Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Theory of Live 9/11 Airplane Composites


I present a demonstration of the technique used to create the two live 9/11 video composites, first Chopper 7, then Chopper 5.

Higher quality versions of the compositing demonstrations may be downloaded here:

Chopper 5
Chopper 7

No airplane crashed into either Twin Tower. The various videos which depict a plane entering a building, such as Naudet, CNN Ghostplane, Evan Fairbanks, Luc Courchesne, and Spiegel TV, show just that – a plane entering a wall. They are devoid of the crash physics we would expect from an aluminum aircraft interacting with a steel and concrete structure. The plane does not twist, bend, break, explode or slow down. A certain frame of the CNN video shows no damage to the wall, after the wing of the airplane has passed through.

The composi-traitors would never attempt a live composite showing the plane entering the tower. The timing, positioning and lighting are too critical. It is currently impossible to accomplish that effect in real-time with the precision needed to avoid detection. If the explosion went off even one frame before the plane hit, that would be very difficult to explain away.

However, the live shots do not show a plane entering the tower. In fact, the live shots were cleverly composed in such a way as to make them doable. Only 2 shots showed airplane images live – Chopper 5 and Chopper 7.


My present objective is to offer a theory of how the live 9/11 airplane videos were accomplished, and how one of them went wrong.

Concept and Methods

The live 9/11 composites were created using a real-time digital effects environment, such as Avid. To demonstrate, I will recreate the technique of the 9/11 composites using Adobe After Effects, because it is software that I own. After Effects is a layer-based compositor that does not operate in real time. However, the principles of compositing are exactly the same, regardless of software. I maintain that any parameters in After Effects which can be set one time, and then operate correctly without need for frame-by-frame adjustment, are parameters which will operate correctly in real-time, given a real-time environment such as Avid.

Here are listed features for Avid Symphony, which include:

# Real-time Chroma and Luma keys
# Real-time full-motion alpha keying

These are precisely the features which made the 9/11 real-time composites possible.

Shot Composition

Creating a convincing live composite of the 9/11 airplane event requires several important attributes that simplify the job enough to be doable.

1. Very brief appearance and disappearance of plane.
2. High contrast between sky and tower
3. Plane path is across sky only.
4. Plane will disappear across straight vertical edge.
5. All surfaces requiring airplane shadows are hidden. 
6. Actual impact point is hidden.
7. Exploding walls are hidden.
8. Camera is as stable as possible.
9. No panning, tilting, zooming or focusing while airplane is on screen

Violating any one of these 9 requirements makes realistic live compositing impossible. How likely is it that all 9 happened by chance, on both shots? 

Compositionally, Chopper 5 and Chopper 7 are nearly identical. Both shots are from a mechanically stabilized helicopter platform. In both shots the helicopter is drifting slowly and steadily to the left. In both shots there is no zooming, tilting, panning or focusing while the camera is on screen. Both show a plane entering from the right side of the screen. Both have a straight, vertical , high contrast tower edge and clear sky to the right. In both shots, the plane crosses in less than 1.5 seconds, and disappears behind the edge. In both shots the (exploding) south and east faces of WTC2 are hidden.

Both shots satisfy all of the requirements for a doable live composite. The only compositional difference is that in Chopper 7  and the plane appears to approach from an angle, in Chopper 5 the plane crosses perpendicular to the camera view.

Test Shots

Test shots of the towers are made ahead of time and studied for luminance keying suitability. They are made at about 9 a.m. on a clear day, the easiest (only) type of atmospheric conditions to reliably duplicate. It is shown that it is quite easy and effective to pull a key from this footage.

The positions of the helicopters are known via GPS. The goal is to compose the shots in a way that can be duplicated within a margin of error. With Chopper 5, the idea is that the left edge of WTC2 goes smack in the center. In Chopper 7, WTC2 is completely obscured by WTC1, which is positioned dead center.

The Airplane Layer

With the tower test shots in hand, the airplane layers are made. Each airplane must match the corresponding tower shot in color, and must appear to travel 550 mph.

The two airplanes could originate as real video, or be drawn on computer (CGI). There are advantages and disadvantages to each method.

