Ace Baker - Video Composite Theory Set, merged threads

post Nov 12 2008, 02:30 PM
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The 9/11 Airplane Video Composites

by Ace Baker


At 9:03 a.m. EDT, on September 11, 2001, two different videos of a flying airplane and the exploding World Trade Center tower were broadcast on live television. These two live video sequences are known as “Chopper 5” and “Chopper 7”. Subsequently, approximately 40 more videos of the same event emerged. At least 4 of these later videos depict an airplane entering the wall of the tower.

Two hypotheses have emerged to explain this:

• The real airplane hypothesis – A real Boeing 767 airplane flew into the tower.

• The video composite hypothesis – The jet crash was faked by inserting airplane images into otherwise authentic video footage.

Objective and Methods

Analyze the available videos, consider the principles of video compositing, Newtonian Physics, logic, and common sense to see which hypothesis prevails.

The Live 9/11 Airplane Videos

1. Nine Extraordinary Compositional Features

I begin by comparing the two live shots. Only 2 different airplane videos are confirmed to have been shown live – news helicopter shots known as “Chopper 5” and “Chopper 7”. Neither one actually shows an airplane hitting anything. They feature a remarkable list of shared compositional characteristics:

• Very brief (<1.5 seconds) appearance and disappearance of plane
• High contrast between sky and tower edge
• Plane path is across sky only
• Plane disappears across straight vertical edge
• All surfaces requiring airplane shadows are hidden
• Actual impact wall is hidden
• Camera is gyroscopically stabilized
• Helicopter is as motionless as possible, drifting very slowly to the left
• No panning, tilting, zooming or focusing while airplane is on screen

As it turns out, these are precisely the characteristics necessary for live video compositing. Absent any one of these nine, real-time compositing becomes impossible. Given all nine, real-time compositing is quite feasible.

fig. 1 Chopper 5 – West Coast or “Salter” version

fig. 2 Chopper 7 – From Eric Salter

Both live shots are from the shady side of the towers, looking into a bright sky, making for a very high contrast difference between the two. A flying airplane image can be instantly added on top of any shot, but making it appear to pass behind a building requires “pulling a key”. That is, software must be able to accurately distinguish between what is sky, and what is tower.

The simplest type of key is “luminance keying” or “luma key”, in which the software decides what is what on the basis of brightness. Given this very high contrast, and also the razor-straight edge, pulling a key is easy. With lower contrast, or an irregular edge, realistically separating the elements is impossible.

Computer animation software can render very realistic shadows, but doing so requires an accurate model of the object casting the shadow, and also a model of whatever the shadow falls upon. The feasibility of animating shadows depends directly on the complexity of the surfaces involved. A flying airplane casts a shadow on the ground and buildings below, and if it smashed into a tower, it would cast a shadow on the wall in the process. Attempting to render accurate shadows in real-time would be a sure recipe for detection. Far easier would be to compose the shot in such a way as to not need them.

Making an airplane image disappear through a wall is done by masking. A shape can simply be drawn, defining a region of transparency. As the airplane crosses into the mask, it disappears. However, the positioning and timing are critical. Misplacing the mask or the airplane image by even a few pixels, or having an explosion go too early would be a dead giveaway. Compositors would not even contemplate trying to show a plane hitting the tower wall in real-time.

How convenient it was that all of the 9/11 news helicopters, including Chopper 5 and Chopper 7, were positioned north and west of the towers. None could see the south face of the south tower, the wall United flight 175 allegedly crashed into.

News helicopter cameras are mounted in a very sophisticated gyroscopic stabilizer system. Though the helicopter itself is full of vibrations, and cannot hold still, helicopter video is remarkably stable. Attempting to real-time composite the smooth motion of an airplane onto any sort of non-stabilized shot is a non-starter.

Isn’t it strange that neither of the two camera operators followed the motion of the incoming airplane? Inserting an airplane image into a live shot requires the live camera to hold still. Zooming, panning, tilting, or focusing during the shot would expose the composite right away, because the airplane image would not show the same camera action. Compositing onto a moving camera shot is possible, with a process called “motion tracking”, but not in real-time. Real-time motion tracking did not exist in 2001, and even today, is not reliable enough to correctly insert an airplane in this situation.

