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That's funny, he never has a second cup at home!
June 20, 2008 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Green screen or not? The latest advertisement for incumbent Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota is raising questions about whether his wife (actress and model Laurie Coleman), shown drinking coffee with him presumably in their home, was anywhere near her husband during the shoot. The controversy might amount to nothing more than the many terrible photoshop disasters we've all seen before if it weren't for all the rumors about the state of the marriage between Senator Coleman and his wife, where she resides, and the growing internet accusations and general political hackery over the new advertisement.

This most recent debacle raises a multitude of questions and I hope the MeFi debate can remain civil and not get off track into the purely political. First, is this green screen? Is that ethical? Was this a political blunder? Who will notice if anyone? Who will care? Will the ultimate debate be just another nose dive into the personal and private of a candidate? What will be the response from Al Franken, the opposition, who has had his own troubles lately?
posted by Muddler (74 comments total)

 
Man...this is a whole lot of linkage...lemme see if I can figure out what's...

*clicks*

*reads:*

Eager to promote her career as a Hollywood actress, Laurie Coleman, wife of Republican Sen.

Oh, I know! Is he gay?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:13 PM on June 20, 2008


Not gay, just a wide stance.

Thank you , thank you.. I'm here all night. Try the veal.
posted by Lord_Pall at 12:16 PM on June 20, 2008


It sure does look like she was spliced in, yeah, however, Coleman's campaign has denied that and insists they were together in the same room while the ad was shot. Weird.
posted by yhbc at 12:18 PM on June 20, 2008


MetaFilter: growing internet accusations and general political hackery

Anyway, on the question: She is clearly not in that kitchen. They don't even have the angles right, let alone the lighting, let alone the acting.

But why does it matter? She's clearly endorsing him. It's not like they used footage of her unawares. Whether she's there or not seems a little immaterial. Is Candidate X REALLY standing in front of that enormous flag with the eagle flying by? Is the guy with the deep, gravelly voice REALLY concerned about the position of Candidate Y?
posted by DU at 12:19 PM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Obviously the shot is composited. The angles don't match, the lighting doesn't match, it clearly looks like a composite.

On the other hand, mountain, meet molehill.
posted by MythMaker at 12:21 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is obviously fake. I can tell by the pixels.
posted by Avenger at 12:23 PM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


First, is this green screen?

The only way it could have been more obvious was if they screwed up the color keying and parts of her body were disappearing.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:24 PM on June 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


A discussion about whether she's there or not? How deep. Pretend that she's doing an egg commercial or something.
posted by doctorschlock at 12:25 PM on June 20, 2008


I am sour cream and I approve this FPP.
posted by sour cream at 12:25 PM on June 20, 2008


Well it looks like a composite shot, though I don't think a green screen was used. It looks more like they were both in the room, just not at the same time, more of a split screen effect.
posted by wabbittwax at 12:26 PM on June 20, 2008


Perhaps a better question for Mr Coleman is this: How can you stand up to the Hollywood libruls who want to hand this great country over to the islam o'fascists if you can't even stand up to your own wife? A Hollywood librul herself, even! Spare the rod and spoil the spouse!
posted by DU at 12:28 PM on June 20, 2008


It was a bad idea to fake it because of the happily family image they're desperately trying to promote, but lying about it and acting defensive has really given people something latch onto.

Some people just weren't made for politics any larger than city-level. They just can't grasp the media image issues that are (unfortunately) a complete dealbreaker for most voters. They seem to struggle and drown in the same water that other (often lesser) politicians swim in easily.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 12:28 PM on June 20, 2008


Norm Coleman shouldn't lose over a campaign commercial.

Coleman should lose for his vote to interfere in the Terry Schiavo case, his opposition to stem cell research (yeah, screw those alzheimer's sufferers, like my grandmother, we've got to save the non-existent babies), his history of gay-baiting, and his hypocrisy on marijuana legalization.
posted by mullingitover at 12:29 PM on June 20, 2008 [20 favorites]


Its stories like this that amaze me with the insight, brilliance and bravery our wonderful press corps and media demonstrate daily.

