Fading Suns: Holovid

The Holovid market is tough. We’re in deep to the Scravers, and they’re threatening to repossess all our tech… and the lead actress. We’ve got one week to get what we can recorded, no budget, and a filming permit in a useless section of scrubland on Hira.

At least we thought it was useless. Last night, a Hazat convoy rolled through. Got attacked by something. Exploded in a colossal wreck. It was messed up, but we filmed it all.

It was weird, though. I swear we saw some gargoyles flying out of the wreckage. You know, the old Ur statues that they put on the front of starships to keep the things in deep space away? Why’d they even need one, much less more than one? Were they just transporting artifacts… or something else?

Hazat military is crawling all over the region and the nearby towns, and strange things have started to happen. Missing people. A rash of thefts. Power outages.

Our leading man wants to investigate. Our engineer wants to bug out and make good with the Scravers later. It’s freaky out there.

But I wrote a new script last night, and I’m ready to go. There are film crews that would pay a million Firebirds for the production value that just fell into our laps.

What’s the worst that could happen?

What is Holo Tech?

Fading Suns books mention holovids as a setting thing several times, but, to the best of my knowledge, never explain them in any detail. Here’s my idea based on the standard conceit that everything in the setting is basically the Middle Ages replicated with tech.

Holovids are popular throughout the known worlds. Rich nobles can afford their own holo stages inside their homes, but most citizens go to local holo theaters. Some of these have been in use since the Second Republic, and their pictures have degraded into translucent monochrome images. Better maintained theaters (or even new ones built by Engineers that understand the tech) produce such rich images and sound that it actually looks like the actors are on stage. Most venues are set up in an amphitheater arrangement. A two dimensional image is projected onto the back wall to show the background of the current scene.

Essential to filming are holo cameras. Four such cameras are set up in the four corners of the scene, at basically the correct points for the size of the typical stage. Each camera is actually a series of lenses and gadgets to accurately capture the three dimensional details of everything in the scene and make sure of accurate positioning. Additionally, these cameras record the background of each side of the scene in 2D or less refined 3D. Some cameras maintained from the Second Republic are self-deploying staves with a head of lenses no bigger than a man’s calf. More modern cameras, particularly ones created on worlds with limited parts, might be massive devices as big as a human.

Traditionally, holovids are performed very similarly to a live stage play, given the limitations of the playback medium, but have the advantage of being able to cut instantly between scenes. Some enterprising directors try more complicated techniques to greater or lesser success: pulling the cameras further apart to generate smaller-scale vistas, moving the cameras to travel through a larger scene, and compositing and special effects.