When United 175 appears on the screen, both Chopper 5 and Chopper 7 are as motionless as possible, drifting slowly to the left. As soon as the plane is gone, both camera operators tilt and pan the camera around.

I invite all to please study other helicopter footage from 9/11, or from any live news event. Note the compositional characteristics. News helicopters are moving around all the time. They zoom in and out, pan left and right, tilt up and down. They follow the action, like, for example, an incoming passenger jet. How likely is it that all 9 of the compositional characteristics required for real-time compositing occur by chance, on both live airplane shots, during the exact time the airplanes are on screen? Perhaps a rigorous study could be made to quantify the answer. For now I am content to say: Extremely unlikely.

Thus, the compositional characteristics of Chopper 5 and Chopper 7 both strongly favor the compositing hypothesis, and make the real plane hypothesis extremely unlikely.

This post has been edited by Turbofan: Nov 14 2008, 01:57 AM
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post Nov 12 2008, 09:24 PM
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Fade to Black

During the Pinocchio’s Nose event in Chopper 5, the picture quickly fades to black. The fade takes place over 3 video frames, about 1/10 of a second (fig. 32).

Chopper 5 – History’s defining moment, and picture fades to black?

This is bizarre on its face, because ordinarily there are no fades-to-back in live news. News switchers are trained to switch between shots, not fade. And they are trained to switch to something, anything, other than black.

A fade to black is easily consistent with the compositing hypothesis. Someone, quite likely Kai Simonsen on board Chopper 5, realized the nose-out error, and instinctively pulled down a fader, pushing it back up again once the airplane layer was turned off.

Attempting to support the real plane hypothesis, three explanations for the fade-to-black have emerged:

  • Signal Interruption
  • Automatic Gain Control Malfunction
  • Lens Extender Engagement

I now consider each of the three “official” explanations for the fade to black.

Signal Interruption?

The fade-to-black cannot be a signal interruption. To be sure, signal interruptions from news helicopters can and do happen, all the time. But they do not cause a fade to black. Rather, signal interruptions of this type will show up as “static”, or a “freeze frame”, or “pixelization”.

Typical noise pattern as signal breaks up from a 9/11 news helicopter

There were broadcast antennae on top of the North Tower, but these had nothing whatsoever to do with communications from any news helicopters. A news helicopter signal is sent up to a satellite by microwave, then relayed back down to the TV station.

In video, “black” is a picture. To transmit a picture, be it black or anything else, video sync must be maintained. During the Chopper 5 fade to black, video sync was never lost.

Scan lines

Above (fig. 34) is an enlargement from a video frame (two adjacent video fields) at the beginning of the fade to black. Notice that one set of scan lines has gotten darker, while the other set has not. Were this a signal interruption of any sort, the coherence of the scan lines would not be maintained.

The signal interruption explanation is false.

Automatic Gain Control?

Steve Wright has offered an idea about Automatic Gain Control, or AGC. AGC is a circuit present on all video cameras, even consumer models. AGC detects the overall brightness of the picture, and will adjust the iris and gain attempting to keep the brightness within a target range. If the picture gets too dark, it will open the iris or gain up a little. If the picture gets too bright, it will shut the iris or gain down a little.

Wright suggested that the flame seen emerging from the face of the tower was so bright that it caused the AGC circuit to “overshoot” and shut the camera down to complete black. This explanation fails to hold up to any sort of scrutiny.

First, the flame is rather small in the picture, occupying less than 1/100 of the total picture area. Flames are captured on video all the time, including on 9/11, without causing a blackout.

Chopper 5 – Fading to black

Next, observe fig. 35 above, during the fade to black. We still see picture, but it is quite dark. The AGC circuit is supposed to keep the brightness correct. Why would it make the picture this dark? Furthermore, if it did make it this dark, why would it keep going all the way to black?

