Saturday, November 08, 2008

CNN's Hologram on its Election Coverage was not really a Hologram

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I have always been a huge Star Wars fan and this was something right out of Star Wars, which made it very cool to me. Only problem, like the special effect in the movies, it, too, was not real. The hologram was not really a hologram at all.

Here is a story which I am sharing with you courtesy of

(Posted by Sascha Segan).

One of the most talked-about features of last night's election coverage was CNN's supposedly-holographic projections of correspondent Jessica Yellin and musician Will.I.Am onto the CNN studio floor. But CNN's name for the technology was misleading.As Gizmodo explains, the anchors on the studio floor couldn't see 3D images of the correspondents - there was no "hologram" being projected.

Rather, the correspondents were being shot by 35 HD cameras simultaneously to create a 3D image which was then digitally composited into CNN's broadcast image of their studio. There was no live, glowing, 3D picture that people could walk around. The "image" of Jessica Yellin and Wolf Blitzer standing in the same room existed only on TV screens.

If you want to be really pedantic (oh, and I do), Merriam-Webster describes a hologram as
a three-dimensional image reproduced from a pattern of interference produced by a split coherent beam of radiation.

The CNN shots weren't three-dimensional images - they existed only on two-dimensional TV screens. And they weren't produced from a pattern of interference, etc. They were produced by meshing live feeds from 35 cameras pointing in different angles.

It was movie magic, folks, similar to what we all remember from The Matrix. Given that it was done live without a hitch, it was extremely, way-cool. But it wasn't a hologram, and no amount of wishing will make it so.

Segan’s article was very well written, fully explaining the stunt, so I thought it was worth sharing. We are now in 2008 and I would have expected to see more real technology like having an anchor interact with a hologram, or fending off an onslaught of flying cars or (insert your favorite sci-fi futuristic ability here). Until I checked into it, I would have assumed CNN mastered the latest technology, broadcasting at least one of those inventions. (Though it now appears completely unnecessary, it was kind of cool to watch Anderson Cooper interview Will.I.Am in this manner. Here is a link to watch the video of this particular hologram interview.

I am a little disappointed that the interviewer was just staring at blank space, and at no time was there an actual holographic image being projected anywhere. The more I think about it, the more it seems the illusion was pointless. On the other hand, it did made me watch CNN last night, and I am writing about it today... so it can't be all bad.

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