Drone footage of 05-17-2019 McCook, NE tornado YT video

Randy Jennings

Supporter
May 18, 2013
489
439
11
If you look at some of his other videos (i.e. Armed at 14 Thousand Feet, Don't Steal My Rubik's Cubes!), you will see this guy is into some serious video editing. I'm not ready to say the video above is a fake, but he clearly has the skills to pull off fakes if he wanted to.
 

Stu Short

EF0
Aug 16, 2018
16
33
1
Brighton, UK
What on Earth makes you think these are fake? He's certainly not the first person to fly a drone into a tornado. I think there's some liberties taken with some of the graphical overlays but even then he might just be screen recording his phone!
 
Jul 16, 2013
267
173
11
Joplin, MO
If you look at some of his other videos (i.e. Armed at 14 Thousand Feet, Don't Steal My Rubik's Cubes!), you will see this guy is into some serious video editing. I'm not ready to say the video above is a fake, but he clearly has the skills to pull off fakes if he wanted to.
I guess I don't see what you're seeing. His skills is novice, at best. I'm just basing that off having worked in production for a number of years, being proficient in After Effects, FCP, Avid and Premiere and based on the content of his videos. The effects he uses in the two videos you mentioned are very basic, entry level stuff that anyone could do by simply looking at some tutorials on YouTube. From what I've seen, nothing in his videos would suggest to me that he has the skills or know-how to use CGI to fake tornado drone videos.
 

Randy Jennings

Supporter
May 18, 2013
489
439
11
First, let me be absolutely clear that I am not saying the video is fake. I am simply saying that this person has posted other videos that clearly make use of video editing tools not found on most people's home computers and has entered at least one video editing contest before. Combine that with it appears he is unknown in the chase community and this video has suddenly shown up 9 months after the event, I think we are wise to treat it with suspicion.

There are several places in the video where things like lighting seems to be inconsistent and other areas where it looks like different scenes where combined. It is entirely possible that all of the footage is his and it really did happen and he just filmed some B roll to edit in to tell the story. There are other possibilities as well.

I realize that just because one owns video editing tools and has used them in the past doesn't mean every video they post is fake. Count me as a skeptic on this video.
 

Stu Short

EF0
Aug 16, 2018
16
33
1
Brighton, UK
Hardly a crime to be unknown in chaser circles. I'm unknown and I've been chasing since 2007. The video editing tools he's using are common, off the shelf products - they're part of the Adobe suite and you can subscribe to them for $30/month. It's also common practice for vloggers and photographers to have multiple cameras set up to shoot b-roll footage from multiple angles. Admittedly I'm curious as to how he's suddenly appeared on the radar as it were (i.e. he's seemingly popped up out of nowhere in my Youtube feed) but, a quick look through his previous content and reading through some of the comments and you can see he's been around for quite a while. I see no reason why any of the footage isn't his or that any of the event are staged or faked. Seriously, the amount of money, hardware and talent it would require to fake this is would be ILM standard. Easier and cheaper to do the real thing.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Matthew Sweet
Jul 16, 2013
267
173
11
Joplin, MO
Admittedly I'm curious as to how he's suddenly appeared on the radar as it were (i.e. he's seemingly popped up out of nowhere in my Youtube feed)
My guess is that's just post editing and being made to look that way, or maybe not. There's software such as Wirecast that can do some pretty cool stuff while living streaming.
 

Stu Short

EF0
Aug 16, 2018
16
33
1
Brighton, UK
Either way, I hope he's out again this season and continues to deliver similar results. Some stunning footage on his channel and he comes across as a knowledgeable, likeable guy.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Matthew Sweet
Apr 25, 2017
125
115
6
Davenport, Iowa
First, let me be absolutely clear that I am not saying the video is fake. I am simply saying that this person has posted other videos that clearly make use of video editing tools not found on most people's home computers and has entered at least one video editing contest before. Combine that with it appears he is unknown in the chase community and this video has suddenly shown up 9 months after the event, I think we are wise to treat it with suspicion.
I'm unknown in the chase community, so I guess any footage I upload should be treated with the utmost suspicion and scrutiny. Makes perfect sense. Thanks for shedding some light on why people might not want to be known in the chase community.
 
