I was contacted on Twitter today by Scarlet Jones who is a reporter for the Whitstable Times asking me if I’d look at a video that had been sent to them by the Whitstable Nutrition Centre that they claims shows possible paranormal activity happening within their store. You can see the story and footage by clicking here. The short video shows a man walking into an aisle and looking at boxes of tea bags when, unnoticed by him, a red box floats off of a shelf behind him and hovers in the air, then a green box flies off of the shelf next to him and as he bends down to pick it up the red box finally tumbles to the floor too.
The footage looked dodgy and my gut reaction was that we weren’t being told something and that this was a prank or edited footage. I asked around for other opinions from those with more knowledge of film and post production and they also agreed that there were numerous problems with the footage that mean a conclusion is impossible to reach.
The first and most obvious is that we, yet again, do not have the original footage of a supposedly paranormal video. Without this it’s impossible to be certain what is happening, but there are a number of possibilities. For example, there are lots of people wearing black milling around out of frame, we can’t see what is happening within the aisles of the shop either side, and we cannot see the floor of the aisle where the boxes fall to. This all throws up red flags, as does the fact that we’re only being presented with a ‘copy of a copy’ of the footage.
John Rael of Skeptically Pwned pointed out that ‘a clever way to hide any special effects (strings/post processing) is to either make sure your footage is shit (e.g. most bigfoot or ghost hunting footage), or degrade the original source. In this case, filming a video with a camcorder. ‘