Remember When: Tupac Hologram at 2012 Coachella

Ten years before Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg rocked the stage at the Super Bowl Halftime show in Los Angeles in 2022, they made a significant splash at Coachella. For their 2012 show, which took place in their usual location about two hours east of L.A. in Indio, California, Coachella helped Dre and Snoop make history, reviving a dear old friend and collaborator.

Videos by American Songwriter

During their joint headlining set, the two West Coast hip-hop icons welcomed a hologram of the late Tupac Shakur to the stage.

“Yeah! You know what the fuck this is!” the Pac hologram cried out as he approached center-stage. “What up Dre? What up Snoop? What the fuck is up Coachella?”

The Pac projection would go on to perform two songs, starting with his 1996 hit “Hail Mary,” which landed on his first posthumous album The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. Once “Hail Mary” wrapped up, before playing his next song “2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted” featuring Snoop, the D-O-Double G interjected the rev up the crowd.

“Ayo Pac, let these motherfuckas know what kind of party they at right now!” Snoop yelled into his microphone.

[RELATED: Behind the Death of Tupac, 27 Years Later]

Though his portion of the show only lasted five minutes, Pac’s hologram made all the headlines due to its stunning accuracy, which made the night feel revolutionary. On the five-year anniversary of the show, Andscape interviewed a few of the people who helped bring Pac back to life, as they explained how much work went into the projection.

“It really looked 3-D,” Nick Smith said, who was the president of AV Concepts, the company responsible for producing the hologram. “It looked like there was really somebody onstage.”

Smith added that the entire concept was spawned by Dre, and received immediate support from Coachella.

“It was Dre’s idea to bring Tupac back,” he said. “He and his team had already seen the technology several times and were thinking about how to utilize it. So when Coachella asked them to perform there, that’s the idea he came up with.”

Next, Andscape heard from Janella Croshaw, who worked at a visual effects studio called Digital Domain. In charge of nailing down Pac’s appearance and mannerisms, Croshaw spoke about how tough it was to get the intricacies of Pac’s look perfect.

“It was a lot of pressure — more than any project I’ve ever done,” she said. “Some of the other team members didn’t quite understand. It was like, ‘Who’s Tu-PACK?’ There were people who weren’t quite familiar with him, but those of us who were, the pressure to not fail was probably the biggest motivation to get as far as we did in six weeks. We just couldn’t fail.”

Crowshaw described the experience as all-encompassing, as they needed to get all of his facial expressions correct.

“When you’re making any character in digital effects, you really have to become that character… and never in my life have I transformed into a character more than Tupac,” she said. “What makes him, him? What makes him have that spark? We found that he has that smile, you know, that just lights up a room. That was something that we really wanted to embrace, so we spent a lot of time on the smile shape. Another one he has is this, like, kind of crooked sort of eyebrow raise, where one of his eyebrows goes up. These are two signature Tupac looks we really wanted to nail.”

Revisit the quasi-Tupac performance below.

Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

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