Hologram Treknology Invades Election Coverage

For their election coverage, the cable network CNN introduced new ‘hologram’ technology, where they would ‘beam’ onto their set from remote locations where they would be rendered in 3D. CNN referred to the beaming as ‘like Star Trek’ but some in the media can’t decide if this was ‘Trek’ or ‘Wars’ technology.


CNN’s holo-chat
Watch Anderson Cooper interview musician Will.I.Am using the holo-technology.

Here is another clip explaining the technology

Media observers see Trek
here are just a sample

Philadelphia Daily News

“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi” moment: CNN’s Wolf Blitzer interviewing Capitol Hill correspondent Jessica Yellin via hologram. What next? “Star Trek” transporters?

Dallas News

As we flip through television channels, CNN has pulled out about every tech trick in the book, including Star Trek-esque holographic projections of the U.S. Capitol to illustrate changes in Senate seats.

New York Times:

CNN took high-tech graphics even further: at one point, a hologram of the CNN correspondent in Chicago, Jessica Yellin, was made to look as if she were on Wolf Blitzer’s set, but she actually looked like an alien caught in a “Star Trek” transporter.

Detroit News:

Visually, the most extravagant display of the night came from CNN when producers decided to beam in reporter Jessica Yellin from Chicago. Instead of doing a traditional satellite feed, CNN went “Star Trek” style and chose to have a hologram or digitally superimposed image of her explaining early voting results in Illinois to anchorman Wolf Blitzer.;

Live News (Australia):

…CNN is going to reporters Star Trek style, using holograms of people in the field, beamed into the studio;

or is it Star Wars?
In the top above clip Cooper refers to ‘Star Trek’ but Will.I.Am notes he felt like ‘Star Wars.’ They weren’t the only ones seeing both.

Chicago Tribune:

The weirdest image of the election night was the Jessica Yellin hologram on CNN.

If you were watching, you may have seen correspondent Yellin chatting with Wolf Blitzer—well, a version of her.

Yellin was in Chicago for the Obama rally, but she was seen talking to Blitzer via a holographic projection (an idea from “Star Trek,” by the way). It looked as though she was standing 10 feet from Blitzer, but she wasn’t. It was a flickering, life-size version.

She tried to explain the technology behind the hologram (it involves 35 high-definition cameras). But let me break it down for you in terms you can understand: It’s totally weird.

She looked like that hologram of Princess Leia that Luke Skywalker finds in “Star Wars.” I keep thinking that the hologram of Yellin should be wearing the Leia-style white bedsheet and cinnamon-bun headgear. “Help me, Wolf Blitzer. You’re my only hope!”


Seven minutes before the polls closed, CNN decided to show off their new super power hologram technology just one more time, by “beaming in” Obama supporter and musician Wil.I.Am, Princess Leia-style, from his Chicago location. We’d seen Wolf Blitzer toying with the virtual-commentator equipment all night, but watching Cooper and Wil.I.Am. name check both Star Trek and Star Wars within five seconds of speaking to each other was by far the funniest moment of this surreal election night.

Call me crazy but was Wil.I.Am about to correct Mr. Cooper when he compared their new tech to Star Trek, because the hologram messaging method is clearly more Star Wars than Star Trek. Or is the Silver Fox trying to weasel is way into my nerdy heart even deeper?

It is Star Trek
I will have to disagree with our friends at io9 or at least offer a counter view. The CNN tech is more like the Star Wars communications than a TNG-style holodeck, but what they were most like was Star Trek’s holo-communicator. These were holographic communication stations installed on certain ships in the TNG era and seen on the USS Defiant (Deep Space Nine).

Sisko gets his own version of election returns


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I heard them joking about it all night on CNN, but didn’t actually catch the moments myself.

It sounds like they need an entire studio on the other end to do this trick. It certainly is a cool trick, but it does seem 100% overkill.

“Help me Obi-Wan” was the line that kept going through my head while watching. Well, that and “man, they’ll do anything to fill the minutes between any real numbers coming in.”

