The video, which spread quickly around the Internet, frightening park-going new parents everywhere, was the work of four 3D-animation students Normand Archambault, Loic Mireault, and Felix Marquis-Poulin, pupils at Centre NAD (National Animation and Design Center) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The tools of digital design have great control over our perception of reality. We want things to be real, and digital design techniques are capable of making the unreal look perfectly real. The emotional awe we experience suspends belief of what is likely the truth behind the scenes. We have seen it and therefore believe it.
Take a look at a few of these viral videos that seemed so real but were in fact well choreographed performances of digital design.
Caption byJames Martin
/ Photo by Screenshot/ Stephen Shankland
The saying used to be "If it's too good to be true, it probably is." When it comes to online video, the modern day equivalent seems to be "If it's too cute/gruesome/amazing to be true, it probably is."
The video, which spread rapidly among baby-animal lovers on Facebook and Twitter, was created for a Comedy Central series, "Nathan for You," and required the help of 20 crew members, animal trainers, scuba divers, and humane officers, and even a plastic track to guide the pig to the goat.
This Powerade sports energy drink ad from 2005 featuring basketball star Lebron James puts on an air of journalistic integrity as the clip opens with what appears to be a reporter on camera from the arena floor.
The crowd "oohs" and "aahs" as James sinks a series of incredible shots. The reporter even calls to his cameraman, "Are you getting this?" But it's a setup -- the video is staged.
When a ball girl chases a foul ball down the left-field line during a Triple-A baseball game between the Fresno Grizzlies and the Tacoma Rainiers, she makes what appears to be an incredible catch as she scampers what looks like 10 feet up the wall.
But this all-too-unbelievable ad is for another sports energy drink. Ad agency Element 79 created the ad for Gatorade, which aired it during Major League Baseball's 2008 All-Star Game.
The video has since gone viral, with thousands of people pointing out the impossibility of such a catch in the comments on YouTube, but many appearing to have been fooled by the digital fakery.
Tampa Bay Rays baseball player Evan Longoria appears to use his athletic sixth sense when he suddenly turns and makes a crazy barehanded catch right before the ball hits a reporter during an interview. But advertising fools us again. See the Gillette logos on either side of Longoria's head? Sponsors of the unbelievable viral video.
This clip appears to show a gruesome bungee jump where the jumper reaches the water, only to be decapitated by a crocodile waiting in the water below.
Does it seem too perfect, or too gruesome to be true? It is. This video that went viral was an ad for Foster's beer. The tagline? "New Foster's hit tap. Don't lose your head," promoting a new pouring system that promised to give the beer's drinkers a consistent head on their pint.
But don't try this one at home. You may have wanted to believe this was an incredible athletic feat, but you're wrong, it's another digital editing trick. The video went viral, but it was simply an advertisement for Microsoft Germany.
Chameleons are well known for their color-changing abilities, but they don't do so quite as quickly or magnificently as we are led to believe in the "Super Chameleon" video.
This video clip was produced by the Cutwater agency as an ad for Ray-Ban sunglasses, pitching their Wayfarer line, which come in many dazzling colors.
You've been tricked again, and this viral video was once again the source of many a debate online. Chameleons take much longer to change their color in adaptation to their surroundings, and most species are capable of just a few color variations.
The spread of these videos can be attributed to two sometimes dangerous facts of life online: We want to believe, and we want to share.
It takes us seconds to register an emotional response -- a "Wow!" -- from something that at first glance seems so amazing, so incredible, before we really digest the information. Couple that with the ease of sharing and spreading information -- a simple "Like" or a retweet -- and before we've even really thought about the facts, we've pushed the information out to the world.