Published On: Wed, Sep 28th, 2011

Sum of No Fears

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CGI has come a long way since Leisure Suit Larry. So much that it can cause quite some embarrassment if dealt with by an untrained eye like the British TV-channel ITV recently discovered. For ITV’s Exposure Gadhaffi and the IRA broadcast on Monday the show explored the flow of weapons and money from the former Libyan dictator to Irish Republican terrorists. It was billed as the first of six documentaries “providing an in-depth, revealing focus on a range of powerful subjects”

The show included a video that it said showed terrorists shooting down a British army helicopter in 1988.
“With Gaddafi’s heavy machine guns, it was possible to shoot down a helicopter, as the terrorists’ own footage of 1988 shows,” the narrator was scripted, adding that this was what Security Forces feared most.

But the video was quickly recognized by fans as computer-generated material of the military videogame ARMA 2, which released for Windows PCs in 2009 and is set in a fictional post-Soviet Eastern Bloc country. Some speculated that producers may have taken the video from YouTube, where it was posted on March 24 this year and titled “P-IRA Ambush British Helicopter, Silverbridge – South Armagh, 23 June 1988”. (see video below)

The channel removed the programme from ITV’s online catch-up service on Tuesday afternoon after claiming it did have genuine footage, but a “human error” caused the unfortunate switch.

ARMA2 developer Prague-based Bohemia Interactive, wasn’t too pleased either claiming it was “painfully obvious” it was taken was from ARMA 2 and using their game to show the actions of terrorists is potentially a very negative and damaging use. Hmm, sounds like ITV better call their lawyers IMO.

Whatever happens next with this little “scandal” and besides us having to wait if ITV lives up to their promise to re-edit the investigation and upload the programme with the ‘real’ footage this to me is a brilliant example of the blurring line between the real and virtual worlds. To determine what is real and what is not will become increasingly difficult.

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About the Author

- As a creative strategist I work on complex (digital) communications issues for international industry leading companies, organizations and agencies. I'm interested in how technology integrates with (and influences) traditional marketing, media, human behavior, society and culture.

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  1. Jason says:

    I guess you’re right about the fading line between what’s real and what’s not, but come on! It wasn’t to hard to spot was it?

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