A video purportedly showing a man demonstrating the abilities of his new invisibility cloak went viral in December 2017. Most English speaking internet users encountered this footage after it was shared on Facebook by “Shotded,” where it gained more than 22 million views within two days of its initial posting.
However, this video originally gained traction when it was posted to the Chinese social media site Weibo on 4 December 2017 by 陈士渠 (Chen Shiqu), an internet user who claimed to be the Deputy Director of Criminal Investigation Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security:
[Translation Via Google Translate] Quantum cloak is composed of quantum stealth material made into clothing, which reflects the light waves around the wearer, allowing people wearing such clothes to achieve an “invisible” effect. This technology can be employed by the military for soldiers to use as “stealth military uniforms” and avoid detection by night-vision goggles. But if criminals use stealth clothing, what are police supposed to do!?
The convincing video and the seemingly authoritative source led many to believe that this was an authentic invisibility cloak.
Although Chen Shiqu does appear to truly be the Deputy Director of the Criminal Investigation Bureau in China, this video does not appear on the official government web site (nor its Facebook page) and our search for a “quantum cloak” and “quantum steal material” yielded no results on the CIB web site. In short, the Criminal Investigation Bureau in China did not officially endorse this footage.
Furthermore, Chen Shiqu did not create this footage. YouTube user 瞭望亞太 (Looking Asia Pacific) posted this video on 3 December 2017, a day before the supposed Deputy Director of China’s Criminal Investigation Bureau’s post. And although they claimed that this material was “Made in China,” this YouTuber didn’t provide any information about where or when this video was taken or who developed this groundbreaking material:
【Made in China Quantum Invisibility Clinics】 Quantum stealth clothing is composed of quantum invisible materials made into clothing, which through the reflection of the light waves around the wearer can make people wearing such clothes achieve an “invisibility” effect. This technology can be employed by the military for soldiers to use as “stealth military uniforms” and avoid detection by night-vision goggles.
Despite these audacious claims, the actual footage contains several clues that this invisibility cloak is nothing more than the result of video editing. At the 38-second mark, for instance, the presenter accidentally touches a plant with his leg. This creates two visuals that conflict with how we’d expect a real invisibility cloak to work. First, we see the plant “double” as the real plant (which was knocked by the man’s leg) moves and the digital plant remains in place:
A few moments later this plant can be seen shaking. But as the invisibility cloak covers it up, it instantaneously becomes motionless again. The motion of the plant resumes once it is no longer hidden behind the invisibility cloak:
This indicates that this invisibility cloak is actually some sort of green screen. The filmmaker shot footage of the background and then projected that image onto the green sheet in order to make it appear as if the man disappeared behind an invisibility cloak. When the man touches the plant, however, the background footage and the invisibility footage no longer match up, which causes the odd visuals seen above.
Zhu Zhen Song, a producer for the Star Orange Quantum video production company, came to a similar conclusion. Song explained to the Shanghai Observer that this video was likely made with a blue or green cloth and a computer software program such as After Effect:
Star Orange Quantum video production company producer Zhu Zhen Song, after watching this video, told reporters that it was likely shot with blue or green plastic cloth, and then edited using one of many video effects software platforms, such as the well-known After Effect or Nuke and Fusion software.
Zhu Zhen Song explained the principle behind this type of video production. The figure is shot against a solid blue background while holding a blue cloth. Then, software is used to replace the blue areas with other footage, creating an “invisible clothing” effect. Similar technologies are commonly used in movies, such as various science fiction films.
Another indication that this video was digitally edited can be spotted just after the one-minute mark when the man’s fingers disappear despite being in front of the green screen:
Dozens of similar amateur videos can be found on YouTube. Although the following footage may not be as convincing as the viral invisibility cloak video, they both use similar editing techniques: