Saturday, May 31, 2008

Space Alien Video Lands in Denver: Was it Real or Fake?

Alien Picture Denver
By Daniel J. Chacon
Rocky Mountain News

     The eyes of the world were on Denver today for the showing of a video that purports to show a space alien. Live transmissions and recordings of the video were not allowed. The Rocky's Bill Scanlon blogged live.

3:45 p.m.Several dozen people were in attendance today at the Tivoli on the Aurara campus in Denver. What did they see?

A classic E.T.-like creature, about 4 feet tall, with a narrow chin, a broad forehead and almond eyes.

Some people claimed to see its eyes and muscles move during the roughly two-minute video, which was briefly screened for reporters and the public at the Auraria campus today.

A skeptic said the being has a suspicious similarity to "Grey," the creature depicted in the classic 1957 movie "Earth vs. The Flying Saucers."

2:13 p.m. A Denver man Thursday night spent five hours and $90 creating a hoax video of a space-alien-looking creature peering through a window (click here to watch).

It looks eerily like the space alien video shown to the media today by a man who wants the city of Denver to create an extraterrestrial commission to welcome visitors from distant galaxies.

Believers in the Nebraska space alien video said the creature moved its eyes and muscles — and you can't just fake that unless you're a Hollywood special-effects expert and have thousands of dollars, they say.

Yes you can, said Bryan Bonner, a member of the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society, which normally investigates claims of haunted houses.

Bonner says his group normally ignores the claims of UFO buffs, but when he realized that Jeff Peckman was asking for taxpayer dollars to form a commission, he figured he should do something.

"When we heard Peckman was going to show the video to the media, I said, 'I'll bet it's the Romanek video,'" he said, referring to the video that Colorado Springs resident Stan Romanek said he made on the night on July 17, 2003, at his home in Nebraska.

Thursday, Peckman announced that indeed it was the Romanek video.

So, Bonner got together five members of the society Thursday night.

"We started production about 8 p.m.," he said.

"We rented ourselves a 4-foot-tall foam latex alien" from a costume shop, said Bonner, who saw the Romanek video six months ago. "We were going to buy one, but I didn't want to blow the $230."

"They started rolling the video and moving the puppet up, down, around and sideways.

They sent the video from the camera straight into a computer, and one of the computer geeks used 3-D animation graphics to make the puppet's eyes seem to move, he said. "We gave him a couple little blinks."

The result was a ghost-like creature that looks slightly more animated than the one in Romanek's video.

"What they're claiming would take thousands of dollars and a lot of time ... we pulled the whole thing off for $90 and in five or six hours," he said.

Bonner said, "It's so amazing that anyone would believe that video is a real space alien. And it's so frustrating to see that they want to use city time and tax dollars on this."

12:33 p.m. Shannon Mundell, of Arvada, said she wanted to see the video because she's known people who have had contact with aliens and "when you look in their eyes you know that what they saw was real."

She said that other countries are more accepting of ET's, but that "in America, we just want to deny it."

Mundell said the video of the creature in the window "was very interesting."

"I can't say exactly what it was, but I think there's a good chance it was real.

"I saw the muscles moving and the eyes moving."

She said it was unlikely it was just a puppet because "only in Hollywood can they make such realistic-looking puppets and they cost thousands of dollars.

"It's very unlikely that Stan would have done something like that."

She said the video needs to be investigated further.

Mundell thinks that if there are aliens among us, and they are peaceful, "It would be wonderful for them to interact with our world and teach us their technologies."

She is worried, though, that if there's conclusive proof of aliens it would cause a lot of emotional suffering from people whose religious beliefs aren't compatible with intelligent life from another galaxy.

12:24 p.m. Jeff Peckman, the man trying to form an extraterrestrial commission in Denver, told the audience it's time to take extraterrestrial life seriously.

"It's time to get ahead of the curve," he said, adding that some high government officials in other countries and some retired military officers in the U.S. are among the believers.

He said even some Vatican officials say it's not incompatible for Roman Catholics to believe in extraterrestrials.

"They're our brothers -- God's creatures," Peckman said.

12:04 p.m. The presentation lasted about an hour and the video itself was a few minutes long.

Randy Bancroft and fellow skeptic Bela Scheiber found it interesting that the creature was never seen from below the neck.

"It looks like the quintessential Grey, right out of E.T.," Scheiber said.

Bancroft added, "Like with Alfred Hitchcock, it was what he didn't show you that was the key."

Audience members wanted to know why the creature traveled all those light years just to peep in a window.

"I have no idea," said Alejandro Rojas, a moderator from the Mutual UFO Network International, who said more investigation of this film needs to be done.

