This is something we all come to expect, but still, listening to the bickering between the people of GMA7 and ABS-CBN regarding their respective number one station’s supposed use of new technology in upping the ante of their news coverages during the elections is, to use a friend’s great-sounding adjective, juvenile. But what is even more irritating is the fact that both stations brandished about how they utilized ‘holographic images’ which each repeatedly made it appear as if the anchor in the studio seemed having a face to face interaction with the reporter in a remote situation.
Baloney. Nothing near a real hologram was achieved, only both stations’ multi-dimensional ego was clearly apparent.
Although I am not wont to lift sources from the net of apocryphal origin, this one from wikipedia.net will clearly give us an idea why both GMA7 and ABS-CBN we’re wishing upon a star whenever they mention about their use of their state-of-the-art hologram technology:
Holograph is a technique that allows the light scattered from an object to be recorded and later reconstructed so that it appears as if the object is in the same position relative to the recording medium as it was when recorded. The image changes as the position and orientation of the viewing system changes in exactly the same way as if the object were still present, thus making the recorded image (hologram) appear three dimensional.
The technique of holography can also be used to optically store, retrieve, and process information. While holography is commonly used to display static 3-D pictures, it is not yet possible to generate arbitrary scenes by a holographic volumetric display.
Judging from their efforts, the operative word should have been ‘hologram effect’ since both did not really use holography in the real sense of the word. What each made use of is the ever-reliable chroma key, a technology which is not new at all.
To those who are not familiar with this method, chroma key composting is a technique for making a composite of two images or frames together in which a color (or a small color range) from one image is removed (or made transparent), revealing another image behind it.
This method is commonly used for broadcasts of weather forecast wherein the presenter appears to be standing in front of a large map, but in the studio it is actually a large blue or green background. The meteorologist stands in front of a bluescreen, and then different weather maps are added on those parts in the image where the color is blue. If the meteorologist himself wears blue clothes, his clothes will become replaced with the background video. This also works for greenscreens, since blue and green are considered the colors least like skin tone.
There is nothing entirely new regarding this ‘new’ technology, save the use of more sophisticated software that made the images crisper and appeared like fortune was spent to make them look like what we saw on our television during the unprecedentedly quick election.
If the medium is the message, according to McLuhan, then this medium looks ‘cool’. And the novelty will send both stations scurrying to use this in almost any of its news and current affairs programs, from the important interviews with the country’s leaders to mundane interviews with starlets. But this same novelty will wear people out.
When not properly executed, the image of the reporter appears like an apparition of a yet to-be-identified spirit. And the resulting ‘hologram’ we see on our screen is unabashedly cheap-looking or, worse, ugly.
By the way, who would like seeing their field reporters’ lower body projected on screen? Unless of course these reporters have great asses. But then again this is not possible as a chroma wall allows only the showing of two dimensions. Showing of great asses all for the sake of exhibition in a news coverage still has not seeped through our collective opinion as to how a news coverage is to be properly done.
At least not yet. But who knows what infamy or blessing, malfeasance or change for the betterment, this hologram ‘effect’ will bring.