Monday, April 16, 2012

How Tupac was resurrected at Coachella

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" Sunday night alongside Snoop Dogg and producer Dr. Dre.

Internet video of the Sunday evening show became an instant sensation on Monday morning. That response is helping push the possibility of a virtual Tupac tour in coming months.

The rapper's ghostly image was created by Digital Domain Media Group Inc., the visual-effects house responsible for making the virtual versions of Brad Pitt that populated 2008's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." The movie won the Oscar for visual effects.

[Digital Domain's chief creative officer Ed Ulbrich] said that the performances of the rapper's hits "Hail Mary" and "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted" weren't simply old ones captured on film and repurposed: "This is not found footage. This is not archival footage. This is an illusion." ...

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 relies on an angled piece of glass in which a "ghostly" image is reflected.