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Horne Responds to Mack Re: The Stemmons Freeway Sign Anomalies in the Zapruder Film
My 60th Birthday
In my 194-page chapter on the Zapruder film in Volume IV of my book, in Chapter 14, I discussed anomalies seen in Zapruder film frames depicting the Stemmons Freeway Sign on pages 1354-1356.

Specifically, I discussed two problems:

(1) The rounded corner of the sign is abruptly "clipped," and appears cut off, in frames 214, 218, and most notably in frame 220; and the vertical edge of the sign is noticeably "scalloped out" in frames 218, 220, 224, and 229.

(2) I also noted that in other frames depicting the Stemmons Freeway Sign, there are anomalies involving "scalloping," or "image intrusion," on the opposite side of the sign, in frames 190, 191, 195, and 197.

In my text, after noting the anomalies cited in subparagraph (1) above, I openly wondered whether these anomalies had benign, natural causes (including rapid panning and the action of the camera's shutter), or whether they might be indications of tampering with the Zapruder film (i.e., either poor rotoscoping associated with travelling mattes, or sloppy aerial imaging work). I expressed my deep suspicion that the Stemmons Freeway Sign anomalies were indications of film alteration, but I never said that they were proof of such. I simply indicated which alternative explanation I favored, and stated that film tests using a Bell and Howell camera would be conducted which would almost certainly indicate whether or not such anomalies were naturally occurring artifacts or not.

In the illustration section of my book, in volume I, I presented images relevant to the problem in Figures 84, 85, and 86; and I stated in the photo caption for Figure 86 that the anomalies (which I openly suspected were proof of sloppy tampering with the road sign images) merited further study.

On December 23rd of this year, Gary Mack, the public spokesman for the Sixth Floor Museum for all things photographic, sent an e-mail to John McAdams discussing this subject, and McAdams promptly posted Mack's e-mail on the newsgroup alt.assassination.jfk in a posting titled "Horne's Zapruder theory fails." To say that this title (given to the story by McAdams) is "premature and unsubstantiated" would be an understatement, as I shall demonstrate below.

First, Mack's tone was respectful and devoid of any excess emotion, so I will reciprocate that approach here in my interim response to this issue.

Boiled down to its essentials, Mack's posting said that the anomalies discussed in subparagraph (1) above were (in his opinion) caused by the panning of the camera from left to right, and the use of a slow shutter speed (1/40th of a second). Since the sign in the images was stationary, and the panning camera was following a moving limousine, Mack found it natural that bright objects in the car (Jackie Kennedy's pink hat and pink shoulder, for example) would show THROUGH the slightly blurred image of the non-moving sign.

Then, in an Orwellian statement, Mack wrote: "If anything, the anomalies support the film's authenticity...".

I wish to make a point here which is crucial to this debate: until repeated film tests (of an automobile passing from behind a road sign) are conducted, using the same make and model Bell and Howell camera employed by Zapruder, and until the empirical evidence from these tests (i.e., the developed film) is evaluated, this debate about what has caused the Stemmons Freeway Sign anomalies in the extant film in the Archives WILL NOT BE RESOLVED. If my study of the Zavada report has taught us anything, it is that NO ONE'S theory of any "benign explanation" for Zapruder film artifacts should be accepted as "fact" until or unless it is backed up by empirical evidence from a film test. After all, Rollie Zavada was UNABLE to consistently replicate, in the field, the "full flush left" phenonmenon of intersprocket image penetration seen in the extant film; and furthermore, film shot in his test cameras exhibited "claw flare" that looks very, very different (i.e., much more pronounced) than the supposed "claw flare" seen in the extant film. Additionally, Rollie Zavada could not replicate, in field tests, any of the double images seen so often in the intersprocket area of the extant Zapruder film. In view of these failures, it would be most foolish for anyone to claim that Mack's hypothesis has "proven" that the extant film is authentic.

Gary Mack has provided a hypothesis that provides a benign, natural explanation for the anomalies that I find so suspicious. I openly acknowledged in my text (on pages 1354-1356) that alternate explanations were possible, and that film tests needed to be conducted to resolve whether the anomalies to which I had drawn attention could be replicated naturally. Any good hypothesis is testable by scientific experiment which produces empirical (i.e., measureable) results. Fortunately, Mack's hypothesis fits this definition and I have every confidence that such a test will be conducted in the year 2010, using the same model Bell and Howell camera that Zapruder filmed with in 1963. Real science can be done, and I welcome it. When the results are available, I will publish those results, with accompanying image content, regardless of the outcome.

