12.29.2012: Gwaihir is a total jerk.


This started making the rounds last night, first as a viral video, and then as a viral debunking.

For what it’s worth, I think the people claiming it’s a CGI eagle are full of it. If it’s a CGI bird, it’s the best CGI bird in the history of CGI birds. A lot of people claim the physics seems off, or there isn’t enough individual feather movement, or the kid stays airborn too long. To me, this is proof that the bird ISN’T fake. Any CGI artist talented enough to make the bird look as real as it does isn’t going to miss something like the kid rising after being released–that’s the kind of fluky thing you only get from real-world physics.

That’s not to say I think this is a real, candid incident. I’m a subscriber to the theory that the bird is trained by a falconer, and the baby is fake. Why do I think that? For one thing, it’s fishy that the cameraman is not only filming the bird right before the attack, but he seems totally prepared to follow it on its descent, never losing it from center frame for even a moment. Secondly, the prolonged period where the camera is lowered to the ground (supposedly while the cameraman is running) provides ample opportunity to switch the dummy baby for the real thing. Lastly, if the dummy baby is lighter than a real kid, that could easily explain why the baby does appear to rise for a frame or two after the bird has released it (though there are other possible explanations there, even if the baby were real).

Either way I’m inclined to think the video is at least staged. For one thing, it’s just too perfect. I also assume, if this were real, that the cameraman or the family would have been all over the morning shows and cable news programs by now. That they are keeping a low profile suggests they don’t want to be answering a lot of questions.

ALMOST INSTANT UPDATE: Wow, I stand corrected. And impressed with how far CGI has come. ILM and WETA better fight over those kids, because that eagle is more convincing than any fake animal they’ve ever put on film.


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