This is a CGI video of a 'lightning ball' crossing railway tracks

  • This article is more than one year old.
  • Published on December 6, 2021 at 08:03
  • Updated on December 6, 2021 at 10:59
  • 3 min read
  • By AFP Indonesia

A video has been viewed more than half a million times in multiple YouTube, Facebook, TikTok and Instagram posts alongside a claim it shows a "lightning ball" crossing railway tracks. However, the claim is false. Belarus-based 3D artist Andrei Trukhonovets told AFP that he created the video and uploaded it on YouTube in May 2019.

This one-minute and 50-second video was published on YouTube on November 9, 2021.

It is titled: "The Phenomenon of a Mysterious Lightning Ball Crossing the Railroad Tracks Went Viral."

The clip has been viewed more than 489,000 times.

The post's Indonesian-language caption translates in part as: "A video of a 'lightning ball' crossing the railway tracks has gone viral on social media. The light can be seen sparking fire as it approaches the power pole. The video was uploaded by the Instagram account @fakta.indo, Monday, November 8, 2021. #VIVAnewsdaily".

Screenshot of the misleading post, taken on December 6, 2021

The superimposed text on this video reads: "The uploader explained that this light is known as a ball of lightning, an electrical phenomenon that has the potential to explode.

"The uploader continued, the term refers to reports of luminous and spherical objects that vary from the size of a pea to several metres in diameter.

"The uploader also advised moving away immediately if anyone sees a light like this.

"However, in the viral video, the time and place of the incident are not yet known."

The clip has received more than 57,000 views in other posts after it was shared alongside a similar claim on YouTube herehere and here; on Facebook here; on TikTok herehere and here; and on Instagram here.

But the claim is false.

A Yandex reverse image search, followed by keyword searches on Google, found this 23-second video.

It was published on a YouTube channel under the name Andrei Trukhonovets on May 27, 2019.

The video title reads in English: "Ball lightning caught on video near railways [CGI]" — referring to computer-generated imagery.

In the misleading posts, the genuine video has been reversed.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (L) and the mirrored version of the genuine clip (R), with matching features circled in red by AFP:

Screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (L) and the mirrored version of the genuine clip (R)

 Trukhonovets, a Belarus-based 3D artist, told AFP that he created the video using the video-editing software Adobe After Effects and uploaded it to YouTube in May 2019.

He said he filmed the clip of railway tracks seen in the video near the Belarusian capital of Minsk.

"I tried to create a short story with a ball of lightning, imagined how it would have moved and behaved," Trukhonovets said on December 1, 2021. "Then I recorded a video with railways, imagining there's a moving ball of lightning on it."

Is there content that you would like AFP to fact-check? Get in touch.

Contact us