Wait, no, this is trivial bullshit that's gratuitously tarted up to fill space between ads and "back to you Tom"s.
posted by Skorgu at 12:29 PM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I am an editor, spend many hours a week compositing video and with near certainty can say that she is in front of a green screen. The 18 second mark is a giveaway -- as mentioned in the linked articles, the perspective of the shot makes her look like a giantess. Also, the lighting hitting her is 100% different than that which is hitting the senator and the kitchen.

I think the Coleman camp should publish a behind-the-scenes photo or two proving this is a waste of everyone's time.
posted by timshel at 12:33 PM on June 20, 2008


Definitely green screen. At 0.16 she's not in the same perspective as the background.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:36 PM on June 20, 2008


But wait! We must consider the possibility that it was actually a blue screen! THE PUBLIC HAS A RIGHT TO KNOW!
posted by echo target at 12:36 PM on June 20, 2008


See, I just find the entire thing interesting to watch and relatively few blogs seem to be focused on the bigger picture - the picture of what this controversy says about us and not only Norm.

As to the underlying issues Norm is going to face, I don't know that I've found anyone standing up and saying there wasn't green screen, yet Coleman's campaign says it is real. So, the first question is whether it is or isn't green screened. If it was, then there is a big question about why Coleman's folks would make such a commercial and then lie about how it was made. The molehill seems destined to grow.
posted by Muddler at 12:37 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Norm Coleman shouldn't lose over a campaign commercial.

I don't care why or how he loses, as long as he loses.
posted by blucevalo at 12:39 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, she's a good woman doncha know? These people don't know what they're talkin' about. Oh ja, we seen her just the other day havin' a hot dish over at the First Lutern potluck, ja, you betcha.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:40 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was about come back here and say there was no way to really tell from a crappy YouTube video -- it could just be weird lighting -- then it cut to the wide and the perspective was all off. Weird.
posted by brundlefly at 12:40 PM on June 20, 2008


and his hypocrisy on marijuana legalization.

The hypocrisy.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:52 PM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


But wait! We must consider the possibility that it was actually a blue screen!

She's wearing a blue shirt, which indicates it was probably a green screen.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:53 PM on June 20, 2008


flagged as electionfilter
posted by tachikaze at 12:54 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


If it is real then there is raw footage somewhere of it. Show that, and the green-screen people look silly. Issue vague denials and you look silly.

But who cares if it is real. I mean, I bet they weren't REALLY drinking coffee. She didn't REALLY need him to throw out that bag of "trash". It was all FAKE!
posted by dirtdirt at 12:59 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


It sure looks composited, but if it is, that won't be the problem. The problem will be if they deny it and then turn out to be lying.

On that note, YHBC, the quote you mention is rather deliberately and perhaps interestingly phrased. The spokesperson does not say what your link says. The quote is "The Senator and his wife were both in the kitchen of their home where the commercial was filmed."

The word is "where", not "when."

Can't find the original source, though.
posted by rokusan at 1:04 PM on June 20, 2008


Verily doth this look tapestryshoppd.

My knowledge doth derive from some of the stitchings and from having observ'd many such deceptionnes in mine time.
posted by pyrex at 1:06 PM on June 20, 2008 [10 favorites]


It's news like this, the kind that sways voters on a nonpolitical issue, that keeps my hope for extremely strict voter restrictions alive and kicking.
posted by trueluk at 1:11 PM on June 20, 2008


Let's get Wesley Snipes and Sean Connery on the case. They'll solve this mystery, even if they have to kick some Yakuza ass to do it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:14 PM on June 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


Well, it is possible that both of them were shot in the same location and that the campaign doesn't really know what happened in post. The crew could have easily shot contingency FG and BG takes with a Stewart Screen behind her in the kitchen and added some lighting for the pick-ups. In post, someone decided that two non-simultaneous takes were were better than any in-camera takes.

