For a lot of hip-hop fans, Tupac Shakur never really died.
Some legitimately believed that, like Elvis before him, Shakur actually faked his own death to duck out of the spotlight. For others, tracks like “California Love” and “I Get Around” simply lend him a less literal kind of immortality.
Of course, that was before the man himself “materialized” on stage at the closing night of the first weekend of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival and stole the entire Coachella conversation. “Tupac hologram” almost instantly became one of the most-searched phrases on the Internet, and now more information is emerging about the exceptionally weird technological trick pulled off by headliners Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the hologram was crafted by the Digital Domain Media Group, the visual effects house co-founded by James Cameron and responsible for cutting-edge film tricks in movies like Titanic, Tron: Legacy, the Transformers series, Real Steel, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Digital Domain has won a total of seven Oscars: Four Scientific and Technical prizes for its software innovations, and three for Best Visual Effects on Titanic, What Dreams May Come, and Benjamin Button.
In an interview, Digital Domain’s chief creative officer Ed Ulbrich drove home the fact that the hologram was a fresh creation and not simply a projection of found footage. “To create a completely synthetic human being is the most complicated thing that can be done,” Ulbrich said. “This is not archival footage. This is an illusion. This is the beginning. Dre has a massive vision for this.”
Once the CGI creation was built, it was then projected onto the stage by a company called AV Concepts. How’d they do it? By using a 19th-century mirror trick. How spectacularly old-school!
What Dre’s “vision” is remains hazy, though there are already rumors that the Tupac hologram could be part of a larger tour. It would make sense for Dre to keep it going, since the project was estimated to have cost well over $100,000. And who is to say Eazy-E won’t show up when Coachella does it all over again this coming weekend?
Perhaps the best thing to emerge from all this? The fact that somebody is tweeting on behalf of Tupac’s ghostly visage. Not only that, but he’s picking up right where the late Shakur left off back in 1996. The highlight so far: “So Puffy is Diddy now? Why this n—- always give himself names that sound like venereal disease symptoms?” Picture him trollin’!
Now that you’ve had a day to process the whole thing, what’s your take on the Tupac hologram? Is it an inventive, entertaining technological display or simply another case of corpse-sploitation for the sake of empty nostalgia? Hit’em up in the comments below.
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