Did I just see 2pac?

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Fresh from its glorious appearance at Coachella, the hologram of Tupac Shakur is in huge demand for a full-blown tour. Just days after the CGI simulacrum joined Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre at the California festival, the two living rappers’ teams are trying to decide if this projection is a realistic option for some of their upcoming shows. The ghostly re-emergence of the West Coast rap legend sent shivers up my spine. He materialized on stage alongside his old pal Snoop Dogg, sending the 100,000 fortunate people into hysterics.

The “resurrection of ‘2Pac” even bantered with Snoop, capping off his stunning entrance by asking, “What the f*ck is up, Coachella?” The muscular, awe inspiring MC soaked in the rapturous applause before bouncing into the eternal classic “Hail Mary.” The amazing spectacle was effective enough to both shock and freak out festival-goers of varied states of sobriety. The stunt isn’t the only highlight of this year’s Coachella festival, but will likely be the most significant concert moment of 2012. Even though the representation was not strictly speaking a hologram – Shakur appeared in two dimensions, not three; it was no flimsy party piece. I will continue to refer to it as a hologram, let’s not get too technical here. Reports suggest that the company that created the hologram charges between $100,000 and $400,000 to create the impression; and it was actually produced because Dre requested it.

As well as materializing at Coachella, the Shakur hologram may now grace various venues across the globe. Both Dre and Snoop’s assemblies’ are currently in discussions over logistics. According to Digital Domain’s El Ulbrich, “Dre has a massive vision for this.” Ulbrich actually led the CGI project, managing to deliver this illusion. It is important to remember that no found footage or archival footage was used. Quite simply, this is modern day art. The visual effects factory, which also produced the Oscar-winning virtual versions of Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, pieced together physical characteristics and actions from the performances captured before the rapper’s premature death. The hologram was really well executed, no detail was excluded, with the late rapper’s trademark tattoos, jewelry, and signature movements all incorporated into the performance.

But wait, what does this mean for the future of music? Performers won’t have to burden themselves with heavy touring schedules anymore, they can just send a hologram on the road. Let’s step it up a level and ask questions like, will Queen be reunited with Freddie Mercury; will Elvis and Frank Sinatra re-appear to do worldwide tours? Heck, forget that, how about Neil Young duetting with his younger self. Let’s go crazy, get Michael Jackson and Jim Morrisson on the same stage. Morrisson babbling away on one side of the stage, Jacko moonwalking on the other. Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse have both recently passed away, who is to say that we will never see them perform again, even if it is just an illusion. Perhaps Biggie Smalls and John Lennon will go on tour together, fingers crossed………

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