By Kevin Keegan
I was sent a video yesterday with footage that was beyond belief. Footage that was so crazy, there was no doubt to why this video was in the news. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing or the fact that it was captured. As of this writing, the video has garnered over 2.2 million views on YouTube. (Update: The views are up 150k in a span of just 45min while I wrote this post.)
The original video, seen below, was posted by an account name Kelly Murphy.
This account has only three videos so far, all of which are of snow boarding and no videos older than April 6, 2016, a mere 6 days ago.
So the question has been asked, is this snow boarding video video real or fake? There have been many videos that have either been digitally altered or simply staged and have fooled just about everyone while becoming viral. From my class notes on viral videos:
Theme– Most “viral videos” fit into one of 4 thematic categories:
1) Parody of something popular and timely or just plain silly
3) Cute as hell, and
4) Did that just happen? (It usually didn’t.)
In this case, it’s “did that just happen?”
For some context here are some examples of viral videos that were not authentic. One of the greatest staged videos that I can recall was put on by ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel show in which a young woman was attempting to “twerk” on camera, but ultimately fell, knocked over a candle and caught herself on fire. After gaining traction and views, Jimmy Kimmel released the reveal video admitting that is was fake and subsequently making all the people and legitimate news sites that reported on it feel like complete morons. At the same time forcing us to assess what is real or fake online, an important learning lesson in today’s social media culture.
Another digitally faked video ultimately turned out to be a car ad after the dust settled. Nissans Airplane Landing gear save video gained a lot of attention along with some of their other videos which the FTC eventually got involved with citing false product representation.
If you’re curious about the making of the video, here’s a quick video showcasing some of the VFX work that went into it…
Back to the snow boarding video. The video is certainly convincing, but I’m leaning towards fake. On the first view, I was simply blown away that this happened to this girl. I was literally in awe and my heart began to race as glimpses of a bear came into view as the camera panned and moved with the snowboarder. This was another cause for the video to go viral. But on the second view, I started to look more closely at the each snippet where the bear was present in the video. Things that I saw fell in line with things I look for in my job as a video production manager. Motion blur is present on the bear when other objects near it contained no motion blur. The shading/lightness of the bear didn’t quite match either, but was still very similar to the other elements in the video. The deal was sealed when I looked at the shot where the bear ultimately gives up and stops chasing the rider. The bear simply fades away very quickly, almost like a genie. The editor/compositor of the video likely wanted people to think that the dusting stirred up by the snow caused this effect, but it’s just too quick to look real. These observations combined with the newness of the account seem a little too convinient and add to my opinion of the video being fake.
Like the Jimmy Kimmel video, as funny and unbelieveable or as awe inspiring the video is, we need to remain media literate and still question the information we’re being given. I have no issue with having fun and letting go in the moment and enjoying something that is beyond belief for the sake of entertainment. But we all need to keep a good grasp on reality and the fact that not everything out there is what it seems.