Dr. Rudin describing the video analysis using the daylight image and the videos. The lights stay above the ridgeline of the distant mountain. (Ross)

The Arizona UFO videos

By Tim Printy 1998

Last updated October 2008

Much has been made about the videos shown on Television concerning the Phoenix lights. The problem is that many of them show only the lights observed in the Estrella Mountain area around 10PM. None of them shown are of the V-shaped formation of lights. However, there is at least one and Tom King has posted a pictures from it on his website. He notes the number of lights to be 5 total and that the video shows one of them changing in formation. To him, this is the object reshaping itself. To me, it is another bit of evidence that the V-shaped formation was a grouping of objects and not one fixed solid craft. As for the videos of what I originally called, "The lights in the hills" they showed stationary lights and the objects did not appear to be doing anything "unworldly". As described above, they were later determined to be flares dropped by the Maryland Air National Guard.

The UFO community turned to Village Labs and a gentleman named by Jim Dilleteso to determine if these videos showed flares or "real UFO's". He has had experience before in endorsing "alien spaceships" on film. Several have turned out to be proven fakes but Dilettoso stated they were authentic. Dilleteso, in a recent Discovery Channel documentary on the lights, assured the audience that he analyzed the videos to ensure they could not be flares behind the mountain ranges. His "high-tech" computer system was shown analyzing the videos extensively and appeared to determine that the lights were, according to Tony Oretga of the Phoenix New Times, "like no source of manmade light." Dilettoso made similar claims on other television programs. On Hard Copy, he stated , "These could be the most important events in 50 years." (Ortega)

Dilettoso usually appears in front of his computers when talking about UFOs  (Ross)

One has to wonder about Dilettoso's methods though. Are his efforts scientific? Reporter Tony Oretega of the Phoenix New Times reports they are not. In the March 5-11 edition of his newspaper, Tony writes,

The fallacy in Dilettoso's analysis is easily demonstrated. When he's asked to compare the graph of one known flare to another one in the same frame, he gladly does so. But he admits that the two flares will produce different graphs.

In fact, Dilettoso admits, when he looks at different slices of the same flare image, he never gets the same graph twice. And when he produces some of those graphs on demand, many of them look identical to the graphs of the 10 p.m. lights.

When he's asked to produce an average graph for a flare, or anything that he could show as a model that he uses to distinguish flares from other sources, he can't, saying that he knows a flare's graph when he sees it.

It's an evasive answer which hints at the truth: Dilettoso is only measuring the way distant lights happen to excite the electronic chip in camcorders (which is affected by atmospheric conditions, camera movement and other factors), and not any real properties of the sources of lights themselves.

Met with skepticism, Dilettoso reacts by claiming that his methods have been lauded by experts.

"Dr. Richard Powell at the University of Arizona believes that my techniques are not merely valid but advanced to the degree where there was nothing more that they could add," he says.

Powell, the UofA's director of optical sciences, confirms that he spoke with Dilettoso. "He called here and I talked to him, and I could not, for the life of me, understand him," Powell says.

"I don't know how you take a photograph or a videotape after the fact and analyze it and get that information out. We didn't say that his method was valid, we said we didn't have any other way that was any better," Powell says.

Hearing that Powell denies calling his techniques "advanced," Dilettoso claims that Media Cybernetics, the company which sells Image Pro Plus, told him that the software package would do the kind of spectral analysis he does.

Jeff Knipe of Media Cybernetics disagrees. "All he's simply doing is drawing a line profile through that point of light and looking at the histogram of the red, green and blue. And that's really the extent of Image Pro. . . . Spectroscopy is a different field."

New Times took audio and videotapes of Dilettoso describing his image processing to Dr. Paul Scowen, the visiting professor of astronomy at ASU. Scowen left Great Britain in 1987 and received his Ph.D. in Astronomy at Rice University in 1993; he now uses the Hubble Space Telescope to study star formation.

"All Dilettoso is doing is extracting a brightness profile. It makes no statement about frequency distribution. What he's getting his knickers in a twist about is he's heard the term 'spatial frequency' and he's confusing it," Scowen says. "He's getting his terms mixed up. He knows the words, but he doesn't understand the concepts behind them."

Scowen notes that when Dilettoso is asked about the limitations of camcorders and videotape, he repeatedly responds: "It's all I've got."

"He's not saying the rest -- that it's insufficient," Scowen says.

Curious graduate students peek over Scowen's shoulders, shaking their heads at the videotapes of the Phoenix Lights and Dilettoso's claims about them.

"Nobody asks astronomers to take a look at these images. And that's what we do for a living," says Ph.D. candidate Steve Mutz.