I’ve experimented with various models of video camera, pointing them at very bright light sources, even at the sun. All of them had AGC, all of them responded by darkening the picture, but none of them went anywhere near completely black. Repeat the experiment. See for yourself.

Finally, Chopper 5 cameraman Kai Simonsen offers a completely different explanation (see next section). No evidence has been brought to support Wright’s AGC idea. Wright’s AGC explanation is rejected.

Lens Extender?

The cameraman onboard Chopper 5 was Kai Simonsen. In a conversation with Jeff Hill, Simonsen was asked about the fade to black. He stated that the effect was caused by his engaging a 2X lens extender at that moment.

Said Simonsen, "You're seeing the edge of the extender pass over the focal point."

It is certainly interesting to hear from the person who was there, but the lens extender explanation is impossible. Passing the edge of an object across the focal point, be it a lens extender or anything else, will darken the picture unevenly. We simply do not see this. We see the entire picture very evenly fading down to black.

Also, a 2X lens extender will magnify the picture and change the focus, that being its purpose. A half second later, when picture fades back up from black, there is no change in magnification or focus. No lens extender was engaged.
The fade to black was exactly what it appeared to be: A fade to black. The only remaining question is whether it was an accident, or intentional. Accidents do happen, but given the training of network news broadcast switchers, it is very unlikely. The fact that supporters of the airplane hypothesis, such as Steve Wright and Kai Simonsen, go out of their way to offer alternative ideas, false though they must be, ultimately serves to reinforce the conclusion that an accidental fade-to-black is not plausible.

More Blackouts. Coincidence?

A fade-to-black is done by pulling down a fader on a video console. Was it an accident? Yet another astonishing 9/11 coincidence? Fox 5 weren’t the only ones to have “technical problems” right at the time of the second strike.

Here is the live airplane sequence from CNN, who were showing a version of the ABC Chopper 7 footage. They too incorporate a blackout.

CNN Live – Inserting a feed from Chopper 7

Immediately after the airplane image passed behind the tower, and before the explosion, CNN dissolved from the Chopper 7 shot to a close up of the north side of the towers. During the dissolve, there is video noise.

CNN Live – Dissolving from Chopper 7 to the Tower Close-up

Where does this noise come from? We know that the Chopper 7 shot did not break up, because complete copies of it survive. We must surmise that the noise was present on the tower close-up. Why would a video switcher dissolve away from a camera that just showed a clear view of an airplane crossing, and to a camera with a bunch of noise?

CNN Live - Blackout

In any event, the next frame is black (fig. 38), which holds for about 5 frames (1/6 of a second), then fades back up from black to the close up, then dissolves back to the Chopper 7 shot. The CNN blackout occurs during the same time as the Chopper 5 blackout, which is also the same time that is missing from the Naudet footage.

All three of these blackouts occur within ¼ of a second of each other.

Logically, either these blackouts were accidental or they were on purpose. One accidental blackout is very unlikely. What are the chances that two different networks and a documentary film all coincidentally lost picture, right at the time of history’s defining moment? The odds would easily be a billion to one against.

See this YouTube video for a side by side synchronized comparison of the 3 blackouts.

Under the compositing hypothesis, the video technicians were prepared to go to black to help cover up any mistakes that might occur at the crucial moment. The Naudet brothers removed the time period that would show the fate of Pinnochio’s Nose, rather than have to deal with inserting a flame consistent with Gamma Press.

Thus the Chopper 5 fade to black event and the CNN blackout are shown to have a simple explanation under the compositing hypothesis, but are astronomically unlikely under the real plane hypothesis.