FWIW, it does look like a composite to me. Perspective disparities aside, the BG is 2 or more stops down from her levels. The consistency of the DOF on the BG points at post-production blurring rather than optical. A keyer such as you'd find in Flame/Inferno or even a third-party After-Effects or Shake keyer is quite capable of compositing hair as long as the footage isn't too noisy and the FG is well separated.
posted by bz at 1:36 PM on June 20, 2008


Sorry. I don't think I can even muster enough to care at all.
posted by Dave Faris at 1:45 PM on June 20, 2008


If they went to the trouble to use a green screen, they should have had Coleman married to Jar Jar Binks.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:47 PM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


For as long as anyone knows, she has been living in LA and he has been living in DC. She comes back for the election, they shoot some commercials and they make a few joint appearances and then nobody sees her again until the next election cycle.

He's not really a big family values kind of Republican, so the local media never really makes a big deal out of their relationship. It is what it is.
posted by mygoditsbob at 1:49 PM on June 20, 2008


Oh, I know! Is he gay?

Garrison Keillor put it somewhat differently:

Norm got a free ride from the press. St. Paul is a small town and anybody who hangs around the St. Paul Grill knows about Norm's habits. Everyone knows that his family situation is, shall we say, very interesting, but nobody bothered to ask about it, least of all the religious people in the Republican Party. They made their peace with hypocrisy long ago. So this false knight made his way as an all-purpose feel-good candidate, standing for vaguely Republican values, supporting the president.

posted by jamjam at 2:04 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


and his hypocrisy on marijuana legalization.

The hypocrisy.


I fail to see the hypocrisy in changing your mind. If he were an avid pothead now and advocating for draconian policies, yes, but not youthful indulgence vs. old age crustiness is not hypocrisy.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:08 PM on June 20, 2008


Pollomacho writes "I fail to see the hypocrisy in changing your mind. If he were an avid pothead now and advocating for draconian policies, yes, but not youthful indulgence vs. old age crustiness is not hypocrisy."

I think you're confusing old age crustiness with pandering. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if ol' Norm still lit up.
posted by mullingitover at 2:16 PM on June 20, 2008


I admit it. I clicked on this post solely because of the quotation from Airplane!. Because I'm just that easily entertained.
posted by spamguy at 2:21 PM on June 20, 2008


"Or imagine being magically transported to Minnesota! Hi..... I'm in Minnesota."
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:27 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you watch the commercial really closely, on the counter by the refrigerator you can see a plate of beans.
posted by Kibbutz at 2:38 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Delaware. The Wayne's World gag is 'Delaware'.
posted by cortex at 2:42 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Its stories like this that amaze me with the insight, brilliance and bravery our wonderful press corps and media demonstrate daily.

Well -- it looks to me that this is something bloggers are interested in. Let me know when the New York Times and the Washington Post report on the "Green Screen" scandal.
posted by ericb at 2:48 PM on June 20, 2008


and his hypocrisy on marijuana legalization.

The hypocrisy.


That was great. Thanks.

Using a green (or blue? I want to know too!) screen to make it look like the senator and his wife have been together when they haven't = bad. Lying about it afterward = horrible. OOPS!

I could be wrong, but right before Norm gets up to take the garbage out it sure looks like a high school AV club run amok.

It's actually worse than I would expect from a high school AV club. I don't know anyone who wouldn't spot it as a hack job.

The fact that Norm saw and approved that commercial (he admits it in the trash scene) should give his supporters pause.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:50 PM on June 20, 2008


Why am I not surprised there's still snow on the ground in Minnesota in June?
posted by Eideteker at 2:55 PM on June 20, 2008


This is ungiveashittable.
posted by everichon at 3:01 PM on June 20, 2008 [7 favorites]


Really? Really?!

This is what I am reduced to caring about?!

Well. OK then.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 3:34 PM on June 20, 2008


If you watch the commercial really closely, on the counter by the refrigerator you can see a plate of beans.

