Sunday, April 24, 2016

Rebutting Cheryl Costa's 'My Smoking Gun UFO Proof'

Cheryl Costa is a two-service military veteran, a retired aerospace security engineer and a published playwright.1 When she served in the U.S. Navy, she was trained in physics, and more specifically electromagnetic physics. Later in college, she was trained to be a cinematographer and video editor.2

Cheryl Costa

Recently, on April 18, she published an article - My Smoking Gun UFO Proof - in which she recalls an event happened during one evening in 1990, while being the guest of a UFO media Bibliophile. While watching several UFO videos from Switzerland from 1970's, she came across Billy Meier's videos in which she noticed a subtle but momentary flash in the image illumination just before the UFO or Beam Ship darted away at great speed. She further writes:

"I slowed the video down to a crawl and measured the subtle flash effect to about 3/24 of a second, or three film frames. On video footage, I noted that the effect was 2/30 of a second, or two video frames.  I showed this discovery to my host and he was quite fascinated, but until I slowed the film and video sequences down for him he had never noticed the flash effect." 

Five years later, she witnessed the same "unusual" flash effect on TV that aired some footage from Space Shuttle mission STS-48. And she provided the following reasoning on why she thinks this STS-48 footage (which was thoroughly debunked by the American space journalist and historian, James Oberg) proves the authenticity of Billy Meier's beamships, and hence UFOs or Aliens in general:

"In the footage, an object is seen moving from right to left in the picture frame. Suddenly, it darts off to the right at great speed. Something that looks like a laser or particle beam is seen coming up from the Earth’s surface. When I saw the STS-48 footage, I witnessed the same flash effect I had seen in the Billy Meier footage years before.
For me, the Billy Meier footage from 1970s was genuine because I was able to see and examine a subtle physical effect on a couple of video frames. Later, I saw the STS-48 footage and observed the same physical effect before the object darted off, something that NASA attributed to “simple ice crystals.” I knew I had seen the smoking gun UFO proof that convinced me these things were genuine without a doubt." 

Having noticed this absurd reasoning, I have contacted Daniel Drasin - Media Producer/Director (Film, Video, Audio, Music, Radio, Writing) and Cinematographer/Videographer3 - to weigh in on Cheryl Costa's arguments. Earlier, Daniel Drasin has found several "tell-tale signs" and a "smoking gun" evidence in Meier's pendulum footage indicating that the footage has been fabricated. I wrote an email to Daniel on April 21 regarding Cheryl Costa's flash effect argument which is visible in these three videos shot by Meier at these locations - Berg-Rumlikon (1975) and Bachtelhörnli (1976).

After reviewing those videos, he gave the following response on April 23, that reveals Cheryl Costa's spurious logic and lack of knowledge in film matters.

"Hi, Mahesh...

I just read Ms. Costa's article, and I must say that her personal threshold of proof seems rather forgiving. Equating the STS-48 flash with the flashes in Meier's film is a bit like equating Genghis Khan with Mohandas Gandhi because they both had two legs, and they both had an "h" in their first names and surnames. A bit of a stretch, eh?

The STS48 flash, (which preceded the entry of the unidentified object from the lower-left) was off-screen, so we don't know what caused it.

The discontinuities in Meier's film -- at least those that I've seen -- involve four observations:

1) With motion-picture film, when you stop the camera, the film physically stops running through the gate behind the lens. When you re-start the camera, it takes a fraction of a second -- a few frames' time -- for the mechanism to come up to speed. Therefore the first few frames are exposed for a slightly longer time, so they receive more light. This makes those first few frames brighter than the rest. They're called "flash frames" and are well known to anyone who has edited actual film (not video) on a professional basis.

2) There are two main methods of splicing motion-picture film:  a) You can use special cement, which requires a partial overlap of one piece of film onto the other. This produces a visible horizontal line across either the last outgoing frame or first incoming frame, depending on the splicer used. Additionally you'll see some some areas in which the image is distorted by the cement itself, some of which tends to be squeezed out of the joint before it hardens.  b) You can cut the film without an overlap, and join it with special clear Mylar splicing tape that is perforated to register exactly with the perforations ("sprocket holes") in the film. This tape is usually applied to both sides of the film. So the frames to which the tape is applied tend to be a bit fuzzy-looking compared with the rest. Additionally, this tape is physically softer than the film, so after several viewings it will tend to quickly pick up vertical scratches from having been run through the projector or other viewing device. What I've seen in videos of Meier's films, are exactly these two telltale signs of tape splices.

