Tag Archives: Computer-generated imagery

DEBUNKED: UFO Over India

By CaptainDisillusion via YouTube

Is the UFO Over Santa Clarita a Fake?

Yes! It Is!

But So Is Everything Else!!
This UFO Is an Animator’s Awesome Prank

via Wired.com

The UFO video starts like so many others on YouTube: An unimpressive feed from a handheld camera, jostled around within a moving car. There’s random background noise, then an expression of disbelief as the amateur filmmaker spots a spacecraft and tracks its path across the evening sky.

Suddenly, another ship appears as if out of the ether: a gigantic mothership that vanishes a few seconds later in a wisp of clouds.

YouTube viewers called BS almost immediately on the clip, which was titled “UFO Over Santa Clarita” and uploaded late last year. Many complimented the filmmakers’ digital craftsmanship and suggested they should head to Hollywood, where their CGI work could be put to good use creating alien ships. “I give an E for entertainment effort, but nothing for authenticity,” commented Youtube user Twister6424.

The skeptics couldn’t have been more right. But while the highly detailed alien ships were obviously fake, the even more surprising thing about the clip is that nothing else was real either. Every single element in the 39-second clip was computer-generated, from the car the supposed cameraman is driving to the cloudy blue sky where the alien crafts appear.

In reality, “UFO Over Santa Clarita” was a painstakingly crafted joke played by Aristomenis “Meni” Tsirbas, the director of the 2007 computer-animated film Battle for Terra who has also contributed visual effects and animation work to movies like Titanic and Hellboy and several Star Trek television series. A long-time champion of “photorealistic” CGI, Tsirbas and his team spent about four months mimicking the look of an accidental extraterrestrial encounter captured on a smartphone.

MORE . . .

(Click an image to begin slideshow)

The Baby-Snatching Eagle: Real or Fake?

By Hany Farid via Image Authentication and Forensics | Fourandsix Technologies

A video purportedly showing an eagle swooping down and snatching a baby has gone viral:

Given how unlikely the video seems, there is a vigorous debate about its authenticity. We performed a forensic lighting analysis on this video to determine if it is real or fake.

To perform this analysis, we connect points on an object with their corresponding cast shadow. Because of the geometry of cast shadows, all such constraints must intersect at a single point. (For an understanding of why this is so, read my previous blog post about shadows.)

Shown below are five such constraints from one frame of the video, just as the eagle is about to the grab the baby. The red lines are from the baby and eagle, and the blue lines are from the slide, adult, and stroller. You can clearly see that these shadows are not consistent with one another. The most likely scenario is that the baby and eagle are computer generated and were inserted into a real-world scene. Because this scene is outdoors and illuminated with a single light source (the sun), there is no physically plausible explanation for this inconsistency in shadows.

[click for a magnified view]

[UPDATE: Minutes after posting this blog entry, we discovered that the perpetrators of the hoax had come forward. They managed to fool much of the internet pretty successfully, but it appears that they can still use some practice in refining their 3D simulations.]

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