Last night was one of those interesting nights of television. Oh, I'm not talking in the political sense, I mean far more in the actual viewing. Fine, it was certainly interesting in a political sense, no matter which side of the election you came down on, but that's a kettle of fish I dare not delve into.
It's been talked about before, but the sheer quantity of technology on display on the various networks last night was staggering. A lot of money… a lot of money… was clearly sunk into making the election results, commentary, and analysis as visually stimulating as it could possibly be.
Looking at CNN, they've been doing that nonsense with their massive TV screen for months now. You know what I'm talking about, the silly TV screen that John King stands in front of and then zooms in to various districts and races, and then he zooms out of it without ever really telling you anything interesting about the race. The man then talks about other sections of the country always zooming in and out and in and out until you realize that he could just as easily give you all this information in about a third the time without the TV screen. The “Magic Wall's” foolishness is so obvious and over the top that the manner in which it was lampooned on Saturday Night Live could easily have left the casual channel-flipping viewer wondering whether they were watching a comedy sketch or a news broadcast.
Though it may seem hard to believe, CNN actually topped that lunacy last night with their incredible hologram interviews. The only of them I actually really saw in my own channel hopping was with will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas. So there will.i.am was – in the virtual sense – in CNN's studio looking like a badly animated version of himself and being interviewed about his politics and the work he's done on behalf of Obama. The was no earthly reason to conduct the interview they way they did — except to show off their new toy.
It would have been just as good to have will.i.am on the phone with a little picture of him in the corner as the music video, with sound down, plays as the only real visual. Instead, the opted to spend untold amounts of money to make the hologram thing happen and it only ended up looking like a poor man's version of the hologram conversations in Star Wars.
Don't worry, CNN wasn't the only one with the foolish technology on display yesterday, NBC had two green screen studios setup with terrible looking fake backgrounds (BBC America had at least one of those too it appeared). NBC even went so far as to take the background away a couple of times so that everyone could see that Ann Curry was just standing in a green room and so they need not fear that the flying graphics might hurt her (Brian Williams was joking when he said that bit).
The one piece of old-school technology really on display last night that I noticed was NBC's coloring the U.S. map on ice at Rockefeller Center by hand (or by spray) rather than just CGI'ing the map onto the rink. Good for them, if only they could have made the edges of the map blend better into the ice rather than having the ice look kind of dirty where the map ended it would have been perfect.
I wonder where the technology will be for the 2012 election, perhaps CNN will have perfected some sort of ESP technology so they can get un-sanitized answers from their interviewees.