I thought so…

Apr 2012

Having missed out on most of the Coachella webcast (though Radiohead was still mandatory viewing), one thing in particular that had the interwebs abuzz is the holographic performance of the late, great 2pac as seen in this video:

The almost futurama-esq ethical humor of this aside, this was a really impressive feat of technology that had me well impressed (and pulling out the 90’s rap again); but yet the whole ‘hologram’ aspect of it still didn’t seem right.

Well, Ars Technica has a good article on the performance and technology here, and yep, it’s still not quite full form hologram technology, but a big step in both rendering technology and hardware material; but best of all, it’s still using an technique from the 19th Century called Pepper’s ghost.

So here’s how it works: the audience needs to be able to see into the main room, but not in an adjacent hidden room. In the case of the Tupac “hologram,” that’s the main stage where a real-life Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre were sharing the limelight. However, hidden on stage is a piece of glass, where the images can be reflected from and pushed into a target area that makes it seem like a single room. However, off to the side, behind the glass, there’s a hidden room that has the original object being projected.  [ ars technica article ]

Other high profile uses of this technique in the past include certain ‘visual effects’ on Lord of the Rings, a plot device in The Illusionist and most notably, a digital Japanese pop star named Hatsune Miku, who, during the course of looking up what her name was again, I just found out she’s the singer of Nyan cat. Awesome.

I just love that application of old ideas with new technology, and the technology used here is pretty damn good, especially for bringing an (allegedly) dead guy back from the grave to give a live performance to thousands of fans. How will this affect future entertainment performances and what nots? No idea, but it is still definitely still some time away before I can live out that Leia hologram reenactment dream (and then fantasy afterwards).

UPDATE: thanks internet!