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Oliver's Castle Crop-Circle Video

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Things to beware of in 1997:

Contamination of water and food supplies by an unknown micro organism
which will make the 'flesh eating' bacteria look benevolent.


by Dan Drasin, October 25, 1996

[For release via CNI News and Erik Beckjord's mailing list. May be reproduced
and transmitted for noncommercial, informational purposes, only if kept
whole, intact and without editing, restructuring or any other modifications
of its contents. Length of original file is 14682 characters.]

With many thanks to Erik Beckjord for supplying a copy of the video.


I have just viewed the so-called "Oliver's Castle" videotape, a short (about
20-second) clip taken in southern England during the Summer of 1996, that
appears to show the actual forming of a snowflake-shaped crop circle. Also
depicted are four rapidly moving balls of light ("BOLs") whose presence seems
connected in some way with the forming of the crop circle.

After many years of investigating UFOs and related phenomena, I've come to
the conclusion that one cannot presume to have solid facts in hand unless one
has been intimately involved in the relevant aspects of a given case. I also
know first-hand that bona-fide situations may be intentionally or
unintentially mis-reported and may consequently appear dubious or suspect --
and of course, vice-versa. Therefore I will leave it to others to deal with
the circumstances and personalities involved in making and releasing this
tape. I will instead limit my analysis and report to what I can actually see
on the tape itself.

I will try to be as thorough as possible in this posting, but if I have any
further thoughts, or if anyone calls any errors or omissions to my attention
-- which I would certainly welcome -- I will make additional postings as
needed. However, my heavy work schedule does not permit me to engage in
protracted online debates.


I've spent over 35 years as a documentary cinematographer, videographer and
still photographer. I have a reasonably solid understanding of motion-picture
special effects, computer-graphics and computer-video techniques. Although I
have not personally worked in the field of high-end (Hollywood-caliber),
state-of-the-art special-effects technology, I do believe I have a grasp of
the general principles involved that is sufficient for the purposes at hand


The silent VHS copy I viewed was at least third-generation, and had evidently
been converted from 50-frame/sec PAL to the 60-frame/sec American NTSC video
standard. It was fairly noisy ("grainy"), partly due to having been shot in
low light with what was undoubtedly *not* a broadcast-quality camera or
recorder. Therefore I will refrain from any technical "microanalysis" and
will instead concentrate on those aspects of the action that do not seem to
hinge on the finesse of the image.


The clip starts with a panoramic shot taken from a high vantage point,
looking down towards several cultivated fields separated by trees and
hedgerows. It appears to be early morning, and the sky is overcast so that
the lighting is uniform and no clear shadows are visible. In this panoramic
shot one can see an unattended  second camera -- probably a semi-professional
camcorder with an interchangeable zoom or telephoto lens -- mounted on an
amateur or semiprofessioal tripod with its center column extended -- the legs
seem to be hidden behind a row of bushes. This camera is pointing off to the
right, perhaps aimed at an adjacent field.

It is in the second shot that all of the action takes place. In this shot the
camera starts with a wide-angle view of the largest and most central field
and then zooms in as two glowing BOLs (very rough estimate: 3 to 6 feet in
diameter, and maintaining perhaps 30-50 feet altitude throughout) appear at
the far center of the frame and loop around the right side into the
foreground where they proceed right-to-left, apparently circling or "framing"
the central portion of the field. They continue to loop around to the far
left, still circling clockwise. As they pass over the far-center of the
field, a small "disturbance" appears in the crop. This disturbance expands
into a definite, progressive, outward spiraling motion that appears to lay
down the crop stalks in a circular fashion, starting at the center, working
its way outward through several revolutions, and abruptly terminating at the
outer edge of what has now become a central circle. The entire process takes
approximately one second.

Just before the central circle is completed, six "satellite circles" appear
to form simultaneously in a similar fashion. These smaller circles are
connected to the central circle by six "spokes" that have formed at the same
time. Total elapsed time is approximately two to three seconds.

At this point the two BOLs are heading away toward the far right edge of the
frame, but are still in view. Now a third BOL appears, coming into the frame
from about the same direction as the first two and following a similar path,
looping around to the right and momentarily going out of frame. When the BOL
reappears in the foreground it is being followed by a companion BOL, smaller
and less luminous, which may have split off from the original one -- though
this is not clear, since the split would have occurred while the BOL was
outside the frame. (This should be checked with an underscanned monitor,
which displays the entire frame inside the picture tube in the manner of most
computer monitors. Unfortunately I did not have one at my disposal for this

Eventually all four BOLs leave the frame, and the recording cuts to the third
shot, which is a zoom-out from a closeup of the crop circle to a broader shot
of the field. At the widest extent of the zoom one can again see the second
camera, which appears not to have changed its position.


