Video: Holographic Tupac rocks the mic at Coachella

Posted by Shane McGlaun

The Coachella music festival kicks off with some fantastic performances every year in sunny California.

However, nothing at Coachella has ever come close to this weekend's show with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and the late rapper, Tupac Shakur, in the form of an eerily realistic hologram.

There are plenty of videos of the performance around, including the one here. Note -  this clip is NSFW, and if you've ever listened to Tupac you know exactly why it's NSFW.

Like most geeks, the first thing I wanted to know after seeing the video was how Snoop and Dre pulled it off. Initially, I assumed we were watching a holographic projection of a previously recorded performance, but it appears that isn't the case.

"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 San Diego 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."

The company which actually created the incredibly realistic holographic image of Shakur is a Hollywood special effects firm known as Digital Domain (DD). This is the company behind the young Jeff Bridges CGI in Tron: Legacy. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, DD has declined to explain exactly how the hologram was synchronized with other living artists on stage.

"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," Smith said.

It took several months of planning to create and sync the hologram. While the exact price for the Coachella performance is unknown, Smith confirmed it could cost anywhere from $100,000-$400,000 to pull off a similar holographic show.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the hologram was projected on a thin sheet of mylar with a clear frame for the performance at Coachella. Of course, this isn't the first virtual human to perform live in concert, as Japan has its own holographic artists, but they don't have anything that comes close to the realism of California's own Tupac.