Over the last few years I’ve noticed images being used on TV videos with motion superimposed on them. For example, a Matthew Brady Civil War daguerrotype is shown, but the point of view wanders, allowing you to view behind and over objects in the image, giving it a surreal 3D quality.
In another example, an astronomical photograph is shown (TV science shows do this all the time) and you get the impression you are flying through or around the scene, stars in the “foreground” move relative to the stars and nebulae in the “background”, like in the Star Trek videos of the Enterprise flying through a star field. Like in the Brady prints, some of these astrophotos are recognizable as originals, classics from the Hubble or the great Hooker telescope that I actually have seen before. These are not animations, they are old images that have somehow been altered or enhanced to give the impression of three dimensional data.
At first I thought this was just animation cleverly overlain over the original still image, but I saw one the other day where you actually fly towards, then through, the well known picture of the Eagle Nebula. There is no way the information on the enhanced version could have been extracted from the original image. I can’t detect the transition between the original and the enhancement, but I recognize the NASA shot because they are using the original Hubble color palette. The video weenies who craft these pics obviously believe the false colors are the actual colors of the nebula.
Some of these videos are absolutely gorgeous, and they certainly have a great artistic and educational value, but I’m afraid that the general public may mistake the artist’s representation for the original data. Most folks know Matthew Brady didn’t make motion pictures, but sometimes even an astronomer would be hard pressed to tell between the original astronomical image and the artist’s conception. They should clearly label the two so you can tell them apart.
In a related observation, I once watched a TV show on archaeology where a scene from ancient Egypt or Babylonia was illustrated with movie footage from a Cecil B DeMille silent film epic. I guess the grainy, B&W double-time movie with the the hokey costumes and exaggerrated, theatrical gestures was supposed to convince the viewer those scenes were filmed a long, long time ago.