Olivers Castle Lights Video:
A few words from Kris Sherwood July 5, 1997
As this controversy flares up again on the Net I feel spurred into offering a some brief comments.
Let me preface them by saying that apart from researching the crop circle phenomenon intently for six years, I have spent the last thirty-plus years working in the field of animation and special effects. I have worked as a producer, animator, special effects consultant, production manager, and digital effects co-ordinator, etc.; have been a judge on the panel of Americas most prestigious advertising awards organisation since the early 80s in the animation categories of both traditional and computer animation, as well as film effects and graphics, have overseen the production of hundreds of television commercials that employed all types of animation used alone and in combination with live action, and currently work in the Animation Effects department of one of the worlds largest motion picture studios, known for their pioneering work in visual effects.
I have resisted comment on this video until now for a variety of reasons. The main reason being the same one given by our dear friend and colleague, Peter Sorensen, in his excellent and comprehensive report of the video in question: I did not want to give any energy to it. I did not wish to be one of those also waylaid from serious research by Mr. Weyleigh and by what I discerned even in the light of the initial evidence, and what anyone with the required technical knowledge can recognise as an obvious hoax: a troublingly deceptive hoax. Crop circle researchers being taken in by such a hoax is, I think, far more damaging to the public perception of the very real and profound phenomenon we are experiencing, than is remaining sceptical, especially in light of compelling evidence to support the reality of a hoax. After the spectacularly stunning formations of 96 the only crop circle coverage we saw in the States was multiple coverage of this dubious video! To me that's a tragic misdirection of attention in what might have been a eye-opening year for the world at large, had the Julia Set or Windmill Hill formations received comparable attention (not to mention the unbelievably exquisite Goodworth Clatford Rose or those at Littlebury, Luton, Ashbury, etc.).
Peters report is so thorough as to leave little I can or wish to add. Though amid the arguments pro and con that have been flying like cat fur on the internet a couple of erroneous assumptions have been made to support the reality of the video, as well as a thought or two of my own that I would like to address:
First, the idea put forth recently that the Avid system, which some have speculated to be the tool used, is a low resolution system not able to accomplish what is seen in this video is far from what my experience has been. The television shows I am involved with combine traditional animation, computer effects, and live action that are combined in an Avid system and directly out-put from the Avid to television Broadcast Tape. Also I have not found that this system and people who can operate are uncommon. Our facility alone has literally dozens of such people with the required knowledge and expertise. It would not be difficult for someone with access and motivation to stay after hours and use the equipment at no cost. Even film schools and small production facilities would have similar equipment, it has become an industry standard. I know British studios and schools have their equivalents. Im also reasonably sure that London isn't the closest town that has adequate equipment; thus time to accomplish it would not have been such a problem. Additionally, Im not convinced that this video couldn't have been done on something like a Power Macintosh using programs such as Adobe PhotoShop, or After Effects, and QuickTime Movies; tools available to nearly anyone with enough motivation and ingenuity.
The hand-held motion used as evidence in support of the video has looked, from my first viewing, like a simple post effect: added after the animation was done; I suspect to mask the irregularities in the animation that are apparent when viewed frame by frame. The emergence of the formation looking like a common matter reveal, opening up like a window on the underlayed full formation. There are no shadows at the edges of the laying crop-in-motion until the reveal opens to the pre-existing shadows that are already there and define the formation. Any motion (I cant say I could detect any in the copies we have) within the revealing image could easily be added in the computer. The progression of the animation action apparently doesn't match the actual ground lay.
The speed of the lights crossing the distant field do not reflect a visual Doppler Effect appropriate for the size of the field. My husband, Ed Sherwood, knows this field well and verifies this.
And lastly, since most formations are roughly circular the lights animation could work with the majority of them. One would only need to wait for a suitable one to appear (or just make one) and do a quick composite with the prepared footage. Apparently no one visiting the formation took samples for scientific testing, so physical evidence either way is lacking.
Wed all love to see a video of the real thing, but as is said in the movie Jurassic Park : Maybe were just not supposed to, at least not this time. There is so much more to give our attention to. If the Circlemaking Force ever did decide to perform for the camera I somehow dont think it would be for an ultimately evasive and mysteriously untraceable John with a blocked out license plate number and a disconnected phone.
Kris Weber Sherwood
PO Box 2084
Santa Monica, CA