Creator of fake Canberra UFO video reveals how he accidentally fooled the world with hoax clip

Ben Brennan

A ‘UFO sighting’ over Canberra which was picked up by media outlets around the world was in fact a video editing exercise, according to a YouTube user.

The video, which showed a peculiar ball of light exploding over Australia’s capital, resulted in a whirlwind of speculation on what could be responsible for the phenomenon.

The original video shows a green ball of light exploding over Canberra. Photo: Screenshot
The original video shows a green ball of light exploding over Canberra. Photo: Screenshot

Ball lightning was one explanation. Unsurprisingly, aliens were another.

But, proving yet again that the simplest solution is probably the best, YouTuber Johnson Thompson said it was an experiment gone wrong that set the viral ‘hoax’ in motion.

“Thank you to all who picked that this was not real, and provided great critique,” they wrote on their YouTube page.

“I will use your constructive criticism to improve my compositing skills.”


According to the amateur video editor, the recent acquisition of Adobe After Effects led them to begin working on their ‘compositing’ skills. To work on the technique, Johnson Thompson set about compositing two different images of Canberra, a shot of the northern lights, a few audio effects and some other wizardry to create the UFO video.

They claim they never intended to trick anyone, but the video caught on nonetheless. A follow up video has now been uploaded showing the steps involved in creating the accidental hoax.

The Internet loves a good UFO hunt and their original video became the latest lead to chase down. Aware of this fact, media outlets around the world joined the guessing game.

Ball lightning was one explanation. Photo: Screenshot
Ball lightning was one explanation. Photo: Screenshot

According to the video’s creator, some media outlets tried to get in touch before running his clip. Others posted it online without looking into its origins.

Even the experts were fooled by this one though. One argued he did not believe it was ‘Photoshop’ (which is technically correct), explaining it was likely ‘ball lightning’.

But, as Johnson Thompson now reveals, Photoshop was actually a small component, but a different Adobe program did most of the work here.

“I'm well versed in photoshop, pretty ok with blender. I do that as a job,” they wrote on YouTube.

“So I kind of knew what i had to do to get the effect i wanted, figuring out how to how to do it in after effects was fairly straight forward (lots of googling). if i couldn't manage it in after effects i did it in blender or Photoshop.”

Still, it is unlikely this will be the last time spurious UFO footage lights up forums, message boards and comment threads around the web.

Here’s one from Kosovo that is currently doing the rounds:



And some others from the vault...