First, there was 2pac’s performance at last year’s Coachella Music Festival in Southern California. Then came this year’s Rock the Bells concert in Los Angeles, which brought us guest appearances from Eazy-E and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. How exactly have these long-deceased rappers managed to re-introduce themselves to the world? Thanks, in large part, to the work of hologram creators AV concepts and Chris Romero.
Here’s ODB’s recent performance at Rock the Bells (skip ahead to 2:08):
And here’s Eazy-E’s performance with Bone Thugz-N-Harmony (Skip ahead to 39 seconds):
MTV News caught up with Romero:
For Romero however, the journey started in 2001 when he was tasked with animating the late Big Pun for his posthumous "How We Roll" music video for his posthumous Endangered Species LP. "In 2001 I was sitting with Fat Joe in the back on an Italian restaurant… it was kind of the same types of conversations I have now with Eazy-E and Dirty’s family," Romero told MTV News. "They have the same concerns that Fat Joe and Big Pun’s people had with his legacy 12 years ago. I carry that reputation and that desire to keep extending the legacies for artists who aren’t here."
Romero and his team even hooked up with AV Concepts, the same minds behind the eye-popping ‘Pac stunt. "AV Concepts are actually the guys that did the execution of the avatar from a technology and set-up stand point," he said. "My job is to recreate that feeling as good as possible and even a little bit larger than life."
To recreate that feeling, Romero and a team of about 15 different people used a myriad of different reanimation techniques and even some motion capturing. "With Eazy-E, I actually worked with all of his kids," he revealed. "One of his kids helped with the voice of Eazy-E talking to the crowd, one of his kids did his actual body movements and one of his kids did his facial movements."
"We’re nothing short of magicians," Romero says at the end of the profile, which you can read in full over at MTV News.
* This story has been updated since publication.