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April 18, 2012

Tupac Shakur Coachella Resurrection

Wrote Ethan Smith in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, "The biggest buzz at Sunday's Coachella music festival in California wasn't for a hot new DJ or indie-rock band. It was for Tupac Shakur, the rapper who died more than 15 years ago and 'performed' alongside Snoop Dogg and producer Dr. Dre."

Turns out video of the show — featuring computer-generated-and-projected images of Tupac — has gone viral, pushing the possibility of a virtual Tupac tour in coming months.

Excerpts from the WSJ piece:

Dr. Dre and his production team first approached Digital Domain a year ago to discuss the possibility of creating a virtual Tupac.

First, the image was created on a computer, using physical characteristics and movements captured from recorded performances.

Advances in computer graphics and video projection allowed Sunday night's illusion to be far more lifelike than other recent efforts.

For the projection aspect, a San Diego company called AV Concepts used a variation of a visual effect that was discovered in the 19th century, known as Pepper's ghost.

Though the projected image has been widely described as a "hologram," it is a 2-D image and not a hologram, which is 3-D.

The effect was first used in an 1862 dramatization of Charles Dickens' novella "The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain," staged at the Royal Polytechnic Institute in London.

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.


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.

[What happened] in Coachella is virtually the same thing that was happening in 1862. One difference: In the Victorian era, Pepper's Ghost was normally used to reflect actual, physical objects or actors, making them appear "dimensional" in ways that the projected or computer-generated imagery typically used today do not.

Astonishing and wonderful to me is the effect of ever-more powerful and affordable computing allowing the creation of "realities" like this one.

It's not a matter of "if" but rather "when" the bit-based virtual is indistinguishable from the it-based atomic.

And if you can't tell a difference, there is no difference.

April 18, 2012 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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Darn! Video was removed by the user! Really wanted to see that too.

Posted by: tamra | Apr 19, 2012 10:32:23 PM

Currently eating healthy - saw your previous post (citrus fruit sprayer) to get those damn abs!

Posted by: Mark | Apr 18, 2012 4:42:00 PM

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