Olympics footprint TV segment computer-generated

Aug. 12, 2008, 4:23 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Not all was what it seemed during the spectacular opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

Beijing organizers confirmed Tuesday that some of the fireworks display featured prerecorded footage.

Fireworks that burst into the shape of 29 gigantic footprints were shown trudging above the Beijing skyline to the National Stadium near the start of the ceremony.

Though the footprint-shaped fireworks were real, some of the footage shown to television viewers around the world and on giant screens inside the "Bird's Nest" stadium featured a computer-generated three-dimensional image.

"It was confirmed that previously recorded footage was provided to the broadcasters for convenience and theatrical effects - as in many other big events," Beijing organizing committee spokesman Wang Wei said. "On the day of the ceremony there were actual footprints of fireworks from the south to the north of the city.

"However, because of the poor visibility of the night, some previously recorded footage may have been used."

The computerized images were produced by Crystal Digital Technology Co. of Beijing.

"We did our best to create a rendering that would look like the shot was taken live," company spokesman Lei Ming told the Beijing Times. "Most people could not tell the difference."

NBC said broadcasters Bob Costas and Matt Lauer told viewers the display was cinematic.

"This is actually almost animation," Lauer said on the air.

The ceremony won rave reviews around the world and was watched by more than 1 billion people.

In the United States on NBC, the ceremony averaged 34.2 million U.S. viewers, making it the biggest American television event since the Super Bowl.