AV Concepts creates hologram magic in Arizona - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

AV Concepts creates hologram magic in Arizona

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TEMPE, Ariz. -

The whole country was transfixed by the image of rapper Tupac Shakur, shot and killed some 15 years ago back on stage performing at the Coachella Music Festival thanks to the magic of a special hologram effect.

Turns out the company that made that magic is headquartered right here in Tempe and I paid a visit to AV Concepts and discovered that there are no limits at all to this special of special effects.

It is the ultimate illusion: a hologram effect so real so three-dimensional, so lifelike you feel you could actually reach out and touch it.  But if you try, all you'll grab is a handful of air.

The video on YouTube was the concert appearance that shook the world.  A "live" performance by a dead rap superstar.  It looks like a hologram, but it's actually a high tech, high-def projection.

AV Concepts' Richard Steinau says it's an illusion that stretches back to the 1800s.

"If you were to go to an amusement park like Disneyland and you were to go to the Haunted Mansion, you would see the same technique employed there using glass and mirrors."

AV Concepts puts a 21st century spin on the technique to create an astonishing three-dimensional feel.

At their San Diego studio, I got up on stage to experience it firsthand.

Nick Smith, one of the founders of AV Concepts, describes it this way: "Sort of like what you see on the windshield of your car when the sun shines through and reflects something sitting on the dash of your car... it creates that floating holographic-looking image.. it is the same basic principle."

The effect calls to mind one of the most famous special effects ever -- the Princess Leia hologram in the original "Star Wars" movie.

Now AV Concepts is creating hologram-style visual effects for everything from corporate meetings to rap concerts. A journey to the cutting edge of technology that started 25 years ago for Nick Smith and his business partner Fred Mandrick.

"We started a company out of my garage in Chandler and he sold the car he had for $5,000 and I borrowed $5,000 on a credit card and that was our seed money to get going," said Smith.

These days, AV concepts has 75 employees in Tempe and 35 more in San Diego.

Co-founder Fred Mandrick says the company has big plans for its signature illusion.

"It has a lot of legs and as that technology progresses, we can push it anywhere into retail, any level of commerce where people want something unique and different."

You know that old phrase "they do it with smoke and mirrors"?  well, that's pretty much what these guys do.

AV Concepts
1917 West 1st Street
Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 557-6000

So the technology is there, but here's a question:  Would you like to see a concert featuring a virtual Elvis or Bob Marley or the Beatles, with John Lennon and George Harrison in hologram form?

Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook.com/myfoxphoenix.


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