How Do You Stage UFO Photos and Videos? Let us Count the Ways.

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
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People keep sending me UFO videos, including old ones from years ago that were also figured out years ago. It struck me it might be useful to have a list of way in which UFO photos and videos can be staged without CGI.

A rough broad overview:
  • Tossed in the air - Something thrown, like a hubcap, and photos taken until you get a good one. Photos only.
  • Thing on a string - something suspended on string, like fishing line, that's too fine to see.
  • Thing on glass - similar, but an object on a sheet of glass or perspex (maybe even a fine mesh?) allowing more detailed photos or videos. Upswinging attic window
  • Reflections - Shot through glass, maybe close to the camera, maybe a window - showing a reflection of a light source.
  • Balloon - Anything lighter than air, maybe on a string.
  • Drone - can carry a light or an exterior shell that looks like anything - but 21st century only.
  • Projection - Laser or light beam shining on a cloud or other thing in the sky - often accidental.
Are there ways of staging photos or video that do not fit the above?
 
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Rocky

Active Member
I remember a report of people in Gulf Breeze Fl filming UFO's nightly. Turned out to be the Navy joking around by tying flares to black helium balloons. :D
Circa 1993. The video is so bad.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Breaking down "Thing on a String", the more "open-air" the suspension is the better. There's a variety of ways of suspending things. In general, you can assume that fishing line is being used as it's strong and vanishes in many situations. - but there are also even finer things,
  • Fishing line. I've been using a spool of Berkely 12lb, but lower break strengths will give better invisibility.
  • Invisible Thread - sold for invisible sewing repairs. I've not tried this.
  • Magician's invisible thread - there are a few types. One is invisible from just a couple of feet away and is used for close-up levitation tricks.
What do you suspend it from?
  • A fixed structure - like the eaves of a house
  • A cable - like a phone line
  • Point-to-point - like from a tree to a house, with the object in the middle.
  • Multi-point - using three of more strings attached to the obect
  • Secondary high line - String one strong line between two points, and suspend a second (weaker, more invisible) string below.
    • Can also create a zip-line effect.
  • Pole - a long pole, like a fishing pole, a tree pruning pole (which I use) or simply a lock stuck or PVC tube. This can be hand-held, or attached to a ladder or other structure.
  • Drone - You can suspend something from a drone, and just keep the drone out of shot - again, only modern examples.
  • Tethered Balloon - A helium balloon, maybe tethered from multiple points. Wind would be a big issue.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
The video is so bad.
that's the best way to fake UFOs. Bad resolution.

edit add: the bridge rivets ufos were a photo of everyday things turned upside down. ie. rivets in a puddle.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
that's the best way to fake UFOs. Bad resolution.

edit add: the bridge rivets ufos were a photo of everyday things turned upside down. ie. rivets in a puddle.
Which suggests a general type of thing - object on a reflective surface (that's reflecting the sky). Could be water, with small things like the rivets. Or boats, or maybe even something on a mirror.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Does filming birds or bugs out of focus count as "staging a ufo?". i think most of those are just misidentifications, but you could do it on purpose.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Does filming birds or bugs out of focus count as "staging a ufo?". i think most of those are just misidentifications, but you could do it on purpose.
Yeah, that's a bit of a grey area. Potentially accidentally staging. But you can certainly go out into a field, especially if there's animals, and wait for a fly.

You could also "stage" a drone zip-by, just by flying around when there are seeds or bugs in the air.
 

Rocky

Active Member
Oh we should do a fake ufo contest. See who makes the best fake but also revealing how we did it. No photoshopping though. it could be a photo or video. Mick gives the winner a million bucks. :)
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
Leave us not forget the use of kites, especially now that they are available with programmed flashy LEDs... still things on strings, I guess, but the string goes the other way...
 

