Vizrt's 'Hologram' greets U.S. Election 2008
CNN was touting their new 'holograms' throughout election night 2008. The holograms eventually found their way onto live TV twice, once in a report from Chicago by Jessica Yellin and lastly when Wolf Blitzer interviewed will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas.
Originally published November 6th, 2008 www.telepresenceoptions.com
Tuesday's night Presidential election not only ushered in change for the executive office but also for election coverage. 2008 was the year to showcase your tech in TV land. Fox featured a hanging quadruple-display cube, MSNBC had their floating, digital election results map while ABC employed a series of advanced Perceptive Pixel touchscreens. Every network was dressed to the nines in their newest technological gadgetry but CNN stole the show with their now famous 'holograms'.
dumbed down to create an effect more similar to a science fiction movie viewers would be more comfortable with.
Regardless of their technical classification, CNN was touting their new 'holograms' throughout election night 2008. The holograms eventually found their way onto live TV twice, once in a report from Chicago by Jessica Yellin and lastly when Wolf Blitzer interviewed will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas. Both Jessica and will.i.am were beamed into the CNN studios, live, as if Blitzer was interviewing them in the actual New York studio. While the holograms looked a bit jerky, this was still a major development in the world of 3D.
Wired was one of the first mainstream media outlets to report on the mechanics of this setup more fully. It appears that the system uses telemetry tracking software that Vizrt supplied while their partner company SportVu kicked in 'video processing technology' to create the images. The interplay between all the systems is very sophisticated, as the image below would indicate.
The Viz IO calibration tool converts the live CNN studio camera feed positions into a map of 3D coordinates. This information gets beamed out to the remote CNN hologram rooms, with their 44 cameras, which then instantaneously choose which 2 of the 44 cameras in the remote location best sync with the live CNN studio feed. Exactly which two cameras get used dynamically shifts depending on the 3D coordinates the Viz IO feeds the remote studios, allowing both participants to move around fairly naturally.
After the remote images come back to the CNN headquarters, the Viz Engine plug-in (developed by SportVu) creates a fully 3D representation of whomever is in the remote 44 camera studio; in this case that was Jessica Yellin and will.i.am. After being processed further, the 3D image is thrown back to the CNN (in full HD mind you). In the mixing room, Jessica and will.i.am were united with Wolf's live camera feed, creating the effect you saw during election night. All of these steps are performed in well under one second to create an almost lossless live holographic feed.
Also remember that while this demonstration may have been the first use of 'holograms' on primetime TV, they have been used in other high profile engagements many times before.
Still, take nothing away from Bohrman and the CNN team. This was surely a technological achievement and a milestone in the long evolution of 3D technologies. Considering the Vizrt technology was sending out 3D holograms in full HD in real time, it shouldn't be too long before this same technology finds its way into the world of telepresence. You may just see someone you didn't know the next time you stroll into the board room.