Golden Eagle Snatches Baby, Students Claim Credit for Viral Video

The viral debate over whether a YouTube video showing an eagle swooping down and picking up a baby was real or fake ended today when a group of students claimed credit for the digital mastery.

Four students in the 3D animation and digital design program at the National Animation and Design Centre, or Centre NAD, in Montreal, created the video, the school said in a blog post on its website today.

The school spoke out after the video went viral, garnering more than 2 million views and 11,000 comments since it was uploaded by the four students on Tuesday.

"When we saw the reach that the video had received and all the questions that it had triggered, it seemed obvious to us that we had to take ownership of it, if only to show how realistic 3-D animation can be," Claude Arsenault, a public relations manager for the university told today.

The 59-second clip - in which a baby is snatched up by the eagle in a park and then dropped back to the ground a few feet away, as an adult runs to help - took the four students behind it nearly 400 hours to create. The eagle and the baby were created using 3D animation and then added into the film, Arsenault said.

The university, which provides bachelor's and master's degrees in 3D animation and digital design, also responded to concerns for the baby's welfare by headlining today's post, "Centre NAD reassures Montrealers: no danger of being snatched by a royal eagle."

Last December, students in the same production simulation workshop class as the four students behind the eagle prank - Normand Archambault, Antoine Seigle, Loïc Mireault and Félix Marquis-Poulin - released a video of a penguin escaping the Montreal Biodôme, according to the school. That video garnered more than 30,000 views on YouTube.

"The goal in that class is to push 3-D animation to its limits and to show how believable 3-D animation can be as well," Arsenault said.

"I think that they achieved that," she said of the four students behind the eagle hoax. "The video and all of the comments and all of the questions it triggered speaks for itself."