Just as I--and many of you--suspected, the viral video claiming to demonstrate how to hack into the huge video monitors in New York's Times Square was a fake.
The video shows two people: one filming and holding an iPhone with a "video transmitter" plugged into the headphone jack, and the other with a "video repeater" that appears to hijack any screen it comes near, forcing it to display the video feed from the phone. Toward the end of the video, the repeater is attached to a helium balloon, and floated up in front of the Times Square monitor, which also acquiesces to the "hack."
As it turns out, there's more of a backstory to the video than its DIY aesthetic would seem to indicate. The faux hack was actually part of a subtle viral marketing campaign for the movie "Limitless." The only nod to the film comes in the moments before the Times Square screen is taken over--the movie trailer is playing on the screen before it's replaced with the iPhone feed.
While many people called the hoax, we didn't get it totally right. I and most others assumed the screen manipulation was the result of video post-production. In fact, Michael Krivicka of Thinkmodo, the marketing agency behind the video, says the apparent video hijack really did play on the Times Square screen.
"We basically rented the screens on Times Square," Krivicka told InformationWeek. "We had our own footage play on there, which had sync points that were looping every 60 seconds. So we basically synced up the footage on our iPhone and made it look, with rehearsed timing, like it's being hacked into. It was really simple."… Read more