The almost three billion people viewing the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics apparently have been tricked. While international consumers have dealt with a massive influx of poor quality, counterfeit—and poisonous—Chinese goods in recent years, the People’s Republic of China has spared little expense in its latest artificial export: ‘fake fireworks’.
The global audience watched a series of 29 giant footsteps, lit by fireworks, going from Tiananmen Square to the Olympic stadium, symbolizing the 29th Olympiad.
Actually, according to Gao Xiaolong, the head of the visual effects team, what the viewers saw was a computer animation meticulously prepared months ago. Only the last of the 29 fireworks was shown in real time.
The Crystal Rock CGG Company, in China, took a year to create the animation. To provide a complete cover-up of the ‘counterfeit work,’ the Beijing Meteorological office was consulted to properly recreate the hazy effect of the Beijing night smog. As a finishing touch a ‘shaky camera effect’ was inserted to simulate filming from a helicopter.
The Beijing Olympic Committee tried to defend the animation, stating that it would be technically too difficult to film all 29 fireworks with helicopters. From the organizers of an opening show with 16000 performers and no efforts spared, this argument sounds a bit awkward.
The dupe was made possible by the fact that it was done under the aegis of the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting, which controls and provides the main video feeds of all Olympics events to other channels. This in turn also feeds the video to all around the world.
The fake has apparently caused an international ruckus. Hostile comments from Chinese Internet users have started to appear on several websites. "A waste of my emotions," "very beautiful, but a shame,” "cheating us average people once again.” “Why fake? It's just sad", some of them said.
A Korean blogger suggested “"Why not just fake the whole Beijing Olympics, give the computer games to all the countries and let the audience in other countries just watch the software game on computer?"