Tuesday, May 15, 2012

FACT OR FAKED: Pride House Specter; Bluegrass Bigfoot

SyFy - Original Air Date: 5/8/2012

The cases passed over this week are: "Chino UFO" which shows an object in the sky with flashing lights, possibly a balloon with LEDs.  "Russian UFO Convoy" seems to show metallic saucers being transported on a military convoy, but they're only military hazardous waste container lids (up to 18' wide).  The in-break fake is: "NASA Tether UFO," which seems to show UFOs flying near the space shuttle, but it's just ice particles and an out of focus camera.  (Stop with the conspiracies, already!)

Pride House Specter seems to show a smoky figure descending a stairway in what is supposedly the most haunted house in Texas.  The photo was taken by a paranormal investigator who was working on his own (rather than with his group) one morning.  While that circumstance seems suspicious on its face to me, the crew checks out some non-fake possibilities. A time exposure of Austin in a track suit with dark shoes looks similar (and would look better if he were going up the stairs, rather than down), but it's not smoky enough.  So, they drop fake Christmas show (cotton) in front of the camera.  That, also, is close, but not quite right.  So they set up a projected image.  Again, good but not smoky.  Now, at this point, I would try some kind of simple double exposure or painted glass in front of the camera trick, but -- because there must be a ghost hunt every week on the show -- that's what the crew does.  They get even more "odd" noises and effects than usual, and a bathroom door even opens on its own (with Bill in the room).  Air pressure? Austin doesn't think so, but I've lived in old houses, and sometimes loose floorboards can cause door frames to warp and unlatch, so I'm not impressed.  They also have a thermal "hand print" on that same door (camera crew?) and a strange (human-like) whistling that can't be explained by local sounds.  At this point, I kindof suspect rigging (anyone remember the rigged "haunted" bar in Ghost Hunters?), but sadly, this is where the investigation ends. Truly paranormal?  You'd need a lot more time and good science to find out.

Bluegrass Bigfoot is two pieces of evidence: a photo of a hulking shape that looks like a gorilla crouched in foliage, and a video of a man-ape walking through the woods.  A man in the bushes isn't a match for the hulk, but a hawk landing closer by matches for a perfect misidentification.  (As also reported in MonsterQuest: Hillbilly Beast.)  Moving on, they put Ben in a bigfoot suit and try to match the video.  It's close, but he's still too human.  So then they try a huge bigfoot marionette; closer, but it walks like a drunken sailor.  So, they go for what was my first thought: CGI -- and with a little bit of animation and compositing, that's a perfect match.  Yes, you could have done this at home with Poser or DAZ Studio.  Fake busted!


Annie said...

hey there,

You have the exact same thoughts that I did regarding the 'bigfoot' walking through the forest. I was rather bemused when they decided to take that case on, because to me, average Josephine Bloggs, it looked like CGI, particularly with the way it moved...they've debunked many other videos much better than these as CGI so I'm assuming they wanted to add this to the photo of 'bigfoot' so they could go off and investigate.

As for pride house, I'm wondering why they didn't show us a photo of the photographer so we could compare the physique.. perhaps he wasn't wearing white either which would account for the darker smoky image.

As for the door, I also believed it to be because the investigator was hopping about near that door... and also the warm handprint would probably have been made by a camera man who may have wanted to avoid embarrassment by admitting he did it..

Good review. Bad investigation on behalf of FOF lol

Stephen D. Sullivan said...

Hi Annie -- I think you're being a little hard on what Fact or Faked chooses to investigate. The show tends to look into popular videos, whether they seem really fake (to me) or not. It's incredible what some people will take as "real" on the internet (and TV) -- and I think Fact or Faked does a public service by exposing popular fakes. How quickly the show reveals the truth seems, to me, entirely a matter of format. They always have 3 theories, and the one that proves correct is always the last one. I'm sure that's probably an editing choice, to give the show suspense.

But I'd really rather they gave up the ghost hunting altogether. Wandering around in the dark waiting for spooky shadows or noises has, so far as I know, no real basis in science and proves nothing (save that humans are easily scared). Clearly, though, it must help the show reach its "believer" audience and keep its ratings high.

But I'm glad when, as in last night's Battleship show, they can show that supernatural "evidence" from other ghost-hunting groups is merely bad camera work and similar lack-of-scientific-rigor problems. That, too, does a public service, IMHO.

The show is not Mythbusters, but I do think it's been getting better in proving fakes as fakes. (Though the ghost hunting is not helping.)