Professor Rogier Windhorst walks in and asks what his students are poring over. Someone tells him Dilettoso claims to be doing spectral analysis from videotape.

"Oh, you can't do that. It's bullshit," Windhorst barks.

"It's a consensus now," Mutz says with a laugh. (Ortega)

Tony Ortega adds the comment, "What they won't tell you is that Dilettoso employs the language of science to mask that, given the tools he uses, he is incapable of doing what he claims to be doing " (Ortega). Dr. Paul Scowen added,

I become quite offended when people pull this sort of nonsense...We in the science business make our living doing this stuff to the best ability we can, and applying all of the knowledge that humankind has assembled to this point in science to figure out what's going on. . . . Why should people care? Because it's been so high-profile and they've been told lies. That's why people should care. (Ortega)

Thus we find out that Village Labs is not being as scientific as they profess to be. Dilettoso and Mike Tanner are part of Village Labs, which is supposed to be performing all sorts of high profile work. However, Tony Ortega investigated and discovered the real truth behind their claims. Again, from the Phoenix New Times article,

But the Republic's (Arizona Republic) business section topped that story with a glowing July 1 account about Dilettoso and the cutting-edge things he does at Village Labs.

The paper reported that Dilettoso was on the verge of creating a massive supercomputer network which would give PC owners access to supercomputing power, and claimed that Village Labs and TRW had each invested $3 million in a computer called RenderRing1. One benefit would be the ability to send entire movies over phone lines at incredible speeds. His system would make Tempe the nexus of a special-effects processing center: Village Labs was already helping well-known firms with their special effects, Dilettoso claimed, and had a hand in the complex effects of the movie Titanic.

Dilettoso's sales pitch sounds familiar. Five years ago, New Times profiled him and his futuristic plans ("High Tech's Missing Link," April 21, 1993). Back then, those ambitions were largely the same: Village Labs would develop massive computer networks that would change the movie industry.

Dilettoso also told New Times he had an undergraduate degree from the University of Hartford and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from McGill University in Montreal. But records at the University of Hartford showed that he had taken a single math class there; McGill University said it had never heard of him.

Today, Dilettoso denies that he ever claimed to have college degrees. "I have 160 to 180 college credits scattered all over the place. I tell people that all the time," he says when the subject comes up.

There's another version of the Village Labs story that Dilettoso is not as quick to tell: that rather than operating from income generated by his computer wizardry, Dilettoso has for years been the beneficiary of eccentric millionaire Geordie Hormel, the heir to the Spam fortune, who pays Village Labs' bills.

Until last year, that is. Hormel pulled the plug on Village Labs in July 1997, and court records show that after Hormel stopped paying rent, the building's owner, the Marchant Corporation of California, sued to kick Dilettoso out.

Marchant's attorneys argued successfully that Hormel, not Dilettoso, was the lessee, and a Superior Court judge found in favor of Marchant, ordering Dilettoso and Village Labs to vacate the premises. But Dilettoso convinced Hormel to bail him out one last time; Hormel shelled out $62,000 for a bond that would allow Dilettoso to file an appeal -- and he occupies the building in the meantime, the rent covered by the bond. Hormel says he now regrets paying for it.

Last week, Dilettoso's appeal ran out. He says that Village Labs will vacate the building in a matter of days.

Hormel's wife Jamie contends that Dilettoso and Village Labs have existed primarily through her husband's largess: "[Geordie] has paid everything. He's paid rent and salaries and lawsuits for when Jim didn't pay salaries."

Geordie Hormel confirms that since the company's founding in 1993, he has put about $2 million into Village Labs. But he's reluctant to criticize Dilettoso, afraid he won't get any of his investment back.

His wife is less shy, saying, "[Dilettoso]'s just a liar . . . I mean, there was an article in the Republic in the business section on him and it was such a lie. . . . He tells Geordie that we're going to get money from TRW in three more weeks, then strings him along for a few more weeks. It's happened for years."

Dilettoso defends the Republic article, saying that Village Labs had invested $3 million on the project with TRW. But he later admits that no actual money was put up by his firm; the $3 million figure was a total of Village Labs' rent and salaries since its inception, most of which was supplied by Hormel. He also admitted that Village Labs' "design" work was unpaid.

TRW spokeswoman Linda Javier says that in fact neither side put up cash in the project. "We didn't make any investments. We used a system that was built on our own with R&D funding." Asked about Dilettoso's claims, Javier responds, "He has a different way of looking at things."

Says Jamie Hormel: "Supposedly he was working on that Titanic movie. [But] I haven't seen him do one thing he was supposed to have done."

Dilettoso claims that in Village Labs' work on the special effects for Titanic, he collaborated with a Digital Domain engineer named "Wook."

