back to article Fake feet trip up Olympic opening coverage

Video footage of the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing included CGI images because of worries that broadcasters would not be able to properly film parts of the firework display. A 55-second clip of fireworks outlining footprints in the sky was in fact created months ago and edited into live footage. The fireworks did …


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  1. Timbo

    What else....

    ...might be faked?

    Some of the opening ceremony inside the bird's nest, looked a bit too "clever" for mere humans to have achieved alone...

    Maybe there's some other stuff as well, that they haven't admitted to yet....?

    Mine's the one with the fake designer label...

  2. Stef


    Will they be re-running some of the Olympic events to get better camera angles like Hitler did?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rather obvious

    Watched this live on Friday. Spotted the CGI trickery during the event as soon as it happened. Didn't cheapen the ceremony, but I doubt anyone was fooled as to it's authenticity.

    I was more suspicious by the Olympic rings on the floor that were created out of falling shimmering dust directly after that sequence and then raised from the floor. If anyone can explain that one away I'd be grateful!

    How knackered must those cheerleaders have been that surrounded the track as the countries did their procession?? Still - I suppose the threat of a good caning would keep most people motivated...

  4. dervheid
    Black Helicopters

    TV Companies manipulating the 'Truth'?


    Well bugger me, who'd have suspected that?

  5. James Le Cuirot

    I knew it!

    I knew it wasn't real the moment I saw it. The motion seemed too smooth. It was pretty convincing other than that but I didn't know they were supposed to be footprints. A bit more imagination required there, I think.

  6. Wize

    I remember seeing the clip and thinking...

    ...that looks a little fake to me.

    There are subtle bits that don't make it to the concious level as to what's wrong, but still give away that its not real.

  7. michael

    well we

    are of to a fine start by my reconong we are due the first drugs scandle any time now!

  8. Sam Tana
    Paris Hilton

    Spectacular ... but boring

    That opening ceremony was certainly spectacular - looking like one of those spooky North Korean mass line dancing events - but it was also unendingly dull, with each element of it going on and on and on and on and on and.....

    Now we learn that bits of it were faked. Meh...

    Paris, because she too can go on and on and on and...

  9. Pete Silver badge

    let's go the whole hog.

    Why not CGI the whole olympics?

    If it was done in the format of a video game, then no doubt the female athletes would be pneumatically enhanced, the male athletes would sport unfeasibly large ......... guns.

    You could replace all that boring old running with car chases, the shot-put could become a hand-grenade. For the high-jump, the height would be measured in 100s of metres (yes, it's a VIDEO game - reality? - pah!) and the long jump could be between buildings. Instead of the rifle-shooting, use bazookas and the archery would, of course, require flaming arrows.

    So far as drugs testing of athletes go, this would remain mandatory - with the slight change that any who failed would be offered a wide selection of powders to make it all more interesting.

    Slap an "18" certificate on the whole mess (just to ensure all the under-15s buy it) and change the backdrop every year. You never know, if this was readied for 2012 we might be able to avoid a crippling white-elephant of a hare-brained scheme and actually make a profit from hosting it, virtually of course.

  10. David F

    The rings ...

    The rings lifting off the floor were just a very thin mesh cloth which were held by the people 'flying' above. Point the frickin' lasers at the mesh, and they make the desired effect. Seen it before, but not done as well or as big.

  11. h4rm0ny
    Paris Hilton

    Good news for the UK, though...

    If it's okay to start doing the opening ceremonies with CGI, then Britain might actually be able to afford to put on a show. Just don't go and see it live...

    Paris, because she knows when to fake something and when not.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it was spectacular

    Brits will have hard time to come anywhere near it in 2012, but then again, there are always Morris dancers

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's no big deal compared to the lies and deception that took us to war in Iraq.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    London's 2012 Opening Ceremony

    Will be shamelessly stolen from Manchester's 2004 Olympic bid:

    OPENING CEREMONY The Olympic flame will be ignited by a petrol bomb thrown by a native of the city (preferably from the East End), wearing the traditional balaclava. The flame will be contained in a large chip van situated on the roof of the stadium.

    THE CLOSING CEREMONY The Olympic flame will be extinguished by someone dropping an old washing machine onto it from the top floor of the block of flats next to the stadium. The stadium will be then boarded up before the local athletes break into it and remove all the copper piping and the central heating boiler.

    Other events at

  15. Anonymous Coward

    @David F

    Thanks for that! Any truth to the rumours that the frickin' "las-ers" were attached to a shark's head? Or were they on the moon, turning it into a "death-star" if you will? Codename: The Alan Parson's Project

  16. radian

    @ h4rm0ny

    The UK CGI version would cost £500 million and be done on a Commodore 64, with an awesome Rob Hubbard sound track.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    London's opening ceremony will be more like this...

    The Olympic flame will be a stolen car driven into the stadium by joyriders and promptly set alight.They will then flee the stadium on mopeds followed by the Police who will not be allowed to give chase due to the miscreants not wearing crash helmets.

