Well We Paid For It…So Let’s Use It…

Newscast Studio writes about CNN’s continued use of VR environments and gives it a thumbs up with caveats. Having not seen it lately, I can’t judge. I will say that CNN at least has continued to use technology it bought and paid for. The same can’t be said for NBC/MSNBC which had cutting edge VR put in four years ago in a separate area for the 08 Election and rarely used it after. NBC/MSNBC was the first to really roll this out and they’ve sat on their hands and watched as other networks passed them by.

The technology allows for some cool reporting techniques, but oddly CNN continues to feel the need to use snappy camera moves for it, almost like you’re watching a spy movie. Foreman will be talking about a chart, then a camera will gitterly shake and pan to the floor.

While we applaud the use of this expensive technology for times other than the election, it still needs a bit more refinement from the major networks… or they should just search on YouTube and see how European stations are skillfully using it.

2 Responses to “Well We Paid For It…So Let’s Use It…”

  1. Actually, you are wrong. The first one to roll it out, big time, was CNBC. CNBC actually piloted multi-camera virtual production and it is still in use to this day on the Suze Orman program. The model they built was largely replicated by NBC News using the same technology stack.

    What you’ve got to understand about virtual is that it is tricky and complex. If you get something locked down, like Suze, then it’s great because you can do it over and over again. But the problem in news is that there’s an appetite to invent new stuff all the time, and implementing it is NOT easy.

    Here’s the other thing: Applaud or Boo – no one cares – the bottom line is, if you can’t use the tools to enhance your storytelling effectiveness, there’s no point to using them. And if the viewer experiences “suspension of disbelief” then it’s a fiasco. It has to blend seamlessly. The writeup in Newscast Studio cited the Europeans, but a lot of the stuff they do over there looks fake and would never pass muster with American audiences.

    The best of virtual is augmented reality, where imagery is placed in the environment without a green or blue screen. The company Motion Analysis has built a system which makes that possible – but again, implementation is tricky and expensive.

  2. Virtualization – another job killer of set designers and scenic crew – all to please a casual watching audience that only watches news if something looks very pretty. Whose enjoying this business? The graphics software companies, the hardware companies like VIZRT and young punks who don’t know how to code, but know how to design things that are so surreal, that they should be workin for George Lucas, oh wait they are owned by Disney now – opps!

    Of course the real networks that are profiting from this is the sports (like ESPN) networks and the regional ones too (like NESN and the others). Its better to focus on just making 3D motions than to actually cover a game or report the previous nights events.

    The viewers aren’t as stupid as the news agencies think. We know that things just don’t pop up in the middle of nowwhere. We know that when Bret Breir did the Fiscal Cliff special, a bar graph came out of nowhere, how can an intelligent viewer not think that was done digitally?

    I love to see the light grained, wood built sets with modest colors without a EURO look of neon colors, all glass, all DUMB (read minimal) designs and other liberal looks. I love to see a come back at some point of traditional Americana set designs. And get rid of these virtual sets to appeal to dummies with an IQ of room temperature. But I’m not going to hold my breath.

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