, many rumors still persist that he's actually alive and in hiding, so it's unsurprising that doubts have been expressed as to the suitability of resurrecting Tupac for a performance from beyond the grave. But speaking with MTV, President of AV Concepts, Nick Smith, revealed that the idea came from Dr. Dre, another friend and label-mate of Tupac's: "We worked with Dr. Dre on this and it was Dre's vision to bring this back to life. It was his idea from the very beginning and we worked with him and his camp to utilize the technology to make it come to life."

Despite appearances though, the long-dead musician actually appeared as a 2D projection, rather than an actual hologram. AV Concepts used the Musion Eyeliner system and a large screen rigged to descend quickly onto the stage and make Tupac materialize out of thin air. Keeping a smooth projection that appeared 3D to concert-goers required AV Concepts' Liquid Scenic server to stream three uncompressed images on top of one another at 54,000 lumens, but the principle behind it is that of the age old Pepper's Ghost that spooked Victorian theater-goers. The CG image of Tupac was handled by Digital Domain, an Oscar-winning visual effects studio that has worked on films like TRON: Legacy, X-Men: First Class, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Smith was unable to reveal how the projected performance was synced with Snoop Dogg's, though it's presumed that some voice impersonation may have been used - at one point, Tupac specifically mentions "Coachella," even though the festival wasn't created until after his death. The amazing realism of the projection has already reignited the rumors of Tupac still being alive (nevermind the fact that he hasn't aged a day, he's a bit see-through, and his feet noticeably slide all over the stage like he's on an ice rink). AV Concepts has also stated that the technology could be used to digitally revive almost any deceased performer, from Michael Jackson to Freddie Mercury, though there is quite a bit of debate over whether this should become a regular practice.

Be sure to check out the video below to see Tupac was brought back to virtual life in front of thousands of festival-goers (warning: the video contains strong language).

Source: AV Concepts, Musion, via MTV

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things. All articles by Jonathan Fincher

It's weird to see this tech used for non-japanese pop stars. :)

Von Meerman

No one answered the real question: what the f___ is up, Coachella?

Clay Jones

This was absolutely phenomenal and shows the brilliance technology can bring to art. It is through art that we can carry on the legends of the most brilliant performers and minds of our time. What a tribute this was to a legendary hip hop artist. You can see some more 2Pac art on my artist’s blog with a surreal illustration I made in memoriam recently at

Brandt Hardin

very cool technology, but not really new anymore

Kirill Belousov
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