You Can’t Believe Your Eyes

Dave in Brighton August 12, 2008 0

Remember those giant firework footprints that were part of Friday’s opening ceremonies at the Olympics? There were 29 of them, one for each Olympiad, making their way across Beijing and to the National Stadium.

Well, it turns out they were fake. Sort of, anyway. The fireworks did actually go off on the ground. But Olympic organizers decided long ago that Beijing’s pollution would make it too tough to shoot them from a helicopter, so they created a 3-D computer simulation instead.

They even put in a shake or two, to make the feed seem like it was coming from a real helicopter.

NPR had a snarky story this morning that poked fun at the move and included a sound bite from the NBC broadcast in which Matt Lauer says, “You’re looking now at the footsteps of history, quiet literally.”

To its credit, MSNBC also covered the controversy, though its story is certainly more forgiving than NPR’s. It points out that the feed was controlled by Beijing Olympic Broadcasting, and the story includes a link to a part of the broadcast where Bob Costas tells viewers “We said earlier that aspects of this opening ceremony are almost like cinema in real time. Well this is quite literally cinematic.”

I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Beijing hired Yimou Zhang — the producer and director of films including 2002′s “Hero” and 2004′s “House of Flying Daggers” — as the chief director of the opening ceremonies.

On the other hand, there’s another report out today that one of the girls who sang at the opening ceremonies was actually lip-synching, because the girl who was really singing was too ugly to appear on TV.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. It’s enough to raise the question: Can we believe anything we’re seeing out of Beijing?

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