NO WAI — that had to be photoshopped in.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:51 PM on June 20, 2008


Even with the horrible compositing job, what advertising producer spends 10% of the air time focused on a coffee cup?
posted by fydfyd at 3:59 PM on June 20, 2008


umm... guys... check out Coleman's response.
posted by kaytwo at 4:08 PM on June 20, 2008


Does that Starbucks joke really work in the flyover states?
posted by Dave Faris at 4:11 PM on June 20, 2008


Does that Starbucks joke really work in the flyover states?

They don't drink caffeinated beverages out there. It gets them all excitable and liberal.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:20 PM on June 20, 2008


umm... guys... check out Coleman's response.

Oh, so lame. And it really is from Coleman's campaign and posted at his official website: Al Franken edited into new campaign ad?
posted by ericb at 4:30 PM on June 20, 2008


Who cares about the green screen/no green screen. I stand in awe of the amazing "throwing out the trash" metaphor. gosh, that is so subtle and yet pointed. How do I sign up to vote in Minnesota.
posted by nax at 4:30 PM on June 20, 2008


check out Coleman's response

That's...I...what?
posted by cortex at 4:36 PM on June 20, 2008


Norm got a free ride from the press. St. Paul is a small town and anybody who hangs around the St. Paul Grill knows about Norm's habits. Everyone knows that his family situation is, shall we say, very interesting, but nobody bothered to ask about it, least of all the religious people in the Republican Party. They made their peace with hypocrisy long ago. So this false knight made his way as an all-purpose feel-good candidate, standing for vaguely Republican values, supporting the president.

Dude, and I was KIDDING. I guessed that shit from the trailer, just like with The Village.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:45 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


umm... guys... check out Coleman's response.

I admit I was amused when 'Al Franken' referred to the Minneapolis skyline as St. Paul.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:55 PM on June 20, 2008


you know what's even funnier? is that this tool will remain in the Senate because the Democrats didn't find anyone better than an unfunny comedian to run against him. so that's one seat forfeited just because of their incompetence. strangely enough, if the Obama landslide everybody is apparently so confident in, doesn't really happen, maybe one more vote in Senate would have helped to try and pretend to block at least some of President McCain's weirdest ideas. it's Coleman 52-40, and he'll win even in a three way race with Ventura. first they ran the corpse of poor Walter Mondale, then Franken. Democrats clearly don't like to win Minnesota, they'd rather whine about how awesome Wellstone was (yes, he was, get over it) and then lose the election. I mean, Al Franken?, come the fuck on.
posted by matteo at 5:21 PM on June 20, 2008


As a citizen of a country that once recently (& probably more than once in older times) elected a well-known womanising socialist ex-union leader drunkard to its highest office, my mind boggles.

Why the hell do so many of you care?!

Faking a video to lie about a happy home life is nothing - I mean, it's not as if you don't know you're going to be lied to in a million other ways about much more important things before, during, and after the election. Ummm - is it? Does it really matter to his ability to do the job that he's unofficially separated from his wife, and probably taking his secretary out 3 times a week for plo chops?

Personally, I think it's a disturbing sign of your collective optimism, hope, and belief in the inherent purity and goodness of public office overriding all common sense. You may be one of the most 'liberal' countries on earth, but it seems that deep down you still want the comfort of knowing that the Puritans are still there looking out for you...
posted by Pinback at 5:34 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Coleman's the one who waltzed into power on the back of a mysterious plane crash (and Walt Mondale's refusal to give it up, already)... this is one more weird and creepy chapter to take us further down that rabbit hole.

