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Glitches during Olympic ceremonies

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I loved London's cauldron lighting segment but the two announcers totally screwed up their cue when announcing the young athletes.

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If you watch the London OC on youtube, the world feed commentators are HORRIBLE. Not to mention that their mics are way to quiet, and you can barely hear what they're saying.

I loved London's cauldron lighting segment but the two announcers totally screwed up their cue when announcing the young athletes.

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I loved London's cauldron lighting segment but the two announcers totally screwed up their cue when announcing the young athletes.

If you watch the London OC on youtube, the world feed commentators are HORRIBLE. Not to mention that their mics are way to quiet, and you can barely hear what they're saying.

Just to be clear- those are two different sets of announcers: first the stadium announcers (who did indeed somehow miss two of the torch handovers) and second the Olympic Broadcasting Services TV commentators. To olympicsfan97 I can only say that, compared with most national commentators (including both NBC and BBC), the unobtrusiveness of the OBS pair was wonderful !

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I'm talking about the stadium announcers. They miss the cue after the first runner and the names they called out didn't match whoever was actually holding the torch during the lap run, and finished way behind. World feed commentator was indeed horrible but that's independent from the OC.

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Just to be clear- those are two different sets of announcers: first the stadium announcers (who did indeed somehow miss two of the torch handovers) and second the Olympic Broadcasting Services TV commentators. To olympicsfan97 I can only say that, compared with most national commentators (including both NBC and BBC), the unobtrusiveness of the OBS pair was wonderful !

Unobtrusive? They spoke during the James Bond video and during the torch relay video, both parts which did not need commentary. The worst part though was the fact that there mics were way to low like I said before, and they sounded like some annoying background noise.

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Re the Olympic Broadcasting Services commentary:

Unobtrusive? They spoke during the James Bond video and during the torch relay video, both parts which did not need commentary.

That raises a philosophical point- both the BBC and NBC commentators did shut up during the Bond film (and while NBC didn't show the torch relay film, for which the OBS commentary sound level is indeed absurdly low, BBC kept silent through that too). However, as soon as the action switched back to "live" they just had to say something- anything!

Why does the "live" material have to have commentary if the "filmed" material doesn't? Nearly all the OBS commentary for the filmed inserts was relevant information which might not have been known to some people (e.g. that the music for the helicopter flight was "The Dambusters" by Eric Coates, which, once you know about it, looks like a pretty sly choice from Danny Boyle & Co.).

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I forgot another one: In Albertville's opening ceremony, the cauldron lit up before the flame crawling up the wick actually reached it.

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My fav is still the dove BBQ. I was ten when it happened and horrified as I watched on tv.

Yup. Bearing in mind that it forced a change in IOC ceremony protocol, that probably has to be the all-time winner !

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One of the more major and painfully obvious mistakes was during the Atlanta 1996 Closing Ceremony, when the athletes were let out onto the field too early (during the "Summon the Heroes" pyrotechnics display). The sound guys and stagehands were left scrambling, causing the concert artists to do a sound check in the minutes after the fireworks had concluded. So painful to watch it's awesome!!!

The earlier miming (lip-syncing) of BB King and Al Green were also probably the worst miming attempts in Olympic history LOL. A close second would be Bryan Adams in Vancouver 2010 Opening (he forgets to come in on queue). But if we really want to go there, miming could have it's own topic lol.

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One of the more major and painfully obvious mistakes was during the Atlanta 1996 Closing Ceremony, when the athletes were let out onto the field too early (during the "Summon the Heroes" pyrotechnics display). The sound guys and stagehands were left scrambling, causing the concert artists to do a sound check in the minutes after the fireworks had concluded. So painful to watch it's awesome!!!

The earlier miming (lip-syncing) of BB King and Al Green were also probably the worst miming attempts in Olympic history

I was no longer part of the 1996 Closing -- so the above cannot be pinned on me, and that's why those things happened. ;)

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In Beijing 2008 the voice of the girl who sang the Chinese anthem was fake. The BOCOG was heavily criticized for such reveal. And also the fireworks coming from The Forbidden City to the Olympic Stadium wasn't live.



Of course, the above written just happened during the Opening Ceremony.

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In Beijing 2008 the voice of the girl who sang the Chinese anthem was fake. The BOCOG was heavily criticized for such reveal. And also the fireworks coming from The Forbidden City to the Olympic Stadium wasn't live.

Of course, the above written just happened during the Opening Ceremony.

