Friday the 13th ended up being a very lucky day for a California man who videoed several UFOs flying near Los Angeles. The video, allegedly shot by a freelance photographer going by the name Nerdumb, shows several bright lights in the sky over Hermosa Beach that disappear as a helicopter crosses below them. It was posted to YouTube and is making the rounds in UFO circles.
Many people noted that the lights look very much like planes taking off from Los Angeles International Airport, a few miles north of Hermosa Beach. Could they simply be aircraft? Probably not, because the lights seem to be stationary, and there's no reason commercial airplanes would suddenly switch off their lights in that pattern.
Tracey Parece, a writer for Examiner.com, wrote, "The video shows six bright lights suspended across the sky at sunset in an almost perfect straight line. The unidentified flying objects were so bright that they are very easy to spot in the video... A close-up of one of the objects shows a UFO that emanated red rays of light from its body." Parece concluded that Nerdumb's video "looks very convincing."
While some seem convinced the video may represent the best evidence of UFOs in 2012, others smell a hoax. For someone who claims to be a professional photographer the videos are very poorly shot and composed. Nerdumb holds the camera unsteadily, and amateurishly zooms in and out. The camera movements are very suspicious, especially the way he pans left to right as the UFO lights go out one by one, also from left to right. Instead of holding the frame steady to see if the lights reappear, he just keeps panning right for no particular reason — almost like he knows exactly what's going to happen. [NASA Debunks UFO Near Venus]
Another red flag is that the anonymous photographer is a "repeater" — someone who has made multiple UFO reports. In fact, his YouTube channel has several other similar videos featuring a series of approximately equidistant lights in the sky that appear and flicker out in more or less the same sequence as the newest video. The credibility of witnesses is suspect when they claim to see Bigfoot or UFOs over and over again, while most people never see them at all.
This brings us to another curiosity: Why is Nerdumbapparently the only person seeing and videotaping these mysterious lights in the sky? For such a high-profile event in such a populated area, it's suspicious that there seem to be no reports or videos taken by anyone else of these UFOs. How does Nerdumbknow where in the sky to look, and when to see the extraterrestrial craft? He claims it's not luck — the aliens communicate with him in his dreams, telling him where to go. If his videos are real, Nerdumb would gain a lot of credibility by publicizing his alien meet-up information so that the public and other UFO researchers could be at the right place and time to see and record it for themselves.
Derek Serra, a Hollywood visual effects artist who analyzed previous UFO videos (including the infamous "Jerusalem UFO" hoax last year), told Life's Little Mysteries that the video was probably faked. "The video looks similar to a photograph, with the lights and helicopter added later as separate elements," Serra said. "The camera controls and hand-held feel would be added later to make it appear as recorded video. The software to do this is readily available, and it doesn't take an expert. The video has many qualities typical of amateur visual effects artists... it lacks finesse. That finesse may not be obvious to the average viewer, but sticks out like a sore thumb to experienced artists."
Short of a confession from Nerdumb, it's impossible to know for certain whether this video is a hoax, but red flags abound. Maybe it's an ingenious double-deception, and aliens really are here but cleverly disguising their spacecraft to look exactly like faked video images.
Benjamin Radford is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and author of Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries. His Web site is www.BenjaminRadford.com.