This post has been edited by acebaker: Nov 12 2008, 09:26 PM
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Posts in this topic
- acebaker   Ace Baker - Video Composite Theory Set   Nov 12 2008, 02:30 PM
- - acebaker   Chopper 5 Several anomalies in the Chopper 5 f...   Nov 12 2008, 04:39 PM
- - acebaker   Chopper 5 (cont.) 4. No Plane in the Wide Shot T...   Nov 12 2008, 05:41 PM
- - acebaker   Chopper 5 (cont.) To create a valid real-world co...   Nov 12 2008, 05:43 PM
- - acebaker   Chopper 5 (cont.) 5. The Miracle Zoom After the ...   Nov 12 2008, 07:01 PM
- - acebaker   Chopper 5 (cont.) 6. Pinocchio’s Nose Chopper ...   Nov 12 2008, 07:07 PM
- - acebaker   Chopper 5 (cont.) Pinocchio's Nose (cont.) ...   Nov 12 2008, 08:28 PM
- - acebaker   Fade to Black During the Pinocchio’s Nose event i...   Nov 12 2008, 09:24 PM
- - acebaker   Hi Turbofan I'm about 1/4 done posting this p...   Nov 13 2008, 01:21 AM
- - acebaker   Chopper 5 (cont.) 8. Unstable Motion A real plan...   Nov 13 2008, 11:28 AM
- - acebaker   Chopper 5 (cont.) 9. The Missing Shadow Naud...   Nov 13 2008, 02:43 PM
- - acebaker   CNN Ghostplane 10. Magically Healing Columns I ...   Nov 13 2008, 02:59 PM
- - acebaker   11. The Over-Under Puffball Under the compositing...   Nov 13 2008, 11:33 PM
- - acebaker   Missing in Action Valuable data were lost when t...   Nov 13 2008, 11:39 PM
|- - Carl Bank   QUOTE (acebaker @ Nov 14 2008, 05:39 AM) ...   Nov 14 2008, 09:27 AM
|- - beatles64   QUOTE (Carl Bank @ Nov 12 2008, 11:27 AM)...   Nov 14 2008, 05:10 PM
- - acebaker   Cartoon Physics 18. Newton Rolls in his Grave F...   Nov 13 2008, 11:44 PM
- - acebaker   21. No Wake Vortex All fixed wing aircraft produc...   Nov 13 2008, 11:47 PM
- - acebaker   22. Detonation Flashes as Sync Pops The "air...   Nov 14 2008, 12:02 AM
- - acebaker   Summary and Conclusions 9/11 was a media job. Th...   Nov 14 2008, 12:04 AM
|- - Oceans Flow   QUOTE (acebaker @ Nov 13 2008, 08:04 PM) ...   Nov 14 2008, 04:47 PM
|- - Oceans Flow   QUOTE (Oceans Flow @ Nov 14 2008, 12:47 P...   Nov 15 2008, 02:54 PM
- - acebaker   @Carl Bank: You're wrong. The Naudet Bros sho...   Nov 14 2008, 11:05 AM
- - GroundPounder   just to be clear, video manipulation has been aro...   Nov 14 2008, 01:28 PM
- - acebaker   "Video Manipulation" is a vague term. Fo...   Nov 14 2008, 01:44 PM
- - GroundPounder   QUOTE (acebaker @ Nov 12 2008, 03:44 PM) ...   Nov 14 2008, 02:14 PM
- - acebaker   You don't have to imagine the capabilities of ...   Nov 14 2008, 02:55 PM
- - GroundPounder   for the sake of theorizing let's say all the v...   Nov 14 2008, 03:35 PM
|- - acebaker   QUOTE (GroundPounder @ Nov 14 2008, 03:35...   Nov 14 2008, 03:55 PM
- - acebaker   I'm certainly not suggesting that the holes in...   Nov 14 2008, 03:57 PM
|- - INP   Thank you very much Ace! I find the analysis ...   Nov 14 2008, 04:58 PM
|- - acebaker   QUOTE (INP @ Nov 14 2008, 04:58 PM) Thank...   Nov 14 2008, 06:08 PM