What's better, is that Al Franken couldn't have scripted Coleman's "response" commercial better if he tried... and he didn't have to spend a dime. It reminds voters that 1) strange things happened in Coleman's ad and 2) Al Franken is funny, sorta, and self-depreciating and therefore down to earth. Also, unless they're secretly GOP boosters, the ad will likely get the campaign's ass sued off by the Twins and Kirby Puckett.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:45 PM on June 20, 2008


think it's a disturbing sign of your collective optimism, hope, and belief in the inherent purity and goodness of public office

Sadly, many people in America, even on this very website, believe their politicians should be regarded as sources of hope and objects of belief.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 5:45 PM on June 20, 2008


Even with the horrible compositing job, what advertising producer spends 10% of the air time focused on a coffee cup?

You're not supposed to be looking at the coffee cup. You're supposed to be looking at the rings on her finger because they're a HAPPILY MARRIED HETEROSEXUAL COUPLE YES THEY ARE BY GOLLY.
posted by EarBucket at 6:00 PM on June 20, 2008


Delaware. The Wayne's World gag is 'Delaware'.

Yes. But in this case we're talking about someone being greenscreened so as to appear to be in Minnesota, so... see what I did there?
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:12 PM on June 20, 2008


you know what's even funnier? is that this tool will remain in the Senate because the Democrats didn't find anyone better than an unfunny comedian to run against him. so that's one seat forfeited just because of their incompetence. strangely enough

I don't know if you realize this, but democrats don't "find" people to run for office, people registered as democrats can sign up to run in these things called "primaries" And if they win, they're the nominee. In some cases, candidate recruitment is done to find people to run for tough seats, etc, but in the case of Franken, he'd been talking about running for a long time and he did run (and win) in a contested primary.

(and I wonder who exactly you're talking about when you say "the democrats" Do you mean Howard Dean? Or maybe the Clinton machine? If you're talking about Minnesota State democrats, it might make some sense by why tar all "democrats" based on the outcome of a contested primary in MN?)
posted by delmoi at 7:44 PM on June 20, 2008


I wouldn't vote for someone who showed this much disrespect for video. It borders on incompetence. You could argue that maybe this person doesn't know about it, and trusts his advisers to get it right. Well, his advisors are wrong, putting out a crappy ad like this. So, no vote for him.
posted by bugmuncher at 8:23 PM on June 20, 2008


Yes. But in this case we're talking about someone being greenscreened so as to appear to be in Minnesota, so... see what I did there?

YES BUT IT'S NOT CANON
posted by cortex at 8:49 PM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Outtakes.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:56 PM on June 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


If they were in the same room, it is extremely unlikely they only took one picture. Show us thumbnails of the dozens of pictures you decided weren't good enough for the ad. That should do the trick of convincing us..
posted by DreamerFi at 2:29 AM on June 21, 2008


...the ad will likely get the campaign's ass sued off by the Twins and Kirby Puckett.

Or at least by his family, since Puckett died from a "cerebral hemorrhage due to hypertension" in 2006.

(Next time you're stressed out at work, remember Kirby.)
posted by rokusan at 3:17 AM on June 21, 2008


I would just like to say that because of Norm Coleman, Pawlenty, and the Republican government in Minnesota, my mother hasn't received a real raise for about 7 years now. Thanks for gutting higher ed you fucks. I hope your facade of a broken marriage is fun.

When I grew up there, it was a liberal state. What happened, man?
posted by saysthis at 9:06 AM on June 21, 2008


You know, for an actress and model, Laurie Coleman's reading of the part is pretty bad. Especially assuming that she's in the comfort of an LA studio and not stuck in the kitchen in Minnesota with her gay husband. She looks like one of those superimposed home shopping real estate saleslady types, like she should be saying, "Call now before this special offer ends forever!" The way she turns her head, it just doesn't at all seem as if she's actually talking to Norm. On the other hand, Norm's performance seemed pretty natural. He could have a new career ahead of him after he fails to win reelection.
posted by donkeymon at 6:50 PM on June 21, 2008


Sorry I came to this particular can of beans late and already find it cold, but it's not that its green screened that's the problem. Let's drop the green screen thing. It's not green screen. Let's accept that as a given.

If that's the case -- why does it still look so fucked up?

