Turn Down The Suck
April 15, 2003 12:18 PM   Subscribe

Did CNN turn up the booing on Michael Moore's Oscar acceptance speech? Check out the waveform analysis and decide. (via On Lisa Rein's Radar).
posted by hammurderer (55 comments total)

 
Sure sounds suspicious to me. And now that I think about it, I do recall thinking to myself that the booing sounded different when I heard it on different sources. The bigger question, as always, is WTF....
posted by ElvisJesus at 12:29 PM on April 15, 2003


Or maybe the microphones were in different locations?
posted by machaus at 12:34 PM on April 15, 2003


I'd like to see a subtraction of the CNN and ABC jpegs in order to tell if the boos have really been amplified relative to the rest of the segment...also two clips from a different part of the speech would be nice to try to establish some kind of baseline for how close two different VHS audio recordings can be in the first place. As a non-sound engineer I am having trouble being very impressed by the differences in the two time-frequency plots.

on preview: machaus: very good point
posted by jacobsee at 12:35 PM on April 15, 2003


The whistles go wooo wooo!
posted by sharksandwich at 12:36 PM on April 15, 2003


What microphones? Generally speaking they'd be getting the sound from teh ones in front of his face when he was giving his speech.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:36 PM on April 15, 2003


oh my god!!! another Right-Wing Conspiracy!!!

I am sure Michael Moore is such a threat CNN that they felt they needed to turn up the booing to make it sound like he was being booed.
posted by da5id at 12:37 PM on April 15, 2003


The whistles go wooo wooo

When does the michael moore speech remix come out??
posted by jacobsee at 12:37 PM on April 15, 2003


The mob's reaction to a celebrity's self-important blatherings and the alleged digital manipulation of a sound recording thereof should be important to us because ... why?

Moore's speech was booed. By all accounts, roundly and loudly. Moore himself admits he wasted his opportunity. Next thing you know, someone will say the boo-ers were planted.
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:38 PM on April 15, 2003


When does the michael moore speech remix come out??

I'd only wanna hear the instrumental version. The vocals ruin it.
posted by jonmc at 12:38 PM on April 15, 2003


CNN wanted to report on this, but they feared for the life of their inside Oscar source.
posted by sharksandwich at 12:40 PM on April 15, 2003


Space Coyote, not exactly. Any time you produce that kind of live event the engineers always put room mics of various types in a variety of locations throughout the room to enable monitoring of room acoustics (helping adjust individual levels on the mic) as well as to capture things like laughter and applause.

We now bring you back to your regularly scheduled left/right mudfight.
posted by psmealey at 12:42 PM on April 15, 2003


The 2 microphone theory may explain it (perhaps one was on the grassy knoll), but I would assume that CNN would have taken the "pool" tape, but then again, you know what happens when you assume
posted by ElvisJesus at 12:42 PM on April 15, 2003


Probably just different audio processing. There is no way someone would run an unprocessed audio stream from something like the oscars, it just wouldn't work.

The waveform analysis is useless. People just don't understand spectrograms. If the spectrogram is normalized (which it probably is) then nothing indicates "loudness" at all, just relative "loudness" is shown.

I am sure that all the news programs boosted the boos, since that was the big story of the night. People just don't get booed at the oscars.

BTW, how come they didn't conclude that ABC turned the boos down?
posted by phatboy at 12:43 PM on April 15, 2003


I am not an acoustical engineer. however this is what comes into my mind. the wave forms (of the exceedingly small clip) match up fairly well up until the audience chimes in (when usually during a speech the audience is more or less silent). A reasonable conclusion is that most of the signal was coming through the podium mic. ABC (blue) shows more signal in the 'woo' and CNN (red) shows more in the 'boo'. I can think of a few factors inter-playing here that could explain this

1) [baseless speculation] ABC and CNN had mics at different locations around the floor.

2) assuming they had the mics at the same locations they might not be the same and they are likely not be tuned the same, without some kind of analysis of some samples of the audience during other times this small snippet is useless to draw a conclusion from.

3) its possible that wooers and booers happened to be concentrated in certain locations. I don't know if you get to choose the group you sit by, but people sit with their friends (aka like minded people).

overall conclusion, there is not enough info to make a decision based on this tiny snippet. Quite frankly putting this data up without context is tantamount to misrepresentation. So is basically crapola.
posted by MrLint at 12:43 PM on April 15, 2003


Something as simple as playing around with the equilizer would enchance the booing... certainly sounds suspicious. Remember news stations have been caught adding bullet sounds to video footage.

