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Dutch Artist Admits Faking Viral 'Human Bird Wing' Video 125

Posted by timothy
from the hey-that's-just-like-my-911-call dept.
Velcroman1 writes "Dutch filmmaker and animator Floris Kaayk in collaboration with media production company Revolver fessed up to creating a 'media art project' that took the world by storm in recent days — a video of inventor Jarno Smeets taking flight by flapping his arms. But like the wax melting from Icarus' wings, the truth is finally emerging. Kaayak admitted that he didn't expect the media attention his project would generate, with over 8.9 million views across the world. He made the project in collaboration with Revolver and Omroep NTL, sources in the Netherlands who have spoken to the filmmaker said prior to the show. They admitted their hoax Thursday evening on the Dutch television show Wereld Draait Door."
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Dutch Artist Admits Faking Viral 'Human Bird Wing' Video

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  • Not Surprising. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by biohazard35 (2499308) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @06:53PM (#39445979) Homepage
    Honestly, people have been trying to use bird wings to fly for hundreds of years. There wasn't really much chance of this being real considering that every design that used human flight via wings (excluding gliders of course) have failed.
    • Re: Not Surprising. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dyinobal (1427207) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @07:01PM (#39446041)
      Ya I'm surpised anyone fell for this at all. Anyone who even knows a tiny tiny bit about anatomy of either humans or birds knows we just don't have the muscles for anything like that.
      • Re: Not Surprising. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kufat (563166) <kufat&kufat,net> on Thursday March 22, 2012 @07:06PM (#39446071) Homepage

        To be fair, the troll who made the videos did claim that motors were providing 95% of the net power. That made it a good bit more plausible.

        • by Dyinobal (1427207)
          Ah well I guess that would get a few more people to think it was real, but even so from the short bit I watched I didn't see anything for power.
          • by durrr (1316311)

            From the short bit i watched it looked like terrible CG and just felt wrong.

            • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @08:21PM (#39446663) Homepage

              Uncanny valley sort of thing. I agree with the ILM folks (hey, isn't that a smart thing to do?) - the wings and wing motion were just not fluid enough. Also lousy focus and jerky motions are easy things to do to hide GCI bits.

              Avatar it's not.

        • by scottrocket (1065416) <loudfellow@gmail.com> on Thursday March 22, 2012 @07:20PM (#39446189) Journal

          To be fair, the troll who made the videos did claim that motors were providing 95% of the net power. That made it a good bit more plausible.

          And visually - without deep inspection - it looked like a pretty good fake! Why wasn't this story on /.? :)

          • by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @09:13PM (#39446943)

            It's the typical Slashdot delay. I'm sure the original story will pop up in a week or two, followed by a couple dupes.

            • by tehcyder (746570)

              It's the typical Slashdot delay. I'm sure the original story will pop up in a week or two, followed by a couple dupes.

              Can I just say in advance that I think it's amazing someone has finally managed to crack the age-old dream of flying like a bird?
              Thx.

          • by darkonc (47285)

            And visually - without deep inspection - it looked like a pretty good fake! Why wasn't this story on /.? :)

            Because too many slashdot readers looked at the video, went "nice fake", and went on to other interesting things?

        • ...until you looked at his drawings of the motors and the gear train. I'm an EE, not an ME, and even I had a feeling that what he had wasn't going to be able to lift a man. His sole connection to the "wing" was at one end of the mast he used as the main spar. No way, I thought, is any motor able to drive that without breaking it off.
      • The wings were driven by electrical powered motors controlled via Wii remotes. Movement of the guys arms made the wings move the same way. So not human powered at all.

        (Ok, ok, CGI electric motors)

        • Re: Not Surprising. (Score:5, Informative)

          by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @08:09PM (#39446549) Homepage

          The part about the Wii remotes was a major red flag. Most people are very bad at lying, and this guy committed the newbie mistake of adding in to many extraneous details to the story.