|- - Quest   QUOTE (INP @ Nov 14 2008, 09:58 PM) Thank...   Nov 15 2008, 01:40 PM
- - GroundPounder   sorry, but my skepticism remains ace, you need to...   Nov 14 2008, 04:36 PM
|- - acebaker   I'm not here to be nice. I'm here to be co...   Nov 14 2008, 06:02 PM
|- - Oceans Flow   QUOTE (acebaker @ Nov 14 2008, 02:02 PM) ...   Nov 14 2008, 06:13 PM
- - GroundPounder   the outward pressure from the fireball would have ...   Nov 14 2008, 04:58 PM
- - acebaker   Great. That's all I've ever wanted, everyw...   Nov 14 2008, 07:24 PM
- - Sanders   Ace, I haven't read the whole thread, but from...   Nov 14 2008, 07:38 PM
- - GroundPounder   ace, relax man...don't get your panties in a b...   Nov 14 2008, 08:27 PM
|- - acebaker   QUOTE (GroundPounder @ Nov 14 2008, 08:27...   Nov 14 2008, 10:23 PM
- - acebaker   And, of course, the alleged computer modeling does...   Nov 14 2008, 10:42 PM
- - Sanders   Yes, thank you Turbofan. The "tone" of ...   Nov 15 2008, 12:04 PM
|- - acebaker   QUOTE (Sanders @ Nov 15 2008, 11:04 AM) Y...   Nov 15 2008, 12:31 PM
|- - Sanders   I was in relative agreement with you until ... QU...   Nov 15 2008, 01:40 PM
|- - painter   QUOTE (Sanders @ Nov 15 2008, 09:40 AM) I...   Nov 15 2008, 01:52 PM
- - acebaker   Hopefully members will actually review this eviden...   Nov 15 2008, 12:35 PM
- - painter   I haven't yet gone all the way through the len...   Nov 15 2008, 03:51 PM
|- - acebaker   QUOTE (painter @ Nov 15 2008, 02:51 PM) I...   Nov 15 2008, 04:44 PM
- - acebaker   Chopper 5 wide shot is frame 1-170. Plane "im...   Nov 15 2008, 04:57 PM
- - acebaker   Of course, any object on video will disappear at s...   Nov 15 2008, 05:05 PM
|- - painter   QUOTE (acebaker @ Nov 15 2008, 01:05 PM) ...   Nov 15 2008, 06:19 PM
|- - acebaker   QUOTE (painter @ Nov 15 2008, 06:19 PM) S...   Nov 15 2008, 07:29 PM
- - acebaker   If posters do not have any scientific response the...   Nov 15 2008, 05:49 PM
- - Oceans Flow   Here's a side thread so we can keep this one o...   Nov 15 2008, 06:06 PM
- - rob balsamo   I really dont have the time to go over this, and i...   Nov 15 2008, 08:11 PM
|- - Quest   QUOTE (rob balsamo @ Nov 16 2008, 01:11 A...   Nov 15 2008, 08:59 PM
||- - Aldo Marquis CIT   QUOTE (Quest @ Nov 16 2008, 01:59 AM) Las...   Nov 25 2008, 12:46 PM
|- - acebaker   QUOTE (rob balsamo @ Nov 15 2008, 08:11 P...   Nov 15 2008, 10:08 PM
|- - acebaker   QUOTE (rob balsamo @ Nov 15 2008, 08:11 P...   Nov 15 2008, 10:34 PM
- - rob balsamo   Thanks Ace... So we both agree videos can be fake...   Nov 15 2008, 10:17 PM
|- - Quest   QUOTE (rob balsamo @ Nov 16 2008, 02:17 A...   Nov 15 2008, 10:36 PM
||- - rob balsamo   QUOTE (Quest @ Nov 15 2008, 09:36 PM) Is ...   Nov 15 2008, 10:49 PM
||- - acebaker   QUOTE (rob balsamo @ Nov 15 2008, 10:49 P...   Nov 15 2008, 11:16 PM
|- - acebaker   QUOTE (rob balsamo @ Nov 15 2008, 10:17 P...   Nov 15 2008, 10:43 PM