The problem here is not green screen; it's that the technical people are using normal perspective as forced perspective. There is no rational, logical reason for this, in the context of this commercial. There is an irrational, illogical reason, which I'll get to later.

Even if the director of this piece was trying to prove that they're uber cool or whatever? There's a thousand better ways to show off than this - and they didn't even show off WELL, is the problem.

The director is purposefully trying to make these two look as close together in the frame as possible, while simultaneously keeping them as far apart literally as possible.

Why do that?

Why not just have them stand next to each other? This forced perspective trick is something that Orson Welles made famous with Citizen Kane. It was used at times to make the character of Kane appear larger than life, and at other times to make him appear to be diminuitive and powerless. It's what they call "an in-camera trick" in cinema. You don't need green screen. This bullshit predates that - it's archaic.

More recently, Peter Jackson used in-camera perspective tricks in extreme measures in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, to make some actors look like hobbits in-camera when standing next to human characters -- the actors were actually several feet apart from one another at times, then told to look at certain angles so it would appear they were looking straight at the other actor when in fact they couldn't be. However, that was a legitimate directorial decision. Jackson could have used green screen, and I believe in some cases he was forced to, but he minimized the use of that as much as he could, because it's difficult to make that look good, even today.

Why waste valuable resources in this commercial doing these parlor tricks? Separating the senator from his wife if they're in the studio together? Why purposefully put her in bright lights and him in shadow? What visual in-camera trick were they trying to generate in camera? Why can't they just have the two of them standing in front of a coffee machine holding hands?

Notice that they purposefully put "the trophy wife" Laurie Coleman in the foreground and give her very bright lighting because they want your eyes to focus on her and listen to what she's saying, but anyone who is watching her, misses the point completely. It's what stands between her and the senator that takes center stage: the fruit bowl.

People accuse Mr. Coleman of being gay. A visual synonym for homosexuality is fruit.

As Mrs. Coleman tells us that political pundits will say a lot of things, her alleged husband is in the background drinking a cup of coffee. This signifies that he is to say nothing - his mouth is full. Her name appearing below the bowl of fruit indicates that she is the center of attention now, even though the bowl of fruit is actually what is centered in the shot. This should be a major WTF moment to anyone who considers themselves critics of the visual medium called film. If you don't believe me, look at the visual again. Whoever directed this commercial is trying to tell you Coleman's life is in danger. Coleman is in the background on upper stage right - OUR left. Watch the video again closely now.

Back, and to the left.
Back, and to the left.
Back, and to the left.
Back, and to the left.
Back, and to the left.
Back, and to the left.
Back, and to the left.
Back, and to the left.

...there. Warmed up your plate of beans for you.

You can have it back.

Still wanna eat it?

...

Didn't think so.

It's politics as usual. This fabricated controversy is further proof of that. Stop encouraging them. If you still think I'm being serious about any of this Coleman bullshit, or if you still believe anyone should ever take politics remotely seriously ever again, I got some Irish children you can trade in for potatoes.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:53 PM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I watch the ad, and, apart from the obviousness of the green screen, what strikes me is that anybody who would dare run such an excruciatingly corny ad in my country would be laughed out of office. Even more so if he followed suit with that "Al Franken" ad.
posted by Skeptic at 2:44 AM on June 22, 2008


The campaign has denied it.

But they're Republicans.

By now, you should have learned that they lie all the time, about everything.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 8:46 PM on June 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am a professional video editor - it's a greenscreen or similar. Definitely a composite of some sort, or they are using a really weird lens and the DoP was smoking crack when he lit it.

The thing is, if they hadn't tried to make it look like she was interacting with him it would have been okay, that 'standing in front of a video background' thing can actually be quite good.
posted by sycophant at 2:42 PM on June 23, 2008


I really think they were using a weird angle and weird lighting. I can't make any sense of why a green screen would be needed.

But, either way, the real message of the ad is this.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 4:30 PM on June 23, 2008


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