Monday, December 14, 2009

Animation and journalism: A good thing?

Oh, goody. Another chance to write about Tiger Woods. OK, this is a media blog, and this is a serious topic for the media, although Woods does illustrate a point, it's the point that matters.

Now that I've buried the lead deep enough, let's talk about how new technology leads to . . . old media ideas. The media world is -- properly, I think -- buzzing about video animation of news events. Most of us by now have seen the animation that shows an avatar of Woods' wife smashing the tailgate of his SUV before the crash, or some of the others since then.

This has led to all sorts of tsk, tsking since it's faked news, but is it really? It works by reporters telling artists and animators their version of a story, which is then converted to avatars to give video the film it really needs.

There are two points about this I believe are significant: First, use of this technology might lead to television actually covering some of the harder topics that don't come with film. That's always been the Achilles heel of television: most film comes on the easy stories. Here's a technology that allows television to move away from fires, crimes, "unsafe eating" and "sexual predators living among us!!!". The second is that, once again, it's a throwback to a journalism technique that influenced newspapers in the 19th century. Before technology allowed newspapers to have photos, they had illustrations and cartoons. They were good for journalism, and this most recent trend might well be good for journalism now.

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