[Sound of Tupac Shakur: "Yeah! Yeah!"]
Tupac Shakur—or rather a virtual approximation of the dead rapper presented at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. It wasn't smoke and mirrors but rather an intricate setup including a high-definition projector and some serious computing power to render a life-size image of Shakur, killed in 1996, onto a Mylar screen onstage.
Virtual Tupac appeared onstage with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg at Coachella. After an expletive-filled intro, the image launched into an impressively seamless performance of "Ride or Die" with Snoop Dogg. Digital Domain, a special effects company founded by Avatar director James Cameron, created Tupac's likeness on a computer, using physical characteristics and movements captured from previously recorded performances, according to The Wall Street Journal. When it was over, Virtual Tupac disappeared in a flash of light—although he's likely to be resurrected for future shows.
Such high-tech illusions are pretty standard in today's movies. But the success of a live, if you will, performance creates some really interesting possibilities. Want to see Kurt Cobain onstage with Jimi Hendrix? We might not have long to wait.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]