Updated: Aug 19, 2020
Birmingham UFO Group Case Report
Author: Dave Hodrien
Release Date: 31/07/2020
Last Updated: 19/08/2020
In late July 2020 I was contacted by a gentleman named Shomari. He informed me that he had discovered a video on his mobile phone which had links with an incident that had occurred months before, and which he had no explanation for. This report covers his claims, analysis of the footage which took place and eventual conclusions which were reached regarding it. As you will see, evidence points towards this not being a flying object at all, although there are still unexplained aspects relating to it.
The witness claims that on the evening of the 3rd April 2020 he stepped outside the back door of his house on Talbot Street, Winston Green for a cigarette. It was around 8pm and the sun had already set due to the time of year. Shomari says that the weather conditions were normal, it was not raining or windy.
He then claims that he recollects seeing something up in the sky, but dismissing it, and that he has no other memories of what may or may not have taken place.
Shomari informed me that he was checking through his Android mobile phone’s taken photographs and recorded videos when he came across a video taken after dark which he did not recognise. The video seemed to show some unusual lights hovering up in the sky near to his back garden. In the footage he reacted to the lights exclaiming “What the fuck is that?” The video lasted for 27 seconds before suddenly stopping. It had quite clearly been taken by him, yet according to him he had no recollection of filming it!
Below is the video footage which was found on Shomari’s phone:
At the start of the footage some blurred red and magenta coloured lights can be seen:
Once the camera focuses better, a number of red coloured lights and an unusual rectangular-shape made up of shimmering white and magenta coloured light can be seen. At the base of the screen is the top of the witness’s garden fence:
There are five red lights which are seen that fade in and out at various points of the video. These do not vary in distance from one another so appear to be attached to a singular object, the exact shape of which cannot be made out. At 11 seconds in the camera pans to the right a bit and a sixth red light can be seen for a brief moment:
It is clear from the footage that the lights are not static but are slowly moving in different directions at certain points.
The white and purple rectangular-shaped seems to be highly reflective and have areas of brightness and shadow which change throughout the footage. In the below video the lights themselves have been tracked to keep them still, and this movement within the rectangle of light is clearer:
Here is a close up of three of the red lights and lit rectangle, taken from 10 seconds into the footage:
Below is the same zoomed image with edge find, high pass and negative colour filters:
Below is a zoomed view of the main lights and additional red light which is only briefly seen:
When certain stills of the lights are sharpened the bar of white/magenta light looks similar to oriental script. This may be purely coincidental or could offer a clue as to what it is:
Apart from the obvious exclamation from the witness the sound of the video is rather quiet. However behind the breathing there is a constant low whirring noise. This might be just background noise, this is inconclusive at present.
In many UFO videos there is no clear point of reference, however luckily in this instance the top of the garden fence can clearly be seen.
I visited the witness at his house and was able to ascertain the direction and angle it was taken at. I assumed at the time that the video was taken from outside the back door of his house where he claimed to usually stand when popping outside for a cigarette. As you will see later in this report this is very likely not to be the case.
Close to the back door of his house is the garden gate. The video has been taken looking upward at a diagonal angle at the top right of the gate. The below images show stills from the footage, and daylight comparison photographs:
Using patterns in the woodwork the precise direction and angle of the video can be confirmed. This makes it clear that the lights are positioned over open sky. So even though there is housing, street lights and aerials nearby these can all be completely discounted as an explanation.
Video Authenticity Analysis
All recorded videos have automatic data stored behind them which can be used to verify many different things, including whether the footage is original or whether it has been modified using computer editing software. I asked the witness to send me a daylight video of his garden to use as a control.
Below is the metadata of both videos arranged alongside one another. On the left is the metadata for the UFO video, on the right is the metadata for the control video. Key pieces of information are highlighted in yellow:
As you can see the metadata for the two videos is near identical. While it is possible to manipulate metadata, the degree to which this would have had to have been done is extreme due to the number of tags. Even in the unlikely event that the witness knew about metadata, and how to cover his tracks the footage by copying metadata from another video on his phone (which I don’t suspect is the case at all), there are issues with doing so.
Due to the number of tags, the most probable way of replicating tags entirely would be to utilise a computer application. The most widely used and respected tool for this purpose is known as ExifTool. However when I attempted to use this to copy tags onto the video it failed. There are many forums online reporting issues with this process when attempting to copy tags to MP4 video files including missing tags and other discrepancies. Therefore in reality it is extremely difficult, nigh on impossible to completely make a hoaxed video file look like a standard one. The fact that the footage video is essentially identical to a control video taken by the witness and requested by myself proves beyond reasonable doubt that the footage is not CGI.
The Create Date under Compatiblebrands section (Repeated as Creation Time under the Format section) shows that the footage was taken on 3rd April 2020 at 8.09pm. Note that the Modify Date shown is the exact date and time the video files were E-Mailed to me by the witness so are not significant, it looks like when the file has been E-Mailed as an attachment it has automatically changed this tag when this was done.