Real video has the advantage of looking like video. Noise patterns will be authentic. Properly composed, the lighting will automatically be correct. A real plane is shot 59.94 progressive, simultaneously from two (or more) cameras. It is done at a secure airbase location, with camera positions corresponding to the positions of the test shots. Since it is extremely unlikely that a real Boeing 767 can fly 550 mph at low altitude, it flies 275 mph, and every second frame is removed, doubling the velocity on video. 

CGI has the advantage of being able to create a single flight path in 3D space, then render a video of that flight from any virtual camera position. CGI would automatically create a plane on a transparent layer, with no need to remove any background.

Either way, color, lighting and motion blur are adjusted as needed to blend into the test shots. The airplane layer ends up as a 59.94 fps progressive video plane flying right-to-left on a transparency.

Since the airplane will be disappearing into a layer mask, there is a danger that the plane might run too long, travel too far, and escape out the back side of the mask. One safeguard against this is to have the plane slow down significantly after it has traveled far enough to enter the mask, and before it exits the mask. After doing test shots, it is possible to know the position of the tower within approximately 20 pixels.

Each frame of the airplane overlay is positioned. The plane flies across at full speed until it will surely be inside the mask, then it will slow down. It will slow down gradually, not all at once, in case any part of that deceleration is seen, it can be explained as the natural deceleration from impacting the tower.


It is necessary to remove the sky from the top layer. This is done by real time luminance keying (luma key).

Luma key makes transparent all pixels above an adjustable brightness threshold. A real edge on video is not perfectly sharp. The edges of the mask are made softer by adjustable degrees, with a parameter called “edge feathering”. The mask parameters are dialed in and tested during the minutes just before the actual event.


There is about a 1/2 second margin of error with respect to the explosions. As long as the explosion doesn’t begin before the plane crosses, and does begin no more than 1/2 second after the plane crosses, then each live video should look OK. This is good because we cannot know with frame-accurate precision when the explosion will become visible on the “impact” wall.

There is no margin of error with respect to synchronizing the two airplane shots to each other. They are synced using SMPTE time code. SMPTE clock stamps every frame of video with numbers for hour, minute, second and frame.

The explosion is set to go off at a known time on the wall clock - 9:03:11:00.  The airplane layer videos have embedded time code beginning 20 frames before impact, 9:03:10:10. On that video frame, the airplane is just outside the picture, to the right.

Master time code is transmitted via satellite from the studio to both helicopters. Airplane layer is set to “receive external sync”. At 9:03:10:10, the airplane layer plays automatically.

Stabilization and Motion Tracking

The motion of the airplane must appear steady. Unstable camera motion would necessitate  motion tracking of the towers. Real time motion tracking is unreliable in this situation, especially on Chopper 5, because the towers are in silhouette. There is not enough detail to reliably track them.

Without motion tracking, both live camera shots must be as stable as possible. A gyroscopically stabilized camera mount, such as Wescam is used. Helicopters cannot hold still. The best option is to fly very slowly, in the same direction as the airplane image, maintaining as constant and steady a speed as possible. Stability will not be perfect, but will be good enough. Deviations from perfect flight path will be small enough, and video quality will be poor enough, that the resulting unstable motion can be blamed on resolution and measurement error. True broadcast-quality copies of the final result must be kept top secret.  

On-Board Compositing

For several reasons, the shots must be composited with an AVID system on-board the helicopters, as opposed to at the studio. Communications satellites are set up to relay standard NTSC video signals. The composite is created in a different format, then converted to NTSC. A raw camera shot could be intercepted and recorded by the wrong people. Even if they could guarantee a secure transmission, they would want to minimize the number of eyes that ever saw the raw shot.

American television conforms to the NTSC standard, which is interlaced video at 29.97 fps. Compositing is done using progressive images, not interlaced. The video is shot at 59.94 fps progressive, and the composite is done in this format. Each frame of the composited output is converted into one interlaced video field, thus becoming 29.97 fps NTSC. This NTSC signal is transmited back to the studio as an ordinary news helicopter feed.

