FX EXPERT'S OPINION
You might like to post the attached file from Mr. Harry Joyner on you Internet page regarding the Roswell incident and the Santilli Roswell footage. Mr. Joyner is a personal friend and is President of The Photo-Lab, Inc. in (deleted). Harry has worked on many documentary and feature film projects as cinematographer and/or Special Effects technician. Some of the more well known projects include:
- The Color Purple - SFX consultant
- Places in the Heart - SFX consultant
- The Manhattan Project - SFX consultant
Harry is a published author on film making and special effects techniques. He is featured in the "How To" video: "Amazing Special Effects you can do with your Camcorder" which is advertised nationally to cinematographers and videographers.
Harry can be reached at the addresses on the attached file.
THE ROSWELL FILMby Harry Joyner
I have seen the video of the recently emerged film reported to be an autopsy of an extraterrestrial from the Roswell, NM crash.So have a lot of other people and I am appalled at the reactive uneducated statements of some of the viewers. I am a skeptic. I also am a cinematographer right out of the 1940s and a special effects technician out of the eighties. (If you'd like to see some of my work it's a one-hour video called Amazing Special Effects You Can Do With Your Camcorder -- available from Multi-Video in Charlotte, NC). I'd like to set at rest at least a few of the questions regarding certain issues which have come up on the net from three perspectives. The first is photography, the second is special effects, and the third is simply critical thinking.
Mr. Allen Daviau, the cinematographer who filmed ET appeared on the video and attempted to discredit the fellow who shot the original film. Mr. Daviau is likely a grad of UCLA's film school and reminds me of Old King Cole who "called for his pipe and called for his bowl and he called for his fiddlers three". "You, up there on the scaffold, put a double scrim on that 5K lamp so the light looks like sunshine. Charlie, check my f/stop. I want it on 5.6. Hank, on cue, I want you to roll-focus from the hood ornament to the driver."
That's what it's like being a feature cinematographer; you order up the skill as you need it reserving your own for creative thinking. I do not know Mr. Daviau, who obviously is an extraordinary feature photographer, but no documentary credentials for him were even suggested. In fact, his book-learning shot him in the foot. His comments regarding focus on the "alien" completely eradicated his credibility of any cameraman who shot film prior to the '60s. He was too young to have done so. I have never filmed a picture with the dignity of ET but I have been director of photography on three features and camera operator on four. I have been special effects director/technician on about twenty. And, like him, I have worked on a Spielberg project.
Those are my feature credentials. I filmed for The Huntley/Brinkley (news) Report on NBC during the 1960s and filmed and edited perhaps fifty or sixty documentary pictures, not counting documentary film work in the USAF in the 50s. Those are my documentary credentials.
The Navy combat cameraman, Dr. Roderick Ryan, who appeared on the video offered comments diametrically opposed to Mr. Daviau's. I agree with him since he and I have similar experience. Mr. Daviau, owing to his limited hand-camera experience, commented that he found it suspicious that when the photographer went in for a close up of the "alien" that the pictures were out of focus indicating that he was trying to hide detail. Unlike Mr. Daviau, Dr. Ryan had used cameras of the '40s and '50s, Bell & Hails, which did NOT have through-the-lens viewing, an attribute that all Panavision/Panaflex cameras, the Hollywood standard, have today. These characteristics would be akin to the comparison between a point-and-shoot camera and an expensive Nikon or Leica. If you get too close with a point-and-shoot the picture will be out of focus, period. If you get close with a Nikon you can clearly see through the reflex finder that it's necessary to refocus. In his excitement or perhaps his negligence, the man shooting the "alien" simply forgot to focus, since looking through the finder one sees a perpetually sharp image. (Shooting at fifteen feet or more the image is typically always in focus anyway. That's not the distance at which he was shooting). Shooting with Eyemo's and Filmo's (Bell & Hails 35mm and 16mm news/documentary cameras which the government used exclusively) offer two problems to the cameraman that reflex (through-the-lens viewing) cameras do not present. First and most important is the focus problem which we have just discussed, and second is parallax.
Parallax is the differential distance between the taking lens and the viewing lens. Getting quite close to the subject causes the image to shift off center. A good "old-days" camera man was accustomed to both problems and, if not rattled, simply made the corrections by Kentucky windage and went on his merry way. Estimating the distance visually and setting his lens accordingly would be satisfactory in 95% of the cases. Since depth of field would take up the slack he had the advantage of not needing to focus through the lens. He, in fact, would not consider these problems, just routine activities such as loading the film and removing the lens cover.
Furthermore, these cameramen had to tote their equipment to and from their assignment, load and unload it, set up lights when necessary, take meter readings and set their lens, put the camera on the tripod (if he had the chance to use one), and succeed at shooting a single take of each shot, win, lose, or draw. In News and documentaries of that era the camera was usually hand-held. The Hollywood cameraman doesn't have a single one of these responsibilities, moreover, he can call for 50 takes (or more) if it's necessary to get the shot right.
