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RIP HoloPac: Tupac Hologram Makers File for Bankruptcy

HoloPac at Coachella / Photo by Getty Images

Hologram 2Pac is dead. Digital Domain Media Group, the company responsible for the projection of Tupac Shakur that dominated discussion of this year’s Coachella, has filed for bankruptcy protection, CNNMoney reports (via Vulture). It’s unclear what that means for the future of so-called holograms in the music industry over the long term, but for now the filing effectively should scuttle talk of a 2Pac tour or a revivified Elvis.

Co-founded by director James Cameron, Digital Domain had previously disclosed concerns about debt and expenses, and private investment outfit Searchlight Capital Partners is awaiting a judge’s say-so to buy the almost 20-year-old special-effects company’s core production business. Digital Domain’s film credits include Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers, and Titanic, along with Oscar-winning work on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Kanye West once alluded to Button, so in a way, the 2pac hologram wasn’t even Digital Domain’s first connection to hip-hop.

That hologram — which your neighborhood pedant has probably explained to you isn’t really a hologram, because holograms are 3D — was, however, a big hope for Digital Domain. As CNNMoney explains, the company’s work for movies came in on a contract basis, so a move into the music business might’ve given Digital Domain a more reliable revenue stream: its share of ticket sales. “This is just the beginning,” Digital Domain’s chief creative officer, Ed Ulbrich, said of the 2Pac projection in an interview with the Wall Street Journal in April. Last week, the company’s CEO stepped down as part of a sweeping overhaul that left most of the 320 employees in its Port St. Lucie, Florida, office out of a job.

Will the silver lining be the end of the looming hologram trend? We wouldn’t be so sure. Digital Domain wasn’t the only company involved in the Coachella uncanniness. San Diego-based AV Concepts handled the projection aspect that caused the projection to look just 3D enough for it to become synonymous with (if not literally) a “hologram” — in fact, it was AV Concepts CEO Nick Smith who estimated the rendering of the slain rapper probably wasn’t that expensive in music-fest terms Similar technology has been used to revive Frank Sinatra for a 2003 concert. Musion Systems Ltd., which holds the patent on the technology, once licensed the 3D effect to put Gorillaz onstage with Madonna at the 2006 Grammy Awards.

Hologram 2Pac is dead. Long live Hologram 2Pac?