What Mack did NOT discuss in his e-mail to McAdams are the image anomalies I discussed above in subparagraph (2). As one views the Stemmons Freeway Sign in the extant Zapruder film, on the left-hand side of the sign (as viewed in the image frame) one can see a woman wearing a light blue head scarf standing STATIONARY behind the sign; only part of her head is visible---the sign obscures the right hand side of her head in frames 188, 189, 193, and 194. HOWEVER, in frames 190, 191, 192, 195, and 197 part of this woman's head (which in the real world was obscured by the sign) appears IN FRONT OF THE SIGN---that is, there is "image intrusion" of her head scarf well into the edge of the road sign which in reality should have been obscuring part of her head. (This is shown very clearly in the HD and 6K scans of the 35 mm dupe negative being studied by the Hollywood research group; furthermore, some of these anomalies can also be seen in the "Full Frame" version of the MPI DVD "Image of an Assassination.") This is most peculiar, and very troubling, since in my view Mack's hypothesis does NOT account for this particular anomaly.

Why do I say this? I say this because both the stationary woman and the sign were both non-moving objects filmed while Zapruder was panning from left to right: therefore, it seems to me that at the worst (according to Mack's hypothesis) we should see some blurring of edge definition at the edge of the sign---but no image intrusion. In other words, how can the rounded head of the woman with the headscarf (which was obscured and should NOT HAVE BEEN VISIBLE TO THE CAMERA IN THE REAL WORLD) be visible under ANY circumstances that do not involve film alteration? Whether others find my explanation here persuasive (or not) is not the issue; the real issue is that sometime during the year 2010, a film test shot inside a Bell and Howell double 8 mm movie camera should provide empirical evidence that will likely resolve whether or not such anomalies are naturally occurring events recorded inside the camera's aperture gate, or yet one more factor that should cause us to doubt the Zapruder film's authenticity.

And there are so many other factors that DO cause us to doubt the Zapruder film's authenticity, to wit:

(1) The serious chain-of-custody problems with the film the weekend following the assassination, proving that it was really in the hands of the Secret Service and the CIA (when we were previously told it was in the possession of LIFE magazine in Chicago); and specifically, its delivery to the CIA's National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) on Sunday night, November 24, 1963, after its processing at a classified CIA/Kodak lab in Rochester, New York.

(2) The anomalous and inconsistent placement of punched ID numbers on both the extant film and on the Secret Service copies.

(3) The failure of the "full flush left" intersprocket penetration to appear on the existing (purported) "first generation" copies of the Zapruder film; the initial information provided by Bruce Jamieson of the Jamieson lab in Dallas was that this intersprocket image penetration SHOULD HAVE BEEN TRANSFERRED TO THE "FIRST DAY COPIES." And yet the "full flush left" penetration seen in the extant film is not present on today's so-called "first generation" copies, causing us to ask if the "first generation" copies that exist today are NOT the "first day copies" made on November 22, 1963---but rather, substitutes inexpertly copied from an altered master film?

(4) The three purported "first generation" copies that exist today exhibit exposure bracketing, yet two persons who worked at the Jamieson lab where the "first day copies" were exposed the day of the assassination told Rollie Zavada, when first interviewed, that the copies printed that day were NOT bracketed. (Again, this stongly implies the creation of a new "original" film, and three new copies.)

(5) Finally, and pehaps most important, seven (7) out of seven (7) Hollywood film professionals who have examined the HD and 6K scans of the individual frames of the Zapruder film 35 mm dupe negative (obtained from the National Archives) have declared the image content to have been altered: they are of the unanimous opinion that the back of JFK's head in the images---from frame 313 through 337---has been blacked out, i.e., obscured by artwork. Their opinions trump those of anyone in the research community who has not been to film school, and who has not worked in the post-production of motion picture films. I published two illustrations of frame 317 to illustrate this point, but due to the limitations of the printing plant I employed, my book only contains black and white illustrations on non-glossy paper; therfore, the resolution of these two illustrations of frame 317 is not all that I would wish. The color HD and 6K scans of the blacked-out back of the head (particularly frames 313, 317, 321, and 323) are truly stunning, when viewed on high-definition monitors; at the appropriate time in 2010, there will be a public rollout of these images by the Hollywood research group, and the world will be stunned. Seeing is believing, and when these images are publicly released, all of those who have minds open to evidence will understand, and believe, that the extant Zapruder film's image content has been tampered with, to obscure the exit wound behind President Kennedy's right ear seen by the Dallas doctors and nurses at Parkland hospital.

So in closing, I would say that John McAdams' headline ("Horne Zapruder theory fails") is not only premature, but really completely without foundation---like most of the assertions posted to his newsgroup.

The reality is this: Gary Mack's hypothesis (and my suspicions) about the Stemmons Freeway Sign anomalies will remain unresolved until film tests are conducted; and the five strong indicators pointing to the Zapruder film's alteration, cited above, were UNADDRESSED by both Gary Mack and John McAdams.

So...everyone interested in this debate should take a deep breath, relax, and await further developments. END

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