Saturday, 5 February 2011

Dinsdale, JARIC and Carter

I would like to spend some time in this post and others doing something unconventional and against the trend - defend Tim Dinsdale and his milestone 1960 film of the Loch Ness Monster. The trend is to demystify and debunk, and this blog is all about swimming against the current trend.

The "avant garde" thinking is that Dinsdale filmed a boat. Well, it is not quite new thinking but a Richard Carter some years back put together a theory that Dinsdale failed to distinguish between a common outboard engine boat and an unidentified creature of large proportions. Another researcher, Adrian Shine, published his own analysis which I hope to look at in a later posting.

Richard Carter was an active Nessie hunter in the late 1990s. He believed in the monster's existence (he also didn't accept the Spurling Hoax theory about the Wilson photo) but was prepared to literally push the boat out on the Dinsdale film being misinterpreted.

His analysis of the film and the 1965 JARIC report that examined it can be found at this link and it is this critique that I wish to critique.

You may wish to read through Richard Carter's analysis or read my hopefully accurate summary which is in three points:

1. The JARIC Report's estimate of a speed of 10mph for the object is overestimated because they did not take the winding time of the cine camera into account.

2. The appearance of the object submerging is a trick of the light.

3. A filming of a suitable boat under similar conditions can look like the object in the film and hence is the most likely candidate.

The focus of this article is point one - that JARIC overestimated the speed of the object in the film. Let me explain why it is so important that the speed of the object must be less than 10mph to allow a boat explanation to be considered.

The engine in typical use in a 1960s boat would have been a Seagull 5hp outboard engine which was capable of a maximum hull speed of 5.4 knots or just under 7mph. Richard Carter understood this and knew a 10mph object in the film would cast doubt upon an typical outboard engine boat being a candidate.

How could one suggest that one of these common boats that regularly flitted across the loch could be the "monster" in the film yet be seen to be going at a speed 43% above its top speed? Clearly there was a contradiction here which had to be dealt with.

Richard Carter had a brainwave. He knew that Tim Dinsdale's cine camera had to be stopped and rewound at certain intervals as the mechanical motor winding the film through the camera ran down. He estimated this happened every twenty seconds and a rewind took twelve seconds. He suggested that JARIC had not taken this rewind time into account and hence the object in the film would apparently cover more distance as a 12 second gap was instantly leapt over in the appropriate frames. He calculated this would bring the real speed of the object down to 6.5mph - acceptable for the boat theory.

He further suggested that because Dinsdale gave instructions not to project the film but only examine frames that these time jumps would not have been apparent the JARIC experts.

So, is this all done and dusted? Can we all go home now and bin the film? Not quite yet.

First we need to ascertain some facts about the film. The first is how long it lasted. In Dinsdale's book "Loch Ness Monster" he gives a full account of his sightings and various items of information about the filming process. Richard Carter takes the book to task at this point because it apparently contradictory in its account of how long the film lasted. In one place it says 50ft of film was exposed, in another 20ft to 30ft and in another place it is said that the monster was filmed for four minutes.

I will address these apparent discrepancies at the end of this post but first we need to know something about the technical specification of the cine camera that was used. The camera used was a Bolex Cine H-16 which was capable of running 50ft or 100ft of film at one time before reloading was required. The camera could run at various frame rates but in this instance it was running at 24fps (frames per second).

From this we can infer the maximum time of possible footage that could be shot. For 50ft it would be 77 seconds and for 100ft it would be twice as long at 155 seconds.

Referring to the JARIC report, it is clear from their analysis that he had loaded 50 feet of film. I say this because they numbered the frames from 1 onwards up to 1440 and if we divide this by 24fps we get 60 seconds. Since Tim had stated that he was nearly out of film when he drove to the loch to get a closer shot, then that would be consistent with 50ft and not 100ft (Note the report mentions frames 700 to 1700 but these are rounded numbers are given as an assumption to demonstrate an arithmetical procedure).

Now if Richard Carter's analysis is correct, Tim Dinsdale would have had to stop and rewind his camera at least twice. Once at 20 seconds in the film and again at 40 seconds into the film. A third rewind is possible at 60 seconds but no further film would have been shot as he stopped to drive on.

