How Will Holograms Be Used In The future?

Since the Coachella Festival  launched during the Millennium eve of 1999, it had always boasted a huge lineup in California, including the likes of: Sir Paul Mccartney, Daft Punk, Oasis, Rage Against The Machine, Jay-Z, Beastie Boys, Blur, and the Prodigy.


Tupac Shakur returned as a hologram in 2012. So what implications are there now for the future – both in the music realm and beyond?

‘Debate: ‘Tupac’ and Snoop Dogg pulled it off. But will hologram technology be a key part of the future?

“To me, it was beautiful, spiritual, a perfect example of how our imagination can ever-expand the possibilities of what we want to accomplish in life.  It possibly might change the future of death for all of us still on Earth”. 


However, not until Sunday, the 15th of April, 2012, of last year had it ever hosted the posthumous return of a rapper music artist, none other than West-Coast supporter, Tupac Amaru Shakur, to dazzle audiences with a visually crisp, concise, ‘nail on the head’ performance beyond the grave.

This, of course, unbeknownst to most of the mainstream world of 2012, was the holographic technology produced for Dr. Dre’s company, Digital Domain, used for the sequential performance. Given their stamp of approval by none other than Tupac Shakur’s mother, Afeni Shakur, her reaction to the hologram performance left her “positively thrilled”. (Source:

rolling stone

In my mind at the time of release, just about everything in that performance blew me out the water.

Even if it was, for that moment, only viewed through the inaccurate, misrepresented form of a desktop computer screen. Even more, what made this performance ghostly, was the fact that Tupac, in his lifetime, was a music artists who was not shy to speculate, express and even prophesise his own fate, or destiny in his songs, such as Hail Mary” (1997) (see below this passage)

 A life cut far too short (right): A true pioneer in the hip-hop and rap industry, Tupac Amaru Shakur’ – June 16th, 1971- September 13th 1996.

“Hail Mary” (1997). Just take a look at a small segment of the lyrics from the song, with Tupac forecasting his life through rap:

“Now pay attention, rest in peace father I’m a ghost in these killing fields Hail Mary catch me if I go, let’s go deep inside the solitary mind of a madman who screams in the dark Evil lurks, enemies, see me flee”

Again, taken from Mike B’s blog again, here is another ironic painted look at how Tupac used his songs as an outlet for his imagination and thoughts to bind on to his work as means of a philisophical tool for making predictions on his destined future:

“A more appropriate song for remembering him through his hologram would be “A Changed Man” from the album “Better Dayz.” Tupac ends the song by saying:   

“You don’t know me–ya’ll know that n**** on the rap songs, in the movies…but ya’ll don’t know this n***** in 3-D, real live, right up against you, in front of your face.”
Here is a build up feature detailing the events that happened prior to, and after Tupac Shakur made his return to stage, sixteen years his passing, in hologram form:

Credits go to sinefxcom, 2012:

SO, was it Tupac’s eerie emblematic return to the stage in his trademark image, not having aged or developed a wrinkle on his body in all the years of his absence? Or just the fact it seemed like he was actually there,  just for that moment, performing like everyone had always remembered him, but just out of the blue, waved an end point signal and disappeared in to gold specks of thin (hologram) air?

There were so many thoughts running through for me, as I’m sure, any big fan of the rapper would, as, after fifteen years since he passed, Tupac had been RESURRECTED, by means of what nobody could have ever imagined, prior, or even after the festival performance. Taken from a blog, writer Mike B identifies such thoughts:

“throughout all the music he made that was heavily themed about death, he essentially predicted his own.  I won’t get into any of the conspiracy theories, there are plenty of other websites devoted to that.


The use of several projectors and optical trickery, combined with a fully rendered, uncompressed 1080p resolution image, ensured the results were clearly magnificent. Fans and audience members alike on the whole were stunned, and could have been convinced that up there, on that very platform stage, collaborating alongside what appeared to be not only a ‘high’ and dazed Snoop Dogg, was THE Tupac Shakur.

But, with a few computer generated tricks and effects, lighting techniques and a special dubbed audio excerpt with a Tupac sound-alike shouting out ‘what the (incitive language) is up Coachella’ (as infact Tupac did not state the particular phrase Coachella’ during his life on camera or audio for that matter, as the facts state – he died in 1996, and Coachella music festival did not start until way in to the year of 1999), it might just well have been pulled off by Dr. Dre and his subsequent team of ‘holographics’.

But it is with a live experience such as this, that, I believe, in my view, the possibilities are endless. This is where dead music artists are concerned.

I mean, let’s think about it, just for a moment. A few names spring to mind.

Presley. Hendrix. Beatles. Sinatra. Jackson. B.I.G. Winehouse. Houston. They all share a common factor.

This extensive catalogue of past and ”yester-year” respective artists could in conjunction with hologram technology just go on and on and on. Not only is this a huge opportunity in the eyes of the estates managing the direction of these posthumous artists projects, but perhaps something exciting, fresh, and a more innovative ‘visual experience’ for the die hard fans of each to experience. As long as they are executed in the most respectful and dignified way, who should be complaining, right?

That said, it does beg the question – do we really need such forward thinking technologies in concerts or live productions right now? What happened to the intimate, up close and personal, unplugged or live sessions an artist delivers to their audience? Will, as a result of holograms,  the artist’s legacy, credibility, stage presence or status in the industry be diminished that they were once renowned for? Much like arguably, today’s over use of auto-tune (which to my surprise, had actually first emerged during 1997) that can fix or enhance the vocals produced in the studio, for the better, but in a lot of eyes in various sectors of industry, for worse, as it is not a true reflection of their artistic ability. These arguments accumulate a wide debate, and I’m sure will go on for many years to come.