GR certainly proposed the idea of holo communication with relatives back home to crew members on the ship. He suggested there would be a room or corridor with a bank of them. Just something I remember reading somewhere in the 70’s or 80’s, but stuck in my mind (as his usual forward thinking brilliance) – something that would indeed be of tremendous benefit to deep space travellers.

That was the most gimmicky moment of a very gimmick heavy season of election coverage. Anyone catch the CGI pillar that kept shooting out of the floor over on MSNBC? Seriously, news channels, no one who needs special effects to focus is watching you anyways . . . so cool it with the video game stuff.

They could have avoided the Star Wars comparisons if they had, you know, not made it look exactly like Star Wars. I see no reason why they had to make it look like that.

Because Star Wars branded the holo-phone style first.

OMG. I used to work at CNN. Yikes.

Still — Anderson Cooper is good for a laugh, I guess.

I watched CNN’s “Election Night in America” coverage of the election and they only used the “holographic” system with people a few times. (And yes, they did refer to it as “beaming in.”) That said, I immediately thought Star Trek, not Star Wars because there wasn’t a stupid light leading from the ceiling and the feed constantly cutting in and out. CNN did use the technology a lot more when they discussed Senate and House of Representatives seats. They projected a holographic (and pretty well detailed depiction) of the Capitol building and at the bottom they showed a graphic depicting the balance of power in each house with a bar graph style. They would also routinely show a holographic representation of the floor of both the Senate and House of Representatives. This looked much better than their attempt at holographic people.

CNN did this of course for ratings. They wanted to beat their competitors, FOX News and MSNBC, in the ratings. It’s the nature of the business. FOX News, had it’s “magic screen” and CNN had it’s “holographic Capitol.”

Well it looks more Star Wars-ish I’d hate to say.

7, I thought CNN’s coverage of the election was excellent. Yes, they did some things to increase their ratings but the coverage of the actual election was one of the best on TV. That’s why I watched CNN as opposed to anyone else.

Anyway, that’s just my opinion.

NO!! Don’t get back to the important politics Wolf, keep talking about the holo imager!!!!

The only thing I liked about the election coverage!

All I’m gonna say about that, not gonna show my biases here, no siree!


I thought about that DS9 episode myself, But Who cares if it’s Wars or Trek?

It’s a Freakin’ 3d Holo-Gram For crying out loud!!!


I find it fascinating that Star Trek like technology was used during election coverage on an historic night when for the first time an African American was elected President of The United States. In the 1960’s when Star Trek first appeared on Television the idea would have been beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. Gene Roddenberry saw something in humanity that made him believe that one day we would live in a world with equality for all. Today we took one step closer to his vision of what the world could be. I only wish he were alive to see it!

”I thought CNN’s coverage of the election was excellent. Yes, they did some things to increase their ratings but the coverage of the actual election was one of the best on TV. That’s why I watched CNN as opposed to anyone else.”

True, and CNN is pretty neutral.

By the way, i dont get republicans saying that the media has been unfair to them, i mean, the’ve got an entire channel! (fox)

I wonder how many people actually thought it was a hologram? It was a real-time cgi overlay that looked like it, but I bet most people thought the commentators were seeing it too.

Does the host acutally see the hologram. I don`t think so. Because one of the interviewees said, that when the cameras move in the reception studio they also move in the sending studio. If the hologram was actually there, cameras would not have to mimic copy camera moves.

Very lame. CNN advertises a hologram interview, and this isn’t that at all. It’s technology that makes it look to the viewer like the interviewee is actually there. It’s more distracting that anything else.

Oh, and yes, this type of hologram tech (if it were really that) is definitely more Star Wars than Star Trek. Isn’t it interesting that Star Wars, the usually more fantastical sci fi, actually has somewhat more realistic hologram technology than Star Trek? I mean, Darth Vader talking to someone via a flickery hologram seems much more realistic than a holodeck, doesn’t it?

I don’t care if it was gimmicky, it was freaking awesome! Morbo and Linda would have been proud!

