CNN Employs Hologram Technology During Election

CNN brought the image of an election correspondent into their studios using some new technology, claiming that it's a hologram much like R2D2's projection of Princess Leia. I haven't checked the details yet so I still have a few questions.

Although 35 high-def cameras were used to capture the moving image of Jessica Yellin, it appears that she was superimposed onto the studio image with Wolf Blitzer. Using a lot of computer horsepower that tracks the motion of the studio camera while stitching a portion of the 35 camera images together, then her image was probably digitally added to the studio shot. I don't think Wolf Blitzer saw her other than on a monitor. Note how slowly the studio cameras move, repeating the same "trajectory". Digital effects studios use this technology all the time, though in their case, the processing is done after the images are captured. And these aren't "holograms"...not by a longshot. But what makes the CNN effort noteworthy is that all the processing is done realtime. That's a massive amount of data. CNN showed that what was theoretically possible was, in fact, really possible...and doable. I'm sure they weren't the first, but they were the first to bring it to the masses.

Will this catch on? With some improvements, I think it will make a nice addition to the variety of tools that networks use. It sounds like an expensive setup and I don't think we'll see it used with correspondents in varied locations (e.g. warzones). Rather, some studios will probably be modified so you can have a roundtable discussion, for example, with participants apparently in the same studio.

The possibilities are essentially endless. Expect to see it spread in the next year or so.


TurboFool said...

While this was, unquestionably, a very cool effect and relatively well done, I was annoyed at their insistence on calling it holograms. They weren't in any way, shape, or form holograms. It was augmented reality, plain and simple, which I realized within about 10 seconds of viewing it.

It was used elsewhere, as well, such as when they had a 3D image of the white house with statistics and photos being displayed in the air over it.

It just bothers me that they spent all this time and money to produce a genuinely exciting and unique effect, one that's lightyears ahead of what any other news channels are doing, yet instead of hyping it up for what it really is, they had to dumb down the explanation. As usual, technological achievement is assumed to go right over the heads of the average person. As long as we keep assuming that and not bothering to actually explain it, it will remain that way.

The skepTick said...

Good point. Photostitching multiple pictures together is NOT the same as computing interference patterns from each point and representing it visually. They might just as well call several scenes in The Matrix holograms of Keanu Reeves.

There must be a name for this visual effect out there. But it's not "hologram".

The skepTick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The skepTick said...

I think this process is called Free Viewpoint Television. Whereas the bullet time effect in The Matrix was slow motion, multiple angle image capture, the technology has progressed far enough to be used in realtime.

TurboFool said...

A similar concept to which I initially referred was augmented reality, which probably relates more directly to the 3D model of the white house I saw in the production. Essentially it's a system in which you point a camera at a real-world object or area and computer-generated objects appear on the video display as though they're interacting with that object or environment. There are some Japanese cube toys available that do this with a combination of a small cube and a stylus of sorts, and there are more advanced setups that have been shown off at TED and the likes. Amazing stuff. This is clearly a relative, and very cool. I can't wait to see it get cheaper, easier, and more common. But I also wish they had the guts to try to educate the public on what it actually is and how it really works. Is it really only a small niche audience like us who finds this stuff interesting?