If you were at Coachella last night or were streaming the Arts & Music Festival from your magical Internet box at home (Couchella) then you witnessed what will be considered one of the most riveting moments of 2012. The resurrection of Tupac Shakur during Dre and Snoop‘s soon-to-be-legendary headlining/closing set which left everybody dumbfounded, dumbstruck and in awe. As the holographic avatar of Pac performed Hail Mary and 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted with the flesh-and-blood Snoop Dogg at his side, the hipster crowd of 100,000-plus was confused and creeped out, audibly silent through most of the ghostly set. Hearing 2Pac howl, “What the fuck is up, Coachella?!” in his recognizable gravitas was wild, eerie and goosebump-inducing. Such an indelible popular culture moment, it was the first thing that popped into my head when I awoke this morning. Rise with us.

Earlier reports had Nate Dogg appearing in holographic form but it was Makaveli that arose from the grave to perform with his West Coast cohorts one more time. Although, I have a feeling that holographic Nate Dogg is being saved (if the budget allows) as a separate surprise for the April 22 performance, next Sunday.

There were guest appearances by Kurupt, Warren G, Wiz Khalifa, Kendrick Lamar, 50 Cent, G-Unit’s Tony Yayo, and the King of Detroit, himself, Marshall Mathers aka Eminem. They all performed classic hits along with new tracks (like The Recipe) with Dre and Snoop. But nobody could hold a candle to GhostShakur/Holo-Pac. There he was…with his sagging jeans, Timbos on his toes, shirtless, displaying the trademark “THUG LIFE” ink on his ripped gut, looking like he hadn’t aged a day since his 1996 murder.

We had previously and mistakenly credited the amazing resurrection to Venice, California-based Digital Domain. (UPDATE: Virtual Tupac WAS created by Digital Domain as reported by The Wall Street Journal in collaboration with AV Concepts) The groundbreaking performance was, in fact, executed by San Diego’s AV Concepts. No, contrary to popular belief, Coachella Tupac was NOT made of magic, ghosts, weed smoke, mirrors, witchcraft and lasers. Holo-Pac actually cost a lot of time, money and innovative technology to produce.

“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 created 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. 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.

The Tupac hologram was several months in the planning and took nearly four months to create in a studio and though Smith was not able to reveal the exact price tag for the illusion, he said a comparable one could cost anywhere from $100,000 to more than $400,000 to pull off. “I can’t say how much that event cost, but I can say it’s affordable in the sense that if we had to bring entertainers around world and create concerts across the country, we could put [artists] in every venue in the country,”

Breathtaking and creepy stuff. Bravo. I got Kanye at Coachella last year. I’m thinking I would’ve preferred “Dre, His Super Friends and the Haunting”. It was like the West Coast Justice League up there on that stage in the desert. “The Ghost of Tupac haunted my house” will be this generation’s “Michael Jackson stopped by my home and took a dump”.


AV Concepts’ Release:

AV Concepts Brings Tupac Back via Hologram to Perform with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg at the 2012 Coachella Music Festival

San Diego, Calif; April 16, 2012: AV Concepts, an award-winning immersive technology solutions provider of video, audio, and staging services for corporate, convention, and entertainment events, executed the technology and content behind the most anticipated performance at this year’s Coachella Music Festival.

Over 100,000 fans witnessed the “return of Tupac” as a Hologram performing on stage with hip-hop music legends Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, thanks to the combination of advanced projection technology and creative expertise available only from AV Concepts. The production followed months of collaborative planning between Dr. Dre’s production company and AV Concepts’ creative and technical experts to design and engineer the special effect (www.avconcepts.com/portfolio).

“This show was by far one of the most exciting yet challenging projects we have ever worked on,” said Nick Smith, President of AV Concepts. “A highly choreographed, live, outdoor holographic production of this magnitude with hundreds of thousands of people watching gave us the added incentive, and pressure, to deliver” Nick said.

AV Concepts, the largest North American licensee for Musion®, utilized the Eyeliner™ display technology along with a custom rigging and mechanical solution to deliver the perceived 3-dimensional life-sized holographic illusion. AV Concepts partnered closely with Digital Domain Productions to shoot videos and deliver the life-like imagery that were critical to the success of the performance.

AV Concepts’ success in Coachella comes on the heels of highly acclaimed projection mapping projects for Chris Brown at the Grammy’s and the American Music Awards.  These events utilized AV Concepts’ proprietary Liquid Scenic server to deliver uncompressed HD video which can be projected as holograms in an entertainment setting or as 3D imagery on building exteriors, interior walls, stage sets and other structures.

MORE from AV Concepts on Coachella 2012:

After months of design, engineering, and creative consultation,  AV Concepts delivered a perceived 3-dimensional, life-sized holographic projection of Tupac to perform on stage with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg during the renowned desert festival.

Utilizing the Musion® Eyeliner™ system, the 30′ x 13′ screen was customized by AV Concepts to descend onto the stage in mere seconds between sets of the performance to bring the infamous, deceased singer back to life. The most critical technical element was AV Concepts’ proprietary Liquid Scenic server that delivered uncompressed media for 3 stacked 1920 x 1080 images, delivering 54,000 lumens of incredibly clear projected imagery that was described as “breathtaking” by numerous media sources. AV Concepts provided consultative support to award-winning visual production house Digital Domain who delivered the life-like imagery that was critical to the success and impact of the performance. The performance amazed thousands of Coachella festival-goers as well as online fans.

Digital Domain via The Wall Street Journal:

“To create a completely synthetic human being is the most complicated thing that can be done,” Digital Domain’s chief creative officer, Ed Ulbrich, said in a phone interview Monday.

He 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.”

“This is just the beginning,” Mr. Ulbrich said. “Dre has a massive vision for this.”

Digital Domain via Forbes:

VENICE, California. (April 16, 2012) – During their sold-out set at the Coachella Valley Music Festival, headliners Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg blew the minds of fans when they were joined onstage by 2Pac via a holographic projection. This incredibly realistic likeness of 2Pac was created by Hollywood powerhouse Digital Domain, and reunited the legends in an exclusive, original performance of “Hail Mary” and “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted.”

“Virtual” 2Pac is the vision of Dr. Dre, who, with Philip Atwell of Geronimo Productions and Dylan Brown of The Yard Entertainment, worked with Digital Domain to create this exclusive performance for fans. Digital Domain created the Academy Award-winning CG likeness of Brad Pitt for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and of Jeff Bridges for TRON: Legacy, Kevin Bacon for X-Men: First Class, Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and more.

The majority of the headlining and closing set:

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