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News, information and stories about the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games and the Olympics in general.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fakery Accusations

Having basked in the glow of excellent viewing figures, NBC and the Beijing Olympic Committee are now having to face accusations from some quarters over fakery wrt their broadcast of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.

The organisers have been accused of adding fake CGI fireworks to the opening ceremony. NBC have been accused of adding a bogus "Live" stamp to their prime time delayed feed of competition coverage this weekend, and edited the "parade of nations" segment of the opening ceremony to delay the entrance of the US Olympic Team.

Can anyone ever truly believe what they see on TV?

THR.com runs through the accusation point by point, including NBC's responses:

Accusation: Viewers were misled by the use of CGI fireworks during a sweeping helicopter shot ( video clip here) leading up to the Bird's Nest. Organizers note the fireworks were there, but the footage was created in advance due to the danger of shooting live from a nearby helicopter.

NBC Response: An NBC Sports spokesperson says U.S. viewers were informed of the manipulation. Commentators Matt Lauer and Bob Costas said the fireworks were a digital effect. From the opening ceremony transcript during the fireworks in question:

Lauer: "You're looking at a cinematic device employed by Zhang Yimou here. This is actually almost animation. A footstep a second, 29 in all, to signify the 29 Olympiads."

Costas: "We said earlier that aspects of this Opening Ceremony are almost like cinema in real time. Well this is quite literally cinematic."

Analysis: Mixing real and CGI fireworks during an Olympic event is visually misleading, though NBC did try to address the issue. The question is, during a spectacular-looking shot, do the phrases "cinematic device" and "almost animation" really convey that the image wasn't real?

It seems more to hint that something about it wasn't quite literal, while coming shy of saying - in far more clear and simple terms - "this is a digitally manufactured shot to represent what's happening right now outside the stadium."

Accusation: NBC is time stamping West Coast feeds of competition coverage with a "Live" tag even though the coverage is not live.

NBC Response: A spokesperson points out the constant "Live" tag is accompanied by twice-per-hour time stamps that inform West Coast viewers that the event was only live on the East Coast (ex. "10:05 ET").

"The audience makeup of the Olympics is very much like that of 'American Idol' and 'Dancing with the Stars' which have 'live' season finales presented in much the same way," an NBC Sports spokesperson says. "You assume there's a large amount of intelligence in the viewing audience, so when they see those twice-an-hour time stamps they'll understand what is being presented."

Analysis: If a sporting event's feed isn't live, a broadcaster should avoid using an omnipresent "live" tag. The best reason to have this tag on a West Coast feed (and to not put a clear "tape delayed" notice) is for the same reason some are incensed – it gives viewers an impression of live urgency that isn't quite there. Like with the fireworks, the original complaint is mollified by the facts, to a degree: to a casual viewer the coverage shows one thing, while to somebody paying close attention, it shows something slightly less exciting.

Accusation: NBC edited the "parade of nations" from the original order to delay the entrance of US. athletes.

NBC Response: An NBC Sports spokesman says the order was unchanged.

Analysis: Editing a sporting event like a reality show to save the most eagerly awaited moments for the conclusion would be an issue - if it were true. As it is, online reports have provided no real evidence.

The Times also reports that the "cute" girl who sang at the opening ceremony was merely lip synching, the real girl who sang was deemed to be too "ugly" for TV.

Oh dear, it really is rather silly to try to pull the wool over people's eyes like this!

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1 comment:

  1. Chris Collingsworth.
    Now that is fakery.

    ReplyDelete