This video went viral shortly after it was posted by MrNuclearCat to YouTube on December 18, 2012. As of today (January 28, 2013), it has 41,691,476 views on YouTube and more than 81,000 thumbs up. The video shows a golden eagle swooping down and lifting a small child off the ground. It was said to be set in a park in Montreal. Now the true story behind this video has been revealed. It turns out the video is a fake. But the revenues generated by the video will go toward a scholarship for a deserving student at a 3D animation and digital design school, where the video was created.
Yes, those crazy students. Students at Montreal’s Centre NAD (National Animation and Design Center) made the video in a production simulation workshop class in 3D Animation and Digital Design, in the course of earning their Bachelor’s degree. Antoine Seigle, Normand Archambault, Loïc Mireault and Félix Marquis-Poulin, students at Centre NAD, all participated in making the video. And in fact, the school posted a story about the making of the video on December 19, 2012. But that was when stories were still making the rounds in the media about whether the video was real or fake.
Alex Hern, a blogger for the New Statesman, was apparently the first to suggest the video might be a fake.
When the bird swoops down, its shadow pops in one frame after it does. And for one frame, and one frame only, around three seconds in, its right wing becomes transparent.
Then there is the slightly odd motion of the child after the eagle lets go of it. Not only does it carry on going up – which would just be momentum – but its ascent actually speeds up a bit before falling.
Later, Cyatek on YouTube posted a frame-by-frame analysis of the video.
Personally, I noticed there were no names given in the video of the child, or parents. No dates. Just the video. Also, it seemed to me the reaction time of the parent was a bit slow. If a bird of prey swooped down anywhere near your child, wouldn’t parental instinct kick in more quickly? Ah, hindsight. We all knew it was fake, right?
Bottom line: The viral video showing an eagle trying to snatch a child from a Montreal park turns out to be fake. But proceeds from YouTube generated on the video’s page – which has now had over 41 million views – will go to help a deserving student at a 3D animation and digital design school (Montreal’s Centre NAD), from whence the video sprang. Go students!
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.