People are losing their shit over the hologram performance of Tupac Shakur at the Coachella music festival in California this week.
HE’S BACK! IT’S SOOOO REALISTIC! DOCTOR DRE CAN RESURRECT RAP ARTISTS NOW! THE DEAD HAVE RETURNED, AND SOON THEY’LL BE TOURING! PROBABLY WITH SPOOKY HOLOGRAM ENTOURAGES! WHAT WILL THEY PUT ON THEIR SPOOKY HOLOGRAM TOUR RIDERS?! WILL THEY DEMAND HUMAN GROUPIE SACRIFICES? WHO’S NEXT? SHIIITTTTTT!!!!!!!
Or… maybe not.
Yep, impressive clip. Sweet performance. But let’s not assume this is the industry-changing moment some media outlets are portraying it as.
Why do I think this? Two words, folks.
The uncanny valley theory says that when computer graphics or robotics are created and look almost but not quite perfectly human, the natural response is actually one of revulsion amongst human observers. It’s essentially the reason why those dead-eyed Japanese female sex robots are so stomach churning, why no one watches Robert Zemeckis movies any more, and why Megan Fox is finding it so hard to find work these days.
Now, as cool as that 2Pac Resurrection appears to be, you’ll note that the companies behind the holographic projection are AV Concepts and Digital Domain. Digital Domain are the ones responsible for the digitally altered images of Brad Pitt in ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’, of Jeff Bridges in ‘Tron Legacy’, and Rooney Mara in ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’.
Think back. How photo realistic do you remember their faces being in those films?
Not very, right?
Now check out that Coachella clip again.
That’s a hologram on a completely darkened stage, so we don’t see the image relative to anything else, but for Snoop Dogg (who is 14% human, 86% THC, reliable sources tell me).
How much of Pac’s face do you see?
It’s an advance in technology, sure. But not as great a leap as you might suspect. We’re not about to see major studios digitally insert, say, Marilyn Monroe into contemporary films just yet. And even if you could, why would you want them too? Aren’t there enough movies made about Monroe as it is? Do you really want to see a whacky Seth Rogen-Marilyn rom-com anytime soon?
Maybe I haven’t thought this through. Maybe this latest leap in technology isn’t completely harmless? It is the latest advancement from the founder of Digital Domain after all, the one and only James Cameron.
You know… the guy who pioneered the use of CG in ‘The Abyss’. The guy who created the 3D Fusion camera system. The guy who developed the technology to film deep-sea exploration missions during, and post, ‘Titanic’. The guy who revolutionised motion-capture performance in ‘Avatar’.
The guy who made a movie about mankind over-developing robotics and tech until it inevitably became sentient and wiped us all out.
So maybe this whole 2Pac-Tech IS a bigger deal than I first realized…
Until next time, I’m just on my way to the supermarket to buy as much bottled water and non-perishable food as I can load into the car. Whilst weeping listening to ‘California Love’ on repeat.
What have you done, Dre? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!