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MSNBC will use the VR bench of the Supreme Court during insurrection arguments




MSNBC will use the VR bench of the Supreme Court during insurrection arguments

The average person won’t see the Supreme Court justices Thursday considering arguments about whether Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden can be prosecuted as a crime. But on MSNBC they get a better view of the legal debate than they might have expected.

The NBCUniversal-backed cable news channel will use virtual reality technology to create an on-screen courtroom, with a row of likenesses of the various judges and other participants. You won’t see a photo of Judge Amy Comey Barrett or Judge Sonia Sotamayor moving his lips, but the graphics offer what might be for the best, suggests Marc Greenstein, senior vice president of creative production and operations for NBCUniversal News Group.

“By using this technology, we can create a much more dynamic experience and make it much easier for the audience to keep track of who is speaking,” he says.

MSNBC will harness its VR wizardry just as TV news networks are faced with news of major importance taking place in locations that don’t allow for full coverage. Both CNN and MSNBC were forced this week to put some of their best-known correspondents in front of a camera to essentially walk viewers through the sights and sounds of Trump’s hush-money trial in New York, which is currently taking place in a Manhattan courtroom where TV networks have cameras are not welcome.

The virtual representation of the network helps the public imagine what could happen without disrupting current procedures. On screen, viewers see ersatz cameras move through the courtroom tableau, wandering from one representation of a Chief Justice to the next, depending on who is speaking during the course of the proceedings.

Other presentations may be possible, Greenstein says. MSNBC viewers, he says, will likely want to hear as much audio as possible, while the audience of livestreaming NBC News Now would likely want to hear from presenters more often during the Supreme Court hearing.

NBCUniversal’s news department has used virtual and augmented reality technology to help showcase a recent space launch by NASA and the recent solar eclipse.

By the way, Greenstein says, there is motion-capture technology available that can animate mouths that move along with the actual words being spoken, but “that might be a bridge too far.”