Bird-Man Video Formally Resolved
More than three million views later, the video that became a media magnet for showing a man flying under homemade flapping wings has been identified by its creator as a fabrication. Bird-Man Jarno Smeets said on a Dutch television show that he is in fact Floris Kaayk, a filmmaker and animator -- and not the inventor of a physically real and functional man-machine-powered ornithopter as presented in his viral videos. Translations of his admission included the phrases "online storytelling" and "an experiment about online media."
Kaayk's project included blogs and video that followed his character Jarno Smeets through the process of building and ultimately flying a personal set of flapping wings. The videos were widely perceived as an apparent claim that the project was real and a successful flight had actually been made. As such, they ultimately prompted CGI, hang gliding, and certificated pilot community experts to dig into the task of attempting to verify or (mostly) contest that claim. Emails sent to Smeets by AVweb seeking comment went unanswered, as did those from Wired magazine, which published an article questioning Smeets' resume after finding "nobody knows him." One early player that presented the video as real, tech blog Gizmodo.com, later sought comment from Hollywood CGI experts who rather universally identified the video as well-crafted computer-manipulated imagery. But, until Kaayk's TV appearance, the admission was still missing. Kaayk's project was produced in collaboration with Revolver, a media production company, and Omroep NTL, according to FoxNews.com, which spoke with "sources in the Netherlands who have spoken to the filmmaker."