Surprise! The video of a man flying with a mechanically-assistated set of bird wings is a hoax. Not only did Jarno Smeets not actually fly like a bird, his name isn’t even Jarno Smeets. It’s actually Floris Kaayk, a Dutch CGI artist and filmmaker who told a Dutch TV show today that the “Human Bird Wing” project was all part of a documentary he’s making on Internet hoaxes.
Suspicion about the video, which has racked up nearly 3 million views on YouTube in under a week, began almost immediately after it went live last weekend. Gizmodo posted the story, followed by Wired, Time, and countless other publications. Commenters on the early stories were convinced it was a fraud, possibly a commercial for GoPro cameras (which the video was shot on), or Nintendo (whose Wii controllers were used in the wings).
The skepticism of the public forced publications to look further into the authenticity of the video. A hoard of CGI experts were brought in, almost all of whom concluded the video was created with the help of computer graphics — a well-done fake, but no more real than Star Wars or Avatar.
Then, late yesterday, Wired discovered that Jarno Smeets’ LinkedIn profile was entirely fabricated. Coventry University, where he claimed to have received a mechanical engineering degree, had no record of anyone by that name. Nor did either of the companies Smeets listed as his past employers. During his interview with “De Wereld Draait Door” (“The World Keeps Turning”) today, Kaayk (aka Smeets) admitted that he actually “graduated cum laude at the animation department of the St. Joost Academy and received his Master of Fine Arts degree at the Sandberg Institute.”
Considering he tricked a slew of reputable publications out there into thinking his stunt was real, we have to give him props for a job well done.
Watch the (totally fake) video below: