Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Attack of the stick-figure aliens

Whitley Strieber called attention to two videos of “identical and extremely bizarre living forms have emerged from two different countries. Both show odd ‘stick figures’ that look nothing like any ‘alien video’ ever made. One was taken in Fresno, California [above] and the other in Santa Rosa de Quives near Lima, Peru [below].”

To Strieber, “the extremely bizarre nature of the figures and the way they move are so strange, and so completely unlike anything that has ever been offered before as “alien video,” the suggestion is strong that these are real images of unknown bipedal creatures, whose body morphology is so radically different from what has evolved on earth that the conclusion is almost inescapable that they are aliens”.

He does suggest, however, that they could be digital hoaxes. Greg Bishop at UFOMystic also suggests so. Keep reading for our ordinary investigations, with more stick figure aliens and some evidence to solve at least some of them.

Stick figure invasion

The video above, titled “Alien Footage – Mexican Zoo” also shows an “anomaly” in the lower part of the image. But it’s also more clearly realized as an “out of focus stem of a plant going from side to side in the wind”, as someone already pointed in the comments. It didn’t stop it from getting nearly a million viewers.

We must be open-minded and not limit ourselves to aliens. There are also ghosts, such as the one in the video below, with over 1,500,000 viewers:

Which is actually just water (or dirt) in the windshield. You may have found those two very unremarkable, despite the fact they impressed many. The “Quives Alien”, as it’s being promoted, seems more puzzling. Indeed, it is, because it combines both effects.

The Quives Alien video

I tried to stabilize the Peruvian video, but since all I had to start with was the low quality Youtube versions which were in turn the video of a TV screen (hence the flickering), the end result was not that much better.

From the slightly stabilized version above, though, you can realize some things, and the important one is that during the time the “alien” seems to be moving, the camera shakes a lot. Remember that fact. Another important thing to note is that the “alien” is right there, apparently frozen, some moments before it starts moving. We will get back to it.

Now, to the red-herring. There seems to be something like a string in the upper left part of the video. It even seems like it’s being pulled right before the “alien” starts moving. See a clip here. Was the alien just something attached to a string that was being pulled by the cameraman? That’s what I initially thought.

I was wrong.

See this second stabilized version:

Right in the beginning you can see that the “string” is actually part of a thin twig near the camera. And then, Mexican researcher Luis Ruiz Noguez pointed to me that the alien itself is in fact just part of a plant that is near the camera. The apparent motion is due to parallax.

If you watch the video again with this in mind, you may realize how all the movements of the alien are due to the movement of the camera, and that’s why the camera shakes a lot when the alien is moving: the cameraman (not the alien) is walking.

Pay attention as to how the alien goes up when the background goes down. Once you realize the thing is actually near the camera, not behind the man, just like the windshield “ghost” it all makes sense. That’s perspective. The “Quives alien” is just part of a bush.

Of course, you may have also noted that at some point, the man in white seems to get in front of the alien/plant. That’s probably due to the fact the man is wearing a bright garment and the thin plant does not have sufficient contrast to be seen in the terrible quality video. That is, the man was actually behind the plant, but this cannot be seen in the video. Alas, I don’t think we will be seeing the original video anytime soon to see if there’s not even a hint of the plant in front of the man.

I do agree with Noguez, nevertheless, and think the Quives “alien” is a combination of the two effects in the videos we have seen before: a plant near the camera (“Mexican zoo alien”) and parallax giving the appearance of motion (“Ghost crossing the road”). It was a plant.

Which brings us to the Fresno video.

The Fresno aliens

Like the Quives video, we are only seeing these videos on Youtube, and they are videos of videos. That’s not good. Above, another video of a video of the Fresno footage. The man promoting it is Victor Camacho, a paranormal radio host based in California. His website promotes and sells everything, from abductions to ghosts. That’s also not that good. Camacho himself mentions that many question the video as a hoax. That’s not good at all.

It’s all circumstantial, and I can’t unfortunately present anything besides the obvious impression that the aliens could be reproduced by simply pulling pieces of cloth on a string, showing some pendular motion. But would these apparent strings and movements be red-herrings like the Quives video? Could these videos be honest mistakes? Could they even be real?

