The OCVid: A Special Effects Professional's Opinion

My name is Bruce Logan and I have been involved in motion picture special effects for over twenty-five years. I have special effects screen credits on 2001 A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Tron etc. I am a member of the special effects branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I saw the Oliver's Castle video in Santa Monica about a month ago. It is very convincing.

The hand-held motion of the camera work creates a major problem for putting in the BoLs on a second pass at a later time. The movement of the first pass would have to be tracked exactly and the "animation" of the BoLs then added using the same tracking information.

I noticed some information about Avid in some letters pertaining to this video. Avid is basically an editing system with some basic graphic capabilities, usually outputting at pretty low resolution. This would not be a suitable tool for the video that I saw. It could, however, be produced on one of the Silicon Graphics-based systems such as Henry, or Flame, Inferno or Flint. These systems have motion-tracking software and would be capable of tracking these two passes.

However if this video was seen in the evening of the day the glyph was formed, it would mean rushing the video tape to a facility (probably in London) and jumping on a machine at approximately $900 per hour, spending several hours tracking the background, then producing the animation from scratch (several more hours), then replacing the depressed area of crop with un-depressed crop from somewhere else in the picture and then outputting the final product. [And then jamming back to The Barge, an hour-and-a-half drive by car, to show it just before the 11pm closing time. - ilyes]

I suppose all this is theoretically physically possible, but it would mean being in the right place with a camera to record the glyph in the first place, and to have the graphics equipment standing by available, and to have the best (world-class) CGI artist available to create the animation at a moment's notice (on his/her day off, perhaps [Aug 11 was a Sunday - ilyes]). To determine what the BoLs were going to look like would have required planning in advance of the event.

Also, the action path and the perspective of the "animation" were very well described, probably requiring animation tests ahead of time. I don't think they could have been done on the spot.

The other things that I found intriguing were the way the BoLs faded out to nothing as they got smaller and smaller. They had a very definite characteristic. Also, someone would have to have written the scenario of how the BoLs circled over the glyph and how the two "inspectors" overflew the site.

I don't profess to know the technical info about the physics of video tape and the fact that the tape I saw was not first generation. I'm looking at this purely from the point of view of a special effects director and what it would take to produce this tape from a creative, production and software perspective.

Yes it's possible that this video was produced by man. But only a handful of people in the world would be capable of such work. I think it is extremely unlikely that this is not genuine.

- Bruce Logan
February 10, 1997

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