Thursday, June 30, 2011

"UFO Mothership & Fleet over London"

Another implausible video showing UFOs has gone viral, spawning a  flurry of news stories in the major media.For example, the Daily Mail in London asks "Are aliens getting less camera shy? UFOs filmed above BBC building in London." The Huffington Post reports, "London UFOs: Multiple People Capture Odd Occurrence Over British City" (although not at the same place and time). Here is the video that started it all, posted by a photographer known only as alymc01:

One has to admit that this looks pretty cheesy.  The big "Mothership" looks a bit like a lens flare, but it does not act like a lens flare, its movement unrelated to that of the camera. At first I thought that the small UFOs were birds, but on closer examination they appear to be generated artifacts as well.

Actually, that is Alymc01's second UFO video. His earlier video doesn't look nearly as impressive, so it was largely ignored:

So far, "expert" commentary has not gone beyond comments like 'this looks like a computer-generated fake'. And strictly speaking, that's enough. After all, the burden of proof is not on the skeptic to show that a video is fake. The burden of proof is on someone who claims it shows unknown crafts, to rule out all prosaic explanations.. Using the terminology of Mythbusters, that is enough to call this video "busted."

But also in the spirit of Mythbusters, let's not stop there. Let's see if we can really blow this thing apart.

British UFOlogist Nick Pope isn't buying it. That's bad for this video, since Pope, currently on tour to promote the DVD release of the Hollywood space alien movie Battle: Los Angeles,  buys a lot of dicey things. But apparently this video looks unimpressive even to him. Interestingly, Pope adds "The slightly suspicious thing, though, is it's a part of London where it just so happens that a large number of film companies and visual effects companies are based. And some of the people do look a little bit self-satisfied. So I suspect this is a CGI hoax, and that someone is showcasing their skills." Good comment!

Surprisingly, the most useful commentary on this video was found on the UFO and conspiracy-oriented website, Above Top Secret. The forum participants, mostly anonymous, dug deeply and turned up facts that the 'experts' seem to have overlooked.

"C-Buzz" commented "100% CGI. 1:18 - 1:22 the object doesn't actually go behind the clouds, it fades out. Not only that it looks like he stuffed up creating this animation because if you have a look at the bottom left there is actually a lighting effect which probably isn't supposed to be there & a RED orb moving across the building." It's hard to see, but it's there. There's also a brief  "green flash" on the building, as well as a suspicious-looking red color on the "mothership." I'm not enough of an expert on digital processing to know what this means, but it reeks of digital tampering. Sharp eyes, C-Buzz!

"LiveEquation" posts "The video is a scam right and i have evidence. if you start watching the video at 1:21 you will see two artificial bubble glares and then delay of the UFO glare. The UFO vanishes into the clouds first. Then you see 2 fake bubble glares and the ufo glare moving in the same direction after the ufo has already vanished. delay of about 1 second. Its actually weird that the UFO cast a glare. That's a giveway. The person who made the video doesn't know jack about optics."

"GiftOfProphecy" adds "This video is clearly fake. You can prove it by watching the video starting at 1:00 and after, and stabilizing the video. You can see they did a horrible job motion tracking the camera movement... probably because they have a rolling shutter camera. If you watch the UFO you can see it is not shaking with the camera perfectly, it is shaking independently. However the "UFO" is shaking the same rate and nearly the same magnitude, it's direction and position are just not synchronized. That to me indicates several bad motion track points. In order to insert a fake UFO into the video they had to track certain pixels as they move and shake around, then apply that tracking to the UFO so it moves exactly the same as the camera (match moving). Sometimes the pixels will move say 10 pixels in one direction, yet the computer detected the pixels move 12 pixels, and that creates a bad tracking point. Normally you can fix bad tracking points by hand, but when there is about 30 tracking points per second, it becomes very time consuming. If you apply the motion tracks to the UFO when it has bad track points, it will wobble and shake around similar to what you see in the video."

"charlyv" noted "Fake, stop action in frames shows no motion blur, Impossible for such recorded speeds in any consumer digital camera, regardless of make or resolution."

Then "davespanners" opens up a whole new angle of investigation:
This is filmed outside coral bookmakers in clipstone / great portland street in London. If you google search that building You will eventually find this page, which is a tv production company that is in the very same building.From their web site
The Mill creates pioneering visual effects for the advertising, music, television and film industries. We craft commercials, music videos and generate compelling film and TV. We build installations, projections, applications and create multi-media content and experiences.

"EnigmaAgent" replies with a photo of Managing Director Mike Smallwood, taken from that company's website, who appears to be the same guy seen smiling in the video, apparently enjoying this incident 'way too much.

"Heliocentric" dug further, and found a link from the The Mill's website to a particular commercial for Sony. And that same Sony commercial is a "favorite" on the YouTube page of Alymc01, who photographed the "UFOs." The noose tightens!

Chillingly, "GiftOfProphecy" observes that video hoaxers are now using claims of "copyright infringement" to make YouTube remove videos showing that the original video was a hoax: " the hoaxer "50nFit" is claiming copyright infringement on the video that proves his Jerusalem video is a hoax... Now the videos that prove his London UFOs are a hoax were removed to avoid complete suspension [of his YouTube account]. The "HOAXKiller1" channel may be suspended anyway because YouTube doesn't understand Fair Use laws, and allows the deceptive scumbag hoaxers to retaliate and claim copyright on videos that are for research and analysis."  In other words, if you place a video on YouTube showing how a UFO video was faked, the hoaxer will contact YouTube to force you to remove your analysis, claiming "copyright infringement."

Of course, many of the comments in this very long thread are credulous and foolish, and I don't want to imply that all of the participants are credible researchers. But I am definitely impressed with a few of them!


  1. If that is indeed The Mill, that's the same company who do the visual effects for Doctor Who. So they're not lacking practice in "faking" spaceships over London! One'd expect better... ;)

  2. Arthur,

    Interesting comment! I'm sure that The Mill could produce a much more impressive video of a UFO than that. (I'm thinking of the Doctor Who episode where the spectacular WWII dirigible suddenly appears over London many years later.) But if they did, people would instantly know it was fake. A lot of people believe this video, so in that sense it is "better."

  3. HOAXKiller has a summary with video on his new blog.

  4. In today's Daily Mail (July 5) a reader of the Question & Answer column asks the following:
    "Has anyone provided an explanation for the UFOs sighted over the BBC studios recently?"

    I shall write in today, referring readers to your website.


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