posted on Jun, 13 2006 @ 04:20 PM
I'm really not so sure that I want to get involved in this discussion, but as someone who has done some professional video editing and video
photography (using both film cameras and digital cameras), I feel I have a bit to add to this discussion.
First off, let me say that when I initially viewed the video, I thought it was birds and a perspective trick. All of the edited/zoomed video later
posted by both sides of the argument only solidified my opinion that they're birds.
Anyway, onto a crash course in the Science of Video Recording 101.
This was most likely filmed with a digital video camera. The precice form of digital media used is not able to be determined from this video, because
of the number of times it has been converted (so, I don't know if it was MiniDV, DVD Disc, Digital 8, etc). Why do I say it was most likely filmed
with digital video? Because it's obviously a home recording. VHS cameras are difficult to purchase anymore, and the preferred media in the age of
computers is digital video, because of the ease of downloading it onto a computer for editing or distribution. Also, most consumer grade VHS
recorders were built in a time of simpler optics, and a VHS camera that could get a tight zoom and retain video quality (such as in this video) was
VERY expensive. Most assuredly it wasn't a film video camera, simply because home film video cameras are pretty much all antiques (like my Super 8mm
camera, built in 1964). Film video cameras in todays world are pretty much relegated strictly to the realm of movie production (and they'll
typically shoot in 35mm or 72mm - and these cameras are VERY expensive - roughly $30,000 for a base model). So, this was either shot on a VERY
expensive older VHS camera, or it was shot on digital. Digital is far more likely.
The original poster stated at one point in this thread that it must have been an analog camera, because of the apparent stretching and distortion of
one of the known birds flying lower in the sky. This is not true. Digital cameras function more or less the same way as film cameras in how they
capture video. The video is nothing but a series of photographs (typically taken at 24 frames per second) which gives the impression of motion. That
said, a fast moving object (especially when it's out of focus, because it's not the focal objective, will appear blurry and distorted, regardless of
the video media the image is being taken with.
Also, addressing the prior statement that the camera may have stopped at it's top height because of limitations of the tripod: This is another
fallacy. Most tripods are designed to give a full range of vertical motion up to at least 89 degrees from horizontal (meaning almost perpendicular to
the ground). The size of the camera typically has very little to do with the range of motion of the tripod, as the camera is mounted on a platform
above the movement points. Even a large professional film camera will be able to utilize the entire range of motion of the tripod. My own tripod
($16 at Walmart - a real cheapo) has a full 360 degree horizontal range, and a 180 degree vertical range (meaning it will go from about 60 degrees
below horizontal to vertical, and still tilt back about 30 degrees towards horizontal on the other side). It can clearly be seen in the video that as
the shuttle rises past the upper cloud, the video tries to follow it above the cloud, but can't see it, since the shuttle never appears above the
cloud due to the line of sight.
Now onto the all-important perspective issue. As has been stated MANY times of this thread, video cameras, regardless of the quality or media, cannot
distinguish depth. Every video camera on the planet (with the exception of a few special models - more on that in a moment) takes a flat image. Any
apprent depth shown in the images taken by these cameras is an optical illusion in itself, utilizing reference points and sizes of objects in the
foreground and background (the typical notion that the farther away something is, the smaller it appears). In almost all photography of airborne
objects taken from the ground, there is no real reference point to determine the size of the object being photographed, nor is there any reference
points to determine the distance of an object. In the original video, the only reference point that we have is the space shuttle, compared to
approximate time of liftoff, and known accelleration and altitiude. This is enough to prove only the size of the shuttle. In the video, it appears
that the clouds, smoke trail, and birds are all at the same distance. This is due to the lack of reference points. There is no way to determine in
the brain which objects are closer and which are further away. This has been illustrated clearly many times in this thread.
The only cameras that are capable of taking a 3D image are special three dimensional cameras, that are actually two cameras, side by side, each with a
slightly different angle of the object being photographed. The means of capturing the three dimensional image varies from camera to camera. Some use
a double exposure on the same film, and others use two completely seperate sets of film (or digital images), which are later composited together to
see the 3D image. In order to view this kind of film, you need those special sunglasses that you get at a 3D movie.
Finally, explaining the apparent disappearance of the "UFO"s: When an image is shot from a digital camera, it chooses its best pixel quality for
the focal point, in this case, for most of the video, it's the space shuttle and the trailing smoke. When the shuttle starts passing the clouds in
the camera's line of sight, the camera's optics become confused, and try to focus on various objects at the same time, resulting in the blurring and
unblurring of the image. This, especially at distance, would make any small object appear round, as the camera really only allows one pixel for that
object, perhaps with a couple of pixels around it, blending the color of the object and the color of the background, to smooth it into the rest of the
image. You also have to take into account the light source, in this case, the sun, and how it plays off of the object. Even a back object can appear
to be light grey, especially against a light background, if the light hits it just right. Typically, this happens when the light hits the object at
such an angle as to reflect the light towards the viewer (remember, the only reason we can see anything is because of light reflected off of objects,
and hitting our eyes). When dealing with a portion of an image, in a distant shot, with a digital video camera, which only amounts to 2-3 pixels at
the most, when this direct light reflection occurs, the digital camera doesn't notice enough of a difference between the color of the object and the
background to give the object even a single pixel, and the object effectively disappears from the image. When that light reflection ceases to be at
its peak, the object returns to the image.
Now, considering that the closest the camera could have been to the launch site is three miles, that means that at the nearest shot, you'd have three
miles between the camera and the shuttle/smoke trail. At an altitude of 11,000 feet (roughly two miles), you now have a distance of about 5-6 miles
between the shuttle/smoke trail and the camera. Even a 20 foot wide object would only appear as a single pixel (if it appeared at all in the image -
for an example, view anything in google earth from a height of 26,400 feet (exactly 5 miles) and see how well you can see an object roughly 20 feet
wide) at that distance. Figure in that distance, plus the light reflection, plus the lack of reference points to establish distance, the logical
conclusion is that these are birds somewhere in between the camera and the shuttle, and they appear to disappear due to the angle of their body, and
the reflected light.
[edit on 6/13/2006 by obsidian468]