election coverage the CNN news channel tried out a new video effect, a “hologram” of a remote reporter projected into the studio, so that the viewer can see a “3D”
picture of the reporter. When the
cameras move in the studio, the view of the “hologram” also changes so that the
person appears to be standing in the studio a few metres away from the
interviewer. It’s a nice effect.
might expect, it’s done using the “green screen” technique that is used so much
in TV and film these says, so that the picture of the person can be mixed into
to the main video picture using chroma-keying.
The remote reporter is actually standing
in a circular green room that has cameras looking from every angle. The clever part is that when the physical
cameras move around the main studio, this information gets fed back to a
computer that works out how to combine the many video streams from the “green
room”, to make a sympathetic 3D picture to transmit back to the studio.
me of the “bullet time” effect that was created for the movie The Matrix.
Here the 360˚ room was equipped with a
circle of still cameras which were fired during a stunt. The effect is to stop a character in mid-air
and sweep around, viewing them from all sides, usually surrounded by bullets,
vehicles and so on that have been “stopped in time”, hanging in the air. This eye-opening effect was quickly emulated
by other film makers, and within a few months was even appearing in TV
This is of
course the way that technology works: in the first place someone builds a
prototype, often at a very high cost, then quickly imitators find out how to
do that on a budget, and the technology becomes commonplace. Video is probably the most extreme example,
because Hollywood movies aim to create a
jaw-dropping effect that has never been seen before, and cost is (very nearly)
not an issue. Later, the technology
becomes more commonplace, and it is cheap to do, but the flipside is that within
a very short time our eyes have grown tired of the effect.
that now CNN have developed the “hologram” effect, it will quickly come into
common use, and we will get used to it being there. Probably before too long the effect will be
consolidated into a single appliance that will do all the position calculation
and video mixing. I wonder if there might also be a use for it in enterprise