Saturday, June 18, 2005
UFO Video Thought To Be Hoax
But is the video real? That's what we set out to discover.
"This was northwest toward the White Tank Mountains," Bessent said. "I seen the light come on. I turned on my video camera and started taping."
That may be one of the few pieces of his story to withstand scrutiny.
Bessent claims he saw the first set of lights in the Valley's sky on June 5, 2005, during a late-night trip to Wal-Mart in southwest Phoenix. He says more lights appeared in formation and then faded away. He stopped the car, got out the camera and tripod and waited. Five minutes later, the lights were back. It is this 51 seconds of videotape that has become one of the most controversial "sightings" in recent history.
3TV soon learned that Bessent is a graphic artist and amateur filmmaker from Texas, visiting Arizona to help produce a DVD about UFOs. How fortuitous that he should be the only person to get this new sighting on tape. Bessent superimposed the date and Web site on his video, and uploaded it to www.ufotheatre.com.
This Web site features dozens of UFO videos for sale or download, plus multiple till-frames from these videos to pique the viewer's interest. Bessent admits to creating banners and graphics for the Web site. What he did not tell us is that he is a registered user of Flash animation by Macromedia.
During our initial interview, he insisted this new video is authentic.
"No, this is mine," he said. "It has nothing to do with anything like that. I think I was pretty lucky and I always thought if I kept my camera long enough, I'd come across something."
We pressed for more, and Bessent finally agreed to submit his original video and camera for testing at Village Labs in north Phoenix. Owner Jim Dilettoso has more than 25 years' experience dissecting unexplained videos and photographs. Prior to Bessent's arrival, Dilettoso told us there are two halves to such analyses.
"There's the personality side, the credibility side. Then there is the data side, where without opinion, we objectively extract data and compare that to our existing science database and draw onclusions."
Dilettoso and co-investigator Ken Liljegren from Spectrum Video and Film began to see problems on both sides. And so did experts in California, Mexico and Brazil, who undertook their own, independent analyses of the Internet clip and of Bessent himself.
Specifically, another video Bessent once claimed to be a fleet of UFOs later was discredited as simply a flock of birds. In Mexico, investigator Santiago Yturria found another web page from ufotheatre.com, which shows still images from the new video. This page, located in a sort of "memory file" at google.com, is dated May 28. Remember, Bessent claimed he shot the new video on June 5. There is some disagreement over this Web page and its origin.
Bessent has stated that Yturria misinterprets Google's method of saving or "caching" old files.
But as we awaited Bessent's arrival at Village Labs, Dilettoso and Liljegren turned their attention to the video clip Bessent provided us the previous week. Still not the original, but much closer.
Running the video through a vectorscope and waveform monitor reveals unusual characteristics in a number of technical indicators. The black level, white level, "pedestal", "back porch" and "blanking pulse" are markers that can read quality of a video as well as help determine whether a clip has been
altered from the original.
Liljegren finds inconsistent black levels throughout the video. "When that happens, it raises more questions. I wish I could have the original tape front to back."
It was now five minutes past our appointment time. We called Brian Bessent’s hotel room to make sure he was still on his way. No answer.
Dilettoso then began looking at the images on the video itself. "First of all, if it's in auto focus [as Bessent told us several times], why is there no continual adjustment that's going on even when the camera is moving?"
Then there's the noise. Grainy video in most, but not all of the picture. Dilettoso increases the contrast on the tape and a couple of things become apparent. "Out here where these little bushes and things are, it's very grainy. It's everywhere in the entire picture except one place." He points at the area where the light pattern is. "Right there."
Dilettoso finds that the area of the sky where the lights appear is much more uniformly black than the rest of the image. "The center object is very different from the outer objects," he says. "I've never had the opportunity to hold a camera in my hands where we could get a distinct white ball here, particularly one that would fly through and land there, where the outer objects aren't going to bloom and bleed over into the thers."
Dilettoso gives us one final video indicator of a hoax: the date and Web site characters Bessent added to the tape. The color and shadowing are remarkably similar to several of the mystery lights.
And still, no sign of Bessent. We pack up our gear and head back to our studio, disappointed that he failed to show up. Turns out, however, that he did send an e-mail, which reads in part, "I think I have spent too much time on the UFO thing and get [sic] behind on my real life work. So I need to address some
important issues before I have time to blow on UFOs."
Bessent apparently left for California, without telling his Arizona partner his plans or whereabouts.
So now, in addition to our very first question: "is the video real," we have a new one: why would a man with an authentic UFO sighting on tape back out of a detailed analysis that could validate the experience? Only one answer comes to mind.
We have not heard from Bessent since that email. We must assume he still stands by his story. In our initial interview, he denied any involvement in a hoax.
"The objects were there and people can say what they want, I just shot the footage that I seen, and that's what I was there to do when I seen it. I just got my video camera out and decided I was going to try to get the objects on tape. I’ve heard lots of UFO stories. I guess I got one now for myself."
With special thank-yous to Jim Dilettoso, Ken Liljegren, Santiago Yturria and Jerald Doerr.
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