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The Stunning Olympics Opening Ceremony? Faked

When Bob Costas called the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony "jaw-dropping," perhaps it's because he already had a sneak peak at what was to be expected. While some 70 million people around the globe, and 35 million in the U.S., watched the fantastical show inside the Bird's Nest stadium, what TV viewers they saw going on outside the arena actually didn't take place. At least not "live," as you assumed. You see, the fireworks show was so complex, there was no way television cameras were going to be able to capture it all at once. So they faked it.

A huge part of the fireworks show — seen toward the end of the clip posted here — was the 29 footprints, lined up in a row, which would've been nearly impossible to film all at once. So over the past year, the visual effects team led by Gao Xiaolong created a digital version of the 55-second fireworks sequence, complete with "camera shaking" to simulate a camera on a helicopter. They even were sure to add Beijing's smog to the background for authenticity.

"Seeing how it worked out, it was still a bit too bright compared to the actual fireworks," says Xiaolong. "But most of the audience thought it was filmed live - so that was mission accomplished."


So here's some authentic footage:

(Also: Dear NBC, please make it easier to find even a single clip of the fireworks footage somewhere across your network of websites that are covering the Olympics. It should not be this difficult to find sought-after video.)

Aug 11, 2008 · posted by david · Link · 4 Responses
Comments (4)
No. 1 thefrontpage says:

This is pathetic, TV' answer to photoshopping. Here's a very simple bit of advice to everyone in all media: Don't fake it. Don't fake that magazine cover. Don't fake the ad (ads are faked all the time). Don't fake that live performance–if you can't sing, then don't sell tickets. Don't fake Olympics opening ceremonies. Don't fake pictures. Don't fake anything. If you have to fake something, you should resign from media–really. Just resign. Because no one, including the people at NBC and at the Olympics, belongs anywhere near anything media if you have to fake anything. And that includes all editors, photo editors and line editors and production editors at all newspapers and magazines–if you have to fake anything, you should just resign and find another line of work to work in. Journalism, at any level, has zero room for people who fake broadcasts, photos, or anything else. The time for faking crap like this never existed, and it shouldn't exist anywhere in journalism. If you have to fake anything, you should resign, immediately.

Posted: Aug 11, 2008 at 10:50 am
No. 2 Keith says:

Ugh. I tivo'd the opening ceremony and have been blah blahin about how "great" it was…guess what NBC? I just deleted it. And I'm not watching the Olympics anymore. You guys ruined it with this.

Posted: Aug 11, 2008 at 1:52 pm
No. 3 Adam Parmenter says:

So, what else are they faking? The legitimate stuff was amazing. Can't the Olympic organizers have been happy with that.

It takes the honor and dignitiy from the opening ceremony.

Posted: Aug 12, 2008 at 10:21 am
No. 4 Kingsuper says:

Not all things are perfect,neither is the Olympics.The most important was that we had already obtained joy from the olympics.

Posted: Aug 12, 2008 at 5:35 pm
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