          Besides, who would build a giant flying machine for thousands of dollars and base the electronics around a $20 IR camera known for rapidly draining batteries? Doesn't seem practical or safe.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by countach (534280)

            Sometimes common electronics lying around are better than some custom job. I mean, why do airlines use $500 ipads for flight maps to control a $500 million dollar aircraft? And why would you need long battery life? Flight only lasted a few seconds.

            • Which airline has flights which last only a few seconds? And is it because they reach their destination that fast, or because they can't keep their 500 million square dollar aircrafts from crashing immediately?

              SCNR

          • by d3ac0n (715594)

            Actually, the use of the wii-mote motion sensors for flight related utility is not at all uncommon. Although for flying PEOPLE it is uncommon, to be sure.

            The most common current use is to use the wii "nunchuck" wired into a standard rc tx unit to allow fluid motion control of an rc plane or mutli-rotor heli. These received wide acceptance in the FPV RC community as they provide a very "natural" interface for FPV flying.

            So using a wii motion control isn't THAT farfetched at all. Doesn't make the video in

      • by Culture20 (968837)
        I haven't seen it, but I heard he uses hydraulics to enhance his muscle strength (of course they would add to the weight).
        • I did see the video, and its difficult to understand how the hydrolics worked at all. There was nothing connected to the guy's arms other than some thin wires. Literally nothing, at least from what I saw.
          • by gl4ss (559668)

            supposedly the connection was gyros and data(someone said wiimotes).

            doesn't matter, even if the wings were ran by automatic code it wouldn't sound credible.. (in fact, you'd think he'd test it that way if it were real anyways)

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        muscles have nothing to do with it. all wings considered equal, the only thing stopping them from helping us fly is our lack of hollow bones.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Sorry, nope. It's precisely about muscles and where and how they are attached. People fly allright using gliders, so mass isn't an issue at all. You could attach gliders to your arms, but it would not be a very comfortable way of flying, if at all possible. The reason can be found from looking at it as a basic statics problem. Suppose the center of lift is somewhere in the middle of each wing -- thus far away from your body. So you're trying to support yourself on a very long lever. Imagine attaching a 2x4

          • "all wings considered equal" -- gliders and bird wings are not equal. with bird wings, lift is created by rotating the wing like you rotate your shoulder and specific flapping motions that reduce drag and allow liftoff, despite their weight. birds glide too, but they don't use many muscles to do so. gliding !== flapping.

            Imagine attaching a 2x4 (a piece of structural lumber) to each arm

            are those 2x4s hollow? you know, like bird bones are? birds are not extremely muscular animals as you suggest is required to fly.

            Adaptations for flight
            The most obvious adaptation to flight is the wing, but because flight is so energetically demanding birds have evolved several other adaptations to improve efficiency when flying. Birds' bodies are streamlined to help overcome air-resistance. Also, the bird skeleton is hollow to reduce weight, and many unnecessary bones have been lost (such as the bony tail of the early bird Archaeopteryx), along with the toothed jaw of early birds, which has been replaced with a lightweight beak. .... The vanes of each feather have hooklets called barbules that zip the vanes of individual feathers together, giving the feathers the strength needed to hold the airfoil ...

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_flight [wikipedia.org]

      • Just look at the damn video [youtube.com].

        I know I have, as a part of my (software) engineering degree, studied more physics than the average person and I might have better intuition about what stuff should look like... but that flight seem in no way, shape or form realistic or natural. The push from the wings hardly correlates with his flight path, etc...

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I hear ya on this one. I too saw the vid and was skeptical, though I admit that the vid was edited good enough to me to look plausible. I immediately thought about previous similar inventions' failures, the lack of hollow bones, and the fact that even bird flight takes a ridiculous amount of energy; our bodies don't have that kind of efficiency. No way a human could pull this off without first severly emaciating himself (like Christian Bale in The Machinist) and then finding some way to increase muscle l

        • I don't care if the video was fake and the physics were all wrong, the pilot was clearly having a great time flying, and that made it fun to watch.

