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Haiti & Dominican UFO Videos Hoaxed

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2007 12:02:38 -0400
Archived: Wed, 22 Aug 2007 12:02:38 -0400
Subject: Haiti & Dominican UFO Videos Hoaxed 

Source: The Los Angeles Times - California, USA


August 22, 2007

It Came From Outer Space

Images of UFOs, purportedly videotaped in Haiti and the
Dominican Republic, have Internet viewers watching and debating.

By David Sarno

Second in a series of occasional Web Scout mysteries, in which
we investigate some of the questions haunting the Web
entertainment world. In this installment, we get to the bottom
of the UFO videos currently raging on YouTube.


THOUGH the island in the Caribbean shared by Haiti and the
Dominican Republic was spared a direct hit from Hurricane Dean
this week, it may be that other, stranger entities made landfall

Evidence "UFO Haiti" and "UFO Dominican Republic" -- two
authentic-looking home videos recently posted on the "News and
Politics" section of YouTube. The films, which were uploaded
from two different anonymous accounts, both appear to record
close-up sightings of Area 51-type craft hovering above the
island's beaches at sunset. As the ships pass eerily over, wind
whips through the palm trees, dogs bark and a woman gasps in
disbelief. All very real seeming. The jerky, amateur camera work
could easily be that of a panicked Caribbean tourist.

The videos hummed to the top of YouTube's "Most Viewed" list,
and from there invaded discussion forums and news aggregator
sites across the Web, where debate raged about their origin and
authenticity. Skeptics pronounced the videos a computer-
generated fraud, probably part of some viral marketing ploy.
Microsoft's Halo 3 was coming out soon, wasn't it? Or maybe it
was for Nicole Kidman's movie "Invasion" -- or even the
secretive new J.J. Abrams project about some kind of monster
attack on New York.

Still, with all the cries of fraud and corporate opportunism,
even the most steadfast doubters couldn't find anything in the
footage that was obviously bogus. No matter where you stood, you
had to agree that the quality of the movies was surpassing. More
than a few observers in either camp called them "the best UFO
videos ever."

"Frankly I'm worried about this," wrote one observer on the
conspiracy site AboveTopSecret.com. "If people feel it necessary
to flood the Internet or the UFO community with increasingly
more 'realistic' hoaxes, what will happen in the event of a true

They're fake, right? Right?!

With so many people scrutinizing every frame in the videos, it
was not long before the first imperfections were spotted in the
story's hull. For one thing, no one could find any reports of
flying objects in the Haitian or Dominican press -- or anywhere
else. Surely an extraterrestrial visitation would've at least
merited a brief. Or, failing that, a blog entry?

And yes, after a few viewings, "UFO Haiti" began to feel a
little too real. In spite of the camerawoman's shaky hand and
trouble keeping focus, she still manages a cinematically perfect
tracking shot of the ship as it flies directly over her head.
Moreover, her gasp is rather glaringly mistimed. It comes after
she's already aimed the camera at the UFOs -- seconds after
she's first seen them.

But it was the trees that aroused the most suspicion.

Freeze-frame the Haiti and Dominican Republic videos side-to-
side, critics found, and you will see a palm tree in both videos
that appears to be almost the exact same shape.



Two palm trees on the same tropical island? And they look really
similar? Have you ever seen two palm trees that don't look
really similar? That was the best the Internet crowd could do?

Someone needed to look deeper. And perhaps that someone was
named Web Scout.

False starts, red herrings

The key would be to find the source of the videos. But there was
a complication. For one thing, the videos had been posted and
re-posted across the Net, and it was not trivial to identify
which ones were the originals.

By the time I got in the game, there were several videos
entitled "UFO Haiti" that actually predated the version that was
on the "Most-Viewed" list. The best idea, then, was to contact
the posters of several of the earliest "UFO Haiti" videos,
including barzolff814, whose 2.2 million-view video was listed
as the fourth to be posted under that name.

Within an hour, I got a message back from a 17-year-old Irish
girl named Heather. It read as follows:

"umm yeah. whatever. you people are stupid. find something
better to do with your time. and get a life."

A closer look at Heather's "UFO Haiti" revealed that it was 10
seconds of a still photo of her kissing her boyfriend, followed
by a video short clip of a scared-looking squirrel, with the
word "Pervert!!" flashing repeatedly in white.

Heather was a hoaxster, all right. Just not the one I was
looking for.

As I waited for other "Haiti" posters to respond, I decided to
make another study of the clues. In the discussion of the
controversial palm trees, the name Vue 6 kept coming up. Vue 6
was a program by E-on Software that animators use to generate
sophisticated-looking natural environments. A promotional clip
on E-on's website included several scenes of tropical islands --
 covered in hundreds of identical windblown palm trees.
Furthermore, one of the promos even showed a cartoonish flying
saucer skimming over a field!

I immediately tried to reach E-on President Nicholas Phelps at
his office in Paris. (Another video -- "UFO OVER PARIS" -- had
been posted in April. It was nowhere near as convincing as "UFO
Haiti," but still -- vaguely reminiscent.)

Phelps' receptionist said he was not available. Soon afterward,
I received a message from Phelps asking if we could conduct the
interview by e-mail. Despite my repeated attempts to get him on
the phone, he was recalcitrant.

On the matter of the video, Phelps admitted that it appeared
"very much like the movie was created with Vue 6" but denied E-
on had anything to do with creating it. "Although I admit it
would have been smart marketing, lol!"

With my main lead blown, I could find nothing to lol about.

Somebody up there...

It has been said that the harder you work, the luckier you get.
But this is not always true. Sometimes you get lucky even if you
barely work hard at all.

The next morning, with all the good leads exhausted and most
hope lost, the telephone rang.

(Actually, the computer rang. The Scout uses Skype.)

It was a woman named Sam. From Corsica. "Hello," she said. "I am
calling on behalf of barzolff814."

Barzolff814? Why, he was the person who had posted the No. 1
Haiti video!

Barzolff, Sam said, wished to remain anonymous, but he was
prepared to share the full story of the videos. I agreed not to
reveal his real name. Then I was all ears as Sam began parroting
into the phone the words I could hear Barzolff saying in the

The 35-year-old Barzolff is a professional animator who attended
one of the most prestigious art schools in France and has a
decade of experience with computer graphics and commercial

It took Barzolff a total of 17 hours to make both the Haiti and
Dominican Republic videos. He did it all by himself using a
MacBook Pro and a suite of commercially available 3-D animation
programs, including Vue 6. The videos are 100% computer-

The videos, he said, were intended as research for a feature
film project he's been working on with Partizan, the France-
based production company responsible for, among others, Michel
Gondry's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

When contacted to verify the story, "Eternal Sunshine" producer
Georges Bermann said it was all true, and that Barzolff was "an
absolute genius" who could "make anything look entirely real."

To prove that he was truly behind the videos, Barzolff agreed to
provide the L.A. Times with a new spacecraft video. Called
"Proof," the video depicts a small version of one of the
spacecraft floating above a Paris street. As the camera pans
over, the viewer sees two elderly women at a cafe. One of whom
is holding a remote control device. Humorously, of course, this
video makes use of computer graphics as well.

The movie Barzolff is working on for the big screen is about two
guys who create a UFO hoax so realistic that it spirals out of
their control. "For better or worse," said Barzolff, who cited
being "overwhelmed" by the response to his video as one of the
reasons he didn't want to go public with his name.

Barzolff stressed the videos were not intended as a viral
marketing ploy. His movie is still in the idea phase, and he
created the hoax strictly as a "sociological experiment" -- in
other words, just to see what would happen.

What happened far exceeded his expectations.

After he finished producing the videos, he posted them and went
to bed. "I thought they would reach perhaps 2,000 people," he
said through Sam.

"When I woke up the next morning there were 70,000 views," on
the Haiti video. "Twenty minutes later it was up to 130,000
views. It grew exponentially from there."

Barzolff called the results of his experiment "entertaining,
thrilling, completely addictive, and a little scary."

The scary part, he said, was that in spite of the evidence,
"many people refuse to believe it's a hoax."


[Thanks to Greg Boone for the lead]

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