Monday, June 25, 2012

Tupac from the dead (Sorry...)

Today, on the 3rd anniversary of Michael Jackson's death - I began thinking of the groundbreaking ways in which he used technology to enhance his fans' experience of his craft - be it in live concerts or his music videos (climbing out of a gargantuan spaceship on stage and utilizing 3D technology in the fated 'This Is It' concerts being just two examples that come to mind).

With this in mind, I unearthed a story published by the UK's Telegraph newspaper, stating that the Jackson 5 may have plans to 'resurrect' Michael with a holographic incarnation of the singer for their upcoming tour. Though, this is not an entirely new idea. Madonna did it with animated pop band Gorillaz at the 2006 Grammy Awards, and famously in April - long-time dead Tupac Shakur 'performed' on stage in all his holographic glory during Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg's Coachella set. Below is the YouTube video where you can see the technology in action, I think you'll see why the breathtakingly realistic projection of one of hip hop's greatest icons really set tongues wagging.

Beware; there will be profane language littered about the footage like confetti at a wedding. It is Tupac after all...


Despite the initial Star-Trek-is-upon-us reaction I first had to the video; the theoretical technique used to create this illusion is actually 150 years old; first developed by John Henry Pepper in 1862 as a theatrical trick for magicians.

In terms of adding to the live music experience, I think it's a fantastic, logical evolution of 3D technology. Though its use in these instances to 'raise' musicians from the dead has divided opinion among music industry moguls; some calling it macabre, but it really depends on the way it is actualized. If holographic technology adds to a concert experience like it did for Tupac and Snoop; allowing fans to love and connect with their icons for a little while longer even after death; I don't see the need to start trekking up to moral high ground and setting up camp. I would definitely pay to see Michael Jackson moonwalk alongside his brothers one more time; the novelty of such an opportunity at this point in time would be a huge draw for fans.

On the flip side is the cost of such a gimmick. Reports have stated that the hologram took months of development by a specialist team (and Dr. Dre) at Digital Domain, costing somewhere between $100-400,000. Perhaps once the constraints of cost and time limitations have been brought under control, holographic image technology could become a legitimate medium for the visual arts; be it film, TV or the advertising and marketing industries. The possibilities to reach out to consumers in new and exciting ways would be endless; since it provides not only the opportunity to present marketing campaigns differently, but also the chance for audiences to interact and engage with the brand in a completely new way. They could literally be enveloped by a brand experience.

What are you thoughts? Macabre madness or cool new medium? I know which way I'm leaning...

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