LIGHT REFLECTION: The manner in which the light from the sky reflects from
the floors of the main and satellite circles is consistent with the
reflectivity pattern of swirled grass. In all cases the leftmost portion of
each circle is brightest and the rightmost darkest. This reflection pattern
is visible from the very first moment at which the central circle begins to
be formed.

QUALITIES OF MOTION: The quality of motion of the pairs of BOLs would best be
described as "elegant." In other words, their movements were flowing and
non-mechanical, and possesed a rhythmic "aliveness" and a sense of
relationship reminiscent of pairs of large birds or dolphins at play. This
may sound overly subjective, but I know of no other way to describe it.
Similarly, the process of formation of the crop circle maintained a
smoothness of action that was "all of a piece" -- it was one continuous,
progressive motion with no jerkiness or discontinuity to it.

PERSPECTIVE: As would be expected of real objects, the BOLs appeared
proportionately larger when in the foreground, and grew smaller as they
receded towards the background.

CAMERA MOTION: The camera's panning and tilting movements tended to be
somewhat irregular and jerky, which is chacracteristic of the use of a
lightweight tripod that does not have a fluid-action head. For purposes of
this analysis, this is significant for the following reasons:

<> To hoax BOLs and a forming circle by means of matting or superimposition
would, in theory (i.e. apart from the fabric of circumstances -- see below)
be fairly do-able, assuming a *fixed* background shot; i.e., with the camera
stationary and locked off in a static framing.

<> To similarly hoax the BOLs and the circle over a smoothly and unformly
moving background shot would be orders of magnitude more expensive and
complex. Hollywood can do this kind of thing by computer-controlling the
camera's movements, and then likewise computer-controlling the movements of
the superimposed artifacts (i.e., BOLs and Circle) in sync with the camera's
programmed motion.

<> To similarly hoax the BOLs and the circle over the kind of random camera
jiggle displayed in this video clip would probably require additional orders
of magnitude of time and expense. This is not to say that it couldn't be
done, only that it would require a *very* hefty budget, topnotch expertise
and plenty of planning and lead-time.

THE BOLs' LUMINANCE: It has been pointed out by several observers that the
BOLs seem momentarily to decrease in brightness as they pass over the
hedgerow at the far end of the field. This could be a result of careless
superimposition, but it could as easily be a result of the BOLs' intensity
saturating the camera's image sensor and "blooming" slightly (seeming larger
than their true size). Then as they pass over the darker hedgerow the "bloom"
area is reduced due to the lower total light level reaching that part of the
image sensor.

If this scene had been caught on 35mm motion picture film or the very finest
video equipment it might have been possible to observe or measure the light
thrown by the BOLs onto the field below -- assuming, of course, that they
were real, and raditating this light downward as well as upward into the
camera, which can't be determined in this video. In any case, the graininess
of the video I saw seems to preclude any such observations one way or the
other. Note that the BOLs were perhaps 40 feet in the air, and that they were
simply glowing, not casting focused beams onto the ground.


One way to superimpose moving lights on a scene that was shot with a jerky
camera, would be to place the camera inside a dark tent and put a
half-silvered mirror in front of the lens so that it reflected into the lens
what was happening off to the side. Then flashlights could be manipulated in
such a way as to give the impression that the lights were maintaining a
natural relationship to the background, regardless of the camera jiggle.

However, it's not quite as simple as that. To begin with, as you tilted the
camera (say, vertically), the outermost part of the lens (which sticks out in
front of the camera) would be displaced vertically, imparting excessive
vertical motion to the (closer) lights, relative to the apparent vertical
motion of the (more distant) background. The same disproportionate
exaggeration of of the lights' motion would occur in the horizontal dimension
as well. To get rid of this effect you'd have to pivot the camera on the end
of its lens, which would produce a kind of camera motion quite unlike that
produced by a tripod head.

Then there's that ineffable question of *quality of motion*. To synthesize
the "aliveness" of these BOLs would require something a lot more
sophisticated than flashlights -- perhaps some laborious computer animation,
and a computer screen with extremely high resolution exactly synchronized to
the relatively slow frame-rate of the video system. Possible? Yes,

So you could conceivably superimpose lights. But wait a minute -- you can't
superimpose dark areas this way.  Oops... some parts of the crop circle are
*darker* than the original, undisturbed field.  End of speculation about the
"mirror trick."


