Thursday, July 22, 2010

FACT OR FAKED: Unwanted Visitors; Strange Sightings

SyFy - Original Air Date: 7/22/10

The second week of this new show kicks of with videos of two UFOs crashing together (possible Israeli missile strike), an "angel" at a crash scene (possible lens/film problem), and a Gettysburg ghost in the woods (possible optical trickery) .  They settle on the Fresno "Night Crawler" video, a stick-like figure walking by a surveillance camera, (looks like a marionettes to me, and no original tape exists; fuzzy tapes hide a multitude of fakes.) and a Lake Havasu flying saucer (looks like the Balloon Boy balloon to me).

They interview the witness in Fresno, check out the scene, and try to recreate the video using a kid in a costume and a mechanical puppet on a pulley, once showing the armature and the second time covered by a sheet.  Then they try it by walking the puppet across using a pole and removing the operator with special effects.  They then investigate some local woods -- at night of course -- wondering if the "crawler" could be something living.  They experience the same battery problems endemic to paranormal investigation shows - and naturally speculate about this being caused by "creatures."  Their thermal camera picks up some mysterious movement (probably animals). Their voice analysis of the witness suggests truth telling (though I'm not sure I buy their use of this technology, nor their conclusion, as nervous shaking often indicates lying, not truth telling).  I have to say, I'm not impressed with either the skepticism or the investigative technique in this segment.  For one thing, this is the same team that declared the lights in last week's show "real."  For another, to me the crawler footage looks similar to the "walking gnome" video that made the internet rounds last year - and was proved to be a puppet (as I recall).  Finally, I believe that I could create a very similar "creature" using a "flying ghost" that I had in our yard several years ago.  A good mechanic, or stage magician could make it even more convincing.

The second team goes to Lake Havasu and interviews the witnesses.  Here, we get a bit more context for the footage, though still -- annoyingly -- not the complete clip.  They start by trying a "reflection in glass" trick, similar to one they did last week, but this time with a model UFO rather than lasers; no dice.  They then decide to launch a huge silver UFO balloon (found on the internet) from the state park, run it up to 1000 feet and see how it compares.  In the words of the team, "It looks just like the video."  If untethered and left to float, it seems sure to have the same flight characteristics as the object in the video.  They then go looking for people who have seen the UFO at the time reported, and also saw it as a balloon.  Sure enough, they turn up a park ranger who actually saw the balloon shortly after the launch.  It might have been associated with a movie being shot in the area.  Great flying saucer footage, but declared "fake."  Case closed; well investigated.

So, again, one "real" and one fake.  As I said in the previous review, I fear this may be a trend.  And the "real" investigation really stopped short once they got close to an explanation.  In future, I suggest that the show may want to add a professional magician to the team and adopt an "If I really wanted to do this, how would I achieve that effect?" attitude with each video.  They should also add a professional hunter/tracker, so animals on a thermal camera at night don't become mysterious "creatures."  And while they're making personnel changes, dumping a few "believers" from the production/marketing staff might help this show become truly useful for paranormal investigation, rather than useful about half the time.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you. More effort in the puppet department might have shed light on this so called mystery. Voice analysis is B.S. in my opinion because it is too easy to misread the stresses in people's voices (I have experience in this area). They should have used a polygraph as they are harder for the average person to trick. Why didn't they? Next, why didn't they go to the park ranger before they went all the way to Havasu to investigate a "saucer" that looked ridiculous and fake? They would have had their answer that it was not real before they wasted my time watching it! Lastly, I want to thank you for letting me voice my opinion.

Stephen D. Sullivan said...

You're welcome. Always happy to have intelligent discussion.

The voice analysis thing seems completely bogus to me; just a gimmick. And, yes, a call might have saved them a trip.

On the other hand, I do think it's worthwhile re-staging some of these famous/infamous videos to see how they're done. They did fine on the UFO on that point - not so fine on the "creeper."

Thanks for reading!

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