Seven days before Christmas (2012), the video “Golden Eagle Snatches Kid” (by “MrNuclearCat”) was uploaded to Youtube. It shows a large bird of prey grabbing a baby off the ground and beginning to carry it up into the air, at least apparently. By Christmas morning, it had received over 36 million views.
(The Youtube name of a video uploader rarely reveals much about the person; “MrNuclearCat” is no exception.)
You’d think small children were no longer safe in city parks. From among those 36 millions viewers, perhaps hundreds of thousands of parents and grandparents became concerned about the safety of toddlers in open areas like that park in the video. It was unfortunate but unnecessary, for the pickup never happened.
How does it relate to live pterosaurs? Skeptics have used the lack of photos and videos of living pterosaurs as if evidence that those flying creatures do not exist. It’s now obvious: A convincing video can fool millions, so why place extreme trust in photos and videos?
The video showing a bird grabbing a baby was a hoax, a convincing imitation of a home video, a convincing portrayal of a large bird of prey, during its flight near the ground, in a park in Montreal, Canada, picking up a human child. Both bird and child were computer animation objects, according to a disclosure from an animation school in Montreal. But I suspect not everything was revealed.
When I first began examining frames of the video, I soon realized that the shadows did not all correspond with each other.
In this frame, shadows fall in very different directions
Of course the apparent left-right orientation of shadows should change gradually as a video camera pans a great deal over a landscape; but the shadows in this video are extreme, with one frame showing both extremes. That means it was not from the camera panning. It could only exist as a result of some kind of extreme manipulation, a combining of landscape images. That extreme tampering made the whole video suspect.
I began creating a Youtube video response, before I learned of the official disclosure of the hoax.
This is my video response to the hoax, using humor to help communicate what I discovered about it. It had been a few years since I had created a video for Youtube and it reminded me how greatly videos differ from blog posts: paragraphs of explanation can cover greater ground than a short video; but the truth of a concept is often much easier perceived visually than verbally.
Source of the Original Video
The creators of the animation of the “eagle” snatching the “baby” soon disclosed to the world that it was an animated production. According to Discovery News, it was done by animation students. Apparently Normand Archambault, Loïc Mireault and Félix Marquis-Poulin, students at the computer animation school (Centre NAD), designed both the eagle and the toddler. They are said to have used 3D animation that was placed into the video of a park in Montreal.
The disclosure of the computer-animation source of the video, however does not reveal why the background was tampered with. It seems that there is more to this creative endeavor than just simply inserting two computer 3D objects onto the background of a city park.
Centre NaD, in Montreal, Canada, where the computer animation hoax video was created by undergraduate students (in perhaps hundreds of hours)
Flying Creatures Without Photos or Videos
If many millions of Youtube viewers can be deceived by two computer images of what are so common—human toddlers and large birds—how convincing now would be a photo or video of what Westerners assume is extinct: a pterosaur? Even after we have such visual evidence, the strongest source of credibility for modern living pterosaurs would be the large number of eyewitness reports from around the world. This is assuming, of course, that my associates had not yet captured one of the flying creatures for transport to a zoo.
. . . licensed by the state of California, so laws of safety and security are observed and kept.
Both negative and positive reactions to these living-pterosaur investigations deserve attention. Huge flying pterosaurs, non-extinct, with no photo in a newspaper . . .