If you want to be a bird
March 20, 2012 2:37 PM   Subscribe

Is there nothing a Wii controller can't do? YouTube tutorial in 14 parts DIY human bird-wings .

brief description / discussion test run
posted by hortense (123 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is there nothing a Wii controller can't do?

function properly in the sunlight?
posted by Hoopo at 2:42 PM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I had not realized until this video but yes, yes I do want to be a bird
posted by little cow make small moo at 2:43 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by Cygnet at 2:49 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


.

RIP my cynicism
posted by nutate at 2:50 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had not realized until this video but yes, yes I do want to be a bird

If you're looking for a quicker lifehack than these incredibly cool wings, you could always just sit on a branch and screech, that's what I do
posted by Greg Nog at 2:50 PM on March 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


This.. is this real?


....I am unaccountably happy to be alive right now...
posted by lumpenprole at 2:52 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I...I somehow have the sense that a major breakthrough or something has just happened for humankind. This seems so archetypal, so incredible, I'm just stunned at what it might mean for human beings.
posted by darkstar at 2:54 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is that in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam?
posted by memebake at 2:56 PM on March 20, 2012


Of course! Feathers and wax are the PERFECT materials to build wings out of! Oh wait.
posted by pyrex at 2:59 PM on March 20, 2012


What the what ?? mind == blown ?? da faq ?? Not sure if real or ..

Clearly I'm speechless.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:59 PM on March 20, 2012


leonardo and daedalus high-five
posted by tspae at 3:00 PM on March 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


To be honest, this seems too good to be true. And this second video looks rather like it has been rendered on a computer:
http://techcrunch.com/2012/01/20/humanbirdwings-guy-survives-first-test-flight/
posted by davidr at 3:01 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with davidr. This is most likely some really well done hoax. I am pretty sure this isn't physically possible for a human. These videos really look like slick CGI, especially the first test run. The whole device/camera should be shaking a great deal more if the wings are flapping as they would need to be to generate the lift.
posted by RubixsQube at 3:03 PM on March 20, 2012


But wii controler?

I want to believe.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:06 PM on March 20, 2012


I really want to believe it.
This Wired post a while back looks at the physics
But my question is:

Back when he started this project, how did he know that there would 14 youtube episodes? The whole thing is building up slowly as he makes the wings and tests them, and its all 10/14, 11/14, 12/14 etc through to the 14/14 when he flies during a test.
posted by memebake at 3:06 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hate to be that guy, but as a Hawkman I can safely say this is fake.

Diiiiive!
posted by fullerine at 3:09 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fake?

God DAMMIT.
posted by darkstar at 3:11 PM on March 20, 2012


memebake: you can rename youtube video titles.
posted by nutate at 3:12 PM on March 20, 2012


Now that's something to tweet about.
posted by not_on_display at 3:13 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


nutate - thanks, hmm.

On his blog, there's this awesome graphic of the motors, accelerometers, bits of Wii and Smartphones that (apparently) make the wings work.
posted by memebake at 3:14 PM on March 20, 2012


This whole thing makes me think of the earliest attempts at flight that humanity made:

Right, so birds can fly. They do so by flapping their wings; maybe if we do the same thing?

*a thousand failed attempts at flapping-based flight and hundreds of films of ridiculous contraptions later*

Oh.. It isn't physically possible for a human to flap any kind of constructed wing-like device in order to achieve flight/lift? Ah well. Worth a shot. Hope humanity learns from our silly failures and doesn't fall for any future film trickery.
posted by pyrex at 3:17 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well he isn't appying the force is he? The controller simply translate the motion of his arms to some sort of motor system that flaps the wings?

Probably fake, fuck these guys.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:20 PM on March 20, 2012


That awesome graphic is decidedly underwhelming. I have a hard time believing that he wouldn't be tossed around a lot more by those wings than it looks like he is, that they would be sufficiently well-anchored to his shoulders to move him around, or that you could put motors and a power source of the sort needed to do this on someone's back without weighing them down to the point of being unable to stand. I am not anywhere close to believing this without a lot more evidence.
posted by Scientist at 3:20 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am finding it quite funny that Cygnet is speechless
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 3:22 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, Ornithopters exist I suppose.
This blog post analyses the machinery and says that with a good headwind (which they appeared to have) it could well work.
posted by memebake at 3:27 PM on March 20, 2012


Oh wait, thats not just any old blog post, its the guy from mythbusters.
posted by memebake at 3:28 PM on March 20, 2012


One one hand, according to those analyses it seems such a thing could plausibly be built. On the other hand that 13/14 video really looks... wrong.
posted by cmoj at 3:33 PM on March 20, 2012


This video, showing the wing mechanism, also looks like well-done CGI. It's a pretty clever magic trick, using a pretty smiling girl as a distraction. I am just thinking the problem comes into play with the way that momentum works. This guy lifts his arms, the arms of the device should move up, which should cause the whole mechanism to push downward, but instead, it stays in place. This is similar to what I mentioned in an earlier post. When the guy is flapping his arms in the air in the 14/14 video, it looks like he's being shaken a bit, but not nearly enough as he should be, or as the first-person video indicates.