I doubt it, but then, I’m very skeptical of those things. I surely hope the Fresno video is openly released and properly analyzed. Camacho mentions Maccabee at some point.

If there’s one thing I hope to have showed with these ordinary investigations, though, is that all these “stick figures” are not due to the same phenomenon or cause.

One was just a plant stem, the other water in the windshield. Another was very probably just a plant filmed by someone walking with a poor quality camera. And the final one may be a crude hoax.

Grouping them all together may seem natural or even reasonable, but as enthusiasts of the paranormal should know, appearances can be deceiving. There’s no invasion of stick figure aliens, just the interpretation of several different videos with different explanations as such.

- – -

UPDATE: Some readers are having trouble with the suggestion of parallax in the Quives video, so I created this image to illustrate the scene:

3dquives

Notice how the bush and a taller and prominent twig that is interpreted as the “Alien” are near the camera (which is upfront). Now, to understand how parallax can create the illusion of apparent movement, you can try the following simple experiment (do it alone otherwise you will look weird):

Raise the index fingers of both hands vertically, then close one of the eyes and align your index fingers in a way that one is exactly in front of the other, covering it. Now, without moving your hand, move your head to the left instead. You will see the nearer finger moving right.

That’s what happens in the Quives video, while the camera moves to the left and the bush seems to be moving right. The difference is that while the camera moves to the left it also changes the direction to which it’s pointing, framing that very same bush.

The short clip below is another example of parallax (“If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will run like hell and will make them move by parallax”).

- – -

UPDATE: Confirmed. The Quives video was indeed a plant.

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Posted in Aliens,Fortean,Ghosts,Skepticism | 23 comments

23 Comments so far

  1. Boing Boing March 18th, 2009 5:09 pm

    Videos of “stick figure aliens”…

    Forgetomori presents two eerie videos of “stick figure aliens.” As the presenter of the first video remarks, “Could be extraterrestrials, could be elves.” Take your pick…….

  2. [...] Forgetomori presents two eerie videos of “stick figure aliens.” As the presenter of the first video remarks, “Could be extraterrestrials, could be elves.” Take your pick. [...]

  3. [...] of Forgetomori takes a close look at a couple of the recent alien videos to pop up, the Peruvian video and the [...]

  4. HP March 19th, 2009 3:20 am

    Thanks for this, and especially for the stabilized video. I’ve seen these on a few other sites, ranging from credulous to agnostic, but I knew I could count on you to add the right commentary.

    Off-topic: Now that 100Nexos is on ScienceBlogs Brasil, any chance that Forgetomori will move to ScienceBlogs.com? After all, you’ve been Boing-Boinged twice in the last week or so; that makes you a major player in the Fortean-Skeptical-Anglophone-blogosphere.

  5. Mark Bellis March 19th, 2009 9:02 am

    The Fresno videos are of a cat walking and running towards the camera – because of the poor quality of the video, the tail of the cat is being interpreted as a head.

  6. Craig York March 19th, 2009 11:43 am

    Heh. I don’t know if I’d call single individuals an invasion,
    Mori, more like a recconaisance : )…I can accept most of the plausible explanations offered here, but I’m surprised no-one has mentioned the stick-figure aliens from MEN IN BLACK
    And I have to feel a little sympathy for Streiber-even allowing that one might be looking at some undiscovered
    creature, to stretch that to visiting aliens is a bit weak.

  7. Creepy creatures - Absurd Intellectual March 19th, 2009 11:47 am

    [...] a longer, also creepy video here, where not one, but two of these weird, bipedal creatures walk through someone’s lawn. [...]

  8. Seamonkey7 March 20th, 2009 4:42 pm

    What stands out to me on the Fresno video is the shadow. You can see how the stick figures appear to be walking with the “legs” moving independently. But, look at the shadow. It does not match the figure. The shadow remains a single straight line, with no moving legs. Creepy, yes. But also very fishy.