On board requirements:

Avid system
59.94 fps progressive camera, Wescam mount
Small broadcast switcher
Receiving master SMPTE clock from the studio

A total of three video layers are required for the effect:

1. The raw twin tower camera shot.
2. The airplane flying across a transparency.
3. The twin tower shot, with sky masked out in real time.

At the correct time, the airplane flies across the screen, right to left, and disappears behind the tower. The engineer stops the plane layer. If it is stopped too soon, the plane freezes or disappears in mid air. If it is stopped too late, the nose of the airplane will poke out the back side of the mask.

In case of emergency, the last resort is to pull down the master fader, and transmit a black picture until the situation is rectified.

Report Card

Chopper 5 

Grade: F

The crew on Chopper 5 blew it. They zoomed in too late, after the network was already broadcasting their shot. There is, of course, no plane in the wide shot, as it is quite impossible to realistically composite an airplane into a zooming shot.

The motion of the helicopter (and therefore the airplane) is stable enough to the eye. But careful measurements show that the airplane motion is slightly more stable on the unstabilized version of the footage.

The nose of the airplane pops out of the back of the layer mask.

The engineer faded to black (too late), stopped the plane layer, then faded back up again.

Chopper 7

Grade: A

The crew on Chopper 7 did a nice job.

Detonation Flashes as Sync Pops

The "airplane" strike on each twin tower featured a quick bright flash, right at the nose, just as it appeared to enter the wall. What were these flashes?

In trying to answer this, as usual, I wonder how I would create these video composites, and what problems I would have. After thinking it through, I know what the flashes were: Sync pops. They were a vital element in video fakery. Without the flashes, getting the 9/11 airplane composites right would have been far more difficult, and taken a lot more time.

Everyone has seen the countdown which precedes a motion picture. It ends when the counter reaches the number 2. On that exact frame, there is a bright flash, and often a beep tone. Known as a "two pop" or a "sync pop", the reason for having this flash is synchronization.

The video and audio elements of a show are created separately, and assembled together later. If a special effects artist created, say, a video composite sequence, he could deliver it back to the editor with a sync pop on the correct frame. The editor could then visually align that pop with the pop on his master, and he would quickly and confidently know that the effects shot was at the correct place on the timeline.

If I was in charge of the 9/11 video composites, I would not want to attempt to actually show an airplane hitting a tower in real time. I would insist that all live videos avoid showing that. This is, of course, the decision that was made for 9/11. Neither of the two live shots showed a plane hitting anything. For a theory of the live 9/11 videos, please see this. The present article concerns those videos which actually do show a plane entering the tower, none of which were live.

Without a flash, synchronization would be a major headache. We are going to insert a plane into various pieces of footage, from different cameras, at different angles. Presumably we've scouted the locations and done the test footage, and we've already got the airplane overlays done.

The angles and sizes match. But how do we determine where in time to place the airplanes? If the plane on one video enters the tower a little too early or a little too late, compared to another video, it could be a dead giveaway. For example, if there is a particular feature in the falling debris that is known to occur 123 frames after airplane impact, it had better be the same 123 frames later on all videos which show it.

As composi-traitors, we could try to use the same strategy, and key in on some identifiable feature, and work forward or backward in time. But what if there is no such feature readily apparent? Or if there is, what if one angle shows it, but another doesn't? And remember, we're under a deadline here. We need to crank out these composites as quickly as possible, and get them right. We don't have time to scour these explosion videos looking for a key piece of falling aluminum.

There is time code, which can be embedded into video and used to synchronize elements. But for this to be useful in this situation, we would need a live time code feed from a single master clock, going to all of the cameras as they are recording the tower explosions. This requires a satellite connection from the studio, and a pro camera. The idea is to pass off these videos as "amateur".

How will we know where in time to place the airplane sequence?

Enter the flashes. The flashes are very brief, lasting about 1 video frame, or 1/30 of a second. They make a very handy marker for where to place the nose of the airplane, in both time and space. On all of our prepared airplane layers, we have already designated a particular frame to be the one where the plane impacts the tower. In the editing software, we simply slide the impact frame to line up with the flash frame.

The flash frame also tells us when to begin erasing the plane with a mask. The flash frame is the last one before the nose starts to disappear.