Also, wii remotes, even with the Motion+ peripheral, just don't have the accuracy to do what is shown in the video, especially once you shake it a bit and discombobulate the sensors (which is why you have to constantly put the remote down to recalibrate). Super well-done fake.
posted by RubixsQube at 3:38 PM on March 20, 2012


I thought it was going to be this.
posted by gwint at 3:41 PM on March 20, 2012


RubixsQube - I see nothing wrong with that video of the mechanis,, and nothing that would even need to be faked there.
posted by memebake at 3:44 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


This was predicted long ago
posted by deliquescent at 3:45 PM on March 20, 2012


This guy lifts his arms, the arms of the device should move up, which should cause the whole mechanism to push downward, but instead, it stays in place.

But the whole point of a wing mechanism is to turn that motion and momentum into lift, which is also why birds don't get 'shaken around' too much when they try the same thing?

I'm fluttering down off the fence and putting myself in the 'this is real' camp.
posted by memebake at 3:47 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even the basic premise is ridiculous. Let's go ahead and assume you've done the improbable and successfully conquered the engineering challenges that have stymied human birdlike flight since Da Vinci. Congratulations! You did it! Now, how are you going to control this astoundingly dangerous flying machine that will surely kill you the moment you stop flapping? With a $40 videogame controller that runs on AA batteries and connects via Bluetooth? Yeah, right.

Of course, I'm open to being proven wrong. The self-congratulatory tone of the videos + total lack of hard details is setting off all kinds of alarm bells, though.
posted by neckro23 at 3:48 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Poor fake, look at the trailing edge of the wing 'in flight' -- it's not flying. Compare it to any fabric wing -- hang glider, paraglider -- and it's clearly not real. (Not to mention, nobody's built an ornithopter with remotely near the power density that pretends to show.)

so fix it, dammit, I want one.
posted by hank at 3:49 PM on March 20, 2012


memebake, I may be overly skeptical about this, but I am just operating under a hypothesis that this is a group trying to show off their CGI skills (maybe it's an HTC Wildfire advertisement?), in which case it is way, way less expensive to just fake the wing contraption then actually build one. Looking at their videos, I see a lot of really well done CGI renders, but very little actual mechanism working besides in that one video and in the test flight videos.

In the "Moving wingssystem" video, there should be no lift generated, as there are no wings, and the device should be moving about a little more as a result of the arms flapping.
posted by RubixsQube at 3:56 PM on March 20, 2012


Meanwhile the related vids on the condorman vid deliquescent posted are full of win. (I used to recreate that scene with matchbox cars)
posted by memebake at 4:00 PM on March 20, 2012


As someone who works in VFX I can assure you that this is fake and will eventually be outed as a viral launch of either a small VFX boutique shop or a demo reel for one or all of the folks involved. Cool idea nonetheless...
posted by jnnla at 4:00 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


As someone who works in VFX I can assure you that this is fake

Before you get called out for being an "I can tell by the pixels..." naysayer, perhaps you'd like to take this opportunity to explain how exactly you can determine it's fake. What are the tell-tale signs?
posted by ShutterBun at 4:09 PM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't know if it's fake or not, but there's a section of davidr's video link around 2:00 where he stops flapping his arms but the wings are still going up and down.
posted by rocket88 at 4:17 PM on March 20, 2012


Fake. So fake. That sloppy piece of crap couldn't fly even if you strapped rocket boosters to it - it would blow to pieces the second it hit any real wind.

I don't know if Jamie Hyneman saw the schematics calling for "Four 5000 mAh batteries", but it's not nearly enough available amperage to be generating enough power for human flight. (And, to remind people - the Mythbusters guys aren't engineers, much less aeronautical engineers - they're just special effects DIYers. And it shows because they do bad, sloppy or inaccurate science on nearly every episode of Mythbusters. I love 'em, too, but they're not actually scientists or engineers.)