"Wook said that Mr. Dilettoso's and Village Labs' contribution to the production of Titanic was nothing," says Digital Domain's Les Jones. Wook concurs.

When he's pressed about the claims made in the Republic story, Dilettoso says that it's true the various deals have not materialized. But he says he was the victim of an elaborate conspiracy by a TRW executive who wanted to learn Village Labs' techniques and then promote them as his own. (Ortega)

So, now we realize that Dilettoso is not only a liar but also a fraud. He is the linchpin of the UFO research involved in the 10PM event. If his abilities are so limited and he is often involved in fraudulent claims, then his analysis should bear no weight. Jim Dilettoso is nothing but a charlatan.

In the Discovery channels show on the Phoenix event, they went to an independent video lab (Cognitech), which superimposed the nighttime videos with daytime footage from the same location. Sure enough, the flares/lights extinguished one by one as they disappeared behind the mountain peaks. Village labs spent a lot of time making measurements of spectrum of these lights (which was determined to be impossible with the information from the video tapes) and did not bother to prove their claim that the lights were in front of the mountains. This indicates that Village Labs may have even known that this was the case but did not want to reveal this "unpleasant data" to the public. Following the Discovery Channel's revealing analysis, the local television station revealed another video of the lights superimposed on the mountains. This showed the lights in front of the mountains. A television producer who was pro-ETH did this video analysis. The shows title, "The FOX-10 files", indicates it is designed to perpetuate the story and not solve it. Tony Ortega writes about this in the March 5-11, 1998 edition of the Phoenix New Times:

In a "10-Files" episode, KSAZ Channel 10, however, questioned the Cognitech analysis. Krzyston insists to Channel 10 that the objects were hovering below the Estrella ridgeline and couldn't have fallen behind the mountains. Channel 10 suggested cryptically that Cognitech purposely faked its test -- "Has the footage been altered? And by whom and why? The mystery continues" -- and showed its own test, which a Channel 10 production man claimed took "not long at all," proving that the 10 p.m. lights in Krzyston's video were well below the Estrella ridgeline.

New Times asked Scowen to perform the test himself, using two frames grabbed from Krzyston's original video and a 35 mm daytime photo taken from Krzyston's yard by UFO researcher Dick Motzer. After a half-hour of careful scaling, positioning, and rotation with imaging software, Scowen found a good match for the ridge visible in both shots. His results: The flares are just above the Estrella ridgeline or right at it, just as Rudin at Cognitech had found.

Afterward, Scowen was shown the "10-Files" episode and its claim that Channel 10 matched the frames quickly. He wonders how they could have checked several parameters in only a short time. "You have to make sure that the zoom is set the same way. If it's a standard camcorder, there's no numeric readout of the zoom. . . . Did the guy at Channel 10 match the scale? My guess is that he just laid the two pictures on top of each other."

Rod Haberer, producer of the "10-Files" piece, says that he's "comfortable with what we put on the air." But when he's asked what software the station used to match and scale the daytime and nighttime shots, he admits that they didn't use a computer at all. Channel 10 simply laid one image from Krzyston's video atop another in a digital editing machine.

Scowen says it doesn't surprise him. "We're used to dealing with this with the lay public. People do the minimum until they get the answer they want. In science you have to go back and check and recheck to make sure you're correct. I think Cognitech did a great job," Scowen says.

Rudin says his firm took its job seriously when the Discovery Channel asked it to match the images. "I testify in a court of law routinely; I'm a diplomate of several forensic societies," Rudin says. "Basically, you're talking to the guys who do this for a living."

Told that an astrophysics professor found the Cognitech experiment more convincing, Haberer suggested that his station had merely presented a different point of view, as if the question of a flare falling either behind or in front of a mountain had more than one answer. (Ortega)

So it is obvious that the "10-files" piece was more for ratings than true scientific research. Looking at the video images from Tom King's site, I tried to do some amateur scaling of the images using a program called PHOTOIMPACT. By stitching the images on Tom's site from channel 10 and the Mike Krsyzton video image, I was able to get a pretty good match with the foreground hill. Sure enough, when I scaled the foreground hill in the images, I managed to have the lights above the mountains! I repeated this with images obtained from the show "UFO: The best evidence caught on Videotape". In that show, they appeared to start to show the lights compared to a daytime shot. However, they cut away at the last minute. Using those images and scaling, I found the lights to be, once again, above the mountain peaks. The "10-files" analysis gave the UFO researchers hope for their beloved UFO videos. However, Scowen's duplication of the research by Cognitech put the final nail in the 10PM event's coffin.