      • by wanzeo (1800058)

        I would like to see a design that leverages our huge legs instead of our tiny little t-rex arms. It would be a hell of a workout, and it probably wouldn't work, but it's worth a shot.

        • Re: Not Surprising. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by anchelo123456789 (1472241) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @08:00PM (#39446473)
          Has already been done: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIT_Daedalus [wikipedia.org] Much more impressive in my eyes as it did really work. And of course they crashed jus like Daedalus. I would love to have the opportunity to fly this thing just once in my life.
          • Re: Not Surprising. (Score:5, Informative)

            by Isaac-Lew (623) <isaaclew&gmail,com> on Thursday March 22, 2012 @09:07PM (#39446901)
            Icarus crashed, not Daedalus.
            • Icarus crashed, not Daedalus.

              During flight testing, Daedalus 87 was damaged in a crash caused by spiral divergence

              The flight ended in the water (7 meters from Perissa Beach on Santorini, according to the official record), when increasing gusty winds caused a torsional failure of the tail boom. Lacking control, the airplane then pitched nose-up, and another gust caused a failure of the main wing spar. The pilot swam to shore.
              Much of the wreckage of Daedalus 88 is in storage at the Smithsonian's restoration facility.

              Seems they both did.

          • Done earlier than that, check out the Gossamer Condor [wikipedia.org] from 1977. This looks like it's probably an ancestor of Daedalus.

        • Human Powered Plane (Score:5, Interesting)

          by phriedom (561200) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @08:00PM (#39446475)
          Like this maybe? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gossamer_Albatross [wikipedia.org]
        • by PPH (736903)

          As others have pointed out: Its been done. Successfully. The key is to lose the flapping wings (rigid wings are much lighter for the same lift) and use a propeller (mechanically much simpler).

          On a slightly off-topic rant: Why are (practically) all the emergency boat bilge pumps hand operated? I could keep a leaky boat afloat for much longer peddling a pump. And keep my hands free to run the radio to call for help.

          • by Jherico (39763)
            Because foot powered pumps wouldn't be wheelchair accessible. Duh!
          • I could keep a leaky boat afloat for much longer peddling a pump.

            What if nobody buys it?

          • Because storage space is a precious commodity on a boat. Why waste space with some exercise bike pump that's only helpful in a situation that crops up in the movies far more than real life. Even if you find yourself stranded in a leaky boat, how much is that pedal contraption going to really help you? sooner or later you are going to fall asleep and the boat fills with water anyway.

            Think of it like spare tires. It's certainly possible to get 4 flat tires in the same trip, but is it worth always wasting al
            • by PPH (736903)

              I think a skilled designer could adapt a foot pedal (or two) to an existing diaphragm pump without it taking up too much space. They use foot pumps on kayaks. Not for leaks, but because they tend to take on water in normal use. Space is certainly at a premium in a kayak.

      • by anubi (640541)

        we just don't have the muscles for anything like that

        You just struck a chord with me. I was just munching on a chicken breast.

        A good handful of meat.

        More than I have in my pec.

        And that's just what it takes to power a chicken!

        Food for thought. ( Ohhh bad pun, baaaad pun)

        But honestly, if more of us had a good feel for the physics around us, we wouldn't be fooled nearly so easy by pranksters saying their kid's aloft in a balloon ( which obviously does not have sufficient volume to displace enoug

      • Ya I'm surpised anyone fell for this at all. Anyone who even knows a tiny tiny bit about anatomy of either humans or birds knows we just don't have the muscles for anything like that.

        Though I didn't immediately realize it was a hoax, I did think to myself "Man, that guy must have pecs of steel!"

      • by lessthan (977374)

        I would point out that we all tend to believe things that we want to be true, even when we are aware of the bias. True human flight( a person just jumping into the sky, up, up and away) was been a collective dream for all of recorded history and probably before. It is a nice soft spot in the human psyche that is easy to exploit.

