Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Just a Tech Illusion

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Just a Tech Illusion

It seemed to smell wrong to me last week, but I don't have the tech chops to have actually called CNN out on it. If you didn't catch it last week during their election coverage, CNN presented what it called holograms. Jessica Yellin beamed into Wolf Blitzer's set to report directly from the election scene in Chicago. Yellin gave a shout-out to Princess Leia, and Wolf complemented her on her excellent hologramness. A hologram is a 3-D image projected and observed in real space. I had nothing to back it up, but I felt certain that Wolf was talking to nothing at all and an image was being layed in before it got to our TV screens.

And sure enough, that's exactly what happened. Yellin explained that she was being filmed (or videoed, I'm not really sure) by 35 high-def cameras, which is how they got the 3-D effect. What she didn't say was that she was in the middle of a green-screen tent that allowed her to be superimposed on the TV screen. Despite what he implied, Wolf saw nothing, although he did have a nice big red dot on the floor to let him know where the "hologram" would appear to be on the television.

Interestingly, CNN let on to all of this a couple of days later. So what was the point, then? During one of the most important news broadcasts of the year, CNN wanted us to think that it was doing something that it doesn't have anything close to the proper technology to do. Why, exactly? It may have looked cool, but what precisely was it supposed to accomplish? It's been borne out that CNN's election numbers were accurate, but would it have been unfair for us to question those numbers at the time? Will we be able to trust CNN in the future?


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