||- - rob balsamo   QUOTE (acebaker @ Nov 15 2008, 09:43 PM) ...   Nov 15 2008, 10:51 PM
||- - acebaker   QUOTE (rob balsamo @ Nov 15 2008, 10:51 P...   Nov 15 2008, 11:23 PM
||- - rob balsamo   QUOTE (acebaker @ Nov 15 2008, 10:23 PM) ...   Nov 15 2008, 11:28 PM
|- - acebaker   QUOTE (rob balsamo @ Nov 15 2008, 10:17 P...   Nov 15 2008, 10:46 PM
|- - acebaker   QUOTE (rob balsamo @ Nov 15 2008, 10:17 P...   Nov 16 2008, 12:59 AM
- - rob balsamo   Ace... i agree VF is very possible... but for what...   Nov 15 2008, 11:23 PM
|- - acebaker   QUOTE (rob balsamo @ Nov 15 2008, 11:23 P...   Nov 15 2008, 11:33 PM
||- - rob balsamo   QUOTE (acebaker @ Nov 15 2008, 10:33 PM) ...   Nov 15 2008, 11:38 PM
||- - acebaker   QUOTE (rob balsamo @ Nov 15 2008, 11:38 P...   Nov 16 2008, 12:27 AM
|- - acebaker   QUOTE (rob balsamo @ Nov 15 2008, 11:23 P...   Nov 16 2008, 01:09 AM
- - acebaker   x   Nov 16 2008, 12:21 AM
- - acebaker   I've just learned that this entire forum is no...   Nov 16 2008, 02:46 AM
|- - rob balsamo   QUOTE (acebaker @ Nov 16 2008, 01:46 AM) ...   Nov 16 2008, 03:14 AM
- - acebaker   i gess not, i think your write. I am dum, and th...   Nov 16 2008, 03:37 AM
- - Quest   Ace, I'm not exactly sure why you were banned....   Nov 16 2008, 01:45 PM
|- - rob balsamo   QUOTE (Quest @ Nov 16 2008, 12:45 PM) Rob...   Nov 16 2008, 01:54 PM
|- - acebaker   QUOTE (Quest @ Nov 16 2008, 01:45 PM) Ace...   Nov 16 2008, 01:57 PM
- - rob balsamo   Seems someone still doesnt know the definition of ...   Nov 16 2008, 02:07 PM
|- - acebaker   QUOTE (rob balsamo @ Nov 16 2008, 02:07 P...   Nov 16 2008, 02:24 PM
- - rob balsamo   Ace, you posted here just a few short months ago u...   Nov 16 2008, 02:34 PM
- - ogrady   Ace! Thanks for joining us here! And tha...   Nov 16 2008, 09:59 PM
- - acebaker   I repeat my request to interview anyone who saw an...   Nov 23 2008, 04:18 PM
- - richard cranium   This is just a FYI post. At the "Journal of 9...   Nov 23 2008, 09:35 PM
- - acebaker   Eric Salter's entire rebuttal was based on mar...   Nov 23 2008, 09:53 PM
- - rob balsamo   Rebuttal of Ace Baker's "Chopper 5 Compos...   Nov 23 2008, 11:49 PM
- - acebaker   There's a nice debate over on Anthony Lawson...   Nov 24 2008, 01:22 AM
- - acebaker   Aldo, I think you should read this paper on false ...   Nov 25 2008, 06:48 PM
|- - dMole   QUOTE (acebaker @ Nov 25 2008, 03:48 PM) ...   Nov 26 2008, 01:07 AM
|- - Aldo Marquis CIT   QUOTE (acebaker @ Nov 25 2008, 11:48 PM) ...   Nov 26 2008, 12:46 PM
- - paranoia   thanks dmole. i thought i might add this one as we...   Nov 26 2008, 01:59 AM
- - acebaker   @dmole - Why don't you instead "go on...   Nov 26 2008, 02:00 AM
|- - dMole   QUOTE (acebaker @ Nov 25 2008, 11:00 PM) ...   Nov 26 2008, 02:59 AM
|- - dMole   QUOTE (dMole @ Nov 25 2008, 11:59 PM) Her...   Nov 26 2008, 03:30 PM
- - acebaker   Please explain how the right wing of the passenger...   Nov 26 2008, 03:08 PM
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