  • by 18_Rabbit (663482) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @06:53PM (#39445983)
    Oh well, i guess it's back to the jet powered flying squirrel suit.
    • by mikael (484)

      Or the flying lawn mower. That was the first spoof flying video that I saw online.

      • by digitac (24581)
        You mean this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26PpA1kFIWw [youtube.com] It's not fake, you can buy a kit. http://flyingthingz.com/products.html [flyingthingz.com] It's an application of the theorem that with enough thrust, anything will fly. Personally, I prefer the flying dog house.
        • by PPH (736903)

          Yep. Its real. I've see one of them in person at a local R/C park.

          Take a look at that video (in the parent post). In the first few seconds when that woman is carrying the mower out, she turns it sideways for a second. You can see the airfoil shape of the wing/body and that the sides and wheels are thin fakes.

          The F-117 [wikipedia.org] is actually a better demonstration of the 'anything will fly' theorem.

        • by mikael (484)

          Yes that was the video. I thought it was a real lawn mower at the time. They have just shaped the frame at the sides to look like a lawnmower. Other shapes have been tanks and bulldozers.

    • by sconeu (64226)

      Jay Leno gave that away to get new NSX #1

  • Poor schlubs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cazekiel (1417893) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @07:02PM (#39446055)

    Can you imagine how insanely stupid the participants must feel? "YEEEA!" tears in their eyes, stumbling on speech, inspirational music... only to have their act be completed debunked by the most basic physics. I find that particularly amusing.

    • Re:Poor schlubs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by joh (27088) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @07:37PM (#39446315)

      Why stupid? They got half the Internet viewing a video and discussing if it is real or not. That was well done and they obviously got everything out of it that they wanted and then some. If they had included some visible motors and a fake battery pack (hey, 2000 Watts for 60 seconds is just 33 Wh, less than the 45 Wh of an iPad) and put more work into the flapping of the wings, it would have more convincing, but still.

      Harmless fun, cleverly done, I'd say.

      • by Cazekiel (1417893)

        Clever perhaps, but I'm targeting the drama behind it. If it'd just been them doing what they did with a few "a'right!"s and what not, big deal. But it had its own score, the teary eyes and all. That's what I find amusing.

      • by jpmorgan (517966)

        2000W, even for 60s, at 12V is over 150 amps. Try pulling that much current through any small lightweight battery pack and you're going to experience a large explosion.

        • You're severely misinformed, battery technology has improved quite a bit over the past few years.

          Here's an example [hobbyking.com], at 12 Volts this battery can supply 325 Amps continuous. That's about 3500 watts, and this battery weighs just 442 grams (less than a pound) and it costs only $50.

          If you want even higher wattage, you can get higher voltage batteries, at 37 volts this [hobbyking.com] battery pack can supply a whopping 12000 watts continuous, and weighs only about 3 pounds.

        • I think you are wrong here. Check out the Odyssey batteries. A PC680 delivers over 500A for 20 seconds and weighs just over 7kg. 150A for 60 seconds should be no problem. I have one of these to start my Jabiru 3300 aircraft engine and it never fails me.

          • At 7kg it has very low power to weight ratio, so it's terrible for flying things. Go with lithium polymer batteries instead.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Can you imagine how insanely stupid the participants must feel? "YEEEA!" tears in their eyes, stumbling on speech, inspirational music... only to have their act be completed debunked by the most basic physics. I find that particularly amusing.

      It's called "acting," something you likely view on a regular basis if you enjoy modern film.

      Next time you attend a stage play, you should ask the actors how stupid they feel for participating.

    • by DerPflanz (525793)

      ... only to have their act be completed debunked by the most basic physics.

      You forget that most people's knowledge on physics comes from Hollywoord. Hence it is completely understandable that they buy into this.

  • by tick-tock-atona (1145909) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @07:04PM (#39446059)

    I bet the conversation went a little like this [youtube.com]..

