Is Drone Video of a Bear Chasing a Man in Snow Real?
On Jan. 26, 2022, Reddit user u/namey_mcnameson posted a video that purportedly showed the view of a drone flying between trees in a snowy wilderness to reveal a man being chased by what might have been a grizzly bear. The caption of the video on the r/Unexpected subreddit read: “Such a lovely day to test out my drone.”
After much research, we uncovered evidence on TikTok that pointed to the idea that the clip was a clever and interesting combination of drone video and the work of a visual effects artist.
The top comment said: “WE NEED ANSWERS!”
Some commenters initially believed that the video might be the work of a CGI artist. “The snow doesn’t flick up very naturally from the footsteps,” u/wealllovethrowaways said. “It’s very likely CGI, but it’s damn good CGI.”
The best available resolution for the video on Reddit appeared to be 418×480, which was quite low. If the video did contain some CGI work, one good strategy to hide that fact might be to lower the quality of the clip to make it more difficult for viewers to study details.
One user believed it to be animation created with the graphics software Blender. Others discussed just how fast bears can run, saying that the person in the video would have been bear food within seconds. “That bear is a paid actor,” joked another person.
However, some users weren’t so sure it was fake. “I’m under the impression that this is a real video without audio, but the audio was added for comedic effect,” a commenter said. That comment had more than 200 likes in agreement with believing the video was real. Another person concurred: “I second this theory.” Speaking of theories, several people also mentioned a one about it maybe being a “trained bear.”
The sound in the clip initially appeared to have been recreated and was not the original audio. The audio from drones can often sound like little more than loud whirring or buzzing from the mechanics that enable it to fly.
The one thing that all of the Reddit comments had in common was that no one appeared to be able to uncover definitive evidence of the origins of the supposed drone video.
Hours after it was posted to Reddit, the moderators of r/Unexpected unexpectedly removed the thread with the video. Sometime after that, the video was later tweeted by @TheoShantonas with the caption, “Lovely day to test out a drone”:
From there, it was quote tweeted by various Twitter accounts such as “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz,” who copied in wildlife expert Ron Magill. Magill responded: “OMG!!! Great video but I find it hard to believe that it wasn’t carefully ‘produced.’ No way that guy could outrun a serious bear in the snow!”
Finding the Answer
We found no further information about the video on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or the Russian-language social media website VK.com (V Kontakte).
It was at that point that we tried an old trick. After downloading the video from Reddit, we used the Adobe product Media Encoder to take a screenshot of the first frame of the video. We then tried a reverse image search on Google Images. Amazingly, it found one result that read, “Завтрак убегает | Пикабу.” The video had been posted on pikabu.ru just one day before it appeared on Reddit.
In the pikabu.ru version of the video, a watermark for TikTok referred to a user named @standartantares. We then visited the TikTok channel for @standartantares and found that the video had been posted on either Jan. 23 or 24, two or three days before it showed up on Reddit.
In the comments, the creator said that the audio was a “voiceover.” The video’s hashtag #krd may have referred to a Russian YouTube account named KRD FPV that posted another drone video shot in the snow on Jan. 22. No videos on the YouTube channel showed a bear.
On the TikTok channel, we found similar drone videos, but only the one with a bear. Two videos appeared to show a CGI airplane at sunrise or sunset with background video that was shot by a drone. The hashtags on one of the videos were “#mavic” and “#djv,” which referred to the line of DJI Mavic drones and the DJV visual effects review software that’s intended “for VFX, animation, and film production.” Another hashtag in one of the videos said: “#magic.”
In the comments, @standartantares joked that the man was “still running”:
In other words, all of this pointed to the idea that the video showed a clever mix of a CGI bear with a background video shot by a drone.
Hours after we found the TikTok account, the relevant videos appeared to have been removed. The user, @standartantares, addressed the deletion of the videos, saying in a comment that they would be added back at a later date.
This story will be updated if any further information comes to light.
The clip with the drone and the person running from the bear reminded us of another story where we looked at whether or not a TikTok video showed a man saving a dog from train tracks. That video was of higher quality and allowed us to be able to examine small details.
With regard to Reddit, we previously debunked a picture that purported to show “the last photo of the last queen of Mongolia.” We also found a claim to be untrue that said a photograph showed Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein watching former U.S. President Richard Nixon resign. However, another post on Reddit about a man named Capt. Cumming who suggested semen be used as invisible ink during World War I was true.
On the subject of bears and videos, we previously were the first to report about the viral video that showed a woman pushing a bear off her fence to save her dogs. We later reported on a video of a bear charging at a man in his own garage. We also covered an incident involving a bear charging at a crowd at a Mammoth Motocross race track. All three happened in California.
Curious about how Snopes’ writers verify information and craft their stories for public consumption? We’ve collected some posts that help explain how we do what we do. Happy reading and let us know what else you might be interested in knowing.
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