For those of us who were watching the election results last week on CNN, there was something new: ‘holograms’ were used to bring both reporter Jessica Yellin and rapper Will.i.am to the CNN press center in New York, although both were actually in Chicago at the time.
How did they do it? Sadly for Star Wars fans everywhere, the images were not true holograms – they were holographic images created using multiple high-definition cameras. It seemed as though Wolf Blitzer was able to conduct face-to-face interviews with Yellin and Will.i.am, and that their images were visible to those in the press center. In reality, the interviewees could only be seen on a monitor in the press room, and Blitzer use cues such as tape on the floor to know where to direct his questions.
Critics have remarked that the use of the holographic image technology was pointless in this situation, not really a hologram, and detracted from the ‘feel’ that comes from traditional on location interviews.
While the interviews did lack the scenery and background of the location due to the constraints of the technology, I don’t feel that CNN made a mistake here in choosing to debut it on that historic night. True, advantages of sending a reporter to a remote location are those background shots and sounds that can only be found there. However, CNN had plenty of other excellent footage from Chicago, and viewers were able to see what was going on without an interviewee standing in the way.
Additionally, I disagree with the idea that the technology makes sending a reporter pointless because of the lack of the background shots for viewers. Shouldn’t a reporter be able to relate what they’ve seen without having it right behind them? In this case, in which there wasn’t an action-packed car chase or a volcano erupting, I feel that it was actually very appropriate for CNN to focus on the interviewee and what they were saying.
There are some downsides to using the holographic image technology: as mentioned, ‘face-to-face’ remote interviews are still a few light years away, and the interviewee must stay in one spot during an interview. There is the risk of unethical use of the technology, in projecting realistic images onto shots without informing viewers. That being said, the upsides include more realistic remote interviews, without distractions.Is this the future of news media? If so, will Wolf start interviewing reporters in exotic locations from the comfort of his own home – two ‘holograms’ conversing in an empty press room?Not having participated in an interview like this myself, I can only guess that a lack of eye-contact and physical cues might detract from interviews. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing more ‘holograms’ in the future.