If true I would liken this to making O.J. look darker.
posted by bobo123 at 12:44 PM on April 15, 2003


WolfDaddy:
someone will say the boo-ers were planted.

I thought for sure that they (conspiracy nuts) would have scoured different camera feeds to specifically pinpoint the persons doing said booing. You know, the Zapruder film is getting awfully boring.
posted by sharksandwich at 12:45 PM on April 15, 2003


how come they didn't conclude that ABC turned the boos down

I assumed that the abc clip was from the live broadcast...hence they wouldn't be able to turn the boos down...is this right or did I ass u me again? Were the ocsars even on ABC? I saw moore's speech but only because my wife called me into the room for it...
posted by jacobsee at 12:46 PM on April 15, 2003


further speculation will find that there is a third microphone at the grassy knoll.
posted by angry modem at 12:48 PM on April 15, 2003


"Moore himself admits he wasted his opportunity."
What?!?
posted by Outlawyr at 12:53 PM on April 15, 2003


Or maybe the microphones were in different locations?

Back... and to the left.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:54 PM on April 15, 2003


VRWC
posted by dhoyt at 12:56 PM on April 15, 2003


Michael Moore is the Oliver Stone of the new millenium.
posted by MrBaliHai at 12:56 PM on April 15, 2003


Moderate input from a video editor:

If I were doing a news report about a celebrity's crowd response at an award show, It's possible that I might want to try and raise the background noise to make it more legible to the viewers (of course It'd be irresponsible not to place a key stating that the edit had been made. No one would dare intentionally change and pass off content as real to better suit a story.)

Alternately, the audio levels from CNN might, in fact, have been set differently than ABCs. I'm sure CNN got the raw footage for their own story and didn't rely on taping it off of a lossy ABC broadcast. If one channel broadcasts with a bit more bass and one with a bit more treble, there'd be a similar disparity I'd be willing to bet. ("boos" have a deeper resonance than "woohoos")
posted by KnitWit at 12:58 PM on April 15, 2003


Hold on a second... When ABC produced this show they probably had more than a few mics placed all over the venue. When a show is produced they create a mix based on the mics on the audience ambience, speakers, music, clips and so on.

So when CNN got this clip the audio is probably mixed down. Perhaps if CNN used a different compression or EQ the boos would seem louder.

I really doubt ABC would send a clip over with like 20 audio tracks to CNN and say- go ahead and mix it as you like!
posted by mildred-pitt at 12:59 PM on April 15, 2003


"What?!?"
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:00 PM on April 15, 2003


I have no clue as to the actual production, but usually the only audio feed from events like this would be the aircheck that CNN and other sources would record of ABC's programming. (or whoever the original broadcaster was.) ABC would have the only microphones there -- the only CNN presence around the Oscars was most likely pre-ceremony (red carpet) and post-ceremony (parties) stuff.
posted by Vidiot at 1:00 PM on April 15, 2003


So, Michael Moore, who knowingly passed-off self-contrived scenes, ads, and quotes as documentary in "Bowling for Columbine," finally gets a taste of his own medicine (or not)?

Oh, boo-hoo-hoo.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:19 PM on April 15, 2003


noooooooooooooooooooo! not another michael moore thread! make it stop! make it go away!
posted by pxe2000 at 1:20 PM on April 15, 2003


noooooooooooooooooooo! not another michael moore thread! make it stop! make it go away!

Really I sympathise. The issue should be wether CNN manipulated the audio, regardless of peoples opinion of Moore. I would be just as pissed off if CNN had turned down the booing (MooreWatch would have a field day with that one).
posted by bobo123 at 1:28 PM on April 15, 2003


If true I would liken this to making O.J. look darker.

That was a totally different situation. When Time made OJ "look darker" it was not done for sinister motives nor was Time purporting to accurately represent OJ’s likeness. The Time cover was an art piece, not a picture. What does this mean? Time was not misrepresenting OJ, but suggesting, via symbolism, that a dark cloud that fallen over a once revered and largely unblemished sports hero. The Moore case is different, because in this case CNN is purporting to accurately report what occurred, while Time created a factious artistic rendering to make a point.
posted by Bag Man at 1:43 PM on April 15, 2003


if it adds anything to the conversation, Moore himself said (on Real Time) that the booing was sudden and came from backstage. My guess is that some stagehands had decided ahead of time to boo anti-war sentiments.