Since the essential action takes place in one continuous scene, editing is
not an issue.


If the actual crop circle were hoaxed, one would, I think, have to assume the

1) The first part of the main scene would have had to be shot *before* the
circle was produced.

2) The latter part would have had to be shot *after* the circle was produced.

3) Somehow the creation of the circle would have had to be simulated by
computer animation in such a fashion as to match perfectly the actual circle,
in its precise position and orientation on the field, as viewed from precisly
that camera position, and in such a way as to be inserted into the scene
*seamlessly*, in the midst of random camera motion and zooming, with no
visible cuts or dissolves in the background scene, and with **no change of
light level or quality or direction over a period of at least several

Such a sequence of events would, I think, stretch the credulity of even the
most sophisticated special-effects consultant.


Hoaxers can sometimes overlook some very essential detail or glaring fault
that can then turn around and nail them in the end. For example, in the
controversial "Alien Autopsy" film, the corpse appears essentially human-like
and looks from the outside as if it should have a reasonably humanoid or
mammalian skeletal strutcture. But at least as far as I can recall (please
correct me if I'm wrong) when the chest is opened there is no ribcage
whatsoever. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Nor anything even approaching, say, some
cartilaginous equivalent. No hard tissue of any kind that would support the
anterior thorax and its internal organs. Of course, who is to say what an
alien's skeleton should look like?  Still, one smells a pungent rat...

But in this Oliver's Castle video clip I observe no such telltale red flags.


Assuming that the video is not a hoax, one can only speculate as to the
purpose of the BOLs. There seems no way to tell whether they were directly
involved in the formation of the circle. If I had to venture a wild guess, I
might say they could have been there to focus the observer's attention to the
place where the circle was to be formed... or even to distract the observer
from noticing whatever was in fact forming the circle. Your guess is as good
as mine.


Perhaps some of these have already been done, and if so it would be
interesting to find out the results:

<> Check the direction of the swirls and the compass orientation of the
spokes in the video against those of the actual circle as photographed and
measured by others later.

<> Coordinate the reported date and time of the video shoot with that of the
actual appearance of the circle.

<> Check weather records and see if they coincide with the conditions
depicted in the video.

<> Determine whether earlier generations of this tape had a sound track.
(Often the human reactions recorded on the soundtracks of UFO-sighting videos
can be as telling and evidential as the images.)


It would be presumptuous and unscientific to declare that this video
absolutely could not have been hoaxed.

Still, I'm impressed. If someone were to come forward and claim this video as
their own hoax, I would certainly insist on very solid proof of that claim.
 Since talk is cheap, I'd hold their feet to the fire and absolutely demand
an actual demonstration or replication of how it was done. No fudging, no
excuses, and no "Doug 'n' Dave" sweet-talk.  Just the facts, ma'am.

=Dan Drasin=

    Comments: Thanks to Dan, a serious investigator's investigator.

              It would seem he finds more in favor, than against.

              If this video is ultimately not proven to be a hoax,
               and according to Dan the costs of really hoaxing it would
                be very,very,very expensive, then this video could
                 be the Holy Grail of Crop Circles research.

              Could be. If other similar videos surface, the odds get
              better that this is the real thing.

              For our part, it is our job to try to not make a judgment,
              since as soon as we do, then *immediately* some proof will
              surface to make a fool out us (Murphy's Law, part 6.) - but
              rather to present the opinions of various experts.

              We look forward to the responses of Paul Vigay and others
              to Dan's analysis.

              Re the times, the basic "make the circles" section may be
              20 sec, but the overall video we have is about 49 sec.
              Dan has seen the 49 second version, and all of us agree that
              there is a second camera there.

              Looking at the map again, there is an appropriate area for this
              set of fields to be seen from Oliver's castle itself, so
              we drop the Roundway Hill idea. End of that.

              There are some weird effects - as if a foggy lens-filter -
              to the last portion. Makes one think of a car window, or maybe
              filming off a monitor - but then, it could be a moist glass
              filter over the lens....  opinions?

              Now, let us get on to finding out more about JW.

              Peter, will you please call collect,  415-989-5005, since
              Ilyes Madonna Cher won't give out your number without
              conditions. (Such demands!!!)

              Reflect one and all that if humour is used on this list,
              it is to break the deadly monotony of no results,no results,
              no results.

                  "The beatings will continue until morale improves"

              Send in posts. Let us hear from you. Dr. Mac? M&S? Paul?


                                                 Ye editor.  %^)


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