Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Eerie footage of “ghost” captured by schoolboy?

The video above has been seen by hundreds of thousands of Netizens in the past few days, despite not being that scary nor interesting, and coming straight from The Sun, not your most credible news source.

Captured by 12-year-old Reece Pitman, the British tabloid informs us that:

“It came days after his nine-year-old sister complained that someone was mysteriously finishing her jigsaws at night. The lad showed the amazing footage — which must be seen to be believed — to mum Tonia, 38. She said: “Reece looked scared witless. In the clip a white shadow appears from my bedroom followed by the dark image of a man. It crosses the landing and disappears when it reaches the banisters.” Tonia, of Solihull, Birmingham, said she consulted a psychic who told her the ghost could be friendly. Sales assistant Tonia said: “I’ve had a tough time recently as my husband left me. I didn’t believe in ghosts — but I’m thinking of the spectre as my guardian angel.” Julian Banks of the British Paranormal Society said the film was “potentially the best image of a ghost in years”.
[The Sun: Ghostbanisters]

Actually, the video shows some artifacts that strongly hint it was crudely hoaxed.

The unfocused aspect of the ghost can be accomplished by placing anything immediately in front of he camera. And, the telltale sign, are a series of light reflections that seem to go along the apparition.

In the video below, we reproduced the ghost video by trying two different methods: first using a transparent sheet of plastic with a black figure glued to it; then simply hanging a black lace string in front of the camera:

Our reproduction is clearly far from being perfect, but it hopefully demonstrates the effects and ideas involved, especially the light reflections that show up when you place a transparent sheet in front of a camera without much care. The drawing fixed to the sheet should have been slimmer, perhaps even translucid, but I didn’t bother to try that.

A British chap seems to have achieved better results also with a transparent sheet. Pay attention to his electronically modified kid-voice.

Reproducing the original video (assuming you consider these as reproductions) doesn’t prove it was a hoax. It is, however, hopefully a healthy and informative exercise and context to evaluate the evidence.

After all, why should a real ghost show the same reflections that a transparent sheet of plastic would show up? Believe it… or not.

– – –

UPDATE: Yeah, yeah, my reproduction is VERY far from being perfect. And Brian Parsons in the comments below suggested why the reflection of the lights was right, but the ghost not quite so:

“The trick is to use a clear reflective surface near the camera with enough space between it and the lens to have something reflect back between the plastic and the lens. It’s an easy trick and is responsible for numerous fake videos dating back several years (does anyone remember the Oklahoma junk yard video?).”

In fact, upon reviewing the video, I suspect the ghost may be indeed nothing more than a reflection in the clear reflective surface that was put near the camera… of the cell phone itself. That is, not solid piece of paper, no semi-transparent image fixed to the sheet of clear plastic or glass.


Was the ghost just the cell phone? Believe it.. or not.

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Posted in Ghosts | 7 comments

7 Comments so far

  1. PeterK February 17th, 2009 12:15 pm

    It looks like a semi-transparent shadow of something or someone. We assume that the boy was alone, but he was obviously talking to someone before the ghost appeared. Whoever he was talking to may be responsible for the shadow.

  2. Jack Desjardins February 17th, 2009 3:16 pm

    The kids’ obviously the next, Steven Speilberg. The sample on the bottom, looks like something Saturday Night Live would put together.

  3. Brian Parsons February 17th, 2009 7:27 pm

    The reproduction film is close to the answer. In various parts of the video you can clearly see the reflection of something into the lens of the camera. The trick is to use a clear refelctive surface near the camera with enough space between it and the lens to have something reflect back between the plastic and the lens. It’s an easy trick and is responsible for numerous fake videos dating back several years (does anyone remember the Oklahoma junk yard video?).

  4. Brian Parsons February 17th, 2009 7:32 pm

    3 seconds into the video as the camera pans down the stairs you will see the reflection in the top center and again on the left as it pans back up a second later. You can clearly see the color change right before the “apparition” sneaks by, but I don’t think it’s coming from right in front of the lens. It seems from what I can see to be a reflection from behind and to one side of the camera to the clear plastic and back to the lens (via the light source that is causing the reflections we see). This is a simple thing to do if you have the time.

  5. Mori February 17th, 2009 9:50 pm

    Excellent, Brian. I agree with you, a reflection of a dark thing in the transparent sheet would make hoaxing even easier and the result would probably be better than the translucid version the other British fellow tried to reproduce (and far better than the solid piece of black paper cutout I glued to the sheet of plastic). But I don’t know if I will bother trying it.

    In the not-quite-there reproduction I made, you can see the reflection of the video camera I used. It does look… “eerie”? :-)

  6. kris February 19th, 2009 4:51 pm

    your reproduction looks like a fake way too much but the origanal looks real as for the light reflection it is just a ordanary hall way light that happend to be on. i no what iv seen in my life and that was a classic shadow man making him self noticed. great ghost vid

  7. Skeptical February 19th, 2009 5:25 pm

    By no means am I saying the original video is real, but the recreations presented here are dissimilar enough as to prove nothing. Even if they replicated the object exactly, the fact that something CAN be faked does not necessarily mean that it WAS faked.

    After all, how are we to know what a real apparition (if there is in fact such a thing) would look like? What if special effects are as cheesy in other realities as they are here?


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