And, speaking as someone who has worked on larger events (although nothing so large as this) there is no way, NO WAY that the different networks had rigged their own room mics. The show provides the feed, they set up the mics.

Now, the different media outlets sure had their own audio processing equipment running on the audio in realtime. There are racks and racks of eq's, multiband compressors. de-essers, limiters and black boxes used to make audio work for TVs. Ugh, which ususally makes it sounds very bad on nice setups just so someone with a 1" speaker on their crappy old tv can still hear, but that is another issue.

The different networks would have things configured differently. This could explain the difference easily. The question is whether CNN re-processed the sound to pick the boo frequencies out, which would be really easy: I could make those boos twice as loud or all but go away with software on my hard drive right now. My guess is that they did -- prolly with the idea of illustrating a point. Just like the guy who make OJ look blacker and more evil on the cover of Newsweek or Time back in the day.
posted by n9 at 1:48 PM on April 15, 2003


I'm getting the impression that a lot of commentors didn't listen to the MP3's. In the CNN feed, it sounds like one specific booer comes through way louder and clearer than in the ABC feed.

That can't be the result of levels or other linear sound adjustment. If the difference is legitimate, it would have to be caused by different microphones. Given that ABC had exclusive coverage, they probably released final footage to CNN, who would have just slapped their logo on the video (and apparently added some booing to the audio).
posted by hammurderer at 2:00 PM on April 15, 2003


You just can't compare ABC's live audio feed that used in (presumably) a clip from a studio based show. Those are just two different animals.

And as the website in question says, both comparisons are based on home VCR recordings. Were both tapes recorded on the same machine, on the same tape? Does anybody look to their VCR as a high-quality audio capture device?

And if CNN was out to 'get' MM, wouldn't they do it the old fashioned way, you know, like with news articles and exposes? You know, stuff that actually works to discredit people, instead of stuff that's only noticed by one just one guy who's already on MM's side? Are we really to believe that their plan for keeping him down rests on turning up the sound on twenty seconds of boohs?

I'm sorry, this thread has vered over into "grasy noll' la-la land. If this guy wants to be the Art Bell of the progressives, he's off to a great start.
posted by Jos Bleau at 2:06 PM on April 15, 2003


Ok, just listen to the bit of music at the end of each tape. The bass notes are clearly louder in the CNN tape than the ABC tape. I looked at the mp3 files in Wavelab and they seem to have rolled off the high end and emphasized frequencies around 170-200 and 300-325 while turning down 500-1000 just a tad and then compressing the thing just a bit so it sounds more natural. Ever wonder why commercials sound louder than TV programs - that's compression at work.
posted by pyramid termite at 2:10 PM on April 15, 2003


Wolfdaddy

The link you posted is not from Moore, it's hearsay.
posted by bas67 at 2:29 PM on April 15, 2003


bas67, the link I offered wasn't written by Moore, but has quotes Roger Ebert directly attributes to Moore that to the best of my knowledge have not been disavowed. Ebert has no apparent reason to lie, and he praised "Bowling for Columbine" quite highly. Ebert does rightly recognize the film for its theatrics as well as its subject material, but that shouldn't be enough for him to compromise his journalistic integrity, now should it?!

Perhaps between October and April, someone dosed Ebert with a mind-ray! Let's pay close attention in the days ahead to the tenor of his reviews, and watch for key words like "vast" and "wing" and "right" and "chocolate frosting".
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:47 PM on April 15, 2003


bas67 - come on. It's Roger Ebert, stating in print, on the record, that Michael Moore said this to him:

"I completely blew it"

When a journalist gets a direct quote from a source about that source, it's usually not considered "hearsay."

on preview: dammit, Wolfdaddy, how can I defend you if you pop in just before I can post mine?
posted by soyjoy at 2:48 PM on April 15, 2003


s'okay soyjoy. Here, wanna borrow my ray gun?
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:51 PM on April 15, 2003


Ok, it's common knowledge the left blames CNN for being a right-wing mouth piece for the administration, and the right (Rush specifically) paints CNN as a left wing pinko "liberal media" org.