I am told that Kodak has stated that the film stock was 1940's vintage. For technical reasons, neither can that be faked undetectable (except possibly by Kodak) nor could the film be kept frozen for 50 years then used without discernible deterioration.
I am familiar with the work of the special effects crew who were interviewed on the show. They are an admirable group who know their stuff. Still, if the "alien" is a hoax, they might have been fooled by the same techniques they use to fool you and me, that is duplicate dummies and camera cuts. Camera cuts were not considered in the discussion but can be a vital element in the success of a mechanical effect.
In the video I saw the "alien" as a complete unit and only her left arm was moved. I saw a close up of the face and head and only the eyelid was moved slightly. I saw the top of the head when an incision was made. I did not see a single-unit camera shot that showed all of these features. I saw the doctor's arm with a saw in the hand but I did not see the skull sawed nor the skull cap being removed. I did see a handful of goo being placed on a tray referred to as brains.
The effects crew discussed the thousands of dollars that such an effects mechanism would cost today and the fact that it couldn't likely have been done so well in the 1940's. Maybe so but having to do it today with elements available only in the '40s, here's how I would do it.
Using clay and plaster I would make a full-figure mold of the "alien," then the night before use it, I would cast it in non-rising dough and bake it only briefly to toughen the skin. I would use wooden dowels for "bones" to give it stiffness and the left-elbow and wrist joints. A separate head and shoulders would be cast using similar dough for skin layered over a plaster skull or I would cast dental alginate over the skull. Accordingly you could watch both the skin being peeled back and incisions made in the skull in a single shot. The consistent wetness they discussed and the blood (very important elements) could be baby oil injected under the skin with a hypodermic needle. The evenly-wet brains and other interior parts would have been chicken fat and beef liver. Likewise with the chest opening which would have been supported with hardware cloth. Dental alginate is used to make fine-detailed molds. It was available then and serves well, when died appropriate colors, as fresh body parts.
None of these materials last long so they would have to be made up only a few hours before use. A gruesome but possible alternative would be to use an intentionally distorted human corpse. But, in a nutshell, the "alien" could have been faked quite well and convincingly even in the 1940s.
The artifacts, ie., the phone, the tray, the medical instru- ments, the table, the clock, and the medical dress could all have been researched and found or replicated. The finding would be relatively easy given enough time. The research would be a serious problem but good prop people do it every day.
The comment was also made that an individual was skeptical because there was somebody behind the glass window of the surgical area and because the surgeon or pathologist did some things the viewer didn't quite follow. Let me point out that if you question a construction worker's mixing checkers, watermelon, and scrabble squares into his concrete that doesn't mean he doesn't know what he's doing. It means YOU don't know what he's doing.
Dr. Cyril Wecht, the pathologist of high regard who appeared on the show, didn't see fit to cast aspersions on the medical techniques as observed and seemed rather secure in his belief that the patient in question was not human.
The important element here is not to make a decision on the basis of something not understood. The proper thinker will draw his conclusions on the basis of what he knows to be true and what he knows, according to reason, what is or is not possible.
Many of us are quick to presume that life can't exist under certain conditions or that light speed is a universal speed limit. It is always important NOT to make decisions or extrapolations based upon what we DON'T know. Doing that is called jumping to conclusions. "I know h'it won't a pick up truck or a motor boat! Must'a been a flyin' saucer from Jupiter!" Bull! If it wasn't a pick up truck or a motor boat what you know regarding the issue is that it wasn't a pick up truck or a motor boat, and nothing more.
The prospect of several species of aliens coming to Earth at the same time -- or perhaps at all -- according to Dr. Carl Sagan, is remote. The different appearances of the several of whom we have photographs do appear different enough to be separate species.
A compelling experiment might be, however, to find an African Pygmy about 70 years old, slump-shouldered and scrawny, perhaps displaying a four-day beard. Stand him beside a beautiful six-foot, golden-haired, Finnish 24-year-old maiden with perfect proportions. Show the two of them, naked, to an extraterrestrial from the planet Twerg who is totally unfamiliar with earthlings and he'll probably presume the two of them are from different species. (Perhaps our friend from Twerg would be less likely to be fooled if the Finnish girl, like the Pygmy, had only two feet instead of six).
You may contact Harry Joyner in the following ways:
- Harry Joyner
- The Photo-Lab, Inc.
- (address deleted by Sentinel)
I have purposefully left out Mr. Joyner's address and telephone number to spare him the possible harressment that may occur from the more hard core skeptics who thrive on that. I will make these available to anyone who requests them. You can email me or Mr. Palmer.
Thanks for your understanding.......
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