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Thursday, November 06, 2008

The hologram that wasn't (is that a double negative?)

There's been lots of commotion about CNN's "holographic technology" that had virtual versions of CNN correspondent Jessica Yellin and rap musician will.i.am talking in the studio with Wolf Blitzer during Election Night two days ago (click here to see what it looked like during Yellin's report). But Don Reisinger of CNET News points out that it's disingenuous for CNN to call it a true hologram...
Don't say it's a "hologram" technology unless it really is. If CNN was truly using a "hologram," it would not have employed a green screen and overlay images. Instead, it would have captured scattered light and then reconstructed it back in the studio.

Oh, and it probably would have bankrupted CNN too.

I happened to catch this gimmick when they were talking to will.i.am and honestly, I wasn't terribly impressed. It looked too much like it was being accomplished "in-camera" (and it was). And there was no reflection from the "holograms" on the studio floor either. I know a few guys who given the challenge, could no doubt have made it look much more convincing with a minimum of equipment. But the meat of Reisinger's essay is that this kind of stunt cheapens the purpose of journalism and tilts it more toward the direction of entertainment. I'm persuaded to agree with that sentiment.

Besides, it'll be a long time before real holograms are feasible for broadcast television. Until then, just enjoy Princess Leia crying out "Help me Obi-Wan..." whenever you watch Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope :-)