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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Thing-on-mirror has the great beenefit that the object can be some distance from the camera, allowing you to get it in similar focus to the trees and clouds. But suffers from the obvious flaw of there being the object and it's reflection. I minimized it in the above by suing something fairly flat.
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(This is a thumb tack on a washer on an inner-tube patch)

But you can fix that to some degree by suspending the object above the glass, but out of shot.
2021-03-22_14-30-43.jpg

This is "Thing on a string above mirror", which leads to the obvious extension "thing on or under glass above mirror" where you could have a sheet of glass above a mirror (which is flat on the ground), then something on the sheet of glass - possibly attached to the underside with magnets or glue.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
does you pool reflect enough in twilight if you turn the filters off for a while to still the water. or a black beer bucket people use at big parties (like a kiddie pool) and fill with water. ie simulate a puddle.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
guess you need a super flat bottom. maybe a black silver kitchen lasagna pan or something? (i have no clouds and no sun so not a good reflection)
1616454690293.png[/S]
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
Film effects tungsten wire used to make things appear to float.... 0.002"
https://rogergeorge.com/products/tungsten-wire-roll2021-03-23_11-10-27.jpg

Tungsten Wire (.002” gauge) is very strong.

A thin strand can hold more weight then you would expect!

It’s frequently used by effects operators and magicians to make objects appear to levitate or fly.

The .002” gauge size is extremely thin so it is nearly invisible from even short distances.
Content from External Source
 
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Max Phalange

Active Member
Building miniatures is another possibility, you still need some way to suspend your object but could use fake trees in the foreground to give a false impression of scale. Around 4:30 here - Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIF8JMefC0I&t=260

(In fact there's another technique going on in that one - shoot in the dark with an illuminated object, which could be on a stick or a string, whatever).

Kites are a possibility (although this one isn't very convincing as a UFO): Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JRi7VUZTcA

You could also make a remote controlled lighter-than-air craft, like the one built in "A Very British UFO Hoax" (circa 2003). Go to around the 35 minute mark see it flying Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BatI-5AKLNQ
 
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JMartJr

Senior Member
I have not yet seen a green-screen UFO during a Zoom meeting... now that I think about it, that sort of surprises me. But since consumer green-screening is a thing now, I guess that ought to go on the list. (Or, for us old folks, blue-screening...)

48a7def0e96b1805386b45c5d7c2bd2b.jpg
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I have not yet seen a green-screen UFO during a Zoom meeting... now that I think about it, that sort of surprises me. But since consumer green-screening is a thing now, I guess that ought to go on the list. (Or, for us old folks, blue-screening...)
By "stage" here, I mean set it up so a camera can take a photo/video. Green-screen is more like faking the video, and that's a whole different kettle of fish. (and with a modern camera, green screen is essentially CGI)
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I guess you could include physical compositing - like printing out a large image and suspending a ufo in front of it. Faking the background. Even modeling the entire scene in a small scale.
 

Ravi

Senior Member.
There might be another category to be included in your list, Mick. The one where you "project" a laser beam or bright LED light in the sky, to illuminate clouds from the underside. Depending on the type of cloud and altitude, I am guessing it will look out of this world.
There are example videos of it (but they do not have to be deliberate of course).
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
A friend and I did some pretty good pics on a foggy night, reacting in awe to some parking lot light posts with light rays going everywhere. Dad got mad that we used up a lot of relatively expensive Polaroid film. This was the year Close Encounters came out, so lights n' fog UFOs were trendy... and that would also explain why we were shooting with Polaroid film....
 

Vieux1945

New Member
2021-03-23_15-06-42.jpg

People keep sending me UFO videos, including old ones from years ago that figured out years ago. It struck me it might be useful to have a list of way in which UFO photos and videos can be staged without CGI.

