I'd like to begin this thread by thanking Jeremy Corbell for giving his go-ahead for me posting this thread and analysing a portion of footage
featured in his new documentary. The Hunt For Skinwalker is available on iTunes, Vimeo and Amazon. In this analysis I will be looking closely at a
small segment of footage, taken from a security camera monitor that shows what appear to be two towers appearing on the Ranch.
It goes without saying that I consider this use of footage to be fair use, and whilst Jeremy has given his permission, if any other rights holders
feel unhappy about this post, the Mods should edit and or remove as they see fit.
Background To The Footage
The footage is comprised of around 80 usable frames of security camera footage shot in 2004 on the Skinwalker Ranch. It appears to be late evening
(we'll return to this later). So far, there has been little to no official commentary on the footage. Questions arise such as "what is happening",
"is that really appearing?" and more. I first discovered the footage in one of the trailers for the documentary and decided to figure out what was
Questions That Need To Be Answered
Before we can understand what we are viewing, we must understand:
- What is the provenance of the footage?
- How was it recorded?
- What do we know about the location and environment at that time?
- What role could recording the footage of a security camera monitor have?
In terms of provenance, Jeremy has made it clear that the footage is genuine, shot at the time, on security cameras on the property.
Figuring out what the towers are has to begin with an understanding of the footage so we can attempt to exclude technical reasons for the towers
Ultimately though people want to know:
- Is this a hoax via compositing technology?
- Is something really appearing?
- If something is appearing, is it really there or an optical illusion?
- If an illusion what could be causing it? Atmospherics? Camera error?
Technical: Understanding The Footage
When I approached this footage, I brought a number of assumptions to the table:
- It is a recording of a computer monitor playing back an analogue security tape
- The frame rate is unlikely to be that of domestic US analogue TV (60 fields per second)
- HD is unlikely in 2004 - it is likely SD
- Digital cameras did exist in 2004, but it seems more likely to be footage from a legacy analogue system
With the above in mind, I decided to have a look at the footage to determine the details
We can tell that the footage was acquired by an analogue system, with a title character generator to add the time and date over the top, due to the
breaking of the lines of the numbers
Next up, we can that along sharp, high contrast images, we get a halo effect.This is where a dark edge, will have an artificially bright line next to
it that is lighter. The best example of this is to look at the pole nearest the camera (about two thirds down the frame, just off centre) This is
usually the result of a sensor, digital sharpening or analogue recording.
Analogue systems typically display cross talk (interference) between lines of resolution. This system does not display cross talk between lines, so we
can say with some certainty it was not filmed on a low end format such as VHS, or VHS C. More likely, it is filmed on high quality hardware that cuts
down cross talk or a format like SVhs that largely eliminates it.
Interlacing. Before HD TV and progressive (full frame) displays, video would be displayed in alternating lines. The first 'frame' would show all the
even lines, and a fraction of a second later (1/60th) the second set of fields would show, this time the odd ones. This technology allows old style
television to give a higher resolution to still image areas, and smoother motion to things like sports.
It was also took advantage of a phenomena of CRT (tube) style televisions. The phosphor would glow longer than time the field was displayed for,
meaning that fields one and two would merge into each other, creating a full frame!
Why is this important? Footage of the time would have been interlaced and we can clearly see that the monitor on which the footage is playing back
demonstrates the diminishes brightness of every odd line.
At the very least we can now say:
- The footage was filmed on a analogue device (even if the storage was Digital)
- The camera sensor is most likely CCD not CMOS
- The footage, or at least the display device is NTSC interlaced
- The recording format either profilers cross talk or records in a way that reduces it (for instance Beta, sVHS)
Why Record Off A Monitor?
One of the things I can't say about the footage is how many frames per second the actual footage is shot at.
Firstly, the Vimeo edition of The Hunt For SkinWalker runs at 23.97 progressive 1080p frames per second. Nothing abnormal there. However, it does mean
that this footage has been conformed (changed) to run at 23.97 frames per second.
The original frame rate may have been 60fps interlaced, or 30fps progressive. However, I'd suggest for a security camera, tape length is an issue. No
one wants to change tape every few hours. Therefore I'd like to propose a frame rate of 30 frames per minute.
Why record the footage off a monitor?
I can think of two reasons:
- You don't have a device to digitise analogue footage
- You are not giving permission to take the tape away
This leads to two options. Either the footage is being played back digitally off a computer, or from an analogue tape machine. Seeing, however, that
we see this footage on a CRT style NTSC security monitor or TV, it does not make sense for this file to be digital unless there is a reason to hide
some small detail.