It would seem that there is no let-up in the search for footage of the killer whale attacking and killing his trainer, Dawn Brancheau, Wednesday at Sea World. It remains a hot trending topic, even though there has yet to be confirmation of an actual video of the incident. The closest to an attack video that has been found seems to be footage taken by a New Hampshire couple who stopped recording just minutes before the attack took place.
But a lack of real footage hasn’t stopped one company from rendering an animated version of what is believed to have taken place. Next Media, a company owned by Chinese media mogul Jimmy Lai, has a channel on YouTube and has already offered up hundreds of animated dramatizations of actual events, including an bullying outburst made by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Now, without actual footage of the killer whale attack on the Sea World trainer, Next Media has stepped in to fill that missing void as well.
But not everyone believes that the animated representations are newsworthy. The Guardian reports that Taiwan’s Communications Commission refused to grant Lai and Next Media a license to operate, which CNN reported as citing the “salacious nature of the animations.”
Some critics maintain that the animated graphics could blur the line between reality and fiction, causing many to take as fact something that is entirely computer generated and the product of conjecture. But the use of animated graphics has precedent and will no doubt gain traction in the media world as well where there is missing actual footage. Court rooms have seen the introduction of computer-based models of crime scenes and acts. Many true crime shows incorporate ‘dramatizations,’ players acting out what is known (through witnessed accounts) or believed to have happened. Animated graphics that depict a representation of an event would simply be an extension of the same idea.
And how to keep viewers from confusing reality with the artificial? A simple disclaimer noting that the animation was based on actual, fabricated, or speculative events would work, just the same as they are used in dramatizations.
So a killer whale attack video of Tilikum, the 5-ton killer Sea World killer whale that attacked the trainer Dawn Brancheau Wednesday, might not be readily available or even actually exist. But if one doesn’t mind that the incident is animated, Next Media has footage of the attack on YouTube.
Just remember, events may not have occurred as depicted.