For perspective, a modern smartphone probably has something like 1000-4000 mAh battery in it. You can get rechargable single AA batteries in the 2000+ mAh range.

Especially not enough power when run through that inefficient clap-trap of an ornithopter. Ornithopters are extremely inefficient. There's a reason why they're not used very often in aircraft design, and it's not just because they're fragile machines that like to shake themselves to bits, but because they require too much power to ever be much more than a curiosity to anyone except living birds.

Those wings are about as aerodynamically smooth and functional as couch pillows. They're incredibly sloppy - and none of that slack actually goes taut or flaps on the very sparse bones of the wing when it's in flight - strongly signaling that it's just computer graphics. There's very little structure to it, and even natural ornithopter wings on living birds need very rigid structures and sparse, streamlined surfaces in the form of carefully preened feathers.

Compare that thing to any of the human powered flight attempts or ultralight experimental aircraft that have actually worked, and the differences are astounding. There's no room for sloppy fabric or skins on the wing. Every single gram of weight counts, and so does every last eddy of turbulence thrown off by a badly skinned wing.

Sure, to agree with Hyneman - it's plausible that the project could be done in some form, but it isn't happening in these videos. Not with that power supply, those tiny motors, and that extremely inefficient aerodynamic structure.

Soooooooo fake.
posted by loquacious at 4:21 PM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


But the whole point of a wing mechanism is to turn that motion and momentum into lift, which is also why birds don't get 'shaken around' too much when they try the same thing?

Yes, but birds don't fly like this, they have much more advanced techniques.

Look at this video of geese taking flight. You'll notice that their wings aren't held stiff and just flapping up and down. When their wings reach the bottom they fold them inward before they lift them up, and then when they're up they extend them to their full range and then flap down. By doing this, the wings displace much less air on their up than on their way down.

This machine does no such thing, the wings are entirely stiff. Every flap the wings do downwards will displace just as much air as their flap upwards, negating any lift the flapping might generate.

The only way this could work is if the wings are airfoils, but then it's not a bird-machine, it's just a really crappy glider where the wings move up and down for no reason.

You could build a machine like this, that does fold it's wings inward. But this ain't it. FAKE.
posted by gkhan at 4:22 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apparently Yves Rousseau flew a human powered ornithopter in 2006.
After having made oscillate the wings of a hang glider, Yves mounted his patented flapping mechanism on a 'Vector' ultralight airplane and on 20 April 2006, at his 212th attempt, he succeeded in flying a distance of 64 metres, observed by officials of the Aero Club de France. Unfortunately, on his 213th flight attempt, a gust of wind led to a wing breaking up, causing the pilot to be gravely injured and rendered paraplegic.
There are some photos of various Yves Rousseau devices here, presumably the 212th attempt one is the hangglider type thing above the scan of the award and the pic of Yves in a wheelchair : (
posted by memebake at 4:29 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


This machine does no such thing, the wings are entirely stiff.

Well, actually, looking at the video again, they're not totally stiff, they bend a little bit, but I still don't buy that they bend anywhere near enough to allow flight. Look at those geese again and look at how much they fold their wings. Now think about how much more a human weighs than a goose does. Shit don't compute.
posted by gkhan at 4:30 PM on March 20, 2012


Vid of the aforementioned 212nd Yves Rousseau attempt. Holy shit that looks dangerous.
posted by memebake at 4:32 PM on March 20, 2012


This machine does no such thing, the wings are entirely stiff. Every flap the wings do downwards will displace just as much air as their flap upwards,

The 3D demo animation shows that the wings rotate (slightly) so that on the upstroke, the leading edge is (more or less) parallel with the movement of the wing, so that it "slices" through the air, while the downstroke flattens to wing, so that it acts more like an oar.

Granted, the effect is subtle (at least as seen in the final video) but it appears to at least be an intentional part of the design.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:33 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The 3D demo animation shows that the wings rotate (slightly) so that on the upstroke, the leading edge is (more or less) parallel with the movement of the wing, so that it "slices" through the air, while the downstroke flattens to wing, so that it acts more like an oar.

Granted, the effect is subtle (at least as seen in the final video) but it appears to at least be an intentional part of the design.


Ok, I missed that, that could theoretically work.

Still don't buy it though. Those wings don't seem to be rotating very much at all.
posted by gkhan at 4:40 PM on March 20, 2012


"Normally I let these things pass, we're talking about the first sentence (linked even) of the FPP, or This is really awful of me but I can't help myself."

