olympics-steroidsLooks like the Summer Games in Beijing are not only riddled with athletes testing positive for steroids, but with fake fireworks display as well.

Those who witnessed the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics at home were shaking their heads, staring at the boob tubes, awe and wonder written on their faces as they beheld the spectacular fireworks that announced “Let the Games begin!” And those who thought the fireworks seemed so unbelievable and so unreal might be correct. Well, partly correct.

Some parts of the display were indeed unreal as they were computer-generated effects. This has been revealed by a Chinese newspaper, the Beijing Times, over the weekend.

The report says the computer graphics were developed for several months leading up to the opening ceremonies and then electronically inserted into the coverage on cue.

Oh, the fireworks were there for real, outside the Bird’s Nest National Stadium. But there was the dilemma of filming everything and capturing all 29 footprints exploding above Tiananmen Square. So, that called for some Chinese invention.

The computer animation was even shown on giant television screens inside the jam-packed stadium. And the estimated three billion homeviewers across the globe were fooled (pleasantly fooled, we hope) by the fake images that looked like they were filmed from above by a helicopter. The effects included a ‘camera shake’ to create an illusion filming from a helicopter.

And there’s more. The designers even added some smog effects to simulate the polluted skyline of the host city. (And here we thought the Chinese are only capable of counterfeiting designer brands.)

TV networks around the world had no choice but to show the footage since it all came from one feed, courtesy of the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting. (Talk about total(itarian) expression.)

Gao Xiaolong, head of the visual effects team for the ceremony, said it had taken them almost a year to create the 55-second sequence. They even consulted the Beijing meteorological office to mimic Beijing’s skyline at night.

“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.”

Uh, China, we’ve got a problem.

Not everybody was happy with the ceremonies apparently. Architect Ai Weiwei says no way the mission was accomplished.

Writing on his blog, Mr Ai, who helped design the stadium, described the ceremony as “a recycling of the rubbish of fake classical culture tradition; a sacrilegious visual garbage dump and an insult to the spirit of liberty; low class sound play that’s just noise pollution”.

He was highly critical of China’s ruling communist party, labeling the ceremony as “a showcase of the reincarnation of the Marxist imperialism; the ultimate paragon of an all embracing culture of fascist totalitarianism; an encyclopaedia that encompasses total defeat in intellectual spirit.”