Taken from YouTube, user Bloomberg News, 2014, this feature highlights many interesting points over the possibility of seeing deceased music artists, politicians and aspects of public sector re-en-visualised as holograms, in the future:

But, when considering the subject on a wider context, are holograms something we could some day see for practical use? Does it truly go beyond the fantasies we dream and see of in areas of popular culture, which includes, of course, the make-believe big budget futuristic Hollywood movies?

Or are holograms promoting the complete abandonment or rebellion of the boundaries of space and time as we know it that we are bound to in real life? This concept is always shaken up in movie worlds, where the balance of the status-quo is never maintained, as we have seen occur many a time in the sci-fi franchise classics, Star Wars& Star Trek, whose main narrative threads all borrow from this idea.

Take this fan generated content (credits go to SethwardProductions, 2012) as an example of what I am saying, with a bit of light hearted fun put in, amidst a memorable scene, from Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope (George Lucas, 1977) :

In elaborating upon this and the example, could it quite be that holograms potentially limit and restrict our boundaries of distance and physical presence? R2D2 and Luke surely didn’t look that impressed!

But how about practical everday life applications? Could holograms, provided one day their use becomes affordable, be the next best in visual communicatory and forward thinking, extending far beyond the scope of what Microsoft have offered in these past few years with the advent of the video calling facility, Skype?

Even more, could these capabilities be adopted by politicans, in order to communicate live feed broadcasts to neighbouring parties in different geographical locations and/or nations, countries, continents?

Take this example (credits go to wwwdotfjoedotcom2008) where, during the 2008 American Presidential elections, CNN reporter Jessica Yellin appeared in the studio reporting via what appeared to be a pre-recorded/live beam hologram:

However, are we still seeing the same person? Is it then blurring the lines between reality and artificiality? And how do we know, or at-least verify, that the person standing there, under lights and projection, is the very same person. A very cynical and pessimistic standpoint to take, however if perhaps used in the right context, for good intentions, it might just take off in the media stratosphere. But for now, again, like 3D technology, like the next and upcoming 4K resolution which is now to set to become the ‘norm’ resolution, exceeding the current maximum 1080p standard  in the industry by up to four times,  could holograms just be one of those expensive, out of reach technologies?

Let’s explore further.

Could it be as simplistic as a craze, or a fad? Something that rises up  to be noticed and then comes back down, hard. Underlying this notion is our desire that we may wish to ‘have’ this technology, it’s simply a fundamental part of our human nature, encoded in our DNA, and without ‘it’, how could we survive?  It’s all part of evolution, but in a much smaller sense given this context. The main idea from it, is that we, as individuals, always yearn for something we cannot have, in all walks of life, and if it isn’t here, available to us NOW to consume on the market, we will always wish for it and quite naturally, to progress and move forward with it, despite perhaps one having no pre-conceived idea or experience of what it is like, and how good or utterly disastrous it may in fact be.

 Because, given this psychological dilemma of desire, if we did in fact live in abundance of such a technology, would social communications deteriorate? Would our everyday lives as face to face communicators fade more and more? Will our social skills deplete as a result, depending more on the function of the technology, rather than the purpose, which, primarily, must be to speak to the subject? Most notably, as in social media spectrum’s, what we are witnessing is a wide development in the decline of user’s standards to process coherent English grammar through instant message communication and voice chats. Even social skills can be questioned here, as more and more, the mediums through which we communicate now are pre-dominantly leaning towards social media , that can provide a very connected, yet at the same time, isolating presence and alienation of space, presence and personal face contact. Again, something worthwhile to be looked at and assessed in much depth, going far off the main focus of holographic technologies here. Taking on board what has been discussed, hologram technology STILL has a long way to establish it’s feet on the floor, at-least among the mainstream consumerist fields.

But, alas, it still has some potential, regardless of how fantastical or very aloof this all my sound, speaking at such a pre-development . And what is certainly clear are not only the potential earnings companies behind late music artists of these estates could generate by projecting live holograms out to the fans, but the experience, and perhaps, it’s raw form and application in enterprise and for everyday life as we know it, which maybe, just maybe, if used in the right context and manner, if not used excessively, or, in an artificial sense, COULD be a success at some near distant point.

Perhaps, in the most literal or general view of things, hologram technology is something that is seen as a gateway to new and exciting possibilities. In this video excerpt from a Discovery Channel documentary (credits go to user EVAN199, 2007), a greater insight behind the practice of using holograms is explained:

But, for reasons beyond our knowledge or measure, could it be questioned that hologram technology is intentionally being kept at bay by the leading experts for good reason? From the video above, the capabilities are potentially there.

It is just a matter of time as to how, where, why, and most importantly, WHEN  it could be done, for the right reasons or to supplement us in our fast pace technologically communicative and driven world. As mentioned, it’s construction as an abstract piece of technology is still in it’s early development phases by leading holographics. But from what has been developed, are these people just waiting for the right moment to seize a platform on which to first seize the opportunity right, escpecially in the mainstream world? As like Tupac’s performance, not only were the audience at Coachella caught up in the hysteria, but a huge following of users online via social media and YouTube all gave their acclaim and balanced thoughts, making it a viral phenomenon of 2012.

It’s promising to know we are already there with at-least an enhanced prototype form of performance hologram technology, but, as like most mysterious and unpredictable developments, only time will tell us best.

Categories: Media Debate, Music debate, Music Feature, Technology ReportTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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