The other day, I ran across the artifact-riddled video below, of a skiing ostrich. The video was at least as old as 2006, which explained the terrible audio and video quality. It had been stolen and reposted numerous times on YouTube even back then. Common sense will tell you that it HAS to be computer-generated imagery or clever editing, and yet, at moments, you pause, and go “Hmmm…maybe ostriches CAN ski”. If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find lots of threads endeavoring to answer this important question. I’ll save you the trouble; the clip was in fact an ad for Japan Railway back in 2003, and definitely did NOT feature ostriches actually snow skiing. But the clip raised an interesting question.
Can Giraffes High Dive?
That wasn’t the question I had in mind, although there seems to be an answer to that question in the next clip, below. The question was: why are people so mystified when presented with an absurd video with effects of dodgy quality, as in the ostrich clip, while they will often be prepared to deny the credibility of an equally absurd video made using the most sophisticated effects available? It’s probably due to a variation of what is called the Uncanny Valley, something I’ve touched on elsewhere quite a bit in the past. It’s fairly obvious why the amazingly realistic video below won’t fool anyone, it’s partly because of the “Uncanny Valley” effect created by the hyper-realistic visual style, and partly due to your existing understanding of how Giraffes might behave. This phenomena was in play in reverse in the “Saudi Wheel Change” video we featured here.
A Coconut Octopus? Puh-leeze.
So do octopi live in coconuts? Most of us would agree they don’t. So what makes one so sure the video of the octopus below isn’t special effects? Context? Video quality? Music? We’ll be touching on this again soon in relation to robotics and sci-fi effects. In the meantime, enjoy the groove: