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Ed Driscoll

Don’t Ever Change, CBS

April 7th, 2014 - 7:34 pm

“CBS’ ’60 Minutes’ admits to faking Tesla car noise,” USA Today reports:

What is it about Tesla and its ability to make major media outlets look like fools?

The latest example came a week ago today when CBS’ 60 Minutes aired a report on Tesla and its amazing electric car. It was basically the kind of coverage that any automaker would kill to have (and must have left flummoxed General Motors executives wondering why they never got it for the plug-in Chevrolet Volt).

Just one problem: As the Associated Press reported, a CBS editor made what is being called an “audio error” in dubbing the sound of a loud traditional car engine over footage of the much quieter Tesla electric car. The Model is whisper quiet, no matter how hard you push it.

Auto website Jalopnik broke the story of the fake sound and CBS was in retreat all week.

Unlike NBC’s malicious edit of the audio of the transcript of George Zimmerman’s 911 call, this sounds like awfully small beer, other than it’s a reminder that even in a news report (or news-ish, given the editorializing that 60 Minutes is notorious for), that plenty of sound effects are added in post production. CBS’s backroom audio boffin likely watched raw footage of cars zooming past and simply reached for the nearest collection of sexy race car sound effects, forgetting that coal-powered (heh) electric-powered cars sound very different than their internal-combustion equivalents. Or often, they don’t make much of a sound at all; Glenn Reynolds recently suggested adding “a Jetsons-style bleebing sound” to offset their silent acoustic signature.

And actually, audio sweetening of TV news and documentaries dates back to the Jetsons-era of Jurassic television. If you watch the DVD collection of Thames’ World at War series from the early 1970s, you’ll hear the same squeaky sound effect pasted under numerous tanks from all of the armies as they rumble past the (silent) newsreel cameras, and many of the same gun and rifle sound effects used over and over again as well. (I believe that many, if not all of them came from the British film industry’s legendary Cinesound sound effects collection, which were also used extensively in mid’60s and early 1970s UK-based productions, including Gerry Anderson’s shows such as Capt. Scarlet and UFO, as well as the original James Bond films. I used a few of these sound effects as well in some of my later Silicon Graffiti segments as a subtle homage.)

In recent years, the backroom technicians at all of the networks have been caught making mistakes on Chryons and the like, a combination of likely poor training these days in college, better scrutiny from the Blogosphere, and the sheer amount of programming television is required to crank out to meet the ravenous demands of the 500 channel cable and satellite set-top box. But CBS, the home of Rathergate, which caused Dan Rather his job, and helped supply the original name of our humble little outpost on the Internet, has to be extra careful out there.

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"But CBS, the home of Rathergate, which caused Dan Rather his job"...

Yes, it did. But I think you meant that RatherGate cost Dan Rather his job.
22 weeks ago
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