Virtual Tupac, a new trend for shows? Who would you see virtually, live?

Apr 17, 2012

Photograph of virtual Tupac performing at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, April 15, 2012. Credit: Lucy Lang/Flickr/Creative Commons

There he stands, his six-pack abs glistening, microphone in hand, yelling out to a screaming crowd at the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Watch a video of slain rap star Tupac Shakur “performing” hits “Hail Mary” and “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted” live at the annual fest last Sunday, alongside Snoop Dogg and producer Dr. Dre, and you could swear he was rapping in the flesh, instead of as an eerily realistic, life-size projected image. There’s even talk of an upcoming tour involving the virtual Shakur, who was murdered more than 15 years ago, and Snoop Dogg, plus Dr. Dre, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Digital Domain Media Group Inc., the visual-effects house behind Brad Pitt’s reverse aging in the 2008 film, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” created the Shakur projection. Dr. Dre and his production team approached Digital Domain a year ago about the idea, the company’s chief creative officer, Ed Ulbrich, told The Wall Street Journal.

The effect was created on a computer, using movements and the rapper’s physicality gleaned from recorded performances. Technically, the projected ghost of the famed rapper is really a 2-D image, not a hologram, which is 3-D, with his virtual form reflected on an angled piece of glass to create the desired effect.


If you saw virtual 2Pac at Coachella, or watched video of him performing, was he convincing enough? Would you fork over money to see a performer, either alive or dead, performing as a realistic projected image? Who would you see?


Ethan Smith, entertainment news editor at The Wall Street Journal

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