Just The Facts


For this series I traveled up and down the east coast then came back home for a 5th location shoot.  I met a lot of interesting people who either do the same thing I do or work at these locations that have been visited by some of the big names in the "TV Ghost Hunting" world.  They had a lot of very interesting things to say.  I have also taken the time to research and verify these  fun little facts not everyone may know about the world of TV ghost hunting shows.
 Facts About My Videos
Just a Fact:  Some folks have made interesting observations and some have asked very specific questions about my approach.  So here are some answers and facts.

Aren't you scared?  You don't seem  to react sometimes to things that happen in your videos.  I was watching a show on TV around Halloween that looked at how people respond to fearful situations. They separated two groups of people in this kinda creepy looking old building.  One group of folks were "primed" into believing that this location was the site of very unpleasant happenings and that it was very haunted.  The other group of people were given a more ambiguous story.  Most of the people in the 1st group felt very uneasy, in fact there were two young women who were extremely upset, they were crying and just on the verge of becoming unhinged in a big way. The second group was a little more collected and just kinda curious.  I just don't believe the hype and to be totally honest, these places for the most part, for me anyway, aren't really scary.  If you let your imagination run wild and think that those things that happen in the horror movies are gonna happen, then you'll react like those two young women in the show.  That's all that is. The folks you see in those ghost hunting shows are encouraged to react because, after all, it is entertainment.  

What is enhanced audio?  How much can you change a sound to make it sound more like words?  Enhanced audio very simply means that I have used a "sound scrubbing" app to remove as much background noise as possible without affecting the anomaly. Sometimes I might also remove a little bass and or amplify the anomaly but I have no means or skills to manipulate the apparent recorded voices in any other way. Either it's there or it isn't.  More importantly, whatever the processes is by which they occur, no two audio anomalies are created alike. 
 In the "paranormal investigation" world they are called EVPs - Electronic Voice Phenomena and they are graded based on clarity.  A Class A EVP is loud, clear, and very high quality, the voice is easy to understand and does not need any further enhancement or amplification.  Class B EVPs are a little lower quality and often need some enhancement and amplification be heard more clearly.  Often there may be disagreement over what it is saying.  Class C EVPs are the worst.  Often there is doubt that it is even an actual voice or word. No amount of enhancement can improve the quality.  And while I do not and never will use the term EVP, the audio anomalies I present in my videos do follow the same classification criteria.  I do not edit, alter, change, mix,  or manipulate these audio anomalies in any way.  What you hear is what was recorded.  Note:  Sometimes audio anomalies are recorded while I am moving around, and making a lot of noise, if there is a very loud sound or noise between an anomaly, I will edit out that loud sound or noise.  I don't want to blow out anyones eardrums.

Who's the other guy who's filming you?  There is "no other guy".  I am the only one at these locations during filming.  I set up my second camera (B Cam) prior to entering a new room or structure.  Les Armistead and I go way back to our days of making super 8 movies and is my trusted mentor and old friend.  He is a video production professional who works for Disney and is really, really good at editing. You'll see his name in the credits someday for some wildly popular show or box office block buster movie.  He's that good.  He coached me though the first year or so of this process through my first 3 movies until I felt I had graduated into the process.  He was not able to join me on any of the locations due to prior commitments on another project.

                          Facts About The Shows On TV

The Lie: One show claims it's investigators are "locked down" where no one can get in or out.  They always show a scene where someone locks the doors, drills screws into the door jamb or some other lame variation.

The Truth:  Some of these places have wide open entries with non existent doors in which anyone can enter or exit at any time. 
Case in point:  I was at a location that was supposed to be secured and locked down and was surprised to find 3 kids had broken into the place rather easily. 

The Truth # 2:  All of these places must have (for legal reasons) a representative on the premises at all times during an investigation.

The Truth # 3:  Some of these places don't have bathrooms, or the bathrooms are in another building altogether.  At one location I had to use the bathroom at a gas station across the street.  

The Lie:  It's always really quiet at all of these locations.

The Truth:  Many of these places are off very busy streets where environmental sound is prevalent and often very loud! That sound is removed by the use of very sophisticated sound filter apps during post production.  One location I visited was right in the path of incoming flights at a very busy east coast international airport and you hear the sound of a jet approaching once! (I'm actually kinda proud about this little accomplishment, I'll write about this very challenging location in more detail later.)

The insinuation:  The final cut you see on TV is how the "investigation" naturally progressed and played out in real time.

The Truth:  A lot of what you see is staged.  Some of these shows may give you the impression that the "investigators" are free to go to any part of one location and just have a camera crew follow them around. Everything is planned out, sometimes even camera movement, placement and "investigator" movement is directed by a producer.

Fun Fact: Even I do this to a certain degree but for a different reason. 
I do set up my B camera ahead of time then "walk into frame" but that's the only pretending going on with me.  The B camera is there to pick up something that might happen behind me or some place I'm not looking. Having another camera angle makes the event more dynamic and interesting to watch.

My Truth:  I just go with my gut.  I will quickly "run through" an area flashlights blazing to see which way I'm going to go with the camera and to make sure I'm not going to trip on something or fall down a hatch or stairwell (which almost happened at two locations).  Every place is different though with different rules and areas that are off-limits.  Some places will give you a tour before you begin and that's where I would get a "feel" for the place and whatever areas felt creepier were the places I would hit harder and longer.  I will also intentionally put myself in very compromising positions with no easy escape.  I feel leaving myself vulnerable like that is more apt to get someone's attention should they want an easy shot at me.


Sy-Fy's "Ghost Hunters" 
has the biggest production crew.  It's so big they have a problem knowing where they all are at any given time during production. During one live presentation the investigators pointed out the sound of ghostly footsteps!, a few seconds later a production crew member walked right into frame live on TV!  And sure at the beginning this sort of thing was brought up and addressed but it makes you wonder if some of the ghostly sounds are just crew members.

This is why I like going in alone.  And every place is different.  One location was a working open bar, so someone had to be in that part of the location to keep an eye on me.  All the other locations simply had a location manager that either stayed in the office or was a caretaker and slept all night in their own private room or apartment on site.

Here's one big difference between what I do and what you see on Television.  Most TV shows you see these days have a quick turn-around.  On 1/2 hour shows it can be as little as four days.  On an hour long show it's usually about 8 days.  That means you have to have a show shot & cut and ready to broadcast in 8 days.  The only way to do that is to have a huge production staff that can efficiently move the process along.

I shoot anywhere from about 10 - 18 hours of video per location and will have about 6 - 10 hours of separate audio files to analyze.  That's A LOT! You simply can't do a comprehensive and thorough analysis of that much material in less than 8 days, it's not impossible but you would need an additional bunch of people who are very, very patient and dedicated and well trained to know what to look for, how to interpret it and process it. It takes me weeks to analyze.  It's painstaking, you have to be really disciplined.  It's work.  It can be fun, but it's work!

I can safely say when the post production crew is putting together a cable "Ghost Hunting" show they do not have the time to analyze production footage or audio.  They have a job to do and that is to get the show broadcast ready in a very short amount of time.

On average from start to finish it takes me about 
12 - 16 weeks working 3 - 4 hours a night 5 - 6 nights a week to have a video internet ready. And I always wish I had spent more time on them, they're never good enough.   But that only means they will get better and better!  I hope.