(And I could make such a fool of myself over Anderson Cooper. He’s dreeeamy…)

The fictional idea being publicised is that it’s a hologram but it’s nothing more than a CGI overlay. It’s no more a hologram on the news show than it was in the Star Wars or Trek shows, just a special effect, the only difference is it’s added in real time to the broadcast. They are seeing it no more than the weather person sees the image on the bluescreen behind them.

So it’s deceptive to call it hologram tech on the air. It just looks like it. But so many viewers probably fell for it. It’s high tech, but not that high tech.


No, not really. Like The holodeck is that far off, they have allready created a crude forcefield in England. Projections of light and solid energy aint that far fetched. Its just a matter of time.

And as for CNN’s coverage, it was the best IMHO. SKy news was all over the place with their reporting and poll analysis. ANd seemed to lean to the Republican side. I prefer my news to just give me fact, not their opinions.

yeah. thats really cool. hands down.

I liked it better when it was just a person in front of a camera holding his papers in his hand and speaking into a desk microphone. And the weather man had a map on the wall that he moved paper thunderclouds and sun cutouts around on.

It was all we had back then, and we liked it!

They should get JJ Abrams to remake the coverage using ipod style studios

It’s not a hologram like Star Trek or Star Wars. It’s an elaborate camera trick using green screening and motion sensing and control, like in the production of Star Trek.

But having followed the campaign in some detail for months, I never expected the media to suddenly be honest on election night.

Of course it looked cool, but there wasn’t actually anything there… kind of like the candidate they selected…

Loved when Stewart asked Colbert if he was a hologram.

Here’s my problem with them constantly referring to it as a “hologram”. According to Wiki:

“The image changes as the position and orientation of the viewing system changes in exactly the same way as if the object was still present, thus making the recorded image (hologram) appear three dimensional.”

While it does fall into this definition you have to also look at the fact that the “live” correspondents couldn’t actually see each other. At this point I think this falls in line with “Augmented Reality” technology where images are placed over live ones on the fly. Its fun and nifty, but I guarantee that these “HD” cameras would not actually project an image that grainy.

Was that a real Hologram or a Gimmick?

#20 The Underpants Monster
– Morbo congratulates Wolf Blitzer on his award winning coverage. May his offspring be numerous and belligerent!

@ 19

I think you’re right to a degree. The Star Trek stuff would be a step beyond the Star Wars stuff however.

I think the only thing Anderson was referring to that was just like Trek was the beam-in effect they used. He must not be a Star Wars fan to see that the actual hologram looked just like Star Wars tech…

Call it what you will, to me it was just hype. Blitzer taking the time to describe the technology and saying that Yellin wasn’t really there but in Chicago instead… We get it Wolf. Who cares? Get back to the coverage! Anyway, and I hope you will pardon this geek moment, but you do all realize there was nothing holographic about this right? Blitzer couldn’t actually see Yellin in front of him, he had to look at a monitor beyond to see her. Right? With nothing to project the image onto, there was no image there. Just special effects for the TV audience’s eyes only. The 35 cameras on the other end were there just to allow a full 360 degree image. I’m sure you all knew this before and I’m just drowning the fish. Right?

Obviously this just as much a hologram is the Star Trek / Star Wars holograms are holograms. With the exception that they do this in real-time. The on-location camera follows the same movement as the studio-camera. They did apply a similar effect as the Star Wars holograms, so I’d say it is inspired by Star Wars, not Trek.

I guess humanity needs a couple of hundred years to concour the delay problem ;)

What gimmicky over the top nonsense.

I’ve no problem with news programmes using flashy graphics to actually illustrate and help get across information, but the silly “hologram” effect, (and actually referring to it as such on the caption) is nothing but a dumbed down decorative effect. It adds nothing to the actual interview and treats its audience like children.

Which DS9 ep was that again? Someone help, please…

Having read all entries, I find a commonality. Call it Trek or Wars, putting those comparisons aside, it was a beginning. Though a digital over-lay it may be, it was a good representation of what is to come. I welcome improvements in advancing this technology. First it was the multi-touch collaboration screen, next the holo / CGI imaging. The future looks great.