  9. Mori March 20th, 2009 9:29 pm

    HP, I wish! I certainly wish… I’m not that important, but let’s see… :-)

  10. HP March 21st, 2009 1:02 am

    Well, for what it’s worth, I’ve pushed Forgetomori on Skepchick and Pharyngula (and maybe Bad Astronomy, I forget), because I think you cover interesting topics and your written English is better than many native speakers I know (Greg Laden, bless his heart, is a great thinker but he can’t write — run machine translation on his blog, and see where you end up). But when you comment on a site that has hundreds of comments, only one comment can disappear in the mix.

    It’s not like ScienceBlogs.com doesn’t host other non-native English speakers (e.g., Dynamics of Cats and Aardvarcheology — and new blogger Isis often posts in Spanish).

    I’m only one man, but I’ll email the Seed people — if other Forgetomori fans do the same, maybe we can get you to the point where you can make some money blogging in English.

  11. Damn Data March 21st, 2009 9:28 pm

    Stickmen entity videos…

    Two odd entity videos have got Whitley Strieber excited* because, despite them coming from California and Peru, they appear to show similar wee beasties. The first is the Fresno case and the video seems to start half way through a talk on another cas…

  12. gnostic 23-7 March 22nd, 2009 8:15 am

    notice that the figures in both cases follow exactly the same path across the lawn. I propose that a joke was played on the occupants of the house wherein a fishing line was looped over a rail or any convenient anchor point, and then a cloth was pulled over the line. it stops at the point where the line loops over. Then another is pulled. The prankster then retrieves his line by simply pulling it through, leaving the cloth aliens to be retrieved off camera via a pole with a hook

  13. Ruth Wales March 22nd, 2009 8:25 pm

    It looks like a plastic toy my kids had 50 or 60 years ago. I think it was called “Gumbo”. There was also a horse, if I remember correctly. Anyway, if you changed the position, and photographed one frame at a time, you could make it appear to walk.

  14. [...] articulo fue tomado del sitio FORGETOMORI y puede leerse (en inglés) dando click aqui, recomendado ya que contiene mas información y datos [...]

  15. [...] month ago we posted two videos of what looked like “stick-figure aliens”, one of them from Santa Rosa de Quives, Peru. We explained the so-called “Quives alien” as [...]

  16. [...] Fuente. [...]

  17. [...] articulo fue tomado del sitio FORGETOMORI y puede leerse (en inglés) dando click aqui, recomendado ya que contiene mas información y datos interesantes. Share this Post: [...]

  18. [...] The fun part is if they can’t immediately debunk something, like a UFO sighting or the famous stick alien, they run around at night with infrared cameras scouring the area for clues, adopting a research [...]

  19. jozh September 22nd, 2011 1:55 pm

    look i have yet to see a recreation of the fresno video that comes even close to recreating what is shown in the original video. even the syfy show fact or faked could not recreate it and they usually do an excellent job at recreating many paranormal videos and photos. so until i see a quality recreation of the event shown in the fresno video i will lend credence to it being authentic. i also believe that the man who took the video did not hoax either as he seems to be to technologically ignorant to do so. being that he had to take a video of a video to save the footage. which leads me to believe that he had someone else install the survalience camera and does not really know how to use it beyond reviewing the footage. he probobaly has to ask his kids to hook up his tv and computers.

  20. [...] to reproduce the video with a puppet pulled by strings, without much success. I still stand by the original suggestion back then: what they didn’t try was removing the puppet altogether and simply pulling pieces of [...]

  21. jonas April 25th, 2012 10:07 pm

    watched “fact or faked” right now and saw these stick “aliens” the first time and was really scared, so thanks for revealing that the witness is some paranormal-affine guy and the other facts. phew. good night :)

  22. jewpunxxx April 26th, 2012 12:37 am

    Camacho did not make the video the guy who took the footage gave it to camacho because thats who he was directed to when he did not know what else to do with it. So the paranormal-affine guy is not the witness jonas and you should know that if you payed more attention to the episode, so since it has not been proven a hoax or recreated sastisfactorily, i think you may be “phew” ing a little prematurely.

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