LOS ANGELES -- When Tupac Shakur rose from the stage in the California desert earlier this year, it was not only a jaw-dropping resurrection, but also the beginning of a new form of live entertainment.
"Come with me," the digital Shakur called out, not just to tens of thousands of screaming fans but seemingly to other artists.
Elvis Presley's estate said it has authorized holograms of the King of Rock, Marilyn Monroe's estate has expressed interest, and there's no shortage of other stars whose fans would die to see them perform again.
Advances in digital artistry make it all possible, presenting celebrity estates with new commercial and creative opportunities, but also some ethical quandaries.
"I think we've scratched the surface with Tupac," said Dylan Brown, a filmmaker who along with director Philip Atwell and effects studio Digital Domain helped bring the Shakur hologram to life. "If it's done tastefully, like Tupac was done tastefully, I think it could be a wonderful form of entertainment."
Brown, owner of The Yard Entertainment, and Atwell, owner of Geronimo Films, had each toyed with the idea of using holograms in concerts for a decade, but the technology wasn't there.
Brown knew that once they chose Shakur for the holographic debut, it had to be more than just a technological marvel.
"We wanted to be really respectful of the family foremost," said Atwell.
Reaction to the Shakur hologram was huge, with the performance garnering 15 million YouTube hits within 48 hours and winning a top award at the creative marketing gathering Cannes Lions.
"You start to open up a whole new universe of legal questions," said Ed Ulbrich, Chief Creative Officer of Digital Domain, which is working on the Presley holograms. "As such, we have no intentions of doing anything other than being utterly respectful of these legends and icons."
Because it's two-dimensional, the Shakur performer isn't a true hologram, which, by definition, is a 3-D image. But it's a vivid digital creation that audiences are far more accustomed to seeing in movies.
Brown and Atwell say part of its challenge was integrating Shakur's performance into the larger show featuring Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and others.
Shakur's entry and exit had to be carefully planned to fit into the show, with the creators opting to have his image burst apart into a cloud of gold specks.
Stars wield extensive control over how their names, voices, and images are used after they die, and now holograms offer them yet another consideration.
While holograms are likely covered by existing laws, potential legal challenges will likely focus on whether the performance is protected by the First Amendment.
Marilyn Monroe's estate threatened legal action earlier this year against a company claiming it was working on a digital show using the model-actress' likeness.
The technology for holograms or other digital performances are intriguing, the estate's handlers at Authentic Brands say, but they would only partner with people who could make a top-notch product.
Brown and Atwell said they felt enormous pressure to make sure the Shakur performance was worthy of being an introduction to a new form of live entertainment.
"I also hope that the people who do follow us do it with the same care and the same sense of dedication because I would hate to see a bad version of Marilyn Monroe, a bad version of Elvis up there," Brown said.