LG: So Fake It’s Scary

Someone at LG, or their agency, in the Netherlands had a great idea: Wouldn’t it be cool to replace the floor of an elevator with computer screens and then make it appear to fall away.

Yes, it would be cool. And it would make a great viral video, demonstrating that the screens are so good they appear realistic to people, at least momentarily.

It’s a cool video and it’s easy enough to believe, given how popular these sort of candid camera web ads are now. But immediately upon watching it my suspicions were raised… Firstly it didn’t make sense to me that they’d turn up to install the fake floor with all the monitors still in retail packaging – and when they were shown installing it there was no sign of a protective perspex cover or anything (the screens may look real, but they aren’t designed to stand on).

Then the video started. It looks good, but there’s a problem. Perspective. From a top angle we see exactly what we expect – and what I’d most likely put on it if I were doing it for real – a top-down perspective straight down the shaft. However the top view is not the only one we see…

There’s also an angle from the back corner, and that’s where if falls apart. Video monitors are 2D (even 3D ones) – the image you see doesn’t change perspective depending on your point of view (except in this cool demo), so from the corner angle we should still see straight down the shaft only it would be a bit skewed.

That is not what we see. Instead we get an angle that perfectly matched the lines of perspective from the lift at that angle. So it looks good on that camera, but isn’t the same as we saw from above. The perspective has changed which would suggest that the image was manipulated in post production, or mostly likely created entirely in post – it was a greenscreen.

To really illustrate this point I’ve taken a screengrab from the top angle and superimposed it on the corner angle, correcting for the perspective – that is what we should see from that camera, if the video were real.

So why do I care? I don’t really – advertisers get to decide what choices they want to make in their advertising, but this is the internet – people see things and they talk.

At some point there were at least a few editors and VFX people were involved in this. If I were one of those editors I’d have at least queried the clients about the tagline and presentation of this – generally the internet doesn’t take kindly to being misled like this. Maybe someone did? I don’t know – but I don’t really understand the reasoning behind presenting this concept as they have and then faking it. It could be done for real, and probably would elicit similar reactions – why fake it?

After writing this post I found a video on YouTube that makes the same observations. It, and some commenters on the original LG video, also points out the reflection of a greenscreen in one shot. Like I said, this is the internet – people see things and they talk…