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Five-second 'Dramatic Chipmunk' video takes the Web by storm

The Web has allowed short, funny video clips to proliferate, but the novelty of this one is that it's only 5 seconds long--and hilarious.

It's a well-documented phenomenon: the rise of Web video has fueled a trend of 'bite-size entertainment.' Wired magazine devoted an entire cover story (actually, a set of mini cover stories) to it in its March '07 issue. The attention-deficient Web's appetite for small clips and short blog entries has gotten to the point where has actually condensed classic TV episodes into "minisodes" for its members.

But the latest viral video craze makes those three- to five-minute minisodes seem like Titanic. This is the "Dramatic Chipmunk," a 5-second clip of a chubby rodent making a foreboding face at the camera accompanied by a Snidely Whiplash-worthy musical interlude. (Bonus points if you know who Snidely Whiplash is.) The video proliferated, thanks to YouTube, as well as frat boy hub CollegeHumor, which put a link to the clip on its front page and touted it as "the best 5-second video on the Internet."

You can already tell that, after only a few days (the video was originally uploaded earlier this week), it's reached the gold-medal level of viral videos--somebody made a dance remix.

Here at CNET, we had a little bit of a debate about whether the "Dramatic Chipmunk" footage was actually real. Was it doctored in one way or another to make the chipmunk look more Hitchcock-esque? If it proved real, we wanted to know who the heck managed to capture the moment on video.

An e-mail to CollegeHumor Managing Editor Jeff Rubin answered our question: yup, it's real. The clip comes from a Japanese TV show in which the rodent was put on display for some reason. The priceless 5 seconds appear to have been the result of a very, very lucky camera angle.

CollegeHumor has uploaded the original footage and named it "Undramatic Chipmunk." You can see it here. And the full video also reveals, as zoology buffs had suspected, that the "Dramatic Chipmunk" isn't actually a chipmunk but rather a prairie dog.

UPDATE @ 1 PM PST: Never one to miss a marketing opportunity, CollegeHumor's in-house T-shirt retailer, BustedTees, is now selling a Dramatic Chipmunk t-shirt.