Four students in a 3D Animation and Digital Design course at Canada's National Animation and Design Center were told that if their final video project for the semester was able to get 100,000 views on YouTube, they would all earn A+'s.
Eighteen million hits later, that A is a safe bet.
"The assignment was to create a hoax," says Félix Marquis-Poulin, one of the four students in the course. Marquis-Poulin and his classmates had seven weeks to use animation to create a video that fooled viewers. The four students spent a collective 400 hours producing the 60-second video.
The final video, titled "Golden Eagle Snatches Kid," was posted on Tuesday evening and quickly went viral. The amazing footage, which showed an eagle swoop down and grab a toddler playing in a park, was covered internationally on Wednesday morning. However, doubts quickly surfaced on social networks.
By the time the school issued a press release on Wednesday, the video had garnered over 1.2 million views. "We were expecting a little bit of views in Montreal, around Quebec, but not that much," said Marquis-Poulin.