The technology behind the Tupac hologram
The hologram appearance of late rapper Tupac Shakur at Coachella 2012 got a lot of attention following the technological resurrection and performance.
The technology used is called Musion Eyeliner.
The Musion Eyeliner is a proprietary high definition video projection system that allows moving images to appear within a live stage setting. The product is sold and licensed by Musion Systems Limited in the United Kingdom.
The system works as a modern commercial variation of a stage illusion called Pepper’s ghost. Thin metalized film is placed across the front of the stage at angle of 45 degrees towards the audience; recessed below the screen is a bright image supplied by an LED screen or powerful projector. When viewed from the audience’s perspective, the reflected images appear to be on the stage. The system was created by Uwe Maass.
Because the system uses a thin film as its reflective surface, the screen is relatively low-cost and light-weight, and can cover a large area without seams (thus helping maintain the illusion); however, this lightness can make the screen vibrate due to atmospheric effects such as wind, when outdoors; or powerful sound systems, when indoors.
The system’s effect is described as to “create the illusion of life-size, full colour, 3D moving images”. It consists of a flat (two-dimensional) image that produces the illusion of being three-dimensional and suspended in free space. It does not, for instance, recreate stereoscopy as most 3D displays do, nor is it a true hologram.
The technology involved is the subject of a US patent application.
Applications of the technology include tele-conferencing and mixed-media entertainment and educational events. Its most famous usage may be that at the Live Earth conference, or the later concerts of the band Gorillaz, where it was used to allow the band’s cartoon musicians to join the actual musicians on stage. The Genki Rockets also utilize the technology for any of their ‘live’ events, due to the lead singer, Lumi, who appears in the group’s animated music videos, being a fictional character.
The 2009 tour of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds used a Musion Eyeliner system which projected an image of Richard Burton’s face in the role of the Journalist.
Musion Eyeliner projections have also been made for product launches such as the Toyota Auris car and an LG phone launch in which the technology was used to provide a stage illusion for magician David Blaine. In 2010 animation specialists SquareZero successfully recreated two performances by people who have been deceased for a number of years. The first was Paul Arden – a former creative director of Saatchi and Saatchi who appeared to talk at the Cannes Lions advertising festival. Also using digital techniques they recreated Frank Sinatra who performed Pennies from Heaven for the birthday of Pop Idol judge Simon Cowell. As well, this technology has been used in Hatsune Miku Concerts, due to the fact that they are fictional characters.
In 2012, a version of Musion Eyeliner was used to allow a virtual version of long-dead rapper 2Pac to appear at Coachella Music Festival with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.
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.