"Is there nothing XXX can't do" makes no sense. Rewritten without the existential clause "Is there", the question renders as "Can not the Wii controller do nothing?", which rhetorical question suggests endless operation more than manifold capability.

sorry
posted by mistersquid at 4:42 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The 13/14 video is supposedly 'obviously fake' but it looked ok to me. My theory is that there's something very unnatural looking about whats shown (because it is very unnatural to see a dude flapping enormous wings quite fast) that is wrongly triggering peoples bullshit detectors.
posted by memebake at 4:58 PM on March 20, 2012


His body weight is much to heavy to do this.
This is sham! and the wings don't look aerodynamic
enough to create the needed lift.
posted by quazichimp at 5:01 PM on March 20, 2012


Why the hell did they point the camera at the ground and run away? EVERYONE PANIC, IT'S GOING TO GET A LITTLE WINDY. It's not like he's dangerous or anything, just stand there and film the damn thing if it's real.
posted by whorl at 5:05 PM on March 20, 2012


This reminds me of the "One Wing Plane Landing - Best Air Race Pilot Ever" hoax video
posted by lampshade at 5:05 PM on March 20, 2012


It's the engineer's version of "I could care less", which is high on my list of pet peeves.

It should be: "Is there *anything* the Wii controller cannot do? "

Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee.

And why do they all run away when he starts to fly? They did that in the 13th video. Is going to explode?
posted by Xoebe at 5:06 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


In video 13/14, the cut from live to CG at 1:52 is surprisingly cliche for a series of videos that would otherwise be pretty convincing.
posted by Strizh at 5:13 PM on March 20, 2012


Is there nothing a Wii controller can't do?

It should be: "Is there *anything* the Wii controller cannot do? "


Both versions work. Insert the word "really" into the original and you'll see what I mean.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:21 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not really the same as "I could care less" though. I could care less reverses the meaning, this does not.

And I am not sure I understand the criticisms of the wing mechanism video. Of course the body does not move up and down - it is being held in place by a woman.

As for the batteries, you need to know the voltage as well as the amp hours to make that call. 4x5Ah at 12 volts is about half the capacity of a car battery - more than enough for a few seconds of flapping.

Also bird wings are airfoils too. Being an airfoil does not make a machine less bird like.

And at these low speeds, the trailing edge would not be vibrating much.

Not making a call on whether this is real or not, just sawing some of the criticisms here seem off base.
posted by Nothing at 5:23 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


re: video 13/14 at the 1:52 mark - I don't see any cut to CG there. I see the opportunity for a cut to CG, but thats different. I think its just a bunch of excited dutch guys in a park who run backwards for a few seconds and dont much care what 10,000 internet video analysts will think.
posted by memebake at 5:28 PM on March 20, 2012


So THAT's what James Van Der Beek has been up to all these years...
posted by apranica at 5:54 PM on March 20, 2012


Is there nothing a Wii controller can't do?

it cannot make the actions depicted in this video real.
posted by radiosilents at 6:10 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man, while this could easily be a viral ad for... something... it sure seems like a shit-ton amount of effort to make all those "sort of how it works" videos.

It seems like the sort of thing a reputable news group could easily prove/disprove by the end of the week, in any event.
posted by disillusioned at 6:21 PM on March 20, 2012


The flight itself is not as impressive as it may seem, given a bit of a headwind and or a very slight incline; running and gliding close to that height and distance might be possible without any flapping or motors

This bears repeating. With a sufficient headwind, you can launch an unpowered glider from a standstill. See here for example.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 6:44 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


To me the movement looks believable, and as Lazlo Hollyfeld and memebake pointed out, similar feats have been performed (Otto Lillenthal flew from a running start 120 years ago).

but, there are a few things that trip my critical eye. One, the measly little tail flaps he has on his legs would offer really poor pitch control, and he spends most of the flight dangling them. You can get away without a tail plane if your wing has a long enough chord or sweep (such as with hang gliders), but these wings seem a little too narrow for my intuition. I would have expected a lot more rocking like you see in the Yves Rousseau video.

The second thing is that these videos, even the first test video, seem way too well produced for a student engineer. There are a lot of closeups on the pilot, travel shots to build narrative, "setup montages" which don't actually show much setup, and wide shots showing the (beautiful) figure of the machine which look very posed. I would expect someone geeky enough to create a machine like this would have a lot more awkward videos about the choice of bearings, and more videos of preliminary testing.