The flashes on the 9/11 airplane videos are real. They are explosive detonations. They may or may not have been a necessary beginning of the huge explosions which followed. Either way, they were an essential element in synchronizing the airplane videos that fooled the world.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Shadow Study Proves Compositing

I recommend a great new study by Portuguese researcher Rasga Saias, "Enlightening the Shadows". He discovers a novel method of determining the azimuth angle of the sun's shadow at 9:03 am on 9/11, the time of the second "plane crash". He confirms the azimuth with NOAA's handy calculator. Then Rasga proceeds to demonstrate that the shadows on the planes are not where they belong.

When I encountered this work, I wanted to check it against my model of the WTC in Google Sketchup. The buildings in Sketchup are geo-referenced to Google Earth, and shadows can be set to any time on any date. I typed in "9:03 a.m. on September 11", but the shadows agreed with the 9/11 videos, and not with Rasga.

After dialoging with Rasga by email, we quickly discovered my error - daylight savings time. Google Sketchup does not account for the clock change. 9:03 a.m. in September would be the same as 8:03 a.m. standard time. Using the correct time, my model agrees very well with Rasga's study.

Of course the 9/11 composi-traitors would never just forget about adding shadows. But I think it is quite possible that they made the same mistake I made - they forgot daylight savings time, and their shadows were off by one hour. This would make the azimuth angle almost exactly parallel to the tower, which is consistent with the (lack of ) shadows on the "UA175" as it glides into the tower.

Here are gifs made from my Sketchup model.

View matching CNN Hezarkhani Ghostplane

View matching Evan Fairbanks

View matching Spiegel TV

View matching Luc Courchesne

Top View

Friday, May 16, 2008

Answers to Gary Popkin's No-Plane Questions

After he edited the Hardfire no-planes programs, producer Gary Popkin had some follow up questions for me. There was a whole lot of material we didn't get a chance to go over. Mr. Popkin is fairly new to 9/11 research, his questions are reasonable.

There was a lot of video of a so-called plane hitting the south tower, from many angles and distances--Chopper 5, ABC News, CBS, the ghost-plane video, and that video from the bottom of the tower where a fellow says a plane come out of nowhere and then says the video was faked. He says he saw a plane, but the video was faked! What does that mean? This was supposed to be evidence of something, presented by Ace, but I can't tell what it is supposed to be evidence of.

Although 30+ videos of the second plane hit eventuated, only 2 of them occurred live. Neither of the live shots show a plane hitting the tower. They both show a plane entering from the right side, crossing quickly, and disappearing behind the edge of a tower.

The rest came hours, days, and months after the event. The "video from the bottom of the tower where a fellow says a plane come out of nowhere" is the Evan Fairbanks video. Yes, Evan Fairbanks says he saw the plane - in his viewfinder. On ABC with Peter Jennings, on the night of 9/11, Fairbanks said the plane "disappeared like a bad special effect". That quote was in the witness montage I was playing, but host Ron Wieck cut it off before the infamous Fairbanks quote. I agree with Fairbanks, the videos which actually show the plane entering the tower do look like a bad special effect.

All this video from different angles! Was each one a separate composite?


Did each require pre-recording a plane at just the right angle and distance?

Yes, assuming the planes are real videos of real planes, which they certainly could be. Alternatively, they could be CGI planes. We could have some of each. I hypothesize that the locations of the shots were scouted in advance, with test video of the towers shot, at around 9:00 a.m. on a clear day. Then a single flight of a 767 flying north, banking left, at around 9:00 am was video taped from corresponding locations. This could be done at an air base without too much trouble.

Or, as I mentioned, they could be CGI. CGI has the advantage of being able to determine a single flight path, then render the video from any virtual camera location. The disadvantage is trying to make sure the lighting and color match. CGI can tend to look "too perfect". But there are ways to screw up CGI so that it looks like video.

There could be some of each. This would go a long way to explaining the color problems. For example, the Park Foreman video has a nearly black plane. It was shot from Brooklyn, looking west, with the sun behind. The buildings are lit up very brightly. The gray and blue plane was in full sunlight, but came out almost black? This reeks of hiding color problems.

And to get the co-operation of every last one of the networks and news-reporting services, each one to play its own composite at exactly the same time!

