Translated by CDT from the Beijing Times, via qq.com:
In yesterday’s Opening Ceremony, a step-by-step series of fireworks-sequenced footprints that “walked” from Yongdingmen along the central axis to the Bird’s Nest pushed the whole night into its climax. Many viewers, via live TV broadcast, were amazed by the spectacular Beijing nightscape. A video team employee of the opening ceremony told the reporter that TV viewers and spectators inside the stadium saw mostly an animated three-dimensional video that was made over a year’s time. It was not, actually, live shots, except the last foot.
Due to the flight restrictions and the timing and angle of filming, the employee said, the director’s staff decided to replace a live broadcast with a 3-D video rendering. The TV audience saw a 55-second sequence of 29 footprints. Only the final footprint, which stepped into the Bird’s Nest, was from a real-time camera image.
The video was produced by a company called Crystal Stone, or shui jing shi （水晶石） in Chinese. The production went from June last year till July this year and it went through numerous edits, including issues such as two feet or one foot and the length of the video, etc.
In order to enhance the fidelity, the video also took into consideration of pixelation of the images and slight vibration of filming from a helicopter, etc. It also added some fogginess according to the weather forecast.
“But from seeing it today, the video was a little brighter than the real effect,” said Gao Xiaolong, the video employee. “But most viewers thought it was live shots, and our work achieved its effect.” He was worried that they would be massively criticized by viewers after the ceremony. Seeing that most comments online were positive, he was much relieved.