Reality Blurs

/ 11 August 2008

The Olympics are theater on a massive scale. The opening ceremony was full of stunning effects (I loved, for example, the use of the stadium scrim as a screen high up in the sky). It turns out that one part of the fireworks broadcast around the world was actually an animation, not the real thing. The Chinese apparently feared for the safety of helicopters which would have to film the live pyrotechnics, so instead they created a computer animation for broadcast. Even though NBC made reference to the “cinematic” techniques being used in real time, many viewers may have missed the fact that they were not watching the “real thing.”

But then, what is real? The whole event was delayed here in the states, but broadcast as though live. Mary does an exercise where she asks students to identify which media clips feel more authentic than others. When does Pixar get more real than real? What difference does it make if consumers of media can’t distinguish fact from fiction?

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