  • Haha
Reactions: Stu Short

Stu Short

EF0
Aug 16, 2018
16
33
1
Brighton, UK
Given the current rampant state of video and copyright theft of storm footage on Youtube, its a sad state of affairs when we immediately start viewing anything new with suspicion.
 
Jan 14, 2011
2,941
2,745
21
St. Louis
stormhighway.com
I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to have at least *some* sketpicism toward a new figure in chasing - we've seen plenty of shenanigans over the years. That said, I don't see anything about this footage that looks fabricated.
 

Todd Lemery

Staff member
Supporter
Jun 2, 2014
609
620
21
55
Menominee, MI
3CD5DA4F-1592-4B54-892D-F19DD4D1F3B2.png As someone who also would like to get my drone into a tornado, I had saved the following screen shot before this thread popped up trying to figure out what went wrong. I haven’t even gotten close as of yet, but my thoughts while I was watching it were twofold. My first thought was that he was coming in too low to make it through the RFD as alluded to by @Dan Robinson last year on this forum and also that he hesitated as a critical time instead of pushing hard to drive it home.
I’d like to know what others think, because myself and any others who want to try and do it probably won’t get a ton of cracks at it. I’d like to preemptively eliminate as many mistakes as possible if it can be successfully done at all.
The screen shot shows his GPS track before crashing.
 

Jeff Duda

Resident meteorological expert
Staff member
Supporter
Oct 7, 2008
3,320
2,063
21
Broomfield, CO
www.meteor.iastate.edu
So what I'm getting from the responses in this thread is that no one knows who this is. Okay, checkmark number one.

What frustrates me about what this person is doing is that it seems to display a lack of requisite knowledge for doing this. I doubt he is doing this for any kind of scientific purpose, but rather he has money he wants to spend on getting attention by doing something extreme that most others aren't doing.

Sounds about right for storm chasing.

I hope he understands that unless he uses some kind of large, bulky, high-powered, professional drone unit, he is unlikely to ever get a drone directly into a tornado. Those things are just not strong enough to punch through the wind field. His only hope would be to place the drone in in an inflow surge, but those are not easy to find. And he will likely lose the drone doing so.

You're not going to be able to get a modern-day consumer-brand drone into a tornado by going through the RFD...like...ever. The reason is...it's a downdraft, and when downdrafts hit the ground they spread out...ya know...diverge...i.e., the winds push out and away from the RFD core. That means away from the tornado except for in the small sector where the RFD hasn't completely wrapped around it (better get there early in the tornado's life cycle, because once it becomes occluded it's game over for your chances). You'd have to get your drone into the near-surface part of the inflow ahead of the apex of the RFD gust front to get a drone into a tornado. You would then have to hope that debris centrifuging doesn't keep the drone from being able to get in closer to the tornado's center. Not impossible, but you're probably gonna go through a lot of money crashing drones that get close but don't make it.

ADD: My final point in this matter comes in the form of a question: why do people want to get drone footage from a tornado in the first place? Instrumentation is fine, but I'm only seeing reports from people using only cameras. What do you think you're going to see? It's not going to look like the inside of the EF5/"finger of god" tornado from Twister. I strongly suspect the video would be difficult to make sense of for a few reasons: 1) The camera would likely begin tumbling due to turbulence on its way in or due to extreme spatial velocity gradients in the funnel; 2) even if the camera doesn't tumble, it will still be rotating rapidly within the funnel, and may also experience strong vertical motions, so vision of any one fixed point in space will be very short; 3) even if a camera punctures a visible condensation funnel, the inside is likely to look nothing but gray - there will likely not be any fixed points of reference within the funnel on which the camera can focus. More likely the video would look like swirls of black and gray with much of it out of focus and either covered in mud or water.
 