A rough broad overview:
  • Tossed in the air - Something thrown, like a hubcap, and photos taken until you get a good one. Photos only.
  • Thing on a string - something suspended on string, like fishing line, that's too fine to see.
  • Thing on glass - similar, but an object on a sheet of glass or perspex (maybe even a fine mesh?) allowing more detailed photos or videos. Upswinging attic window
  • Reflections - Shot through glass, maybe close to the camera, maybe a window - showing a reflection of a light source.
  • Balloon - Anything lighter than air, maybe on a string.
  • Drone - can carry a light or an exterior shell that looks like anything - but 21st century only.
  • Projection - Laser or light beam shining on a cloud or other thing in the sky - often accidental.
Are there ways of staging photos or video that do not fit the above?
Old fashioned but still the best.
A bag from the dry cleaners, some thread, and tea candles. Add in a misty or foggy night on a dark highway and cars will be lining the road, excited people pointing out the UFO. An even better effect if you can launch from a commercial pine grove the trees in nice rows give a picket fence effect as people drive past, so your UFO's appear to be speeding along, either away from you or chasing you. Great fun in the 60's 70's in Florida
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
While it seems laughingly silly to most of us today,
the cardboard + hatpins methods behind the Cottingley Fairies somehow fooled millions for over 50 years...
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
While it seems laughingly silly to most of us today,
the cardboard + hatpins methods behind the Cottingley Fairies somehow fooled millions for over 50 years...
One of my favorites, as I went to school in Cottingley. But they not really UFOs. They DID seem to be flying a little (like a few feet off the ground at most), but we not viewed against the sky.



However, I supposed you could make some fake UFO images or videos that were similar, with the support (like stiff wire) hidden against a non-sky background, or obscured by the object itself. A "thing on a support"
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
Yes, that's why I mentioned the hatpins...
I was thinking it would be a small step
to clip a "UFO" to a branch, or something similar,
and get lower than it, and point the camera skyward...
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, that's why I mentioned the hatpins...
I was thinking it would be a small step
to clip a "UFO" to a branch, or something similar,
and get lower than it, and point the camera skyward...
Of course, that limits the size somewhat. A pie tin in front of a tree is less convincing than a pie tin in the sky.
 

Vaeltaja

Member
Double exposure was a great way accidentally shooting ufo photos. The camera user forget to scroll the film or camera jammed and then they shoot 2 times in same frame. With some luck it can create quite believable ufo / ghost images.
 

ufoac

New Member
Well, "Thing on Mirror" seems quite viable.

This is very easy to see for those who work with photos. Lighting and its distribution are naturally too difficult to implement. The reflection from the mirror will give it away
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
Of course, that limits the size somewhat. A pie tin in front of a tree is less convincing than a pie tin in the sky.
That probably explains why the last 3 "spaceships"
I've fallen for were evidently from the Marie Callender's Galaxy...

All kidding aside, I think the Cottingley method could be used...
either with a low twig or hatpin'd to some (low) magician's invisible thread, pointing the camera sharply up...
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Experimenting with a fake (and possibly CGI) backdrop for an "out of the plane window" video.



This gives easy realistic window smudges in "sunlight" and reflections with camera movement. Audio helps.

Here's another version where I did a super-quick attempt at animating a cigar-shaped UFO. Not incredibly realistic, but you can see the potential.

 

Dean Kearns

New Member
Infrared camera illusions:
Example: Youtuber "Thunderf00t" captured an interesting illusion with his thermal imaging camera. A "tictac" shaped object appears to activate a cloaking device before our eyes.
TL;DW:
- Thermal cameras capture image data across the infrared spectrum.
- When viewing the data, we adjust onscreen and filter out certain bandwidths within the image data to create a more contrasted and coherent image. This makes it easier to see the outlines of objects/landscapes etc.
- Metallic objects (such as planes, helicopters and drones) are extremely reflective in the infrared and so often falsely appear as a light source.

The illusion in the video is caused by the object simply travelling through a region of clouds (seemingly appears as a "clear" sky) that are not within the set visible thermal range.
54wwpd.gif

Video Link: Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3viYcYPRdu4
 
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Leifer

Senior Member.
During professional film scenes (on various large "movie" stages), I was often asked to paint the hanging/suspending wire or cable to match the background and become 99% invisible.
This included painting wire/fishing nylon a "green-screen or blue-screen", white or black in colour to match the background.
These days it is likely much easier in software..... just define broad areas of selected "masked/selected" objects, and eliminate /delete/hide the unwanted areas.
 
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