Making it real

Andrew Curry writes:

It’s become a cult on the web since Tiger Woods crashed his car in mysterious circumstances last weekend, but this CGI-enhanced report from Taiwanese television of the possible chains of events, embedded above, is certainly worth watching.

Leaving aside some of the aesthetic issues (such as Tiger’s South Asian appearance, doubtless hung off an existing CGI wireframe) this does raise some interesting questions. The first is whether such reconstructions are more or less plausible than the traditional ‘news’ alternative of filming a reconstruction. Probably less so: we can see that this is a CGI reconstruction, so it’s been made up. But this will become less true as the technology improves.

Second, is whether it will become more common – to which the answer must be yes. News producers need pictures – when I was trained as a TV news journalist I was told always to check the pictures before I started writing the story – and news reporters inevitably have to describe things which weren’t seen and where events are still contested. Making up your own pictures seems too good to be true, but it’s no more ethically challenging than having a reporter describe what might have happened.

The most interesting question is about ownership. The BBC used CGI reconstruction of the goals in the European Nations Cup in 2008 on its website because it didn’t have the rights to show video there. But who owns the digital reconstruction of an event? On the face of it, no-one. But begging to differ, here come rights lawyers and privacy advocates in their gowns and wigs. Another digital battleground is opening up in front of us.

1 Comment

  1. Jo Phillips

    Very interesting questions… There may be another point about the feared blurring between gaming and reality – if violence, war etc in news reports start to look more like computer games (as this example does) will this reinforce the problematic area of overlap between real and virtual worlds and the possible difficulty of drawing a line between the two?

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