Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Unreal instruments

Clare just got an e-mail that Mr Know-it-all instantly spotted as a hoax:
Read this first, then watch.


Turn your sound on for this.

This is almost unbelievable. See how all of the balls wind up in catcher cones.

This incredible machine was built as a collaborative effort between the Robert M. Trammell Music Conservatory and the Sharon Wick School of Engineering at the University of Iowa ... Amazingly, 97% of the machines components came from John Deere Industries and Irrigation Equipment of Bancroft , Iowa ...Yes, farm equipment!

It took the team a combined 13,029 hours of set-up, alignment, calibration, and tuning before filming this video but as you can see it was WELL worth the effort. It is now on display in the Matthew Gerhard Alumni Hall at the University and is already slated to be donated to the Smithsonian.
The accompanying clip was in the fact the above, Pipe Dream, minus the onscreen credits, from the music animation specialists Animusic. I've expounded a bit more on their lovely works at JSBlog: see Self-playing harps.

Maybe I've watched too much computer animation, but I can't see how anyone could think this to be real for more than a moment. Nor did I realise how ubiquitous the e-mail is: enough to be mentioned on a number of debunking sites such as Snopes. Needless to say, the Robert M. Trammell Music Conservatory and the Sharon Wick School of Engineering at the University of Iowa do not exist. The discussion at The Blog of Phyz - Fooling our elders... - is enlightening if depressing; I know well the syndrome described, where the person who spots a hoax becomes cast as the bad guy:
The person who sends the hoax is regarded as a happy-go-lucky victim with a positive outlook on life, but the person who responds with the truth is regarded as a curmudgeonly killjoy.
The alternative, I suppose, is the recipient admitting being fooled. In this case, however, the hoax is doing down a remarkable piece of work, and by removing the credit may even count as video piracy. As the Hoaxslayer entry says:
There is no need to malign this fantastic animation by tacking on a foolish and totally fictitious cover story. Such clever work speaks for itself and needs no embellishment. Moreover, the real creators of the animation deserve credit for their genius. If you receive this email forward, please let the sender know the true origin of the "farm machine music" video.
- Ray

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