Well they were planned that way so I wouldn't call it glitches.

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In Beijing 2008 the voice of the girl who sang the Chinese anthem was fake. The BOCOG was heavily criticized for such reveal. And also the fireworks coming from The Forbidden City to the Olympic Stadium wasn't live.

That's NOT a glitch. It was a deliberate AND LEGITIMATE move, O-A. It's DONE a great many times at high profile events. THe little girl who sang was a NOBODY who determined the value of the tickets or of the show. For people who were disturbed by it, that was their PROBLEM. I have a whole paragraph in my book explaining why this is ACCEPTED practice in the live-stadium spectacle business. And amateurs have NO business or understanding of why it's done. So, long story short -- it WASN'T a glitch nor was it a major faux pas. It is standard industry practice.

Edited by baron-pierreIV

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That's NOT a glitch. It was a deliberate AND LEGITIMATE move, O-A. It's DONE a great many times at high profile events. THe little girl who sang was a NOBODY who determined the value of the tickets or of the show. For people who were disturbed by it, that was their PROBLEM. I have a whole paragraph in my book explaining why this is ACCEPTED practice in the live-stadium spectacle business. And amateurs have NO business or understanding of why it's done. So, long story short -- it WASN'T a glitch nor was it a major faux pas. It is standard industry practice.

defiantly agree that is not a glitch. it just does not feel right.

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defiantly agree that is not a glitch. it just does not feel right.

OK, here's the passage from my book explaining the how, why and wherefore of the move. Of course, a similar issue arose again with Beyonce singing the US national anthem at President Obama's 2nd inauguration. But the arguments are still the same.

The lip-synching brouhaha. Next up was the lip-synching controversy: the little girl who “sang” the Chinese national anthem. Beijing bashers took China to task over such a trivial issue. Somehow, eagle-eyed watchers discerned that the adorable little girl merely lip-synched the Chinese national anthem to someone else’s voice. The media and witch-hunters even found the less-than-perfect-looking little girl whose voice was actually used. It became a cause célèbre which would drown out the success and goodwill created by the opening overall. Before the issue became any bigger, the Ceremonies team ‘fessed up. Yes, they were guilty of ‘artistic license’ on both counts. The faux fireworks were resorted to because (i) it would have been too dangerous to make a chopper with a camera fly directly in the path of the explosions; and (ii) Beijing was unusually dry that summer, so exploding the ‘footprints’ in 28 locations throughout the city would’ve also created great fire hazards; thus, the decision to digitally create most of the effect.

The decision to change the original girl for a more photogenic one was made by a high Party official. And since this was China, and the Party (with a capital “P”) was paying for the party (lower case “p”), they could kiss-and-cry whom they wanted to. Special Event-industry insiders also came to the rescue of the Beijing organizers. “It’s been done before;” “This is how it’s usually done at large stadium events;” “It’s not like either little girl was a bonafide celebrity (i.e., Madonna or a Beyonce) on whom the show’s value rested. She was a virtual unknown.” “So no ticket-buyer was really duped of a promised celebrity’s presence.”

Indeed, at these large, no-expense-spared productions, using prerecorded musical performances is de rigueur because (i) it removes any chance of errors during the actual performance—this was, after all, a “live” global production; (ii) it also reduces the probability that the microphone in use might go dead, or catch some unwanted sound interference; (iii) it puts the performer at ease—and if, say the ‘name’ performer felt ill or out of sorts that night, having his/her performance in the can would preclude having to scramble for an alternate plan; and (iv) finally, prerecording the vocal performances allows the sound engineers to achieve a better balanced sound mix in the stadium. The whole pre-recorded protocol is even more imperative in winter ceremonies when the freezing cold-night air is harsh on some musical instruments and to the human voice. Luciano Pavarotti’s performance at Torino 2006 was pre-recorded. The singer was already quite ill at the time and that winter performance was his final public appearance.

Edited by baron-pierreIV

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@baron-pierreIV: "a similar issue arose again with Beyonce singing the US national anthem during President Obama's 2nd inauguration."

What? Was Mrs Carter lip-synching to pre-recorded singing by Adele?

PS: China, of all countries, faking fireworks- they were going to get teased, at the very least ...

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Was it not the case that they only faked the aerial cutaways because it was too dangerous to fly a helicopter overhead? The fireworks did actually happen. I've not got much of a problem with that.