On the other hand, the site lists a couple of trustworthy news sources who have prepared (thin) articles on the project. Presumably they've done some corroboration. I want to believe. I want them to take my money!
posted by Popular Ethics at 7:24 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


U of T students built the first human powered ornithopter a few years back. It's clear from comparing the wing areas and dynamics that this new video is a fake.
posted by unSane at 7:31 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a reality check, consider human-powered non-flapping flight. Elite cyclists have succesfully flown human-powered aircraft, and let's say that a human athlete in top condition can do about 750 watts. (Eddy Merckx was measured at 600 W if memory serves.)

An ornithopter is much less efficient than a fixed wing airplane.

Does it look like that contraption has 1 kW of power? Not to me. If it's a 12 V battery, you would need more than 83 A for 1 kW. Let me say that again: 83 amperes. You'd need wires the size of tree trunks.
posted by phliar at 7:37 PM on March 20, 2012


Observations:

A few of the earlier videos show the wing construction. It is of single spar design, with 3 ribs per wing. Bizarrely, the single spar is located almost at the leading edge, at perhaps 5% chord. This is well forward of even the most generous estimate for the center of pressure. This means that in addition to resisting a moment about the longitudinal axis, it must also resist a moment about the lateral axis. The entire structure could be made much lighter if the spar was nearer mid-chord, and there appears to be no reason why it couldn't be. It's as if in-flight loads were not even considered, much less estimated for this wing.

As Popular Ethics alluded to, this aircraft also doesn't make much sense from a stability and control perspective. With the CG and CP very nearly co-located, longitudinal stability would certainly be marginal without a tail, which is absent.

The videos depict none of the iterative processes encountered in the course of designing and fabricating a prototype aircraft. In fact, the CAD model of the aircraft in video 4 is unchanged from the finished prototype.

This series of videos is entirely consistent with the process of constructing a prop or mock-up, but not of an experimental flying machine for carrying humans.
posted by Strizh at 7:43 PM on March 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


If this lofty goal were actually achieved, it just wouldn't look like this.
posted by grog at 7:44 PM on March 20, 2012


Does it look like that contraption has 1 kW of power? Not to me. If it's a 12 V battery, you would need more than 83 A for 1 kW. Let me say that again: 83 amperes. You'd need wires the size of tree trunks.

That's just not true. Here's a hobby sized brushless motor, controller and battery running a scooter at 16V, 200A, for a total of almost 4kW, or about of five humans worth of power.
posted by Popular Ethics at 7:56 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am more suspicious of the spar root joint / nutating bearings. They just don't look big enough in these videos to take the big moment loads from the wings. OTOH, I just did a back of the envelope calc, and if the bearings are spaced 2" apart, they would have to resist at least 4500 lb (20kN), which is about right for a 3" OD bearing (These bearings look about half that size, but you might get away with it)

Strizh - If the trailing edges of the wings were tethered to the waist belt, then the wing would be supported at two places, and the spar wouldn't have to support a twisting moment would it? Think of the spars on a kite or a toy ornithopter
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:34 PM on March 20, 2012


Since I'm still sitting in the this is true camp I will bet a donut carrying unicorn that if the private sector can produce this flying hummingbird robot with a camera on it then this Dutchman is flying.
posted by nutate at 10:28 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's amazing to me that people are giving such exhaustive explanations of why this can't be real when it doesn't look even remotely real. It's like having an "argument" about how realistic the special effects seem in Episode One.

*headdesk*
posted by trackofalljades at 10:42 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's amazing to me that people are giving such exhaustive explanations of why this can't be real

For what it's worth, I know next to nothing about aerodynamics, and I find those explanations pretty fascinating.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:45 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh come on, everyone knows the Flying Dutchman isn't real.

(...actually, now I wonder if that isn't part of the joke. Huh.)
posted by MadGastronomer at 11:44 PM on March 20, 2012


I've called "fake" and been wrong but there's something fishy about the way they set up for the whole thing. A shot where the GoPro camera (of all possible things) is adjusted? Why does everybody all run back to clear the shot action as the ornthopterist starts running away? Nobody thought to bring a camera tripod? Well done though.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:55 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


trackofalljades: it doesn't look even remotely real. *headdesk*

What doesn't look remotely real about it, specifically? (if you can get your head off the desk for a mo) - how would you expect a man with huge flapping mechanical wings to look and move?
posted by memebake at 12:54 AM on March 21, 2012


Some food for thought: At around the time when the guy is landing, one of his cohorts runs across the screen. If you pay attention to the right wing, you'll notice that its position after he passes doesn't seem right, even taking into account the flyer's movement. Additionally, there's supposed to be someone off to the side who's taking video of the whole thing, so why not show the entire flight from any one of the perspectives, first person, person in the back or person off to the side?