Last edited:

Stu Short

EF0
Aug 16, 2018
16
33
1
Brighton, UK
So what I'm getting from the responses in this thread is that no one knows who this is. Okay, checkmark number one.

What frustrates me about what this person is doing is that it seems to display a lack of requisite knowledge for doing this. I doubt he is doing this for any kind of scientific purpose, but rather he has money he wants to spend on getting attention by doing something extreme that most others aren't doing.

Sounds about right for storm chasing.

I hope he understands that unless he uses some kind of large, bulky, high-powered, professional drone unit, he is unlikely to ever get a drone directly into a tornado. Those things are just not strong enough to punch through the wind field. His only hope would be to place the drone in in an inflow surge, but those are not easy to find. And he will likely lose the drone doing so.

You're not going to be able to get a modern-day consumer-brand drone into a tornado by going through the RFD...like...ever. The reason is...it's a downdraft, and when downdrafts hit the ground they spread out...ya know...diverge...i.e., the winds push out and away from the RFD core. That means away from the tornado except for in the small sector where the RFD hasn't completely wrapped around it (better get there early in the tornado's life cycle, because once it becomes occluded it's game over for your chances). You'd have to get your drone into the near-surface part of the inflow ahead of the apex of the RFD gust front to get a drone into a tornado. You would then have to hope that debris centrifuging doesn't keep the drone from being able to get in closer to the tornado's center. Not impossible, but you're probably gonna go through a lot of money crashing drones that get close but don't make it.

ADD: My final point in this matter comes in the form of a question: why do people want to get drone footage from a tornado in the first place? Instrumentation is fine, but I'm only seeing reports from people using only cameras. What do you think you're going to see? It's not going to look like the inside of the EF5/"finger of god" tornado from Twister. I strongly suspect the video would be difficult to make sense of for a few reasons: 1) The camera would likely begin tumbling due to turbulence on its way in or due to extreme spatial velocity gradients in the funnel; 2) even if the camera doesn't tumble, it will still be rotating rapidly within the funnel, and may also experience strong vertical motions, so vision of any one fixed point in space will be very short; 3) even if a camera punctures a visible condensation funnel, the inside is likely to look nothing but gray - there will likely not be any fixed points of reference within the funnel on which the camera can focus. More likely the video would look like swirls of black and gray with much of it out of focus and either covered in mud or water.
Did you watch any of his videos before replying? In his Wyoming video he pretty much states as much and is actively seeking the inflow. The RFD does in fact take out his drone.

Also, why does it frustrate you that he's trying to fly a drone into a tornado? What is wrong with that? You state he's unlikely to get a drone into a tornado then berate him because he's not doing it for scientific purposes? Cast aside the scientific nature of it and just marvel at how awesome it looked. He got pretty darn close tbf and there could well be a lot of visual clues we could learn from it all. Give the kid kudos for trying at least. He's captured a lot more visual splendour than anyone driving into a tornado ever did.
 
Apr 25, 2017
125
115
6
Davenport, Iowa
Also, why does it frustrate you that he's trying to fly a drone into a tornado? What is wrong with that?
This. Not everything has to have scientific value in order to be valuable to someone. The personal gratification alone is enough. So what if he wants to build a brand around it and cash in? What better way to fund a hobby than sharing the fruits of labor with a community of like-minded individuals?

I once built a makeshift bicycle ramp and launched my Dyno Compe Air GT off of it. The jump itself was badass as I estimated about 50 feet of air, but the landing was poorly executed; leaving me with a broken arm and a bruised rib. Not only was I limited to writing left-handed most of the school year, but I couldn't laugh or lay down or sit up or do anything functional for the next 3 weeks. There wasn't much scientific value to be had, but damned if I didn't get a few phone numbers and some pretty girls carrying my books for me. Worth it based on the experience alone. Looking back, my only regret was that YouTube wasn't invented yet and I wasn't smart enough to have my JVC camcorder rolling.

I'm with Stu, give the kid a break.
 

