[The following report, dated November 1, 1997, was submitted to CNI News by Burt Brown (BurtUfos@tecinfo.com). Burt describes in detail a photographic experiment which calls into question the claimed anomalous nature of so-called "Rods" and similar objects caught on videotape by researchers Jose Escamilla, John Bro and others. At this time, CNI News takes no position on whether or not Burt's findings are sufficient to explain all instances of "Rods" and similar objects. We hope that other researchers will repeat his experiment and continue this inquiry.]
by Burt Brown
I can hear the infomercial now: "Yes, friends, for just twenty-nine ninety-five we will show you how to film UFOs in your own backyard! It's so easy, anyone can do it!"
If it were only that simple!
Several years ago I became concerned about a series of videos [shot by Jose Escamilla] that showed dozens of different UFOs flying around Midway, New Mexico. Interesting! But most of the objects were blurred and, according to the producers, had to be whipping around the skies at thousands of miles per hour. So fast, in fact, that the eye could not normally see them. The videographers had stumbled upon this phenomenon while shooting outdoors using the high speed shutter mode on their camcorder.
Most of the images were too fuzzy for me to get excited about. However, a few were truly startling! Several actually appeared to be bright shining discs set against the clear blue sky, while others were surely the long thin mother ships seen back in the 50's.
Eventually these odd "craft" came to be known as "Rods," because that's what many appeared to be. "Living creatures," some were calling them -- and they were being taped everywhere around the Roswell/Midway area.
Then about a year ago, I followed up on a call from John Bro of Los Angeles. John and some of his friends had been taping similar UFOs with their camcorders. He said the technique was simple and he wanted to get the word out that these craft were more numerous than anyone ever thought. I asked him if these objects weren't just bugs and debris blowing past the lens, and he explained why that couldn't be. You see, he and the others were shooting with the high speed shutter engaged on the camcorders. At one ten-thousandth of a second, that shutter speed would freeze any relatively slow moving bug, making it easily discernible. These things were traveling so fast, he said, that even the super high shutter speed couldn't completely freeze their motion.
Well, like everyone else, I had always wanted to film a UFO! I was excited! Heck, I might even become the next Billy Meier! So I grabbed my camcorder and tripod and headed outside. John had detailed the technique in which one uses the eaves of a house to block out the main disk of the sun, while letting the [corona] "sunglow" backlight the craft. This brilliant sunglow makes the UFOs really stand out and the camcorder's high speed shutter helps produce a clear picture as they race past.
For those not familiar with photography, the higher the shutter speed on a camera, the more it will "freeze" the motion of a passing object. Putting it another way, a rapidly moving object will be less blurred if the shutter speed is high. Shutter speed is simply the duration the shutter stays open to allow visible light into the camera.
[Caution: If you attempt to duplicate this procedure, be very careful not to point your camcorder or camera directly into the sun. Stay within the shade of the eaves to avoid damaging your equipment. Also, to avoid the risk of serious eye damage, do not look directly at the sun at any time.]
Being all set up, I rolled the tape. I was careful to watch for any UFOs that might be visible. There were none that I could see. After about fifteen minutes, I took the tape into the house to throw it up on the tube.
The instructions were to look at the images frame by frame -- that way you could catch the extremely rapid craft. But I knew for certain that no craft would be on that tape because of what I call Burt's Law, which states : "The likelihood of filming an alien spacecraft is inversely proportional to how well you are prepared!" And I was well prepared.
But after a few moments of frame by framing... "Holy Smokes! There they are!!! UFOs, right there on MY TV screen! Quick, call Oprah. Tell her I've got something she's gotta see!"
But, could it really be that easy? Are UFOs or extraterrestrial creatures really zooming and twisting about in our atmosphere, right before our very eyes at all times of day!? How come radar hasn't tracked them? How come people with 35mm cameras aren't getting them in shots of Johnny's Little League game? And that brings up another question: Why haven't the camera-mad Japanese been catching these craft on film for years!?
So, I decided to run a little test. I set up my Canon 35mm still camera on a tripod right next to the camcorder, both zoomed in to cover the same portion of sky with the sunglow as a brilliant backlight. Next, I set both the film and video cameras' shutter speed to one ten-thousandth of a second, plenty to freeze the motion of any UFOs. I also used a flexible cable release to trigger the 35mm, while I sighted BETWEEN the two cameras. Why between, and not through, the viewfinders? Because this way I could see any bugs or debris that might be floating in front of the lenses.
Next, I set the camcorder's built-in stopwatch to where it would record the seconds on the screen. I then cranked up the camcorder and, upon seeing anything unusual fly by, I yelled "Bug!" or "Grass!" or whatever it was I saw. As I yelled, I also triggered the film camera's shutter and wrote down the frame number.
Again, keep in mind, I was sighting between the closely placed cameras, with an excellent view of the area covered by their lenses. The purpose of yelling "Bug!" was to record on the camcorder's soundtrack an audible reference point. Later, I could match up the shout with the time on the stopwatch, along with the video image. Also, since I triggered the 35mm at the yell, I had a photo corresponding to the "UFO." After shooting the roll of film, I jumped in the car and headed for the local one-hour photo shop.
Now, you may be asking, what's the big deal with the 35mm camera? Well, even though both a camcorder and a film camera can be set for the same shutter speeds, the operation of the two shutters is quite different. I suspected a problem here. Most film cameras use a shutter that physically opens and closes to let the light in, somewhat like venetian blinds quickly snapping open and shut. Video cameras operate in a different way. In fact, they don't really have mechanical "shutters" at all. Camcorders reduce the blurring electronically, and the clarity depends upon factors such as the quality of the image sensor (CCD), how long it "lags" or retains the image, and the basic circuit design. I wanted to see how they stacked up against each other.
When I got back with the pictures, I sat down in front of the TV with my notepad and put on the videotape. I first played it frame by frame and made a note of the stopwatch timing whenever I saw a UFO. And yes, there were quite a few. Then I played it back at normal speed to listened for the shout, making note of that timing.
Ya' know what? I never realized how much a dragonfly looks like a mother ship! Ya' know something else? A little piece of fuzz, back-lit by a brilliant sunglow, looks remarkably like a silver flying disk! The yells of "Bug" corresponded very well with the "UFOs" on screen.
But it was the photographs that clinched things. The film camera's shutter mechanism did a much better job at freezing the motion of the flying objects than that of the camcorder. In the majority of photographs, the object could be seen much more clearly than in the video image, be it a bug, dried grass blades, small seed pods, lint, or whatever. The bright backlighting caused the objects to stand out remarkably well, actually almost glowing against a clear blue sky. Flitting bugs, although dark, still reflect a great deal of highlighting, giving them an "other-worldly" appearance on the screen. It boils down to one thing: Set to the same shutter speed, a film camera will stop motion much better than camcorders.
By now, I know some of you are thinking that I am in collusion with the CIA, and that I often have Bobby Ray Inman over for beer and pizza! So, I encourage you NOT to take my word for it. You should go out and try it yourself!
I also do not intend this to be a debunking of John Bro's, nor anyone else's, techniques. These are simply the results that I got and, by themselves, they do not prove or disprove anything. The important thing is for you and your friends to CHECK MY RESULTS, thus adding to the general database. That way, we'll all be a lot closer to reaching some firm conclusions about this phenomenon.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to make a phone call and tell Oprah I'm not coming.
Original file name: CNI - BUGS AND UFOS.final
This file was converted with TextToHTML - (c) Logic n.v.