Help me Anderson Cooper!

Just got in and turned on CNN. They have some cool ass holograms going. Anderson Cooper is talking some dude in Chicago who is being projected as a hologram 10 feet away. I found a video on Youtube:

Today is a truly historic day for the Republic (the American one, not the Distributed one). Sure, we got ourselves a black president, but CNN is pulling off this badass Star Wars shit.

I expect Dick Cheney to come on TV any moment to announce that he has a fully operational Death Star and has started blowing up planets.

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Anderson Cooper's really let himself go.

You mean the beard?

He's just growing that to fool people into thinking he's straight.

It's obviously Chris

It's obviously Chris Matthews.

No Hologram

That's no "hologram". Looks like it's done with computer graphics.


BRIAN: That's no hologram! It's computer graphics.

HAN: It's too big to be computer graphics.

LUKE: I have a very bad feeling about this.

The guy whom we shall call Anderson Cooper presumably does not see Jessica Yellin standing there any more than Mark Hamill saw a tiny Carrie Fisher. Rather, judging by the description video of her is being composited, on the fly, with video of Anderson Cooper's stage. The main difference from Star Wars is that this is being done real-time, with nine thousand synchronized moving cameras to enhance the illusion.

Computer Graphics


Not that kind of computer graphics. It looks like they are taking a couple camera angles and merging them then pasting that on top of the video feed in real time. Of course, nobody on the set sees anything as it's essentially blue screen technology.


That's what "compositing" means. Blue screen is one technique for compositing.


I wasn't disagreeing with you. I was pointing out that I didn't mean what you seemed to think I meant. I did not mean that they were generating the graphics wholesale like video game graphics, and I thought that was obvious. Compositing requires the use of computer graphics.

They use a bunch of fixed cameras and thus they only have so many camera angles. They then manufacture all other points of view using computer graphics, a particular kind of computer graphics called compositing.

I've seen this kind of thing done with photographs. Using a bunch of fixed overlapping pictures and using computer graphics the computer can generate an internal representation of the scene and then make a movie that pans through the 3D scene.

The funny thing is that there is a much simpler and vastly cheaper way to achieve the same effect. Have two cameras at the separate locations move in unison via computer control and then just paste the remote video feed in directly with no computer graphics required. In fact, they probably did that in Star Wars. What a waste of money.

What the woman described

What the woman described is the "vastly cheaper way" you described in your last paragraph. They have pairs of cameras at the separate locations move in unison via computer control. She says "they move and they know when to move when the cameras in New York move" - exactly what you describe. The woman specifically mentioned 35 cameras, which makes sense: they will want a choice of angle. So there are 35 pairs of cameras moving in unison via computer control. I bumped it up to 9000 as a joke.

As you said, "no computer graphics required". So apparently you were wrong, by your definition of "computer graphics". I didn't intend to contradict you because I'm willing to define "computer graphics" a bit more widely to include even the straightforward partial overlap of two images or videos which is what compositing is.

I am a little bit surprised at the halo around her. I think they could easily remove that halo. It might be deliberate: without the halo she might be hard to see.

What you seem to be calling "compositing" is the use of two or more photographs (or possibly videos) to construct a three-dimensional object or scene, like so:

They were doing this in the local mall a few years back. The customer sits in front of a box with two or possibly more cameras. Then software combines the two photographs, using parallax to reconstruct the three-dimensional face. In this particular application, the last thing they did was to make one of these:

Microsoft's Photosynth creates 3d models from photographs as well, among other things, though it appears to leave the model as a point cloud rather than fully manufacturing arbitrary photograph-like points of view. You get arbitrary points of view only of the point cloud.

That happens

"So apparently you were wrong"

Yeah, that happens sometimes. I didn't read about it but was deducing from what little info I had. I don't see why they would need more than twice the number of cameras they normally have in the studio for this.

I certainly wasn't wrong about it not being a hologram. I'm guessing the halo effect was added in on purpose to trick people into thinking it was a hologram and not simple blue screen.

Brian, you were right

One of the minds behind this setup explained it and the cameras in the green room are indeed fixed and the POV is reconstructed from the data collected by the cameras. There's also video of the setup itself so we can see it for ourselves. Yellin's explanation in the CNN interview had given me the wrong impression.

It's a bit late to shine in

It's a bit late to shine in now but that's what I always thought. Build a 3d model from multiple angles on a green screen and then produce any angle you want.

Arguing on the Internet

You making an argument?

That's a strange post coming from you.

Maybe he's bored

Maybe he finds discussion of special effects boring. I actually find it really interesting. I was interested in special effects long before I was interested in politics. Here's the book that (may have) started my interest in special effects when I was a kid:

Magic: Stage Illusions, Special Effects and Trick Photography

I love this book, still have a copy of it, and highly recommend it.

Didn't even realize I was 'arguing'

Yeah, I didn't even realize I was arguing. I thought I was speculating about how something worked. Meantime when I am arguing it's with Micha about Popper, FRB, or some other topic.

Besides I like to argue.

I was surprised to. Micha

I was surprised to. Micha mocking the mentally challenged ? Those who everyday suffer from the bigoted prejudices of the worst members of society ?