Vic­to­rian vis­ual ef­fect could put Tu­pac back on tour

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film -

MAN OF THE week? That would be Tu­pac Shakur, or, rather, his 2D im­age. The high­light of last week­end’s Coachella fes­ti­val in the Cal­i­for­nian desert didn’t turn out to be Ra­dio­head, David Guetta, Bon Iver or any of the other highly paid acts on the bill. In­stead, ev­ery­one who was there or watch­ing via an on­line stream was talk­ing about the eeriely re­al­is­tic vis­ual pro­jec­tion of the rapper, who was shot dead in Las Ve­gas in 1996.

Thanks to an old Vic­to­rian vis­ual ef­fect called Pep­per’s Ghost, which was first used in an 1862 per­for­mance of a Charles Dick­ens novella, Tu­pac ap­peared on­stage at Coachella along­side Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre to per­form Hail Mary and 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted.

Per­haps, though, the man of the week ac­co­lade on this oc­ca­sion can be shared with Dr Dre. While the rapper and pro­ducer has not re­leased a scin­tilla of new mu­sic since 1999’s 2001, he has made many mil­lions flog­ging his Beats By Dr Dre head­phones. It turns out that it was Dre’s idea to cre­ate a Tu­pac pro­jec­tion and he ap­proached the Dig­i­tal Do­main tech com­pany about the idea in 2011. The vir­tual Tu­pac is es­ti­mated to have cost $100,000-$400,000.

The fact that all in­volved man­aged to keep it a sur­prise un­til the ac­tual re­veal meant there was a mas­sive re­ac­tion to Tu­pac’s “ap­pear­ance” on­stage.

Such a buzz has led to wide­spread spec­u­la­tion about a tour and Tu­pac could well be com­ing to a shed (or field) near you.

We’re sure many pro­mot­ers are cur­rently dream­ing of what other dead stars they can res­ur­rect for world tours by pro­ject­ing their images onto a sheet of My­lar plas­tic.

Still, given the num­ber of spu­ri­ous and dodgy post­hu­mous re­leases dead acts get lum­bered with, a holo­gram may ac­tu­ally turn out to be quite taste­ful.

THE FIRST THING you think of is Freud. Then, notic­ing the re­laxed pos­ture, El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor’s Cleopa­tra, or per­haps a paint­ing by some Re­nais­sance artist. It’s not quite clear whether Ru­fus Wain­wright is wait­ing to be psy­cho-an­a­lysed or adored, but stretched out on a sofa in a room of a trendy London ho­tel, the singer/song­writer cer­tainly looks com­fort­able.

“He felt like he was com­ing down with some­thing yes­ter­day, so he did most of his in­ter­views ly­ing down,” his publi­cist ex­plains. And to­day? “Oh no, he feels fine to­day. He’s just re­lax­ing.”

To be fair, Wain­wright can af­ford to loosen up as he talks about his new al­bum, Out of the Game. De­spite its ap­par­ently de­featist ti­tle, the New York-born, Mon­tre­al­raised singer/song­writer’s sev­enth stu­dio al­bum is his best in al­most a decade, and cer­tainly since 2003’s ca­reer-defin­ing mas­ter­piece Want One. Per­haps most sur­pris­ingly, it’s what Wain­wright him­self has called his “most com­mer­cial work to date”.

Pop is not a dirty word in his world, although it’s un­ex­pected that he’s cho­sen to re­lease such a record now – es­pe­cially given the fact that he has spent the last few years deeply im­mersed in the clas­si­cal world. He wrote his first opera, Prima Donna, in 2008 and fol­lowed it with a dark, min­i­mal­ist stu­dio al­bum, All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu, in 2010.

“I’m a lit­tle shocked at how soon this one came out as well,” he says, run­ning his hands through his hair and lean­ing back on to a cush­ion. “When I was very young, I signed a rather du­bi­ous deal with Dreamworks that I’m only now com­ing to the end of – we’ll see if I pick it up again or not – but I knew that this would be my ul­ti­mate work for the big boys. I al­ways thought it’d be fun to give them what they wanted all along now, at the 11th hour, ’cos I cer­tainly haven’t in the past,” he adds with an in­fec­tiously mis­chievous cackle.

“I’d done the opera, I’d done the Lulu tour, and I be­came com­pletely re-en­am­oured with the pop world. And then Mark wanted to make the al­bum, and the idea of hav­ing a pretty hot­shot pro­ducer want­ing to work with you was great.”

The Mark he speaks of is none other than Mark Ron­son, and the rev­e­la­tion that he was Wain­wright’s new­est col­lab­o­ra­tor struck anx­i­ety into the hearts of ar­dent fans. Hav­ing worked with hugely re­spected yet low-key pro­duc­ers such as Jon Brion and Mar­ius de Vries in the past, Wain­wright’s pair­ing with a “celebrity pro­ducer” seemed odd, but Ron­son has treated the songs with sub­tlety and def­er­ence.

“Oh, he did an amaz­ing job, yeah, but part of that, I have to say, is be­cause I al­lowed him to,” Wain­wright says, emit­ting an­other of those rogu­ish cack­les.

“I ap­proached him, but he im­me­di­ately got back to me and was in­ter­ested. It’s funny, be­cause I think both of us tend to have our fin­gers in a lot of dif­fer­ent pies: give me opera, and Judy Gar­land, and pop mu­sic, folk mu­sic. He’s Djing, and pro­duc­ing and do­ing pho­to­shoots and that stuff. I think that we could both sort of see that we had to get back to the busi­ness of our day jobs: him as a pro­ducer, me as a pop singer/ song­writer. That was re­ally needed in both of our lives – quite in­tensely, ac­tu­ally – so we both re­ally threw our­selves into it.”

Mu­si­cally, Out of the Game is Wain­wright’s most var­ied al­bum in years, from the Eury­th­mics-es­que Bit­ter Tears to swoon­some love song Re­spectable to slinky pop tune Jeri­cho. And throw­ing him­self into a project was nec­es­sary, given that the past three or four years have been

Back from the dead: Tu­pac Shakur in 2D

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