Despite me wanting this not to be fake, there's little doubt in my mind that it is.
posted by ooga_booga at 1:04 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man, while this could easily be a viral ad for... something... it sure seems like a shit-ton amount of effort to make all those "sort of how it works" videos.

A Nintendo Wii flying game?
posted by daniel_charms at 1:05 AM on March 21, 2012


...called Flying Dutchman.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:14 AM on March 21, 2012


Another thing: look at how he picks up his legs at 0:35. Not at all natural.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:24 AM on March 21, 2012


You can fool all of MeFi some of the time, and some
of Mefi all of the time, but you can't fool all of MeFi all
of the time.
posted by quazichimp at 1:58 AM on March 21, 2012


In video 13/14, the cut from live to CG at 1:52 is surprisingly cliche for a series of videos that would otherwise be pretty convincing

So, what part do you think was CG'ed? They somehow composited a flying guy (on wires or something) into the scene?
posted by ShutterBun at 2:36 AM on March 21, 2012


If this isn't real, it's time machine dick punching time, my stroop-eating friend.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:22 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there nothing a Wii controller can't do?

Figure out that you're trying to hold the sword vertically in Skyward Sword ?
posted by GallonOfAlan at 3:46 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course it's fake. Except for the superfluous Wii controller, there's nothing here that isn't 50 year old technology. And yet nobody else has done this in those 50 years, despite thousands trying? Pfff.
posted by DU at 5:09 AM on March 21, 2012


I so badly want this to be a real thing, and so far I'm still able to convince my brain that it must be. If there's a strong enough wind, couldn't you do something pretty similar with a hang-glider? Which is essentially all this thing is (with a bit of flapping built in). There's also a fairly convincing follow-up to the Wired article memebake posted, which goes further into the physics, and even tracks the camera shake.

In summary: if this is fake then I probably shouldn't be climbing a tall building with a windsurfing rig right now.
posted by omnikron at 5:49 AM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Uh, guys? Nintendo is releasing Kid Icarus: Uprising on March 23rd.

But I'm sure that's just coincidence.
posted by CaseyB at 5:51 AM on March 21, 2012 [12 favorites]


A thought: how cool is it that CG has gotten to the point where we can't even tell anymore!
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:07 AM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Jarno Smeets => Jet Man Soars Sores
posted by omnikron at 6:12 AM on March 21, 2012


Edison failed at thousands of light bulbs, so there's no way his latest one works! Pfff.

(Fake? No clue. I'm just a simple baker from a small Italian town. I bake-a da bread.)
posted by The Deej at 6:14 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seriously, you guys haven't cracked this yet?
posted by anazgnos at 7:17 AM on March 21, 2012


One person trying something thousands of times is a lot different than a thousand people trying something once.

But the real point of my comment is they didn't invent anything new. They show some wings strapped to a guy's back. Without some massively powerful but extremely tiny power source, how is that working? And how is the simple leverage working of dangling him from what looks like something tucked in his shirt? Just...no.
posted by DU at 7:38 AM on March 21, 2012


anazgnos, please enlighten us
posted by CharlesV42 at 10:10 AM on March 21, 2012


anazgnos, please enlighten us

I'm not teasing that I've figured it out or anything, I'm just expressing my disappointment that no smoking gun has been found by the MeFi team in almost 24 hours. I assume it's fake, there appear to be many good reasons to assume it's fake, but there is no big unmistakable 'gotcha' post.
posted by anazgnos at 10:17 AM on March 21, 2012


memebake: What doesn't look remotely real about it, specifically? (if you can get your head off the desk for a mo) - how would you expect a man with huge flapping mechanical wings to look and move?

This.

Here's my untechnical reasons for calling fake:
* No one thought to put a camera tripod up. This isn't 1903; Orville can afford a damned iPhone holder.
* The guy isn't built like a world-class athlete.
* The wings aren't as big as the ones in the above video (of an actual man-powered flight), yet they lift a bigger man.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:39 AM on March 21, 2012


Uh, guys? Nintendo is releasing Kid Icarus: Uprising on March 23rd.