  • by Anonymous Coward

    IMHO, he skated the perfect edge of believability. After all, it's not that different from launching a hang glider. I see gulls launch into the wind all the time with virtually no flapping. When you watch the video you find yourself making assumptions about wind and stuff. You figure the flapping must have added just enough. For some people the angle of the camera tells them it's fake. I figured it was a wide-angle camera that could get the helmet even without being aimed towards it. For me, I was wo

    • by Carnildo (712617)

      The launch may have been believable, but the landing was dead wrong. There are only two ways to land a flapping-wing aircraft if you've got legs instead of wheels, and he didn't use either of them.

  • How long are we going to accept excuses for what is patent fraud? If he doesn't get smacked hard, we're going to be putting up with this crap indefinitely.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Lolwut

    • by hawguy (1600213)

      How long are we going to accept excuses for what is patent fraud? If he doesn't get smacked hard, we're going to be putting up with this crap indefinitely.

      If you think that's fraud, wait until you see Star Wars - some may be fooled, but I for one don't believe that the Death Star could generate enough power to destroy an entire planet with a death ray.

      • by tftp (111690)

        but I for one don't believe that the Death Star could generate enough power to destroy an entire planet with a death ray.

        Would you bet the existence of your homeworld on that belief of yours about a technology that you know nothing about? A GRB [wikipedia.org] certainly can mess the planet up.

  • by cvtan (752695) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @07:15PM (#39446141)
    You guys made me click on a link to FOX NEWS???? Arrghh!
  • A distinct lack of fertilizer, Mr. Holmes.
  • This is awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sideslash (1865434) on Thursday March 22, 2012 @07:35PM (#39446299)
    The world needs to be reminded periodically not to take itself so seriously.
  • The flight video could have fooled me. But I just couldn't believe it was real when they showed those little tiny batteries.

  • I believe this may be a fake hoax.

  • Sad, but not surprising given the effort put into the edits of the videos. No raw footage, but cut together, picture in picture, soundtrack, etc cinemagic...

    R

  • and awed when I saw this [wired.com] the other day, although I didn't think much about it after the novelty wore off... which happened pretty quickly.

    "Kaayak admitted that he didn't expect the media attention his project would generate, with over 8.9 million views across the world."

    Yeah, right. I'd dismiss this if it didn't insult everyone's intelligence. You don't put up the video, a web site, fake a press release [humanbirdwings.net], and push it out into the public through the media channels if you don't expect it to get attention.

    • by pavon (30274)

      You misunderstand. Yes, the goal was to get publicity, they are just shocked at how well it worked. Wired, BBC, and many other mainstream media sources fell for it.

  • This just proves how dumb people are.
    I wish there was a Darwinian award for stupidity and subsequent removal from the gene pool.
  • What would be cool would be power-assisted bird-style wings, something that detects flapping motion and compensates for the subtle positions to remain aerodynamic. If done smoothly the flyer would 'feel' stronger and would experience the actual sense of self-powered flight. How cool would that be.

  • I was saving already...
  • C'mon doesn't anyone watch Gilligan's Island anymore? Remember when Gilligan launches himself off the roof of a hut with a pair of wings flapping them.

    Skipper: "Gilligan what are you doing?"

    Gilligan: "Skipper, I'm going to fly for help."

    Skipper: "Gilligan you can't fly!"

    Gilligan: "I can't?"
  • Aviation has come a long way so far. Starting from Leonardo da vinci to Peoples like Henry Cavendish, Montgolfier Brothers, Sir George Cayley, John Stringfellow, Francis H Wenham, Otto Lilienthal, The wright brothers and many others contributed a lot.. http://goo.gl/2HBEJ [goo.gl]
  • Dutch "artist" admits faking video that only fooled the extremely gullible...

    Sigh...
  • This video has become "viral" because it has been published on Wired's first page. A simple look showed it was a joke ( the guy is probably lifted by a car ) but the journalist had a strong urge to fly...
  • I hadn't heard of this non-story, and I still don't care.

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