Channel1.ai generates authentic-looking "newscasters" to deliver stories. None of the newscasters are real people, but they look and act like real newscasters.

This is not an embedded video, just a screenshot of what one of the newscasters looks like:

Channel 1 newscaster talking to the camera

Watching the demonstration, I was struck by how diligently the Channel1 team replicated "unbiased" broadcast news, a fairly old technology that is experiencing a general decline in viewership as younger audiences choose other ways to stay informed.

My question is: Would we call this creation skeuomorphism because it is a digital experience that replicates a real-life one, and keeps the mental model? I recently saw a post that stated that true skeuomorphism requires user interaction. Is consuming a video enough interaction for the definition to hold?

2 Answers 2


Neat question!

I definitely follow your line of thinking, and I think it's definitely valid to look at this under the lens of skeuomorphism.

Ultimately, there is no reason or award for determining "this is definitely (or definitely not) skeuomorphism", so I'll just give some thoughts pro and contra the validity of the mental model skeuomorphism:

  1. It shares the idea of re-using old design elements that are not necessary anymore to convey purpose, a core tenet of skeuomorphism. Then again, all good design uses what was there before to communicate affordances, so there's that.
  2. It misses the aesthetic usually associated when somebody says "skeuomorphism" in a digital design context, which is what @Devin discusses. Does that disqualify it? You can have this discussion with every design movement, e.g. is International Style determined by its core philosophy or by the specific way its buildings tend to look?
  3. It may transcend skeuomorphism and be something more, because humans react in special ways when seeing other humans. Between the Uncanny Valley, Argument From Authority, social status signalling with outfit and composure, body language communication and Parasocial Relationships, there may be stuff going on here that goes way beyond "using obsolete affordances"

As I said before, I don't have a clear-cut binary answer and I don't think it would be valuable either, so I'll just leave it at that :)


This is a very interesting question, which I believe can only be answered with opinions. Let’s give it a try.

In my view, this is not an example of skeuomorphism. Skeuomorphism involves elements that resemble physical objects. In this specific case, the newscaster is not imitating an object. It could be argued that it's not even imitating a person, unless it's replicating a known individual's traits and appearance, like in deepfakes. In such a scenario, an anthropomorphic appearance wouldn't typically be considered an 'imitation of a person'. It might be more accurately described as mimesis rather than skeuomorphism.

Regarding interaction, it doesn't necessarily qualify as skeuomorphism. The interaction here is not with the newscaster or the news format itself, but with the video player (play, pause, stop, etc.), which may or may not be skeuomorphic in design. In digital design, skeuomorphism may involve interaction, as Don Norman discusses in 'The Design of Everyday Things', but it's not a requirement. In physical or industrial design, skeuomorphism seldom involves or allows for any interaction.

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