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Hey Tupac, Holograms Have Come A Long Way, Huh!

Hey, how’s it going, world?  I’ve been pretty busy lately — Daphne and Fox have been keeping things running while I’ve been away.  Thanks, you guys.

I have to say it is amazing to have supportive colleagues and work in a place that gives its people the resources to rock and roll.  But enough about that, Have you heard that Tupac Shakur just did a guest spot at Coachella with Snoop?  Yeah, I heard that too.  But with everything, once I see something, I then go wait a second! and start looking at the history of the last time it was done.

Tupac at Coachella?!

I don’t know how many of you remember this, but back in 2006, the Gorillaz and Madonna did a set with some, uh, “holographic” folks – you know, the ones playing the actual music:

Then there was Snoop and Tupac last month, courtesy of AV Concepts in San Diego – everybody’s being real hush-hush about this, but the principle is fairly simple:

You know what?  I think that’s pretty cool.  There were a few times when the Tupac hologram seemed to have its global position moving (look for the times when Snoop was standing next to the Tupac hologram and the hologram seems to have its ground moving around, a la the Virtual Insanity video), but other than that, I’d have to say that was some pretty cool stuff.

One thing that most MTV watchers and general population of Coachella folks won’t see (or know to look for, frankly) is that this was done back in 2007 too, in a theatre (gasp!), and with Shakespeare (double gasp!), The Tempest, to be exact.  Well, to be even more exact it was called La Tempete.  The theatre company that put this show out there (and CONTINUES to put holographic shows out there) is called 4D Art, based in Montreal.  Check out these images, this stuff is fantastic:

This one just rocks me for some reason, it’s a really awesome image and interaction:

Back when I was in Oklahoma City and OKCU was being run by the now dead Don Childs, we priced out doing a similar type of thing for their annual A Christmas Carol, and we found that it was somewhere along the neighborhood of about $30,000 for a 20X40 foot piece of that holographic film.  That didn’t even involve the system of projectors and computer.  In the case of the Tupac “appearance” at Coachella, AV Concepts used something called the Eyeliner system, from Dimensional Studios in London.  The system consists of computers, projectors, and some holographic film.  From the Dimensional Studios website on the Eyeliner system, from the company Musion:

The primary components of a Eyeliner set up are:

  • A video projector, preferably DLP with an HD card/minimum native resolution of 1280 x 1024 and brightness of 5000+ lumens.
  • For smaller cabinet installations, a high quality TFT Plasma or LCD screen can also be used.
  • A hard-disc player with 1920 x 1080i HD graphics card, Apple or PC video server, DVD player.
  • Musion Eyeliner Foil + 3D set/drapes enclosing 3 sides
  • Lighting and audio as required
  • Show controller (on site or remote)

Subjects are filmed in HDTV and broadcast on to the foil through HDTV projection systems, driven by HD Mpeg2 digital hard disc players, or uncompressed full HDTV video/Beta-Cam players.

The setup is erected in either a bespoke cabinet or a self contained four legged ground support. Alternatively, the foil can be stretched into a truss framework and flown from its own hanging points.

In either configuration, Eyeliner allows for a full working stage or set to be constructed behind the foil. In so doing live actors or performers, as well as virtual images are able to interact with other projected images in such a way that it appears to the watching audience that all of the objects they are seeing are in stage.

It is therefore quite conceivable to have a live performer sing a duet with a ‘virtual’ partner, a cartoon character or even his/hers projected double.

All the images used on an Eyeliner system are three-dimensional images, but projected as two-dimensional images (2D/3D) into a 3D stage set. The mind of the audience created the 3D illusion. This means that production costs are minimal, needing only the single camera lens for filming and a single projector for the playback – hence the phrase ‘Glasses-free viewing’.

That’s some pretty awesome awesomeness.  Even more awesome, a video of some of the holographic highlights from 4D Art’s production of La Tempete:

Happy Monday, everybody!

Thanks to HuffPo for the Tupac image, everything else is from 4D Art’s website.

Some articles on the 4D Art production: