Virtual Rebirth of Music Legends

As the stage goes dark, the crowd waits in anticipation for unrevealed but expected surprises. As a piano melody begins to play and a luminance figure rises from the stage floor. This male form, with his head down, bares a resemblance to a legend long since gone. But how could it be? A look-a-like? No.

With the same charm and self assurance, Tupac raises his arms to the crowd at Coachella as if yielding them to accept his rightful return. With a collaborating performance with Snoop Dog, the Coachella audience was elevated to new heights of excitement.

How did this amazing hologram come to be?

Digital Domain Media Group are the creators behind Tupac’s virtual rebirth. The technology used is an advanced rendition of what was seen last year in Europe with Mariah Carey, beaming her image across multiple stages simultaneously.

Digital Domain, a visual effects company with extensive work in such films as the Transformers trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Cinderella Man – are now capitalizing on the success of holographic rebirths.

In partnership with Elvis Presley Enterprises, a division within Core Media, Digital Domain will be creating a virtual Elvis to appear in films, television and corresponding media outlets.

The potential of hologram advances has created a buzz to bring legends back to life. There are whispers of additional legendary icons as Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Fred Astaire and Elvis to be reborn. As a young adult in my mid-twenties, I am thrilled at the potential of seeing Billy Holiday or Etta James sing live. But do these innovative technological advances carry new financial and legal complications in contrast to the potential boosts in potential revenue?

Many states allow celebrities to hold “rights of publicity” which ultimately allows them to protect and control their image from exploitation. But what of those celebrities who sign general contracts allowing studios, labels and distribution affiliates to use their image to promote a movie or album? What about the string of reality TV stars who generally relieve all image rights for their selected spotlight?

In a recent interview on the Wendy Williams Show, Star Jones advises that “people who are prominent in life, might want to protect their image in death. So that when you leave your will, you might want to leave an Executor in charge of a trust of your image. So people can’t do reality tv shows, they can’t write tell all books – if you don’t want that.” Should this advice now extend to technological advances like holograms?

Current mainstream and future celebrities will certainly take notice of the fine print in image and publicity contracts. But such luxuries were never available to iconic legends of the 50’s, 60’s or previous generations.

While the legal base is currently uncharted territory, it would be amazing to have technological capability to introduce current and future generations to iconic legends who changed the entertainment industry over the years. Perhaps holograms will be the new aged time capsules.

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