Excellent point. But that's a 3DS game.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:54 AM on March 21, 2012


How I know this is real: Steve Coogan in 24 hour party people.
posted by nutate at 12:13 PM on March 21, 2012


So, what part do you think was CG'ed? They somehow composited a flying guy (on wires or something) into the scene?
posted by ShutterBun


Yes. Except for the part about the wires. I could be a pure computer model. Note they do the same pan to the ground again right after he lands.
posted by RobotHero at 1:03 PM on March 21, 2012


I am a malfunctioning computer model that meant to say "It could be"
posted by RobotHero at 1:04 PM on March 21, 2012


Gizmodo on why it's likely to be a fake. (Not to mention, you know, basic physics.)
posted by Nelson at 1:33 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, and the Gizmodo article gives some pretty damning evidence: go to this video, at 1:49 there is a black patch on only the left wing, then video pans down and back up, and a black patch has appeared on the right wing in exactly the same spot as on the left wing (1:54).
posted by Pyry at 1:53 PM on March 21, 2012


The black square thing doesn't bother me as much as the fact they used Maya to show the animated workings, rather than AutoCAD or a similar program. Good catch by the ILM guys.
posted by The Deej at 1:58 PM on March 21, 2012


That Gizmodo link is pretty great and it points out things you don't need to be a cgi wizard to spot.

Another thing everyone seems to have missed so far: the noise the wings make, when you can hear it at all (in the test run video), is out of sync with their movement and cuts out way too suddenly. In the 'real' flight video, you can't hear any noise at all, even though you'd expect them to make quite a lot of it.
posted by daniel_charms at 2:01 PM on March 21, 2012


The Deej: not only are they using Maya, but, as it is pointed out in the Gizmodo piece, they have the 'Cloth Simulation' toolbar open atop the program...
posted by daniel_charms at 2:06 PM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I found another mistake: the kite's logo appears and disappears throughout the video.
posted by Pyry at 2:13 PM on March 21, 2012


The "motion stabilized" version of the footage (at the end of the Gizmodo article) is certainly damning, though I can't imagine why the makers would go to such lengths to CG that portion of the video, when they could have just as easily cut to the fake stuff after the "pan down to the grass" moment.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:41 PM on March 21, 2012


Try-it-at-home debunking:
Watch the bit starting at 34 seconds in, the part where as he rises up into the air he lifts his legs up and straight out behind him. Now find somewhere in your house where you can balance solely on your chest (as if you were attached at the torso to some kind of flying machine), leaving the whole of your lower body unsupported. Finally, attempt to lift your legs up and straight out behind you in the same manner.

(Please God don't let my hopeless level of fitness be the reason that this doesn't work.)
posted by Lucien Dark at 5:14 PM on March 21, 2012


Leaning forward (say, over the back of a couch, or a railing or something) would allow your torso to counterbalance your legs, making it much easier to straighten them out.

A quick experiment using a small 18" cubical ottoman placed more or less directly beneath my waist demonstrated that it's remarkably easy. So long as his harness provided support for his waist, he would have absolutely no trouble getting his legs parallel to the ground, once his center of gravity was adjusted correctly.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:28 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Welp.
posted by wanderingmind at 9:09 PM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Deej: not only are they using Maya, but, as it is pointed out in the Gizmodo piece, they have the 'Cloth Simulation' toolbar open atop the program...

I was going to make that point too. It struck my as odd that an engineering student would be designing in Maya, instead of something like Solidworks which is better suited to the task.

I appreciate that the directors took the time to build some a semi-believable timeline, but there's a plasticy shine to the whole thing. It's like watching an engineering project dramatized by arts majors - way more compelling than it should be :)
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:12 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


wanderingmind: Welp

Yep. Time to fire up that time machine dick puncher.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:14 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sigh. Well, now I'm on record as being an overly-trusting easy mark. I don't think I'll change - I prefer it to cynicism - but, well, nobody likes feeling like a fool.
posted by Cygnet at 5:59 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's okay. Back in the day, I fell for that mini-cooper robot.
posted by RobotHero at 7:16 AM on March 22, 2012


I found another mistake: the kite's logo appears and disappears throughout the video.

Sorry, Pyry, but that's fairly realistic. In your picture, the logo is only printed on the top side of the fabric (Top Right). It's shadow is visible through the fabric with enough backlighting (BL), but not when front-lit by sunlight (TL). The BR picture is confusing, but if they used a flash (because they're clearly posing), it might have been enough light to make the logo disappear.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:19 AM on March 22, 2012


I considered that, but in the top right of my image you can see that the logo is white on top when illuminated only from above (reflected light only) (which is also the case in the successful flight video at 0:20), but then in the first test run (1:57) you can see that when illuminated by the sun from above the logo on top is black.

