Rapper Tupac Shakur, who died in 1996, stunned audiences at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival when he made a 3-D hologram-like appearance. Now a group is hoping to use a similar concept to preserve the stories of holocaust survivors as they age.
Although some elderly survivors, whose average age is estimated at 79, have been leaving behind manuscripts and oral histories of their lives, others fear that once they are gone there will be no one to explain the horror they lived through or to challenge the accounts of Holocaust deniers like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Shoah Foundation and the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies are heading this hologram project. Survivors, like Pinchus Gutter, sit in front of a green screen under stage lights for hours for several days answering upwards of 500 questions.
Research scientists at USC are editing the responses and working with voice-recognition software so that his hologram will not only be able to tell his story but recognize questions and answer them succinctly. Being able to do that often required asking as many as 50 follow-up questions to one of the original ones, the Associated Press reported earlier this month.
Late last week, the project posted a video on YouTube showing Gutter’s hologram likeness answering questions:
Here’s a look at some of the more technical aspects that go into creating such an image:
Stephen Smith, the Shoah Foundation’s executive director, told the Associated Press after the technology was showcased at USC that he expects the holograms to be completed within five years.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.