Todd Lemery

Staff member
Supporter
Jun 2, 2014
609
620
21
55
Menominee, MI
I’ll just add my personal motivation for wanting to fly a drone into a tornado. It’s roughly why I storm chase. It’s fun and a challenge. It’s not for science and it’s not for You Tube views. In the end if all I had on tape was a dark and blurry mess of a video that makes little sense, that would be just fine. It’s just for me anyway. If someone else doesn’t think it makes any sense, then I’m OK with that too. There’s probably less than a one percent chance I’ll ever be successful doing that, but I’ll only fail if I don’t try.
I love the young man’s enthusiasm and wish him well.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Matthew Sweet
Jan 16, 2009
639
631
21
Kansas City
Wow a lot of feelings for a random guy flying a drone lol. I do not know who this is but decent video just the same.

I have thought for years about getting a drone but this video is a great example why I decided not to. The time we all take away from just ENJOYING WHAT WE ARE WATCHING is always taken away to various degrees because we are looking through lenses or trying to get stuff working to film it. I make a point now to just STOP and watch the tornado or what have you with my EYES. Too many distraction spoil the complete enjoyment to me of some amazing moments chasing that are just too few and in between. In this video you see that with him trying to get the drone working then missing tornadoes going to recover the done. To each their own I guess ... good luck to all this year!
 
Jul 16, 2013
267
173
11
Joplin, MO
So what I'm getting from the responses in this thread is that no one knows who this is. Okay, checkmark number one.

What frustrates me about what this person is doing is that it seems to display a lack of requisite knowledge for doing this. I doubt he is doing this for any kind of scientific purpose, but rather he has money he wants to spend on getting attention by doing something extreme that most others aren't doing.

Sounds about right for storm chasing.

I hope he understands that unless he uses some kind of large, bulky, high-powered, professional drone unit, he is unlikely to ever get a drone directly into a tornado. Those things are just not strong enough to punch through the wind field. His only hope would be to place the drone in in an inflow surge, but those are not easy to find. And he will likely lose the drone doing so.

You're not going to be able to get a modern-day consumer-brand drone into a tornado by going through the RFD...like...ever. The reason is...it's a downdraft, and when downdrafts hit the ground they spread out...ya know...diverge...i.e., the winds push out and away from the RFD core. That means away from the tornado except for in the small sector where the RFD hasn't completely wrapped around it (better get there early in the tornado's life cycle, because once it becomes occluded it's game over for your chances). You'd have to get your drone into the near-surface part of the inflow ahead of the apex of the RFD gust front to get a drone into a tornado. You would then have to hope that debris centrifuging doesn't keep the drone from being able to get in closer to the tornado's center. Not impossible, but you're probably gonna go through a lot of money crashing drones that get close but don't make it.

ADD: My final point in this matter comes in the form of a question: why do people want to get drone footage from a tornado in the first place? Instrumentation is fine, but I'm only seeing reports from people using only cameras. What do you think you're going to see? It's not going to look like the inside of the EF5/"finger of god" tornado from Twister. I strongly suspect the video would be difficult to make sense of for a few reasons: 1) The camera would likely begin tumbling due to turbulence on its way in or due to extreme spatial velocity gradients in the funnel; 2) even if the camera doesn't tumble, it will still be rotating rapidly within the funnel, and may also experience strong vertical motions, so vision of any one fixed point in space will be very short; 3) even if a camera punctures a visible condensation funnel, the inside is likely to look nothing but gray - there will likely not be any fixed points of reference within the funnel on which the camera can focus. More likely the video would look like swirls of black and gray with much of it out of focus and either covered in mud or water.
I guess I don't understand where this hostility of yours come from towards him. He seems rather young, obviously not a scientist and doesn't claim to be, he is just doing something he is passionate about and enjoy's doing and gets to share it with others. Last I knew, none of that requires the approval of Jeff Duda. You're better than that, dude.. like seriously? I'm disappointed seeing this crap coming from you.