‘Tupac’ makes appearance at Coachella

September 6th, 2012

Is Tupac Shakur still alive? He made a surprising posthumous visit to Southern California’s Coachella music festival via hologram. On April 15, the third night of the festival, Tupac and Snoop Dogg reunited for a few songs. Although it is not a real hologram of Tupac, it is a new adaptation of an old magician’s trick. Part of the technology behind the pseudo-hologram is actually from the 19th century.

The Pepper’s Ghost, which is an old theatrical technique, is essentially someone in front of an angled mirror that is then projected onto another surface. With proper lighting, one can be projected onto a screen appearing elevated and translucent like a ghost; at least that is what happened in the 19th century.

The stage technique was named after John Pepper who made it famous during Charles Dickens play, “The Haunted Man,” which requires a ghost to be present on the stage.  This technique has been used by magicians, museums and theme parks, such as Disney World’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, where projected ghosts appear in rooms.

The images are usually blue and translucent, but through the Musion Eyeliner system, it created a Tupac who was only a slight shade of blue and much more realistic. There have been other uses of this technology, such as Elvis Presley’s appearance on “American Idol” in 2007. This new trend may lead to many more deceased superstars on tour following Tupac’s positive public response.

At Coachella, a high definition illusion created by the production house Digital Domain, was projected onto an angled mirror, which was then broadcast onto a Mylar screen. Mylar is a highly reflective plastic that gave the two-dimensional image of Tupac a three-dimensional appearance. This is the difference between a hologram and Tupac’s image. The image of Tupac is three-dimensional from exactly in front of the Mylar screen; from any other angle, he would be seen as two-dimensional.

Digital Domain created Tupac’s  image digitally at the request of Dr. Dre. The company AV Concepts was in charge of the projection system. A high definition projector system called the Musion Eyeliner, created by Dimensional Studios, and since adapted by AV Concepts, makes the image almost a reality.

Tupac made one more appearance at Coachella, on the last night, Sunday, April 22, but might just be on tour again with Dre.

Sources close to the production, reported by MTV’s Kara Warner, said Dre might take Tupac on a stadium and arena tour with him following all the buzz since the Coachella appearance.