Help me Wolf Blitzer!

CNN’s "Holographic Interview" technology seems like a lot of fluff — all visual tricks no doubt, and not at all the magic Princess Leah hologram we all expect. Right? So goes the blogosphere.

But first of all, the Princess Leah hologram — even assuming Star Wars really happened (a long, long time ago…) — is also just a trick of light. But what people should realize is that there is some cool technology going on here.

Remember that experiment with the SuperBowl a few years back, where they could virtually rotate the view using a fixed array of cameras? Well, it kind of sucked because the cameras weren’t aligned very well. And the interpolation wasn’t really working.

But with this techology, the same approach seems to actually work right. The company doing the work here is VisRT and SportVu, which means it may involve my old friend Ran Yakir (hi, Ran).

From what I understand, the way it works is to have 35 cameras in a circle at the transmitting end. A single virtual viewpoint, based on the real-time studio camera position, is synhesized from those 35 cameras and sent to the CNN studio for compositing into the final image.

Does Wolf really see the Hologram? Yes, probably, but not in open space as we’d expect. It’s probably on a monitor. That part is the trick, as with virtual sets in general. But the real-time interpolationof a circle of 35 cameras is still very cool.

Why not 36 cameras, you ask, such that each slice is exactly 10 degrees? No one knows for sure. But since the Hebrew calendar has 13 months instead of 12, maybe this circle has 350 degrees to compensate… (kidding)

Anyway, what would be even cooler is if they could send those 35 channels of HD video as a bundle and have your home PC do the interpolation. With some head-tracking and maybe some stereoscopic viewing, you too could see a cool a floating 3Dish hologram, with the synthesized views indexed to your actual viewing angle(s). 35 HD video channels is all it takes, and a really fast PC. No problem!

Here’s a link with more info, and Gizmodo has basically hte same info here.


2 thoughts on “Help me Wolf Blitzer!

  1. Hi Avi, this is your old friend Ran :)
    Indeed i was involved in this project although the algorithmic work involved in creating the final image from the 35 cameras is done solely by SportVU.
    Note that the fact that there are 35 cameras is not related the fact that a Hebrew circle has 350 degrees. Those 35 cameras were not covering full circle. I believe that they covered something like 220 degrees total. The main factor behind the number of cameras is that the angle will be small enough to allow smooth transition between selected cameras when the real camera in the studio moves.
    I am very proud of being somewhat involved in this project. I think it shows something new and fresh, although I am still not sure how much it will be used in the future. It will depend mainly on the complexity of the remote setup I guess.

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