The Com.Android.Version tag under Format shows that both videos were recorded on an Android mobile phone.
It should be noted that the linked YouTube video of the footage in this report is at 360p quality, while the metadata says that the resolution is 420p. This is due to compression on upload. For whatever reason it is slightly dropping the quality of the footage on upload. I confirmed this by uploading the control video, this too has a maximum quality setting of 360p. Therefore this discrepancy can be ruled out and is in no way suspicious.
As the footage is very likely to be genuine, initially it was assumed that the lights were attached to either one or two objects hovering in the air at an unknown distance from the sighting location. They were clearly not a helicopter due to the colours of the lighting, their positioning to one another and the lack of the sound of helicopter rotor blades. The lights did appear to be hovering so could not have be an aeroplane or microlight. A lit inflatable seemed very unlikely given the number of lights and movement pattern seen in the footage.
While night flying remote controlled advertising blimps do exist, their shape can clearly be seen after dark even at distance. But the lighting did not appear to correspond to a readable advertisement, and you’d expect such an object to be flown over a city centre where it would be observed by lots of people, not over a quiet residential street. Below is a video of a blimp of this kind for comparison:
Drone Possibility Analysis
Due to the arrangement of the main cluster of lights and the slow drifting back and forth it was initially assumed that it might be a drone of some kind. Drones are usually quite loud, and emit a clear whirring noise even at distance. They also generally have both red and green lights which sometimes strobe as shown by the below videos:
Despite these discrepancies I felt it was worth exploring this possibility further. I posted on a popular drone forum and invited forum members to view the footage and provide their thoughts on it. Numerous people came back to me, giving their opinions on what it may or may not show:
"I agree it is genuine footage. My Mavic Pro Platinum would look similar, having forward red lights with an aftermarket attached LED. Strange color though. I haven’t seen magenta on a drone. Also it would have to be very close to the camera to appear this size. And even though very quiet compared to most drones you would hear it. Even a larger drone like a DJI Inspire or Yuneec Typhoon would be very audible at the range required to make it appear this large. Very interesting."
"As usual it’s difficult if not impossible to get a respective of size or distance for something in the air. Although I find it interesting I have no definite idea what it could be. I can say it doesn't look like a Mavic, the lighting is wrong, although it could still possibly be a drone."
"Looks like a UFO to me. It moves like a drone, but I've never seen anything that large."
"I looked at them, but do not believe I can ID what it is."
As you can see, none of the statements categorically explained the footage as a drone. The UK police force utilise drones in order to track criminal activity. I wondered whether the drones they were using were quieter than normal commercial drones or had different lighting configurations.
Below are some videos of police drones in action:
I contacted the drones department of West Midlands Police to enquire about the footage and ask whether I would be able to obtain the drone log for 3rd April to confirm whether one or multiple drones were in the area at the time. I was asked to raise a Freedom Of Information request to obtain this information.
I received the response to the request on 10th August 2020 via E-Mail. It reads as follows:
Location: Talbot Street, Winson Green, Birmingham, 8.09pm on 3rd April.
I would like to request access to the police drone log for the evening of 3rd April to confirm whether or not a police drone was being flown at the relevant location, date & time.
I can confirm that the Force Support Unit did not have a drone above Birmingham at 20:09 hours on the 3rd April 2020.
In addition however, with regard to the COVERT use of Drones / Unmanned Aerial Surveillance (UAS), West Midlands Police neither confirms nor denies that it holds any other information relevant to this request by virtue of the following exemptions:
Section 23(5) - Information supplied by, or relating to, bodies dealing with security matters
Section 24(2) - National security
Section 31(3) - Law enforcement
Section 23 is an absolute class-based exemption and there is no requirement to conduct a harm or public interest test.
Sections 24, and 31 are prejudice based qualified exemptions and there is a requirement to articulate the harm that would be caused in confirming or denying that any other information is held as well as carrying out a public interest test.
I shared the footage with a number of other renowned Ufologists. Here are their comments on the video:
Tony Buck (East Anglia UFO Group)
"We have no definitive conclusions, however, the following points as slightly possibly a drone.
01: Don’t know what the extra red light on the right hand off the screen, but it seems in some way connected. 02: There seems to be what sounds like a water feature or stream running by. What can be heard is what sounds mildly like a prop sound in the background. 03: After the voice if you turn up the volume, you can hear what sounds like drone props or possibly a helicopter in the background. 04: We discounted a V-22 Osprey as they show a green light at the end of the props. 05: The lighting does not seem like a normal aircraft. We lean toward drone, but if we were to say that, the extra red light seems to counter that. In all honestly we don’t know."
"From looking at the photographs, it's not immediately apparent what it could be. It doesn't seem to conform to commercially available drone lighting, but it's not to say there isn't something in development we're not aware of. I understand its flight characteristics rule out conventional aeroplanes. It will be interesting to see how the investigations develop."