In case you hadn't noticed, the mainstream media is government propaganda. The media are in on it, that's my whole point. Governments all over the world have a long history of intimidating and using the news media for propaganda purposes. Remember when Lincoln threw all those newspaper editors in prison? Research "Operation Mockingbird" for modern U.S. tactics. News guys either get with the program, or else. They're with the program.

As I said, only two were shown live, Chopper 5 and Chopper 7. Playing two or more videos at "exactly the same time" is quite routine. It involves using SMPTE time code, which has been a routine method of synchronizing audio/video for decades now.

To what purpose, such an elaborate hoax? Regardless of who did it, whether bin Laden, or Bush, or the Jews, or the reptiles, wouldn't it have been easier to fly a plane into the building?

The perpetrators of 9/11 would never have used real planes. This is the key to understanding the whole mess. They want to convince everyone on a story of suicidal hijackers who crash, causing massive structural damage to the core of each tower, and starting a raging inferno.

How to do that? Real planes? What real planes? The actual passenger jets? That's out. You'd have to hijack them electronically, at which time the pilots would no doubt call someone on the airphone (or even their cell phone when low enough): "Help, help, we're being electronically hijacked".

Land the planes and switch them with other 767s? We can rule out real suicide pilots, they'd have to be piloted remotely. Can 767s be targeted with accuracy down to a foot? I doubt it. Remember, they need those plane-shaped holes to be in VERY specific places, otherwise the "collapses" later on will not look right.

Plane-shaped holes? Nonsense. A real plane would crash up against the side of the much stronger steel and concrete tower. This includes not only the dense grid of steel box column, but also hitting steel and concrete floors, edge on. Both tower and plane would receive equal force, says Newton's 3rd law. Because the plane is hollow aluminum, and not built to withstand any impact, a real crash would send airplane parts bouncing and falling to the pavement below. This ruins the story about massive damage to the core.

Plus, real planes leave real evidence, for example serial number parts. If even one part is found by the wrong person, it would not match the records of the passenger aircraft. What on earth could the perpetrators say if the real plane clipped a wing and tumbled down into Manhattan? The damage to (non-targeted) buildings could be enormous, but it gets worse. Where are the passengers? Where is the pilot? Why isn't this really United Airlines flight 175?

The solution to the problem is to use explosives and fake the planes. Explosives can be positioned very precisely. They will blast the hole right in the right place. Enough shill witnesses will be coached and planted. The real witnesses who saw and heard only an explosion, will be dismissed as simply having missed it.

Yes, the plane videos will look fake, but that's a manageable problem. People like Evan Fairbanks will say "it looked like a bad special effect". Peter Jennings will say, "It's like a graphic artist, isn't it?" Dissent will be strictly prohibited in the mainstream media, relegated to the internet and public access.

And then there's the CBS footage, that Ace uses to show that a tiny plane can be seen at a great distance. He says it's a plane. And into the building it goes. And then Ace uses that video, of something he says is a plane, flying into a building, to argue that no plane flew into the building. Am I missing something?

You're right, the footage debunks Steve Wright's claim that smaller than 8 pixels, real planes disappear on video. Composited images can be inserted at any size, but if this is a real plane, why didn't it disappear at this size? It has less contrast than Chopper 5.

Originally that CBS shot was inserted in my Chopper 5 piece to respond to another critic. This person claimed that the plane was not visible in the CHopper 5 wide shot because it was hiding in the smoke trail from tower 1. From the CBS shot, we can easily see that the alleged path of the alleged plane is nowhere near the smoke, ever.

On Hardfire, I pulled that shot up quickly to respond to Steve Wright. Wright said that the Chopper 5 footage was never replayed because it is a lousy shot. The CBS "replay" is but one example of a shot in which the plane is tinier, but was replayed anyway. There are other examples. The History Channel documentary "9/11 Conspiracies: Fact or Fiction" used a shot quite similar to Chopper 5, but worse. It too is from the west, looking east, silhouette, but the plane is very small.

So the contention that Chopper 5 was cleansed because it is bad footage is simply false. It is VERY dramatic footage of history's defining moment.

