Dec. 20, 2012 at 10:08 AM ET
In a viral YouTube video that has had millions doing a double-take since it was posted on Wednesday, a golden eagle appears to swoop out of the sky and snatch up a toddler right off the ground.
It turns out the bird was just flying into the YouTube hoax Hall of Fame. And in the process, it got a group of students at a Montreal animation school an "A'' for their class project. The eagle and the baby were digitally created by four students at Montreal’s Centre NAD, a 3-D animation school, who spent more than two months and 500 hours putting together the clip.
“We did all the basic steps of integrating 3-D elements for a film,’’ co-creator Normand Archambault told NBC News. “We rigged the eagle, the kid and then we integrated it into the clip.’’
With 16 million views and counting, suffice it to say that the video has earned these students top marks.
“The way we were graded, if you get 100 views, you get a 100 (grade), and we surpassed that, so it was great,’’ Archambault said.
A closer look at the video by eagle-eyed viewers and reporters revealed that the bird has no shadow in its descent and then suddenly a shadow appears. The bird’s wing is also cut in half, only to quickly reappear. And most tellingly, there were no reports by Montreal police of infants being snatched up by an eagle. That type of bird does not call Montreal home.
This is not the first video hoax created by students from Centre NAD, which also fabricated a digital clip of a penguin escaping from a Montreal zoo.
Hoaxes have become big business in the advertising world. Viral video marketing agency Thinkmodo recently fooled the public into thinking three people were flying through the skies of Manhattan when it was really a stunt to create buzz for an action film. The “people’’ were elaborately-equipped remote-controlled aircrafts, but the video racked up seven million views on YouTube.
“At the end it’s about us creating something that’s super, super cool and awesome, and it’s a ‘wow’ factor and people share it and just go, ‘Hey, you got to see this video,’’’ Thinkmodo co-founder Michael Krivicka told NBC News.