Which is it? People everywhere are just itching to boycott them. I can't even paint my protest signs until I know what side to take!
posted by CrazyJub at 2:53 PM on April 15, 2003


bagman: You're making a joke right? You don't actually believe that Time was not misrepresenting OJ, but suggesting, via symbolism, that a dark cloud that fallen over a once revered and largely unblemished sports hero? Sometimes I can't tell who is being sarcastic and who isn't lately. I mean, artistically they could have down many things to show how he'd fallen from grace other then make him blacker! If he was a white man, would time have been tempted to make him blacker! How does being black symbolize a "dark cloud"? If you were being funny I apologize.

Oh, and I agree with wolfdaddy's link, Moore squandered his opportunity. I don't think, however, that CNN doctored the footage in any way. Why would they bother? One half of America saw an idiot shouting something they agree with, the other half saw an idiot saying something they disagree with. Not much point in influencing a public that has largely made up its mind about the war.
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:18 PM on April 15, 2003


Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore - different sides of the same coin? Arrogant blowhards on either end of our political teeter totter?

Heh. You should see how red-faced a colleague of mine got when I suggested to him that fans of Michael Moore were the left's equivalent of Dittoheads. Both groups can be described as such: Because their big guy comes down loudly and stridently on their side of the fence, validating their beliefs, they are willing to overlook the pomposity, stupidity, and any "small" indiscretions of honesty of their icon.
posted by John Smallberries at 3:31 PM on April 15, 2003


CNN is the news channel for losers like Garafolo and Moore who meet at parties and trade favorite muumuu shops.
posted by HTuttle at 3:34 PM on April 15, 2003


How do we know that ABC didn't turn the mics down??

:)
posted by RobbieFal at 3:45 PM on April 15, 2003


Well, when I listened to the source material, it sounded almost as though the booo guy was looped and the initial yays were cut off. I don't know what was real and what was not...

That's infotainment!
posted by mosch at 3:58 PM on April 15, 2003


Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore - different sides of the same coin? Arrogant blowhards on either end of our political teeter totter?

Michael Moore makes good movies. Rush isn't good at anything except yelling at thin air.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:25 PM on April 15, 2003


I have to give Moore credit, wherever he goes he leaves a wake of bunched up Right Wing panties. The amount of time and effort that they spend trying to discredit him is pretty hillarious.

But I guess that is what he wants, their attention is making him wealthy.
posted by sic at 5:11 PM on April 15, 2003


This is completely off-topic, but that Movie Answer Man column of Ebert's is a total hoot.

Especially the completely wonky e-mails he gets from Arthur C. Clarke, which Ebert seems to post verbatim.
posted by WolfDaddy at 5:15 PM on April 15, 2003


"Next thing you know, someone will say the boo-ers were planted."

You caught us. Now you have to die.
posted by soulhuntre at 6:46 PM on April 15, 2003


Non-scientists acting all scientific again.
posted by shoos at 7:18 PM on April 15, 2003


Did CNN record the sound of all those televisions being switched to other channels? Didn't the Oscar ratings hit an all time low?
posted by Durwood at 7:22 PM on April 15, 2003


The boo heard 'round the world? Still not loud enough.
posted by hama7 at 9:29 PM on April 15, 2003


I'm audio engineer and all that I could see from the waveform is that probably CNN and ABC use different kinds of mastering (compression, limiting) settings on their feeds. CNN seems to be more compressed. That is not a crime.

Compression

(I couldn't listen to the samples. Sorry.)
posted by hoskala at 4:18 AM on April 16, 2003


I'm not a sound engineer, and yet I know that the mixing/equalizing used for a someone speaking on stage is changed when audience response takes place.

More importantly, did The Media turn up the sound and picture of the war protesters? And on the looting? I think so.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:25 AM on April 16, 2003


More importantly, did The Media turn up the sound and picture of the war protesters? And on the looting? I think so.

The hell, PP?
posted by Vidiot at 4:36 AM on April 16, 2003


bagman: You're making a joke right?

No joke at all...please see the e-mail I sent you. (I want to keep this thread focused on Moore).
posted by Bag Man at 6:51 AM on April 16, 2003


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