CNN Hologram – Behind the Scenes video

Just in case you haven’t seen it yet on, I imagine, zillions of other blogs, here’s how CNN used “holograms” to “beam in” remote correspondents on Election Night. The short answer: green screens and a whole bunch of computer-controlled cameras, for some real-time “Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope” action. It continues CNN’s apparent campaign to be the TV network most like sci fi movies. (Hello, Minority Report-style gestural screens!)

Of course, it’s notable for some other reasons – somewhat silly reasons:

  • It’s probably the only time someone intentionally added blue fringing to a chroma key effect. Yep, that’s right: the blue halo around the participants had to be added intentionally to emphasize what they were doing, even though fringing is usually what you try to avoid.
  • It’s mixing sci fi metaphors like no tomorrow. Princess Leia? Beam me up? Holograms? What? “Cap’n, Scott here! I cannu keep the Death Star from blowing up! These damn Cylons!”
  • It’s probably the most inaccurate use of the word “hologram” ever. It’s a chroma key effect. The whole point is, it’s the first 3D key effect I’ve seen in real-time on TV – as far as I know – but keying sure isn’t that exciting if you’ve been watching the weather in the last half century. So they add the word “hologram.” They might as well have called it the “Holodeck” or “transporters” or just “magic.”

Technologically, though, it is very impressive. The real irony here isn’t that CNN used silly magical terminology and played terrifying drum sounds. (During the course of the evening, they had other sound effects that sounded like Nintendo platformer power-ups and massive explosions, as though Obama had just attacked North Carolina with an alien invasion.)

No, the real irony is that this impressive, expressive technology winds up becoming yet another way of doing boring talking heads. I can’t wait to see what happens when someone comes up with a more interesting use for this stuff. Stay tuned.

Create Digital Emotion, perhaps?

Beam me up, Wolf! CNN debuts election-night ‘hologram’