Sorry, nerds: Tupac hologram at Coachella was not actually a hologram

A lot of George Lucas jokes have been made over a ‘hologram’ performance by dead rapper Tupac Shakur at the Coachella music festival on Sunday, but it wasn’t a hologram at all.

Coachella’s Tupac was a 2-D creation of Digital Domain Media Group, who won a visual effects Oscar for aging Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And it was projected using technology dating from the 19th Century:

The effect relies on an angled piece of glass in which a “ghostly” image is reflected. “A piece of glass can be both transparent and reflective at the same time, depending on how it’s situated relative to the audience,” said Mr. Steinmeyer, pointing out the secret.

In the Victorian version of the trick, the glass reflected an actual actor, situated out of sight in near the orchestra. On Sunday night, the image was projected on a piece of Mylar—a highly reflective, lightweight plastic—stretched on a clear frame.

A similar effect was used in 2003 to project an image of Frank Sinatra. Virtual Tupac may go on tour later this year with other (living) hip-hop stars

4 thoughts on “Sorry, nerds: Tupac hologram at Coachella was not actually a hologram

  1. Annalee

    The tech may be old, but the effect still looks pretty cool. I’m not sure how I feel about CGIing recently-dead people, but the way they’ve done it here, where they’re basically replaying one of his old performances in a new format (not putting words in his mouth for a product endorsement or anything) seems pretty above-the-board to me.

    I wonder if we’ll see a resurgence of this effect used in theatrical productions. I’d love to see how Hamlet plays out with the addition of a little mylar.

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  2. Dunc Post author

    Yeah, as a performance, this is more acceptable to me than, say, Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly in that Dior commercial with Charlize Theron.

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  3. Annalee

    (broad definition of “recently dead” here, obviously–I’m putting John Lennon in the same category, in an attempt to differentiate between that and, say, a CG Abraham Lincoln).

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  4. Annalee

    Yeah, maybe it’s just when it’s ads that this bothers me. Like, that episode of Quantum Leap where he ends up co-starring with Munroe didn’t bug me, but having dead people endorse products feels like putting words in their mouth in a much crasser way than writing them into a fictional script.

    Not sure why CG Munroe in a Dior ad bothers me when CG Sam Adams in a beer commercial doesn’t, but there it is.

    But re-creating a show that Tupac actually put on seems pretty above-the-board to me, even if it does look a little too digital in some spots.

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