One can even say that Bill Hamilton is also to fault in his analysis of the 10PM sightings. Elementary azimuth readings from the locations of the videos would have produced a good idea where the lights were located. When asked about triangulation results in November of 1997, Tom King responded that they were still working on it.

The triangulation maps haven't completly been released on the Internet yet.

It is one of the few cards to check against the military. We know where these objects are at exact times, locations, and descriptions. The hundred of witnesses were interviewed by Bill and Village Labs. A wealth of data exists but is used to cross check new witnesses. We waited along time to get a few pieces of information about that night from our military. If the triangulation maps were released, then the Maryland National Guard might have taken that data and worked it in their counter-story. (King)

It is hard to believe that they would still be analyzing this simple data almost eight months after the event! Either they just did not think about doing this or they do not like the results they obtained from the data. As I have pointed out earlier, the rough triangulation I performed indicates the lights were toward the east end of the range. Dr. Maccabee's analysis of the videos reached the same conclusion. As of the most recent update on this site, Tom King has yet to post the maps he stated that they were working on in the November 6 posting. However, Bill Hamilton made some excuses for this in his response to Maccabee and stated that the videos were not of the same event and Maccabee was mistaken! This is purely illogical and as I stated in the section on the flares, Hamilton is grossly misinformed and is putting up a poor smoke screen, which fails the skeptical review of even Dr. Maccabee. Another interesting point is that Hamilton gives us a daylight photo of the viewing area from the "Blonder" home. In the King Video, one can see a light beneath the row of four lights. This light is illuminating something like a room. To the lower left, as King zooms back, we are also treated to a doorway being illuminated. When looking at the house, I see a window and there is the entrance to the lower left. Apparently, King has caught someone's room light and the doorway light. Confirming this is some background talk where female witnesses are stating the lights are now appearing over the chimney of a house. The lights appear above the apparent room light. Above this room, in the daylight photo, is a chimney. Even more interesting is that the chimney obscures the mountains! Since the witnesses are stating the lights are above the chimney in the video, they have to be above the mountains and not in front of them. I took the daylight photo and scaled the lights in the King wide-angle shots. I then overlapped the two images. The door and window matched well with the daylight photo and the flares were clearly above the chimney and ridge.

To say the least, the investigation with the videos is bush league stuff and can not be considered serious scientific investigation. There is no doubt that flares produced this event. Tom King/Bill Hamilton and others are ignoring the conclusive triangulation evidence that the 10 PM event was produced by flares over the Barry Goldwater range. Tom King's assurance that they were working on triangulation maps indicates he was lying about this or soon discovered that they proved the lights were flares. The lack of research by these individuals using any form of scientific method indicates a desire to perpetuate a myth instead of resolving a mystery. Tom King did have a lot of information on his website but his website has been changed. Tom had most of the information at his fingertips and could have come up with the correct solution to the mystery. However, in the quest to keep the UFO story alive, he chose to ignore it, demonstrating a serious flaw in his work. If he can not be trusted to do simple analysis of this nature, what does it say about other "work" he publishes?

On the fourth anniversary of the event, Tom King released a new and improved opinion of the videos. Actually, it was not very new and not very improved. He finally agreed with the consensus that the videos were of flares! I only can hope that he learned from his mistakes in the analysis of these videos. To the present date (September 2001), Bill Hamilton still believes that these videos were of orbs and not flares.

The 8:30 sighting has at least one video but it only shows a brief period of time and is of poor quality. One thing is important to note that this only shows lights and no distinct craft. However, there is a rumor that there is a video out which shows a distinct craft. This was reported on FOX-10 '10 files'. According to them, there is a gentleman named Richard Curtis who took a video of the triangle. Poor Richard lost his video when it "mysteriously disappeared". Isn’t it ironic that it was lost? Of course, the popular theory is that the government conspiracy took it. I doubt this and a more likely explanation is that there never was such a tape. If he really had a tape of such an object, it would have made big bucks for him and he would have had it on the air that night. The fact is, there is no tape available. Any tape that is produced must be looked at very skeptically since such a tape can be very well have been tampered with. This would be the reason for its late release and not because it was misplaced. Such a tape would have to be VERY CLOSELY scrutinized for fraud.

Another claim made by the ETH crowd is that the US military was involved in a cover-up and a wild chase after the objects seen that night.

Works Cited

King, Tom. "Re: Discovery Channel Feedback". 6 November, 1997. Online Posting UFO Updates. http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/1997/nov/m06-005.shtml

Ortega, Tony. "The Hack and the Quack." Phoenix Newstimes. 5 March 1998.

Ross, Richard (Director). (1997) UFOs over Phoenix (Film) Discovery channel

 

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