Birdwatchers angry as viral video is exposed as hoax

Dec 20, 2012

Montreal film students come clean and admit making spoof video using 3D animation

A VIDEO of an eagle apparently grabbing a toddler in a Montreal park and almost flying away with him has been confirmed as a hoax, created by students at a Canadian film school.
The National Animation and Design Centre came clean after the video went viral on the internet and received millions of hits after it was picked up by media organisations around the world.
It a statement on its website the school admitted that "both the eagle and the kid were created in 3D animation and integrated into the film afterwards". The film was the work of students Normand Archambault, Loic Mireault and Felix Marquis-Poulin.
As soon as the video went viral sceptics began to question whether or not it was true. New Statesman blogger Alex Hern said it bore the hallmarks "of a good CGI job".
The bird's slightly erratic shadow was one thing that was picked up on, and ornithologists also questioned the veracity of the video.
Guardian blogger Grrlscientist pointed out that the bird's wingshape was wrong and added: "To the best of my knowledge, there aren't any resident golden eagles in Montreal. Clearly, the bird in the video is not a golden eagle".
Concluding that the video was a fake she even attacked the paper for which she writes. "By posting this video, the Guardian is actively promoting and reinforcing the public's misinformation and fear of birds of prey, and further alienating the public from nature."
Other bird lovers agreed. American conservationist Kenn Kaufman wrote: "People in modern society are too far removed from nature as it is, and all too ready to believe scary stories about wild animals. Why go to all this effort to create fear about harmless and beautiful birds?"
He also attacked the media for taking the video at face value.
The video is just the "latest example of instant foolery facilitated by image processing," noted NBC science blog Cosmic Log. "Such pranks can be harmless fun — but they can also create serious problems," it added, pointing out that they can often create difficulties for the authorities and can confuse criminal investigations.
It is by no means the first YouTube clip to fool media outlets. Earlier this month footage purporting to show rude messages and images hidden in the Brighton Christmas lights was also revealed to be a practical joke after it had made it into the media.
And the Canadian film school also has previous. Its Christmas offering last year featured another avian surprise in a Montreal park, although the 2011 footage of an escaped penguin didn’t cause quite as much of a stir.

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