Other audience members asked why the government seems to be keeping evidence of UFOs secret.

Rojas, the education coordinator for the Mutual UFO Network, said perhaps the government feels the public isn't ready to see the truth.

The presenters of the video said it's been reviewed by experts who say there are no post-production add-ons, but Scheiber says that misses the point. The key is to find out whether the original video was a hoax. He noted many hoaxes in the past were perpetrated by teenagers and found it interesting that the Nebraska man -- Stan Romanek, now of Colorado Springs -- had two teenage daughters.

11:59 a.m. The film showed a window, reportedly 8 feet off the ground in a rural Nebraska town in 2003.

It was shot by the homeowner, who had earlier reported seeing UFOs hovering above his house.

This time, he said he set up a camera because he feared a peeping tom was spying on his two teenage daughters.

In the enhanced version of the video, a creature pops up in the window, looks around, and pops back down, again and again.

To skeptic Randy Bancroft, the creature looks a lot like the seminal "Grey," the creature in the 1957 movie "Earth vs. The Flying Saucers," which has a narrow chin, a broad forehead and almond eyes, not too different from the friendly alien in "E.T."

11:45 a.m. The drama must be intense down at Auraria. Hold the phone, because we should hear from our fearless correspondent shortly. Peckman was expected to keep a tight rein on the video and other live transmissions from the scene. No cause for alarm, we think.

11 a.m. Joanne Almeida, of Englewood, is at the film screening because, "I've seen things in my life.

"I feel a lot of people are arrogant" in their dismissal of UFOs and the paranormal, she said.

"Instead of being open-minded, they make jokes."

"They're arrogant to think this is silly and a waste of time when there are so many other things that are silly and a waste of time."

Almeida said she thinks a lot of this is tied in with oil.

"People in the high circle of politics are very greedy," she said.

"I believe there are a lot of alternative fuels that the politicians are hiding. Maybe that's the kind of thing they're trying to tell us."

Bela Scheiber, a member of the Rocky Mountain Skeptics, said "photoshop has come a long way."

He said it's no great trick to project an image on a video, given that two girls in England fooled the world about fairies 90 years ago.

He noted that a man who faked a photo of the Lochness monster confessed to it on his deathbed and that more than one person has admitted to faking signs of Big Foot.

Scheiber predicted that Jeff Peckman will show an ambiguous video and then "cherry pick the things that he wants to show the audience.

"And of course we'll cherry pick the things that we want to show the audience."

10:30 a.m. Claude Swanson, a physicist from Virginia, was the first to show up at the news conference in the Tivoli on the Auraria campus.

He said he'll talk for a few minutes about "how time travel is theoretically possible."

"There have been some faster-than-light propagations in the labs," he maintained. "There are lots of reasons to be open-minded about these things."

He said he's been familiar with the Colorado Springs video for years.

"The first year I was pretty cautious," he said. "I gradually became persuaded there was something real going on here."

6 a.m.

A proposal to create a commission that would prepare Denver for space aliens has turned the eyes of the world on the Mile High City.

From CNN to NTV in Moscow to the Daily Mail in London, news organizations worldwide are scrambling to land an interview with Jeff Peckman, who is sponsoring a ballot initiative to create an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission in Denver.

"I've got about four or five interviews already, and I'm in discussion with Inside Edition, Good Morning America, Fox national news and a Moscow TV station that wants to send a team,"Peckman, 54, said Thursday.

His phone kept ringing all day.

"NBC national wanted me in five different time slots tomorrow on different programs. I took three of them," Peckman said Thursday afternoon.

Later in the day, Peckman said he might appear on Larry King.

The media bombardment was triggered by a report on Wednesday in which Peckman said that a video purportedly showing a living extraterrestrial would be shown at a news conference today.

The story generated hundreds of thousands of hits.

"It's just an interesting story because you do have a lot of people who believe there is superior life, if you will, or another life form out there, other than ours," said Adrienne Wheeler, a producer for The Early Show on CBS News. "There's a huge following for this, as I'm sure you know," said Wheeler, who believes there is intelligent life outside of Earth.

Paul Thompson, a Florida-based correspondent for the Daily Mail in London, said the newspaper, which has a circulation of about 2.5 million, asked him to check out what was happening in Denver.

"In England, there was a big story recently where the government declassified certain files and it was all the UFO sightings," he said. "I think everyone is interested in UFOs."

Well, not everyone.

Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown said people can believe what they want, but the attention "is not very favorable to our city."

"Suddenly we're getting more national and international attention on this issue than the DNC," he said, referring to the Democratic National Convention in August.

"In some respects, it's a welcome relief amidst all the polarizing politics that we have," he said. "That's probably good, but it just doesn't bode well for our city."

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