    It will be extinguished by the Fire Brigade roughly two weeks later during the closing ceremony when they eventually turn up after being delayed due to having to do paperwork, if it hasn't already burnt itself out by then.

    This is due to the fact that they won't be able to spend any more money on it due to it being given to consultants tasked to keep the costs down instead:

  18. pmecchi


    Not only were the footprints faked - but did you see the kids floating in the air around the olympic rings during the ceremonies - - THEY WERE NOT REALLY FLYING - i saw the wires - if you are going to have kids flying around in the air you better use real flying kids and not some ordinary kid on a wire - - -

  19. Joel Bjorge

    they didn't try to hide it

    not sure if I was the only one paying any attention, but, in the US broadcast at least, the announcer (Costas, I think) said that those footprint fireworks where fake while they were showing them. I don't see anything wrong with using some CGI as long as you're not trying to pull it off as real. I think you Brits are just a little intimidated ;-)

  20. Peter

    Flying/running man

    I knew that was faked! No one can "run" in the air all around a stadium like that!

  21. Danger Mouse

    Forget Morris Dancers

    I'm turning off the sound on my TV for the 2012 opening, forget the morris dancers, just think of how many bag pipe players there going to have, still it will give the jocks something todo while they're waiting for the batter on their chocolate bars to crisp.

  22. Anon Koward

    Good news for the London 2012 Ceremony!

    Now they can CGI some sunshine into it!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not hiding it

    The NBC announcer said that the footage of the "steps" was CGI while it was being shown.

  24. blackworx

    @ radian

    Nah mate Tim Follin!!

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Footsteps fleeing Tiananmen Square

    The last time they tried this they were surrounded and there was indiscriminate shooting into the crowd, unless you are from China in which case that didn't happen.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    3D trickery

    3d Rules! ... I can get u'r knickers off and fix your hairdoo in 3 D ... (if I can get enough money of course ...)

  27. Anonymous Coward


    "NBC has denied the claim, saying the countries appeared according to their order in the Chinese alphabet."

    Umm, since when did the Chinese have an alphabet?

  28. Anonymous Coward

    @ Danger Mouse

    Quote: "I'm turning off the sound on my TV for the 2012 opening, forget the morris dancers, just think of how many bag pipe players there going to have, still it will give the jocks something todo while they're waiting for the batter on their chocolate bars to crisp."

    Why would us "Jocks" have anything to do with the opening of England's Olympics? By 2012 Scotland won't even be part of the UK anymore... ;-)

  29. dom

    Scottish Pipes

    I married my Chinese wife in Beijing last year, and throughout the ceremony we had the same bagpipes playing (on a stereo) as in the Olympic ceremony. Our wedding was obviously designed by the same bloke who did the Olympics. Of course it being last year we only had 2007 drummers rather than 2008, and a bit less CGI and perhaps not as many fireworks...

  30. Jon H

    "Green" Olympics?

    The Chinese are making so much fuss about these Olympics being green such as their energy saving stadiums.... in that case, how about turning down that massive heat producing gas burning torch?! Does it really need to be that big and wasteful?!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: The Olympic flame

    There'll be a health and safety risk assessment which will find that it will be too dangerous to have one.

  32. Richard Silver badge

    @the Rings

    It's actually very simple to do.

    I wasn't there so I can't be certain this was the methodology, but:


    1) The floor of the arena was covered by one of (possibly the) largest LED screens in the world (500 feet long)

    This screen played the 'sparkles' flying around, and many of the other effects shown during the ceremony.

    2) A net of LEDs arranged into the shape of the rings were faded up as the sparkles coalesced. This net was then picked up by the over-arena rigging motors and hoisted off the floor and into the air.

    If you watch the footage you can see the net slide backwards and then swing as it comes off the floor.

    It was a truly excellent spectacle - I enjoyed it a lot.

    (As to the fireworks - it was very obvious that they were CGI. Watch the launch points of each set - several of them are impossible)

  33. Michael


    @ michael:

    "well we are of to a fine start by my reconong we are due the first drugs scandle any time now!"

    Apparently, you haven't paid attention, an American swimmer was already removed for doping (prior to competing).

    In other news, it rained today in Britain.

    @ Anonymous Coward:

    "Umm, since when did the Chinese have an alphabet?"

    What NBC *actually* said is that because China has no alphabet, the countries would enter based on the number of strokes needed to write the characters making up the name.

    I think it's funny how people go nuts at the idea that NBC *might* have changed stuff. Umm, hello?! Let's start with China being 12 hours ahead of New York. NBC didn't show it as it happened!! OMG!! And wait!! You mean that when they show the Gymnastics prelims, it actually happened at some other time?! That's just unbelievable and irresponsible!!!

    It's funny that while people demand to be entertained ("I want my gymnastics to be on when I can watch it, dammit!"), they complain that NBC takes measures to make sure they're entertained...

    Apparently, people have forgotten that the REASON NBC has the exclusive US rights to broadcast the Olympics is so they can make money, and that if it wasn't a money maker or if they couldn't MAKE it a money maker, the Olympics wouldn't be televised at all.

