Friday, June 19, 2009

The Ghost in the Pantry - Might be time for an experiment...

There is a video on YouTube that is (in my opinion) pretty interesting. Not that I think it is evidence of a "real ghost", but because it is the best effect in the series of inexpensively produced videos that supposedly show "Mabel" the ghost.

The video has more than 4.5 million hits. Recently video skeptic "Captain Disillusionment" got on the case and used it as an opportunity to promote the James Randi Education Foundation's "The Amazing Meeting 2009" in Las Vegas.

It is a good video and in it Captain-D appears to be stymied by this peculiar video and ends up getting some help from a friend.

But within minutes of commenting on the video (which I enjoyed) I was contacted by a fellow skeptic who pointed me to this video which makes a very strong case that Randi's hypothesis isn't correct. This clip is a longer video than it needs to be, but it shows that the closet touches an outside wall and implies strongly that there is nowhere for a secret door to be hidden.

This doesn't prove there is no secret door (after all this could even be another house in the same neighborhood with a slightly different layout for all we know). But it did get me to thinking about the problem.

I took a couple of snapshots of the items on the shelves before and after the ghost appeared because my hypothesis was if there were no secret door the easy way to do the effect would be remove the shelves and then shoot the ghost and edit the film so that the ghost shot is inserted in the middle. At first I thought such an act might lead to items on the shelves moving between cuts - but realized that they wouldn't need to do that because the whole thing can be filmed out of sequence.

This would be easy to do, I imagine. In case you're not familiar with how an effect like this might work, here's the basic idea:
  1. You film the approach to the door and reveal the interior shelves.
  2. You film the walk backwards from the door.
  3. You film the walk back to the door and reveal the shelving again.
  4. You remove the shelving and film the "ghost" in the back of the closet where she waits for you to back away and then presses her face to glass and then walks back again.
  5. Take the results to the editing software where you cut & paste until you've got the results you want.
  6. Upload to youtube and have 4.5 million users come and see.

Captain-D's right early on in the video - this thing could have been done with software.

But the easier solution is the re-cut and for that to work those shelves had to come out, I believe. And that's an easy thing to do. So easy in fact that I'm on the lookout for any houses in my area that might have pantry doors like this where we could do an attempt to re-create the effect. That might be fun.

This isn't an isolated video, by the way. The homeowners made several, some with no haunted content. You can see some of that here:


OmegaWolf747 said...

I've seen all these vids on YouTube. I can't decide if they're fake or real. The picture seems to shift in the one where the door keeps opening, as if he stopped the camera, then restarted it a bit later.

The ones with the face in the door are creepy as hell though, because the pantry looks way too small for a person to fit into.

Todd said...

OK, I think I know a possibility that does not require a hidden door. Notice that when the "girl" vanishes in the second video, in the instant prior to the door swinging open, the sheen on the glass changes from black to light grey. I think that they have hidden a black back-drop with a girls face in the top of the closet. On command, it rolls down and Boo! it then pulls-back and away, changing the sheen. Note that in video 1, it appears she is coming in from the side- likely the drop failed to unroll properly.

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