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CNN's 'holograms' just smoke and mirrors

November 11, 2008 | Chris Payatagool
hologram_wideweb.jpgFrom left: CNN's fake hologram next to the real thing from Telstra and the National Sports Museum.

By Asher Moses

CNN's US election night stunt, in which reporter Jessica Yellin and rapper will.i.am appeared on set as three-dimensional "holograms", was little more than smoke and mirrors, physics experts say.

In what was billed as a world-first, Yellin appeared to be beamed from Chicago into the network's New York studio for an interview with anchor Wolf Blitzer. But, in fact, Blitzer was looking at little more than a red mark on the floor.

Blitzer made every attempt to hide the fact that the hologram was fake, saying "Jessica, you're a terrific hologram" and that he liked the hologram because "we can have a more intimate conversation".





Yellin likened herself to a character from Star Wars, saying, "It's like I follow in the tradition of Princess Leia."

A second "hologram" interview was aired between another anchor, Anderson Cooper, and will.i.am, who, like Yellin, was in Chicago for President-elect Barack Obama's election night celebrations.

"It looks exactly like in Star Trek when they would beam people down, that's what it looks like right here," Cooper said.

But Hans Jurgen Kreuzer, theoretical physics professor and holography expert at Dalhousie University, told CBC news in Canada that the so-called holograms were simply 2D images superimposed onto the TV broadcast.

The images were in fact tomograms, or images captured from all sides - in this case by 35 high-definition cameras set in a ring inside a special tent - reconstructed by computers and displayed on the screen.

A real hologram would have meant the images were projected into space, which did not occur as Blitzer and Cooper could not see their interview subjects.

Some have criticised the use of holograms - real or fake - in news broadcasts at all, saying the whole point of sending reporters on assignment is so the viewer can get a sense of the environment and the event they are covering.

To perform its stunt, CNN used technology from Vizrt, based in Norway, and SportVu, based in Israel.

In an interview with Norwegian publication DagensMedier, Vizrt technical director Ole Jacobsen said that, contrary to CNN's claims, "it's not technically a hologram", which would be the company's "next challenge".

Despite CNN's trickery, there have been many mainstream uses of real hologram technology, including several in Australia.

The National Sports Museum, located at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, includes a 3D hologram of Shane Warne, who tells visitors of his most memorable moments.

In May this year, Telstra chief technology officer, Hugh Bradlow, was beamed from Melbourne to Adelaide to give a live business presentation.

[via smh.com.au]







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