Thursday, November 06, 2008

CNN's "Holograms": A waste of perfectly good bandwidth

If you watched CNN's Election coverage Tuesday night, you may have seen CNN's "holograms", technology designed to make it look like a person being interviewed is in the same studio with the interviewer, except that it does no such thing. Both reporter Jessica Yellin and musician will.i.am were turned into "holograms". In fact, they were shot with multiple cameras simultaneously, which allowed them to be viewed from multiple angles, but it still used chroma key compositing technology, which caused fringing around the edges of the images. It looked nothing like a true hologram. More to the point, it added absolutely nothing to the interviews.

Wolf Blitzer could have been talking to faces on a monitor, and none of the content of the interviews would have been lost. In fact, I'd argue that the coolness/creepiness factor of the "holograms" interfered with the content; much of the audience was paying more attention to Blitzer talking to a blob than to what was actually being said.

For most of the night, CNN played it fairly straight, using technology in appropriate ways for the benefit of the audience. The "holograms," however, were nothing more than gimmicks.

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