Welcome back Tupac: How virtual reality brought singer back from the grave

Michael Santo's picture

The Internet is abuzz over a “live” performance by famed rapper Tupac Shakur, fifteen years after his death; the virtual performer took the audience by storm.

The Coachella festival broke some new ground last night as it resurrected the long-deceased rapper Tupac Shakur, who was murdered back in 1996. The ghostly Tupac reunited with his old pal Snoop Dog as he reappeared to perform alongside Dr. Dre.

"What up, Coachella?" the shirtless, pants-sagging MC asked the crowd before launching into the classic single "Hail Mary."

The life-size hologram was startlingly realistic and featured many of Tupac’s signature details, like his tattoos, his Timberland boots, jewelry and movements.

The hologram image was, of course, based on the latest in CGI technology, created by Hollywood effects house Digital Domain, the Oscar-winning CG factory that made CG images of Brad Pitt in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Jeff Bridges in "TRON: Legacy," Kevin Bacon in "X-Men: First Class.” The concept was the baby of Tupac’s pal Dr. Dre, who worked with his longtime partner Philip Atwell of Geronimo Productions and Dylan Brown of The Yard.

"We worked with Dr. Dre on this and it was Dre's vision to bring this back to life," said Nick Smith, president of AV Concepts, the company that projected and staged the hologram. "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."

Smith said that although he isn’t able to disclose the details of the production, including how the hologram was able to seemingly perform the set in synch with Snoop and whether all the vocals were 'Pac's, he does say that his company is able to recreate other long-dead figures.

"You can take their likenesses and voice and ... take people that haven't done concerts before or perform music they haven't sung and digitally recreate it," he said.

What next? Next time someone says they spotted Elvis, don’t be too sure they are just crazy.

You can take a look at the Tupac performance below and judge for yourself just how life-like the performance was:

Image Source Wikimedia Commons

Add new comment