Friday, 21 April 2017

Most Haunted Series 19 Episode 2: The Stunning Evidence Exposed.

I'm sure many of you are more than familiar with the format of Most Haunted if not the show itself. It would not be totally unfair to suggest the show is the trend setter in current ghost hunting TV, but it's also not unfair to point out the genre has left it behind. Really run the show behind the far more polished Ghost Adventures, and it does not fair well in comparison. Ghost Adventures strong stylistic elements and editing trickery are for the most point absent from Most Haunted, not something that particularly bothers me as I find such things style over (a complete lack of substance). One other thing that is abundantly clear about Most haunted in its current iteration is it doesn't take itself or its subject matter particularly seriously. This was starkly illustrated by a calling out session in the last series in which co-originator Karl Beatie asked the spirits of an Edwardian building if they wanted a crumpet. One can also point to the introduction of a rather disinterested dog, Watson, as a semi-regular team member (although I'm told they aren't the first ghost hunting show to do this). Watching Watson amble wander disinterested, bored aloof and ultimately detached around Abbey House Museum, I couldn't help but feel he had become a muse somewhat for me and the audience in general.

So why after such apathy would I even consider reviewing episode 2 of said series? Well, there's been something of a tabloid furore about the latest episode of Really's Most Haunted. Papers such as The Mirror, The Sun, The Mail and the Evening Telegraph have been reporting that this episode contains the most impressive evidence the team has ever collected. The reports all appeared today (21/04/17) the day of transmission. The Evening Telegraph tells us:
Fielding said: “To date this has to be the most ground-breaking footage we have ever recorded... But rather than giving us the answer we were looking for, it just gave us more questions...Was it the presence of the spirit of a long dead soul, a doppelganger, Stone Tape Replay or something else we are never supposed to understand?”Karl Beattie filmed the footage and said: “We’ve never seen anything like this before and we really don’t have an explanation for what we saw but the replay of the filming, clearly shows the vision in detail.“It’s a weird, weird place.”
Now, it doesn't take the most cynical of us to conclude this is a purposeful piece of propaganda aimed at propping up ratings for the second episode of the series. The stories may even be paid pieces provided by Really, though given the UK tabloids strong desire for paranormal fluff this isn't a sure thing. Obviously, this is a promo piece but as the MH crew are claiming something extraordinary, I decided to take a look.

Before looking at the episode in general which I'll do in my next post, let's look at the footage which has garnered so much attention from the tabloids and see if we can get to the bottom of it.

The Remarkable Evidence?


video
Above is the footage that the MH team are touting as the most impressive thing they've ever caught (video shared for the purpose of criticism and review obviously)  Bad Psychic's author Jon Donnis has an opinion on what the image is. In his review of the episode, Jon concludes this is team member Glen, who is wandering the location on his own.






I actually don't think this is correct.


From the image on the left, it's clear to see the figure is somewhat translucent, especially the upper half where you can see through the stairs in front of it somewhat. I think it's a figure, but they aren't there in "real time". A clue to this is Stuart Torvil and Karl Beatie's terrible "surprised" acting. They don't seem at shaken, by seeing "something", nor do they describe what they've seen. This makes me feel it's not really there. Obviously, if this were a case of mistaken identity the person would be present.

In my opinion, this is a video overlay.

First, the empty corridor is filmed. It's then filmed again but this time with a person walking up the stairwell. Likely the corridor is better lit when the second lot of footage is taken. The two pieces of footage are then overlaid, resulting in a third piece of footage with the translucent ghostly figure walking up the stairs. If the second piece of footage is lighter the image will have a ghostly glow.

In the below video Viper paranormal explain how this is achieved.


Now, what the MH crew would need to achieve this is a stationary shot. It's vital that first and second shot line up. This is why the figure climbs the stairs in step and it's head vanishes at the archway. That's my biggest clue as to this being the source of this apparition.

Watch the first video again, note that Karl and Stuart put the camera down and are very careful to ensure that is stable, they actually spend some time adjusting the camera precisely. Why do they do this? In the rest of the episode, they just point and film. The cameras remain handheld. Why do they need a stable shot at this point? This seems especially silly as Karl immediately picks up the camera again as soon as the "apparition" has passed. They do it because they need a stable stationary shot for the overlay to work. Also notice, either Karl or Stu point at the lens, showing the other where the staircase appears to line up with the lens. As they are doing it, they say "the sound came from here." That doesn't make much sense. Unless their trying to inform the other where the "apparition" will appear.

I asked the man himself why he put the camera down and spent a moment fixing it.


Sorry MH, but this "most impressive" evidence is abject, and quite amateur fakery.

I've decided to trot out the framework I started to develop in my recent review of Nick Groff's Paranormal Lockdown to review this episode of Really TV's Most Haunted in full next time. In that post I'll also let you know what Karl had to say with regard to the camera.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Paranormal Attention Seeker Mark Vernon Reveals True Motivation On Daytime TV.