  34. Herby

    At least it isn't in the USA

    They might need an environmental impact report (at a cost of $$$) in order to use the CGI stuff. Oh, well.

    Maybe they should just turn off the Satellites and use that stuff called "Film" as in days of old (and with 4:3 aspect ratio!).

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Up til now, I'd trusted everything released by Chinese media to be completely honest, genuine and factual. Then they go and do something like this.

  36. kain preacher


    The UK CGI version would cost £500 million and be done on a Commodore 64, with an awesome Rob Hubbard sound track.

    O c.mon. I'm sure they would spring for an Amiga

  37. Brandon
    Paris Hilton


    So let me get this straight. When we capitalize and attempt to privately fund as much of the venue construction and other expenses as possible, we're cheapening the olympic spirit. But, when China spruces things up a bit with some computer animation because they want their olympics to be as attractive as possible, that doesn't cheapen The Games? If you can't just come out and be what you are, if you can't compete with what you can do on your own... then by all means, use steroids, cheat, add cgi to a broadcast, hack Counterstrike for nothing but headshots, etc. etc. It's dishonorable when not announced... and they didn't announce it because everyone would be pissed... and rightly so. I want to see the reality of the games, not some "fancied up" version. I want to see our guys win, but when some of them get their butts handed to them, I want to see that too... and when the fireworks are amazing, I want to see them... and when they're stupid, I want to see that too... but the commies don't. They want everything to look great... because it's not... they're not free, and they're not happy.

    Paris because at least we all know her broadcasts are real.

  38. Graham Lockley

    @kain preacher

    >O c.mon. I'm sure they would spring for an Amiga

    Yeah with that awsome light synth that Jeff Minter did to create the light show. Would be nice if there was a version that would run on the GFX cards we have now...sigh

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NBC 5UCK5!!

    NBC should rename itself as the Numbskull Broadcasting Corporation! They don't care that the Olympics is about the SPORT - not their damn agenda.

    They did not show the openings LIVE, they keep showing the same sports over and over and over again, filled in with bullcr@p "feel good" stories that I don't really give a r@ts a55 about. They even went so far as to make websites both in the US and outside take down feeds and videos of the Opening Ceremonies! I want to watch the Olympics because of the sport and the athletes - no matter what the sport and not matter where the athlete is from.

    These ldiots forget that!


  40. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    @Graham Lockley

    Get yerself an XBox360. Minter did the (fully interactive) "music visualiser" built into the box, which is the latest in his line of light synths. Also his game "Space Giraffe" for under a fiver on XBLA which mixes up gameplay and psychedelic effects; you'll either love it or hate it.

    As for the Olympics? Meh. Really, who cares if they faked the fireworks. Jobs because he owns Pixar.

  41. Michael Dunn
    Paris Hilton

    Chinese Alphabet?

    There is an alphabet for Chinese called pinyin.

    However, the order of the national teams would have followed the order of their names as they would appear in a Chinese dictionary.

    The left hand or top part of the character, known as a radical is listed in the front of the dictionary, arranged in order of the number of strokes of the brush used to write the radical, giving the page number at which words (characters) made up from that radical will start. From the page starting with each radical, characters are then listed according to the number of brush strokes used to form the rest of the character.

    So, to look up the word for honest, for example, one would split the character into two parts: the left hand side or radical, which is the radical for 'human', and the right hand side which is the character for 'words'.

    The radical for 'human' has two strokes, so it will appear early on in the index. One finds the page number in the dictionary from which all the words based on the radical for 'human' start. The radical for 'words' has 7 strokes, so one looks at the top of each page following until one gets to the page(s) containing words with the radical 'human' and seven more strokes, and then finds the dictionary entry.

    Complicated? Not really, it is easy to get used to.

    Paris because she might distract one from the dictionary, into thinking of other things.

  42. Timbo
    IT Angle

    It goes from bad to worse...

    ....according to the BBC website:

    "China Olympic ceremony star mimed"


    What next???

  43. Dave

    who bothers watching an opening ceremony?

    I'm amazed anyone bothers watching the opening ceremony - a waste of time - all the snatches of opening ceremony I have seen have been interminable, full of tacky mass choreographed cheesiness - I only start watching properly when the sport starts - a bit of CGI could only improve an opening ceremony..

  44. Anonymous Coward

    Olympics is rubbish

    Not watched a second of it and wont be. Waste of money that can be used for better things.

  45. Killboy

    Art imitates life

    And this Olympics is a sham the same as the cgi footprints.

    China's record on human rights is a disgrace.

    Its persecution of the basic rights of man is tantamount to genocide

    Its Party is driving the country to a toxic waste like a runaway express. Out of control.

    There, I've said it.

    Mines the one with single bullet in the pocket that my family will have to pay for once its been used on me.

  46. Stephen Gray

    @ By Brandon

    "They want everything to look great... because it's not... they're not free, and they're not happy." LOL, aww bless would you be from the land of the free to litigate, shoot each other and over eat?

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