Also, between the lower left and lower right of my image there is absolutely no change in lighting that would indicate a flash was used in one image but not the other. Furthermore, if the reflected light from a wall (lower left) is enough to show the gear logo through the material, then surely the sun's light would be able to do the same in the upper left image.
posted by Pyry at 10:50 AM on March 22, 2012


Pyry:
I considered that, but in the top right of my image you can see that the logo is white on top when illuminated only from above (reflected light only) (which is also the case in the successful flight video yt at 0:20), but then in the first test run yt (1:57) you can see that when illuminated by the sun from above the logo on top is black.


You win! Sharper eyes than I!
posted by IAmBroom at 11:40 AM on March 22, 2012


Ok, maybe I was on the wrong side of the fence.

Its interesting that CGI is getting this good, and as one of the ILM/Weta guys said, this is probably the first viral video to have this much work going into it.

The really damning evidence is the steadied-footage under update 2 at the gizmodo article here, when its the guys running towards the camera that look fake rather than the birdman himself.

Interestingly though, a lot of the ILM CGI guys that Gizmodo originally talked to wrote the film off for the wrong reasons ... like a lot of casual viewers of the film, they assumed Jarno was supposed to be doing this under his own power, and thats not the idea at all - he has motors and batteries on him, which according to some assessements, would be powerful enough. So we have from the Gizmodo article:
Employee 2 (also a pilot) "... Also, the only way people have been able to propel themselves above the ground have been by bicycle arrangements to power a fixed-wing aircraft. A human powered helicopter managed 10 seconds of flight about 5 inches above the ground. The legs are much more powerful than the arms. I have serious doubts about it just on the physics and physiology points alone. "
He wasn't paying attention then.
Employee 3: "I agree, I saw that earlier today. I can't spot any glaring visual problems, but the physics just don't add up."
He wasn't paying attention then.
Employee 4: "Bad physics, shaky cam with bad focus (always a giveaway) and the most steady head I've ever seen on a guy flapping his arms in order to not break every bone in his body. FAKE."
Right about the steady head possibly, but wrong about how hard Jarno would need to flap his arms - he only needs the gentlest of movements for the device to capture his arm movements

Employee 5 gets it.

So, a very well done project, and I reckon that something like this might be possible, given a good headwind, but if it was made by a full on R+D lab rather than just a DIY project.

In summary: good show
posted by memebake at 12:08 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


So.

"Hey, let's make a video where we trick people into believing we've accomplished something awesome, something that speaks to them profoundly about the aspirations of humankind and the promise of technological advancement, but we really didn't do it, and instead they'll feel like rubes when they realize we've duped them."

Yeah, someone needs a good dick-punching.
posted by darkstar at 12:16 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


So he's admitted that it's a hoax. Whether it's viral marketing for Nintendo still seems to be in question.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:01 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The girl in the video (named "Floor") is doing her masters thesis on dreams. She hooked up with Jarno last fall and in exchange for her help, he volunteered to be one of her test cases, as "someone who follows their dream." (her blog here)

Given the above, and also considering Jarno's many months of tweets, blog posts, and pretty much spreading the word about his home-made flying wings on every "do it yourself" hobbyist website on the planet over the past year or so, it would be pretty astounding/bizarre if they just decided to do the whole thing in AfterEffects after all that work.

Then again, maybe once they finally got the rig built, and realized it had no hope of working in its current form, they simply did some quickie CGI on the last video in hopes of raising some more capital for the project.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:05 PM on March 22, 2012


Mind:blown!
posted by ShutterBun at 3:06 PM on March 22, 2012


I still want to see the Mythbusters try it.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:08 PM on March 22, 2012


I've been had.
posted by nutate at 3:25 PM on March 22, 2012


Everybody plays the fool...sometime.
There's no exception to the rule.
Listen baby -- it may be factual, it may be cruel --
I want to tell ya: everybody plays the fool.
posted by darkstar at 4:18 PM on March 22, 2012


I called up my 83 year old Dad who's going through cancer treatment to tell him it was a fake. He sorta sighed and said "somebody did make a working jet pack though, right?"

I said, "yep, you're right they do have those."

That kinda brightened my day, but part of me wishes ill-fortune on the artistes behind this one.
posted by nutate at 6:09 PM on March 22, 2012


ಥ_ಥ
posted by omnikron at 7:40 AM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


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