There's a bit of PT Barnum in everybody: even the Chinese.
The Opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics featured an impressive fireworks display. But what viewers in the worldwide TV audience didn't know was that they were watching a computer-enhanced fireworks show.
As the ceremony got under way with a dramatic, drummed countdown, viewers watching at home and on giant screens inside the Bird's Nest National Stadium watched as a series of giant footprints outlined in fireworks processed gloriously above the city from Tiananmen Square.
What they did not realise was that what they were watching was in fact computer graphics, meticulously created over a period of months and inserted into the coverage electronically at exactly the right moment.
--Beijing Olympic 2008 opening ceremony giant firework footprints 'faked'
In America, the political term would be "Fireworksgate".
Gao Xiaolong, head of the visual effects team for the ceremony, said it had taken almost a year to create the 55-second sequence. Meticulous efforts were made to ensure the sequence was as unnoticeable as possible: they sought advice from the Beijing meteorological office as to how to recreate the hazy effects of Beijing's smog at night, and inserted a slight camera shake effect to simulate the idea that it was filmed from a helicopter.
"Seeing how it worked out, it was still a bit too bright compared to the actual fireworks," he said. "But most of the audience thought it was filmed live - so that was mission accomplished."
Who knew the Chinese leadership would try to use the Olympics as a PR event? Apparently, the Chinese people knew. According to the story, the comments received on the Internet were generally raves--except for that portion of the Internet that is forced to actually live under the rule of the Chinese Communists. "Hostile" comments on the Opening Ceremonies came mainly from those in China.
One guess: this will not be the last incidence of information management, Chinese-style, the world will hear about.
Something viewers of the world should keep in mind while watching the remainder of the Beijing Olympics.