The Ober-Sadelegg Movie

Meier made no written record of the date of this 8mm movie-camera session, as he took no photos with his 35mm camera on this occasion, and only during his still-camera sessions did he enter date, time and location. However, from Meier's recollection, expressed while the film was being video-taped at Meier's residence in 1979, it occurred in June or July of 1975. He filmed it with one of two different movie cameras listed in his Verzeichnis, the Raynox XL and the Nalcom FTL, we don't know which. The site is designated Ober-Sädelegg, located little more than a kilometer southeast of Schmidrüti, where he moved to in 1977. Stevens gathered that the occasion of this movie segment was probably not the same as that of 8 March, 1975, when Meier took still photos at a location very close by also designated as Ober-Sädelegg.

This movie segment is the only one in which Meier himself is depicted. He set up the camera on his tripod, and aimed it slightly upwards, so that it showed a foreground path up a hill as well as some sky above and beyond. He turned on his camera, apparently upon telepathic communication from Semjase, walked into the scene up the path, and then squatted and pointed up at her beamship, which stayed a rather large distance away. He is seen gesturing while communicating telepathically to her requesting her to move in closer, but she did not comply.

 Fig. 1. Frame from the Ober-Sädelegg movie segment, of "Beamship: The Movie Footage," after Meier had taken
about 19 steps up the path. Without brightening enhancement, only his head shows up well.
After another half step, he squats down.

The movie segment shows him walking back also, altogether giving us a very good indication of how far away he had been just before finally squatting down. This, along with the dimensions provided by Meier himself, allows us to closely estimate what the camera's focal-length setting had been.

Estimating the camera's focal-length setting. The camera equation gives:

Focal length = (Length of object on 8mm film) x (Distance away) / (Actual length),

which then is useful in looking into the hoax hypothesis. The distance was first estimated from the 19 steps Meier took up the path until he finally squatted down against the slope to the right. These were fairly small steps being uphill, estimated as 1.8' (ft) each for the first eight steps, 1.3' each for the next three when he moved at an angle and then squatted down the first time, and 1.8' for each of the last 8 steps. The result is decreased a foot for the small additional step taken while shifting from standing (Fig. 1) to squatting down. It is augmented by 5' as the estimated distance in striding away from the tripod before he came into the camera's view. The resulting distance is 37.7'.

A second distance estimate comes from his strides back towards the camera: 13 steps, each estimated at 2.5', decreased by 1' in first standing up before striding, and augmented again by 5' while out of sight close to one side of the tripod. This amount comes to 37.5'. Hence we adopt an average of 37.6' for the distance from the camera to Meier in Fig. 1, realizing that this could be in error by some 10%.

For a length scale, 5'10" was taken as Meier's height, from the bottom of the heel of his left leg upwards to the top of the head. For this estimate, Fig. 1 was enhanced in brightness and contrast so that the position of his heel could better be assessed (Fig. 2).
 Fig. 2. Same frame as in Fig. 1 after enhancement of brightness and contrast.
With this length estimate, after taking the ratio of Meier's height on the image to the full width of the image, and multiplying by 8 mm, the camera equation gave a focal length of 10.6 mm. As a second length scale, the width of the back of Meier's head was taken as 6.5" (inches). After similar measurements and arithmetic, a focal length of 9.4 mm was obtained.

According to Meier's Verzeichnis, his Nalcom FTL camera had a focal length that could range from 8 mm to 64 mm; his Raynox XL had a focal length ranging from 10.5 mm to 30 mm. The value obtained is close to the lower focal-length limit of either camera. It suggests that he used the camera with focal length set to its minimum value, so that he could better assure that Semjase's craft would show up, as well as the foreground which included himself. However, the errors inherent in the present analysis prevent us from determining which camera he used here. We do know that Meier used the one camera during 1975 and the other camera during 1976, since Stevens shot sample photos of the film for almost all the segments and presented them in Preliminary Investigation Report, Appendix I; frames from the two cameras are distinguishable by the cusp at the top-center of the Nalcom camera frames, and those all occurred in 1976. Here we adopt an intermediate focal-length value, between the minima of the two cameras, of 9.4 mm with uncertainty of ±14%.

Problems with the hoax hypothesis. If the beamship or UFO seen in Fig. 1 were a model of typical width 1 ft, its distance from the camera, as determined with the aid of the camera equation, using a focal length of 9.5 mm, would be 105', or 32 meters. This would require much too long a pole, out of the camera's sight, with which to support the model. If a 1" model, it would be nearly 9' away, requiring a pole about 20' long (extending upwards at a 45° angle, and anchored to the ground behind the tripod). Even this length of support pole is scarcely manageable, and would leave a tiny 1" model swinging in the breezes. The craft in the movie segment did not undergo such oscillatory movements. Assuming it was the beamship of diameter 7 m, its distance was 740 m.

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