GMA Peers Into the Future

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This Saturday, Nov. 4, ABC's Good Morning America weekend edition will preview how the world could look 25 years from now, with the help of the latest 3D graphics technology.

ABC is collaborating with Time4Media's Popular Science magazine on the special-edition broadcast, The Future Now, which will attempt to show what life will be like in the year 2031. The show will feature reports on potential advances in medicine, transportation and housing, and will include segments from GMA's technology contributor Becky Worley; Paul Saffo, director and Amara Fellow at the Institute for Future; and Mark Jannot, editor in chief of Popular Science magazine. For example, one report will describe the possibility of "designer babies" with "hand-picked talents and IQ levels," says ABC.

Since GMA is trying to show a world that doesn't yet exist, The Future Now will draw heavily on photo-realistic graphics in lieu of video. Such graphics will depict New York City in 2031 and give a virtual tour of the home of the future.

ABC has assembled a large graphics team for the project, supplemented by a bevy of New York University students, that is working around-the-clock to create six to seven minutes of true high-definition graphics that will be spread throughout the show. The NYU reinforcements were the idea of ABC Senior Art Director Carlos El Asmar, who teaches at the school.

Since the weekend edition's existing graphics systems would take months to render the high-def graphics for the show, GMA has contracted with a "rendering farm" in Los Angeles that normally caters to movie studios to handle rendering for the project, says GMA Senior producer Eric Ortner.

The show will also install a chroma-key Pwall behind the anchors to show a 3D animation of Times Square, circa 2031, including marquees with the names of future Broadway shows.

So what's playing?

"Lost: The Musical," says Ortner, with a chuckle.

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