Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Is It Real or Is It Fake?

I saw a story on a blog the other day.

The author, Mark Christiansen who is well-respected in the visual effects industry, noted that parts of the Olympic Games opening ceremonies were faked for the TV audience. If you saw the opening ceremonies, the parts he’s referring to are the ‘footprints in the sky’ created with fireworks. The live audience did see footprints in the sky, but the TV audience saw a different set of footprints that had been computer-generated. It’s similar to having someone lip-synch the national anthem at the start of a baseball game.  Oh, but that happened at the opening ceremonies too!  The very cute 9-year old girl who performed the song was lip-synching to another girl's vocal track.  

As soon as the lip-synching was leaked, the world press had a field day calling the incident "Olympic Karaoke", "Hoax! Made in China", "The Great Beijing Lip-synch Switcheroo", and "China's Wrong Child Policy".

But back to the 'footprints in the sky."  There may have been very good reasons to ‘fake it’. Maybe the Chinese were afraid that the fireworks would be rained out. Or maybe the faked fireworks were more vibrant or easier for the TV audience to see. But it gives us a slightly uneasy feeling because the performance was portrayed as real when it wasn’t.

With the technology that’s available and the skill of today’s technicians and artists, you can’t always trust that what you see is the unvarnished truth. And, this sleight-of-hand can be done almost undetectably. So what’s the big deal? Well, an enjoyable pyrotechnic show at the Olympics whether real or faked is no big deal, although this was a fake on a pretty big scale. We all need be a little bit skeptical, like the folks in Missouri, the “Show-Me” state.

How does this apply to brides who are searching for the best professionals in each category? Scrutinize online reviews with a grain of salt.  Sure, there are less-than-professional vendors out there who deserve the 3, 5 10, even 20 bad reviews they get.  These are to be taken seriously because these companies routinely disappoint brides.  Chat rooms serve brides well in these cases.

On the other hand, there isn't one professional I know who hasn't been unfairly slammed with a bad review online.  In the first year we were in business, an unscrupulous competitor whom we had never met, posing as a bride, said some pretty nasty things about us that hurt us deeply since we care very much about giving our best to every bride. We provided evidence of the fraud to the hosting site, but they would not remove the post.  Thankfully, that was our only brush with 'the dark side'.

So, if you see virtually all excellent posts about a professional, and then you see a negative post, be skeptical.  Check it out for yourself.

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