Edited by RobH

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Was it not the case that they only faked the aerial cutaways because it was too dangerous to fly a helicopter overhead? The fireworks did actually happen. I've not got much of a problem with that.

Absolutely. It wasn't a glitch; it was a legitimate safety precaution-

but it was fake fireworks, in the country which invented fireworks.

Remember the start of the Paralympic Opeining Ceremony, with the camera flying through the pyro slipstream from the "Look Up" plane? I think that was part of the teasing.

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but it was fake fireworks, in the country which invented fireworks.

To top it all, they actually hired an American company, Grucci Fireworks of NY, in some supervisory position. Grucci would NOT specify in what capacity they participated but they said it was a major contract and if they are gunshy about their exact participation, you can assume it was a major one and they are keeping mum to save embarrassing the Chinese. It seems to me, this was done for insurance reasons, i.e., if Lloyds was insuring the whole affair, they wanted a western company in there to handle the pyros, if only in name -- probably not having any experience or trust with the local Chinese companies. And if something went wrong, it was easier to blame the 'foreign devil' than the local one.

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I was no longer part of the 1996 Closing -- so the above cannot be pinned on me, and that's why those things happened. ;)

Ah so that explains it, Baron! I might have known!! ;)

Actually the 1996 Closing is one of my sentimental favourites. Probably because it was the first ceremony I recorded and therefore watched to death over the next four years.. plus the handover to Sydney. Was exciting for this Aussie at the time and brings back lots of memories :)

Anyway I don't have a problem with miming, as a musician myself I can understand the reasons behind it when in that sort of environment. Was just mentioning how little effort Al Greene and BB King put into making sure they remembered to do the "ad-libs" they decided to make in the recording studio. The end of BB King's performance is hilarious when he realises his mistake and lips "let it roll" anyway lol.

Usually an Opening Ceremony is totally mimed (no matter what they say lol) and a Closing is "mostly" live. In the Sydney 2000 Opening, John Farnham and Olivia Newton-John mimed until JF's last line when they turned the mics on so they could wish the athletes good luck. You can tell this by how different JF sings his last line compared to the official soundtrack.

In the Atlanta Closing, each performance was mimed (except the National Anthem and Stevie Wonder's "Imagine") until the start of the Centenial Concert finale (Stevie Wonder's "Happy Birthday"). From that point they were all live. Ironic that that was when they had their sound check issue I mentioned before.

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The difference with the Chinese was the devaluing of humanity and the veneration of superficiality. This is exactly what repulses the West where China is concerned. It was a gross misstep on their part.

I understand the reason for lip synching in high-profile, large events. That's not my quibble. It's the particular way the Chinese did it (and the decision of the high Party official) that was off-putting.

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The difference with the Chinese was the devaluing of humanity and the veneration of superficiality. This is exactly what repulses the West where China is concerned. It was a gross misstep on their part.

I understand the reason for lip synching in high-profile, large events. That's not my quibble. It's the particular way the Chinese did it (and the decision of the high Party official) that was off-putting.

I agree, the miming issue in Beijing was both weird and very sad. Whether it was right or wrong, I guess it comes down to a difference in culture. Arguably acceptable over there, totally unacceptable in "western" society. And considering an Olympic Ceremony is to a degree a global advertising campaign for the host city, it would be kinda stupid to do anything that your target audience would find disturbing. In this case though, we were never meant to know about it!

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I agree, the miming issue in Beijing was both weird and very sad. Whether it was right or wrong, I guess it comes down to a difference in culture. Arguably acceptable over there, totally unacceptable in "western" society. And considering an Olympic Ceremony is to a degree a global advertising campaign for the host city, it would be kinda stupid to do anything that your target audience would find disturbing. In this case though, we were never meant to know about it!

But how different is that from Hollywood musicals where non-singing actors were dubbed with the more polished voices? Whereas that practice too, has changed in recent years, still...it's an accepted industry practice. And I don't think the Beijing organizers owed the original girl any obligations. Her original contract might have been just for the voice, with no promise of "face-time," so, in effect, Yimou & crew were NOT doing anything illegal. As far as a moral duty, they could've shown the faces of the VIPs and the crowd while the singing was going on instead...so I don't really see the problem. It is a visual medium, you have to present pleasing faces. Who wants to see an ogre with a gorgeous voice??

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It is a visual medium, you have to present pleasing faces. Who wants to see an ogre with a gorgeous voice??

I think you already know the answer to that!

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