Not only was Chopper 5 not replayed, but worse, it was cleansed from the archives. On the archive.org archives, the Chopper 5 footage had been replaced with completely different footage, while keeping the voice over exactly the same.

But what about the passengers?

They are dead. I think all 4 flights took off as advertised. There were hijackers on board, but not Arab flight school flunkies. I think the hijackers were special op military types, with at least one qualified pilot per plane. They were probably Israeli, because they needed to look "Middle Eastern". They were allowed through security with guns, keys to the cockpit, and whatever they needed.

They really took over the flights, and they really killed the pilots. Some of the airphone calls from terrified passengers and flight attendants were genuine.

The 2 Boston flights landed at Stewart Air Force Base, at 8:36 am. The published flight paths show the two flights going completely different directions, yet both pass over Stewart, and both at 8:36 a.m., a huge coincidence. The 9/11 Commission report said they almost collided. Since the transponders were off, radar could not tell altitude.

On landing, the real radar blips were replaced with false radar blips. We know for sure that war games were in progress on 9/11, some of which simulated hijackings with false radar blips. Again, this is too coincidental for me to swallow on its face. The false radar blips continued on the published flight paths, down to Manhattan.

Flight 93 landed at Cleveland, as was originally reported in the news, and as originally mentioned in Loose Change. Flight 77 landed somewhere, I don't know where.

Meanwhile, the poor passengers were executed. The "hijackers", that is the special ops guys, walked away.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Morgan Reynolds on Crash Physics

This is Morgan Reynolds' email from today. It's right on the money.

Lawson vs. Newton:
Newton's 3d law, sometimes called the law of reciprocal actions,
states that all forces occur in pairs and these two forces are equal in
magnitude and opposite in direction. That is, the forces of action and
reaction between bodies in contact have the same magnitude, same line of
action, and opposite sense. Didn't Lawson have a tug of war when he was a
child? If there is a force on the building in a crash, there is an
equal and opposite force on the airplane. Yet the plane does not slow down
or break apart!
If an aluminum plane ran into a Twin Tower, it must crumple, shatter
and could not possibly leave a jetliner-shaped, cartoon-like "silhouette
of passage" because in a collision with a tremendously strong
building, arguably the strongest in the world, an airplane with its far lower
mass, density and strength because it is built to be lightweight, would
be far less able to withstand the equal force exerted on both bodies.
The airlines weigh your luggage and worry about its distribution en
route while building security personnel and custodians do not worry about
the weight building entrants bring in or where they distribute it
because buildings do not have to be lightweight and are built with redundant

Strength and massiveness matter greatly in which body will fare better
in withstanding the equal force of an impact. Everybody knows this in
shopping for a car: should I buy a heavy SUV for safety or accept the
risk of driving a lightweight econobox or sportscar? If the damage
inflicted on the other body in a collision between a jetliner and a Tower
were likened to a sports contest, it would be something like Tower 100,
Airplane 2. Imagine, for example, that a Tower fell on the airplane
instead of the aluminum airplane hitting the Tower: complete and utter
devastation of the airplane. However, this mismatch is not what the videos
show. Instead, the aluminum plane cuts right through steel and
disappears inside the Tower. This is impossible. Structural steel is far
stronger than aluminum and present in abundant quantities, and would suffer
only light damage compared to complete and utter destruction/rejection
of an aluminum airplane, with most of its debris scattered outside the
building, especially wings, tail section and a majority of the shattered
fuselage. The five floors in each Tower allegedly impacted by planes
weighed more than 100X that of the alleged 140 ton airplanes.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dynamic Duo - 5.14.08

Videos to download

Chopper 5 - Salter - Gamma Down

Chopper 5 Luminance Study

Chopper 5 Salter-Lawson Comparison

Distant Plane Test

What does compositing expert Steve Wright say?

No plane in the wide shot - Too small.

Nose out - Debris.

Fade to black - Automatic Gain Control.

Magically Healing Columns - Fireball enlarged the hole.

Link to Magically Healing Columns article.

Baker v Wright on Hardfire

Part 1 - Did a Plane Hit the South Tower?

Part 2 - Can an Explosion of Jet Fuel Enlarge a Hole in a Steel Building?