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Analyzing UFO Videos – Mick West

Mick West walks through best practices for critically analyzing videos of UFOs.
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Hello, my name is Mick West, and I investigate UFO videos. I’ve been doing it for a number of years with a variety of successes and a variety of failures, and I’ve learned a number of things along the way that I’d like to share. First of all, the most important thing you can do when investigating a UFO video is to make sure you are looking at the original video. Videos degrade over time and with multiple copies, so always look at the original because it’s going to be the highest resolution, and it’s going to be the best quality, and it’s not going to have things missing.
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When you have the original video, you can get the technical camera information from it, which can be quite useful. Things like the exposure and the aperture, and sometimes, even the focus distance and the field of view. In addition to this, there’s other information you need to look at around the video. What date was the video taken? What time was it taken? What is the location? These might be things that are in the video file itself, but it might be things that you have to do a bit of detective work to find out. Was the video taken indoors or outdoors? Sometimes we see reflections and this can be because we’re filming through a window.
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So it’s always very important to be able to eliminate that. Don’t just treat videos in isolation. Look up the surrounding context, who took it? Are they a reputable source? Do they have other UFO videos? Do they have videos of the same location that show more information? Now you need some tools to look at the video. The most important thing, and the simplest thing, is just being able to advance frame by frame. You can do this in YouTube with the greater than, less than sign, the angled brackets on the keyboard. And most video viewing programs will allow you to step one frame at a time. If yours doesn’t then get a different one. You need to be able to zoom in.
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You need software that lets you zoom in and look at the UFO in more detail. If you don’t have software that allows you to do this, you can usually use screen magnification software, which most computers have in some form or another, or you can just download it. So we start to look at the video with this software. You’d go frame by frame, you zoom in, you see what you can see. Most of UFO’s are unidentified because there’s simply not enough information in the video to immediately tell what the object is.
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So we usually see something like a white blob or just a light in the sky or some kind of indistinct shape, but you might be able to try to figure something out when you zoom in. Stripping backwards and forwards is quite useful because you get to see the motion of the video much quicker than in real time, which can sometimes reveal clues. Software that allows you to change the contrast is also very useful. If you increase the contrast, you can actually see other things in the video, sometimes details that were missing. Sometimes you can even see other objects that are moving around, which might give you a clue as to what this object actually is.
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Avoid excessive enhancements of the video, avoid things like AI upscaling, which will often add details that weren’t actually there in the original. So look at the objects and see how it moves around. Is it moving rapidly? Is it moving in a straight line? Does it change direction? And is it moving towards the camera or away from the camera? Understanding how an object moves will tell you a lot about what type of thing it might be. How big an object is, is often something that’s very difficult to determine. We don’t know whether something is big and far away, or small and very close.
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Sometimes we get a clue from the focus of the object, if it’s out of focus and the background is in focus, then it’s probably something that’s small and close to the camera possibly even a fly. So definitely consider that. I like to make a list of all the various options that we can think of that might possibly be this object. And you start out with things like a plane. You add things like drones, birds, balloons, things like solar balloons, these black plastic bags that people fill up, kites, stars and planets are often mistaken for UFO’s in the evening when they are very bright, they look unusual and sometimes people think that they are moving because they’re in a moving vehicle.
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So make a list of all these different things. And I like to add things to the list that are perhaps unusual, like advanced technology tests or even alien spaceships. It’s never a good idea to rule anything out. So if we’re keeping all these other things on the list, we don’t want to rule out the extreme possibilities of things like alien spaceships. It also shows that you’re investigating the video in good faith, even though it’s extraordinarily unlikely for alien spaceships to be your UFO. It’s an honest investigation to keep it as a possibility on the list. Once you’ve got the list, don’t take anything off it. If something seems less likely move it down the list towards the bottom.
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If something seems more likely move it up towards the top. At some point, you might be able to make a determination as to what the object actually is. But a lot of the times you’re just left with a number of possible hypotheses, the things that bubble to the top of the list, and this can change as new information arises. So keep every possibility on the list and consider what seems the most likely without eliminating other possibilities. People have often done the work for you. So a good thing to try is simply looking in the comment section in the post or the video, check to see if other people have figured it out.
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If not, you can actually post this as a question on forums like Twitter or Reddit or Metabolic Sky Identify Forum and quite often people will recognize what you are looking at and crowdsourcing does actually work. Investigating UFO videos can get quite complicated, but it also can be fairly straightforward. You’re just looking at something in the sky and trying to recognize it for what it actually is. So keep things on the list, keep going. Don’t eliminate anything. And maybe eventually something’s going to bubble to the top.

Investigating UFO videos can – and should – be approached methodically.

In this video, Mick West, a noted science communicator, conspiracy analyst, and skeptical investigator, walks through the process of analyzing a video. Mick is the creator of Metabunk.org, which is dedicated to “the art and pastime of honest, polite, scientific investigating and debunking.” He outlines some best practices, which you will practice using in the next step.

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