Paranormal attention seeker, Mark Vernon's (left) latest appearance in the tabloid media has left him covered in less than glory. This week Vernon appeared in the dock on ITV's daytime television show Judge Rinder, a show with a format similar to the highly successful US show Judge Judy. I wouldn't normally comment on such shows and matters, but in the show Rinder, an ex-barrister, absolutely nails the issue I had with Vernon and his approach to investigating the homes of private individuals. The show clearly calls into question the ethics of some paranormal investigators and Vernon in general.

Watch the clip here. The footage is shared for the purpose of criticism and review.

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Vernon and brother Darrell were brought on the show by Tracy Proctor in relation to an "investigation" Mark conducted in her home. Vernon sold images and the story to news sources across the world, making by his own admission "thousands of pounds" from the tale. One particular iteration of the story particularly offended Tracy as it described her as a grandmother and implied that the "spirit activity" in her home having had an impact on her sex life causing her embarrassment. In fact, Vernon was so proud of this story he even attempted to direct my attention to it!

Bear in mind, he posted this comment on a post when I had accused him of being an attention seeker whose interest in the paranormal stemmed predominantly from selling stories to the tabloid press. Vernon didn't deny that accusation. Nor did he deny that his approach to investigating in private residences was disrespectful and unprofessional. He just wanted me to write about the story. Obviously, that's the reason I didn't. I don't take requests.

The most pertinent part of Vernon's encounter with Judge Rinder was for me his admission that he investigates homes in order to generate stories to sell to the press. Vernon attempts to tell Rinder that he travels the country "helping people" but Rinder is having none of it.

Rinder: "How do make your money from this?"
Vernon: "I sell the footage I get to the newspapers."
Rinder: "In other words, you have a vested interest in there being ghosts.... newspapers and other outlets online will buy this. How much will they pay?"
Vernon: "In UK, £500."
Rinder: "But if they're on the right site, you can make considerably more. Correct?"
Vernon: "Yeah, this one has."

Now, I wouldn't put it past Vernon and Proctor to have arranged this appearance on Rinder were it not for Proctor's instance that she never gave permission for the pictures to appear in the news. She says she only gave in permission to feature the images on his website and Youtube. Proctor denies she gave permission for the images to appear in the newspaper. Something that doesn't exactly ring true as in addition to talking to journalists, she posed for several photographs copyrighted my Mercury Press that appeared with the story!

Proctor's issue with Vernon seems to stem from the fact that she was unaware of just how far the story would spread, and possibly just how much money Vernon seemed likely to recoup from the attention. I would guess that if Vernon had have offered her a cash incentive it would have been mentioned in his defence.

Whilst the show is lightweight, and Rinder pokes fun at the frankly embarrassing "evidence" Vernon presents, there's a worrying undertone: Vernon lied to Proctor. He gave her no idea of his true intentions. He concealed his desire to profit in claims to wanting to help her. He exploited her. Proctor doesn't strike me as particularly vulnerable but plenty of others are.

Unfortunately, Vernon is not alone in exploiting the tabloids desire for paranormal clickbait. The tabloid press in the UK has discovered paranormal investigators and ghost hunters are a cheap source of "ghost" evidence. I've counted several separate stories in the tabloid press over the month or so, that feature ghost hunting groups passing laughable evidence to the papers for financial reward. More than I've seen since I started this blog.

We've had haunted RAF bases provide by Paranormal tourist group UK ghost hunts: Dad captures spooky footage of 'RAF pilot ghost' haunting abandoned corridor in deserted air force base which gives details of video footage of the alleged ghost of a RAF airman captured at Manby Hall, in Lincolnshire, by UK Ghost Hunts member Steve Wesson, earlier this year.

Here's the footage:



You're probably thinking "I don't see any reason this can't be a person walking down the hall." Steve protests this cannot be the case. He tells the Mirror:
"It is a former RAF base then it was an old people's home and now it is closed and only security have access to the building. However there are many ghost stories about the hall.... It was definitely not one of us four and there was definitely no one else in the building."
Hmmm.... "one of us four"? We only have Steve's word for it that there were only three members of the team and a security guard present. A quick look at the photos taken at investigations on the team's facebook group shows there are normally more teammates in attendance if indeed this isn't one of the team's public investigations, at which there could be any number of people present. Even if we could conclusively show that this wasn't another team member, various shots in the Manby Hall episode show copious amounts of graffiti inside the Hall. Clearly, it hasn't always been particularly secure. Can we be certain no one has wandered in after the team?

It seems pretty clear that whoever walks down the corridor, flashes a torch as they're doing so. You can even hear an audible "cl-CLICK" as they do so!

In addition to this, we've had least three teams file reports and "evidence" from 30 East Drive, including scouse medium Lillyanne and crew. The Black Monk has been busy.

Silent Voices Paranormal told the Star (31/03/17) that they had caught the image (below) of a mummy stalking the halls of Torquay Museum in DevonThe Egyptians had tobacco, right?


There were many more, equally vapid, examples to chose from.

It seems inevitable that at least a few of these teams will realise that these stories are easy money and that there is an unending requirement for them. Couple this with a complete lack of standards of evidence and we have a situation fit to breed hundreds of paranormal "cash for crap" brokers, just like Vernon. Meaning we also face the prospect of thousands of vulnerable, frightened believers being exploited like Proctor.

Judge Rinder will have his work cut out for him, as will we.