Skype "a good thing" for CNN
The Hollywood Reporter has done a nice story on how quick-thinking CNN tech staff in the US helped the network out of an equipment crunch by using Skype to carry a video interview.
This isn’t the first time a major network has done so, as the article also points out. But it could help open the rusty floodgates. We’re all used to seeing journalists in khaki-colored vests filing reports from the world’s distant hotspots over the videophone, and strangely, the choppy quality of these reports does add a layer of raw believability to what is being transmitted. (Similarly, AM broadcasts to me feel more “radio-like” than the squeaky clean FM signals or the kills-bugs-dead sterility of satellite radio)
]]>However, at some point producers and viewers alike will begin to wonder if there’s a better way to stretch the equipment budget. Skype video won’t yet replace satellite-linked videophone reports from an Afghan mountaintop, but in more hospitable locations (with wireless or cable broadband) a laptop with Skype and a webcam will be economically more viable for skeleton crews on a tight budget. And aesthetically much more pleasing to the viewer.
Things get even better with High Quality Video, which requires Skype, an optimized Logitech webcam, a computer with a dual-core processor, and a reasonably fat internet connection. Nothing extraordinary for 2008, but it’ll deliver up to 30 frames per second at 640×480 pixels. With proper lighting and micing, the experience isn’t too far removed from regular TV. Little wonder, then, that broadcasters are experimenting with Skype.
I have a feeling that things won’t end with CNN using Skype to interview a vacationing analyst in Maui. More exciting stuff is bound to happen on this front, that’s for sure. If only content could keep pace with technological advances..