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This is a very cool and potentially very important application of 3D hologram technology. A selection of Holocaust survivors will have their stories preserved using the emergent technology.
The project is the brainchild of USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) and the USC Shoah Foundation Institute and turns existing survivors into full-body interactive holograms. Students will be able to ask the holograms Siri-like questions, and they will respond.
In order to film the survivors, seven high-speed cameras are used against a green screen inside a facility called Light Stage 6, a 26-foot wide dome lit by 6 000 LEDs.
“The effect that it gives is a lot more that that person is there in the room with you than that person was filmed some time ago somewhere else,” Paul Debevec, a professor of computer science at USC and associate director of graphics research at the school’s ICT told Cnet. “I think it’s going to be considerably more engaging and immersive and moving than if they’re just up there on a video screen.”
“Everything that we’re doing is getting retooled and to some extent reinvented specifically for recording the testimony of a survivor,” Debevec says, “to do it in a way that when we project it holographically, it’s a very absolute literal playback of exactly the way they said it, exactly the way they looked when they were doing it.”
The project, which is run by the New Dimensions in Testimony initiative, is becoming increasingly necessary. As The Verge notes, there around 500 000 Holocaust survivors alive today but their average age is 79, meaning that there isn’t that much time left to get their stories down on record or, more powerfully, to hear them in person.
“We lose many of our survivors every year,” Debevec says. “We definitely feel the sense of urgency and that realistically it’s going to be now or never.”