Election night is like the Summer Olympics and Super Bowl for network news divisions, says USA Today. Each network brought out eye-popping technical toys to draw viewers. The Washington Post has details on CNN’s Magic Wall.
Standing in front of an oversize monitor, King began poking, touching and waving at the screen like an over-caffeinated traffic cop. Each movement set in motion a series of zooming maps and flying pie charts, which King was then able to position around the screen at will.
A tap on a map of Florida brought up displays of the vote totals in key counties. King shrunk one graphic by making a pinching motion around its borders; he made another expand by drawing his fingers apart, as if he were manipulating the images on an iPhone.
David Bohrman, chief producer of CNN’s political coverage, spotted The Wall last fall while trawling the aisles of a Texas trade show for government and military-intelligence contractors. A demonstration, he said, “stopped me in my tracks. Once you see it, you get it instantly.”
The Wall was invented by Jeff Han, 32, a computer scientist who for several years tinkered with the idea of creating a touch-sensitive display monitor. Han developed the idea while he was a researcher at New York University; he left the school last year to start New York-based Perceptive Pixel, (video) which markets the device.
Han won’t say how many units his 10-person company has sold, but he notes that orders and inquiries have come from the armed forces, national security agencies, large businesses — and other TV networks. CNN is the only network to have put it on the air.
CNN’s Jessica Yellin appeared as a hologram on a virtual set with Wolff Blitzer. CNN beamed a hologram of correspondent Jessica Yellin from Grant Park in Chicago to its election headquarters in New York (video). CNN used 44 cameras and 20 computers in each remote location to capture 360-degree imaging data of the person being interviewed. Those images are processed by computers and cameras in New York.
USA Today reviews some of the technology used to cover the USA elections:
- ABC’s digital maps debuted, letting correspondents look at up-to-the-minute votes by county, and compare votes as far back as 1960. Also, a double ticker line at the bottom of TV screens displayed current popular and electoral totals for Barack Obama and John McCain. Beneath that were results for Senate and gubernatorial races. For HD viewers, ABC is providing more information on the left margin of the TV screen.
- NBC News and MSNBC will be using BrainStorm’s 3-D system to combine virtual set with an innovative camera rig that’s only been used in the movies up to now. As seen in the picture above, Ann Curry and Chuck Todd will interact with data in a virtual environment where the telemetry of the background changes, allowing for close-up zooming and room-spanning shots.
- CBS News analyzed national and state exit-poll data, using state-of-the-art technology to display vote-counting and demographic data. Touch-screen technology allowed anchor Katie Couric to drill down on state and county results for all races, including propositions. “It is very fast technology using real-time data,” says Frank Governale, vice president of operations for CBS News.
- Fox News built three new HD studios for Tuesday night’s broadcast. The smaller, virtual reality studio looked like a 6,000-square-foot space. A giant wall with touch-screen technology provided electoral map results. “We’ve been planning for this night for two years,” says Jay Wallace, vice president of news editorial product at Fox News.
- Comedy Central teamed with a social-networking site Meebo to host chat rooms for users to share their political views.
- The Associated Press partnered with Media General to leverage AP’s ENPS newsroom computer system and an element of that called AP STATS. This software was designed for displaying up-to-the-minute graphics mined from data stored with ENPS. Using metadata, it also automatically picks the correct headshot or other graphic element to go with it.
Carnegie Mellon’s Virtualized Reality was used for “Eyevision” at the 2001 Superbowl.
Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Lab developed “Visualized Reality” which creates effects similar to “Matrix” QTVR modeling where the viewer “flies” around the subject. It could be the most significant advancement in sports television since the advent of instant replay says CBS. CBS used 33 robotic cameras, each pointed at the center of the football field from different angles. It produces a 3-D field that can be rotated around at will. Motion can be viewed from any angle.
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