Meh. Yeah, so what if it looked cool? It distracted viewers from the moment. For good or bad, it overshadowed what was going on. Me, I watched Fox News (and it looked as if they were covering a funeral), because I was tired of hearing everyone else fawn over the now-President-elect.

When the technology becomes more important than the facts, it’s time to stop watching news. If I want to see people beaming in, I’ll pop in a Star Trek DVD.


I agree. However technology is a tool, not a means to itself. Technology for the sake of technology is useless. It has to bring an advantage that wasn’t there before. This jazzy hologram thingy brought nothing more to the coverage except the wow factor which in this case is irrelevant and redundant. It’s like they were trying to catch the attention of the audience like we do with a child with bright colored toys. That is all.

#’s 17, 21, 27, and 29…

I’m with you, this most definitely is NOT true hologram technology. It’s a mix of blue or green screen and camera matching technology. Neither commentator could see each other unless they looked at a TV monitor showing the other person’s location, and Blitzer could not see the other reporter live on-set at all. He was told where to focus his line of sight so it looked like he could see her. And I loved all the panning camera shots they used so you could see the changes in perspective. It was very “Oooo! Look what we can do!”

This kind of FX work is done in films all the time, usually to incorporate live actors into a CGI set. The fact that they managed to get it to work for live television, with both participants communicating with each other in real time, is pretty cool, but it’s not even close to actual hologram technology. CNN just love their tech toys, don’t they?

Also, I think the reason that Star Trek gets more present-day technology kudos than Star Wars is that Trek was always more tech-based in the first place. From TOS forward, there were at least a passing references made as to how the equipment the characters used was supposed to work. Star Wars never really bothered with things like that. CNN’s “hologram” concept is decidedly more of a Star Wars thing, though, since that form of cimmunication was showcased more in those films than it ever was in Star Trek. DS9 dabbled with the idea (very ineffectively, by the way), but except for the holodecks, most site-to-site communication in Trek has been shown via communicators or viewscreens.

So, to sum up: CNN’s hologram FX are really not, and the on-screen effect (not the actual tech) is more Star Wars than Star Trek.

Pretty corny, CNN.

Stick to the StarTrek “viewscreens”, it looks a lot better.

greenscreen effects are not holograms

Oh, and yes, it was nothing more than a gimmick. These glitzy FX have nothing to do with the NEWS, which is what CNN and other networks are supposed to be about.

Tell me what’s happening, show me what’s happening, dissect and deconstruct what’s happening all you want, but leave the eye candy at the door. I watch movies to be awed (both by the story and the technology used to bring it to life). I watch the news to be informed, a simple concept that can be executed very simply.

So the CNN tech is more like a weatherperson standing in front of a green/blue screen and pointing to locations on that screen based on watching him/herself in a monitor? Do we know for sure that neither Blitzer nor Cooper were able to see the holograms directly? Unless the trick worked both ways (without monitors) I doubt that the hologrammed subjects would have been able to “see” their counterparts. Not yet Trek tech, in that case.

STUPID! Poor Special Effects can’t compensate for poor news delivery.

Worst blue screening since Star Trek V.

Definately not a true hologram,

What BS.

I liked NBC’s “holodeck” better, same ideas but they used it more extensively to put their commentators in virtual sets.

This is not simple greenscreen/sfx. They’re computing the positions on the fly AND rendering the environment in real time. That’s actually a pretty big deal and exactly the kind of tech that would precede real 3-dimensional holograms.

@ 36
The episode is “For the Uniform” from the 5th season.

I could not believe my eyes when I saw CNN do this last night as part of its election coverage.

What a horribly tacky, unnecessary gimmick for a professional news network.

Good good almighty, how tacky.

(um, I meant Good God almighty. heh)

I can see the merit in maybe doing this to show 3D objects at various angles, so the viewer can see the entire object – – but will.i.am the freaking hip hop rapper?!

GIANT WTF and EPIC FAIL in my book