3) Additionally, frames adjacent to any splice will often have picked up specks of dirt and dust from having been handled in the process of splicing the film and not having been cleaned properly afterward. If you look carefully you can see this additional dust around many of Meier's splices.

3) Additional evidence of splicing can be seen in the sudden changes of position or appearance of certain elements in the frame. For example, in this video: ,  at the beginning, when we see the UFO, the foreground branch is being moved by the wind. Then at 0:06 suddenly the UFO disappears and the branch instantaneously shifts its position to a neutral one, as the wind has stopped. Had the wind died down naturally, the branch would have come to a more gradual stop.  At 0:43 
(0.33) there is another hidden passage of time, which you can see in the reflection of the lake in the distance behind the branch. This lake is brighter before the splice and darker afterward, apparently due to an interim change in the light striking that part of the landscape  -- perhaps due to the shadow of a cloud or the setting of the sun. Note that the overall landscape is uniformly illuminated by a hazy sky so that if the sun had set in the interim the camera would automatically adjust its overall exposure in response. If you look closely you can see that the camera has, indeed, made an overall exposure adjustment to the different light level.

Please feel free to pass these remarks on to Ms. Costa, should you choose to do so.

By the way, for the record, I'm not at all a kneejerk UFO skeptic -- I've had a number of remarkable sightings and have experienced various other anomalous events. My position on the Meier case is that it may be partly true, but that it is being defended beyond all reason as being *entirely* true.

Best regards,


When another professional photographer4 (who wish to remain anonymous) with nearly 35 years of experience and also who has been studying the Meier case since 1977 was made aware of Dan's theories, he has the following the say:

"Hi Mahesh,

I generally agree with Dan's theories.

However, my experience with UFO hoaxers - without a single exception - is that none has ever gone to extreme effort to create a hoax.

For example, when they use UFO models, it is nearly always an already existing item or is made from a few or a number of existing items.  But rarely do you find evidence of an actual custom-made item. As an example, even such a complex structure as the WCUFO, Meier assembled it from various prefabricated parts mostly found at discount stores - as Phil Langdon has demonstrated.

So although Dan is correct that there are several ways this flash could have occurred, the most likely explanation is the simplest one, which is that he had mounted the camera on a tripod (as Meier himself has shown he has done) and then simply stopped filming, removed the model, started the camera again, stopped it, put the model back and started the camera again.

Dan's reference to flash frames being caused by the camera starting the movement of the film slowly however is something I had not considered.  This however would denote a problem with Meier's camera, as flash frames are not inevitable.  Otherwise we would see them at the beginning of ANY footage made with a cine-camera.  Yet I have a good quantity of family film footage shot with my father's cine-camera - even including some footage shot using the same technique of stopping and starting the camera and I don't recall seeing any such flashes.  I have the footage here so let me revise it before supporting such a claim.  Even though it is a possibility, Meier's camera would have to be examined to see if it possesses such a flaw.  I am aware however of another UFO case that featured many flashes in the footage and that was indeed caused by the fact the film camera had a defect that caused the film to get momentarily stuck in the film gate on a regular basis while filming.  Each time it occurred, it caused an overexposure on those frames.

My own theory in this regard is that Meier's camera may have had an auto exposure setting and that when the camera restarted it adjusted the exposure in the first fraction of a second when it started up again.  But to support this theory, we would have to know the exact model camera that Meier used to film the sequence.

Splicing is possible of course, but I feel that such a technique - requiring editing equipment - would have been far too time-consuming and difficult for Meier to contemplate.  Let us remember here that he has only one arm and that such editing would require a good amount of dexterity.  Even though it's possible, I still feel that Meier - like most UFO hoaxers - would have chosen the simplest way to do this, which is to just stop an restart the camera.

That too would explain the discontinuity in respect to the branch that seems to jump when the object reappears..."


1 International UFO Congress/Cheryl Costa
2 'My Smoking Gun UFO Proof,' Syracuse NewTimes, April 18, 2016.
3 Linkedin/Dan Drasin
This anonymous professional photographer has earlier debunked one of the FIGU's defences of Meier's Asket-Nera photos authenticity.