“Genuine footage, too short a clip to make any real determination. I think it could be a collection of spheres. Colours very unusual. However based on what you said he doesn't remember taking the footage? If that is the case that is very odd. Yes there is the possibility of a mind wipe having been abducted but it’s a long stretch for me.”
"I believe this video is a real video of an anomalous phenomena. It produces the same kinds of images as the Marfa, Texas and other so called Ghost Lights by my analysis. I found some independent movement of the white horizontal object relative to the camera. I plotted what I found and attached a photo of the chart. Basically, the white object moved up slightly from 11 seconds to 16 seconds and the camera really stayed about the same distance from the fence without moving much at all away from or toward the fence."
Probable Video Explanation
As you can see, after speaking with numerous people with expertise in a variety of subjects, no obvious explanation for the lights could be found. However one of the drone forum who provided feedback on the video claimed to have 20 years experience as a Visual FX Producer. He believed the video to be CGI, partially due to a number of optical anomalies he found with the footage:
“In my opinion this video is not showing a real UFO and is probably manipulated, but it seems interesting at first watch. The video is extremely low quality, it is stated that the video was shot in 2020 but what phone or camera device is that that will shoot video at this quality in 2020? It’s not impossible but this is very unusual. Modern phones are recording video minimum at 1080p. I think that the video is probably CGI manipulated because there are a few optical things that doesn't match. The motion blur of the UFO doesn't match with the fence below. There are a few frames where the direction of the motion blur is completely off compared to this, while the camera is moving up the motion blur of the UFO is moving horizontal. Also the out of focus size of the UFO doesn't match with the rest of the objects and the depth at which it seems to be... it looks like the UFO is very close to the camera, maybe at the same distance where the fence is and even closer which makes it impossible to be or this is very small object in front of the fence. It happens from time to time to get confused and to mismatch a real thing to a badly composed shot so I completely understand that I could be wrong. I can't tell with sure that the video is fake but all the things I noticed are making me think that there is high probability that it actually is a faked one.”
I feel the metadata proves that the footage is not CGI (as discussed earlier). Also the control video the witness sent to me was at the same quality as the footage of the lights, so therefore can be put down to the phone’s settings. However the optical anomalies mentioned here are interesting.
As part of the video analysis I created a stabilized version of the footage. This locked to a key point on the fence, and enabled the movements of both the lights and the camera to be seen more clearly:
While visiting the witness’s house to take photographs of the yard and work out where the lights were situated I noted that there was a window alongside the back door of the house. In the below photograph the window and the garden gate are both marked:
I did not query the witness about the possibility of the video being filmed from inside through this window at the time, as this would have directly contradicted his statement and insinuated he wasn’t telling the truth.
However in watching this footage closely it became apparent that the lights were often moving at the same times as the camera in roughly the same directions. This can be easily seen in the following video which shows specific sections of the video slowed down 3 times:
If the lights were attached to one or more physical objects hovering up in the air then the movement of the camera would logically have no bearing on them. What I believe this very likely proves is that the video was taken from inside, looking to the right through the window and zoomed in on the top right of the garden gate, and that the lights are a reflection of lights from somewhere behind or around the lens. I also feel that this is what has led to the optical discrepancies highlighted by the VFX Producer who examined the footage. I contacted him and he confirmed that this makes sense and agreed with this as the explanation.
I next got in touch with the witness to discuss this possibility with them. There was no sign that they had attempted a known hoax regarding the footage. They did not seem in any way flustered when I suggested that this was the explanation, but instead seemed genuinely confused by this possibility. They mentioned that they would have had the lights on inside the house, but in the footage no standard light sources are seen. This is correct – the lights would have had to have been off in the room at the time. However this does not stop the fact that this is very likely what the footage shows. If they genuinely cannot recollect taking the video, then it remains a mystery as to why they would have filmed this in the first place under these specific conditions.
It has been quite a challenge to get to where we are with this particular case. At first glance the video footage of the lights was extremely unusual. There were numerous possibilities for what it showed, and it took a substantial amount of investigation to either prove or disprove these to a reasonable level.
While you may feel that the facts point towards an intentional hoax, and that the witness recorded the video knowingly and then fabricated a back story for it, there is currently no evidence which definitely confirms this. As the video was recorded months ago it is possible that he noticed the reflection and not realising it was from something inside the house recorded it, then forgot he had done so, and that in thinking back to the incident he assumed he must have been standing outside at the time. Whether this is the case or not is unknown at present.
Unfortunately it is not possible to determine exactly what has been reflected in the glass to create the lights seen in the footage, and the witness claims to have no knowledge of this either. Therefore this aspect continues to be a mystery, at least for now. If you believe you may know what object has caused the reflection please get in touch.
If any further information regarding this footage comes to light I will of course add it to this report.
Copyright Dave Hodrien 2020