If we break that down into frame numbers, we get possible jumps in the film at frames 480 (24fps x 20s) and 960 (24fps x 40s). Note this relies on two assumptions. Firstly that the cine camera had been fully wound and ready for action that morning. Given the account by Tim of his meticulous preparation that day, I think this is a safe assumption. Secondly that Tim rewound the film only when he had to (i.e. keep filming Nessie!).

Does the film jump at these frames? Without a copy of the complete film, I cannot say. If anyone who has a full copy of the Dinsdale film would oblige then I could take this further. But we press on.

The first problem with the Richard Carter analysis is that in his book, Tim Dinsdale says he only rewound the camera once. The quote is here:

".. firing long steady bursts of film like a machine gunner, stopping between to wind the clockwork motor."

How could he rewind once in a 60s shoot when a rewind is required every 20s? The answer is because a rewind was not required every 20 seconds. Thanks to the power of the Internet, I trawled around for a technical description of the Bolex H-16. I found one at this link and this is what it says about rewind times:

"Fully wound, the motor will drive about 18 feet of film through the camera (about 28 seconds at 24fps)."

So it seems that 28 seconds and not 20 seconds was the expected run time for a model from that period and that would agree with Dinsdale's testimony. Why did Richard Carter's Bolex not perform the same way? It may have been a later modified model but for sure not all Bolex cameras are the same.

Therefore, only one rewind would have been required at around frame 672 (24fps x 28s). However, there is a slight discrepancy here because two runs of shooting lasting 28 seconds each at 24fps gives us 1344 frames which is 95 frames short of the 1440 frames JARIC stated (or roughly 4 seconds missing). Did Tim Dinsdale managed to run his rewinds longer? I would think so given that the document quoted is not dogmatic on the precise upper limit. That puts the film break at frame number 720.

The next problem with Richard Carter's analysis follows on from this conclusion. The sequence of frames which JARIC used to calculate the speed of the creature falls outside the range of where a 30s rewind would occur (frame 720). In their analysis of the speed as the monster swam away from Tim, they state they analysed frames 1 to 384 to derive a speed of 10mph. In their second analysis as the monster was moving parallel to the opposite shore, they used frames 816 to 1440.

In other words, the jump in the film would have been missed and irrelevant to the analysis. The calculated speed of 10mph stands.

As it happens, even if two or more jumps did happen in the film, it was probably not relevant. The first jump in a 20s run occurs at frame 480, but by then JARIC had already analysed frames 1 to 384 and calculated a speed of 10mph. Furthermore, I would find it incredible that the professionals at JARIC had failed to take pauses to rewind into account. The Bolex H-16 was a well known and popular model and they must have known about this. I doubt they would have made such a schoolboy error in their calculations.

As a side note here, Richard Carter speaks of the JARIC report on the difficulty of measuring the speed of an object moving away from the observer at an elevation:

"This after they tell you the difficulty of near horizontal photography, especially the measurements in depth view."

Richard uses this to suggest that the 10mph estimate was therefore not reliable. However, he omits to quote another passage from the report which says this:

Note: Difficulties of Y measure are mentioned at para.5. and during this sequence almost all of the measure is Y measure. However, since the object is travelling on a fixed bearing relative to the shore, the point of intersection on the shore becomes a fixed reference point and measures become more reliable. Moreover, the speed has been calculated from observations on 5 separate frames and the given speed is the sensibly LOWEST speed from these observations.

Note, 10mph is estimated at the lower range of their estimates - the creature coulsd have been travelling faster than this. So, the estimate is reliable and the techniques of the JARIC team are further vindicated by the fact that they estimated the speed of the boat Tim had sent out later as a control footage as 6.5mph which agreed well with Dinsdale's own estimate of 7mph as he paced the boat in his car.

But what about the apparent discrepancies of 50ft, 20-30ft and 4 minutes in the book's account? These are not difficult to explain. The 50ft relates to the entire length of film shot including the test boat footage. The 20-30ft is the estimate of how much monster footage was shot though my own estimate suggests the number is closer to 38 feet but it is no more than an estimate which Tim Dinsdale clearly did not see the point in pinpointing accurately for a general audience of readers.

As for the four minutes, Richard Carter wonders what Tim Dinsdale may have hidden or cut out if the footage lasted so long but in the same breath he says that four minutes would have been impossible to film (which I agree with). One can't suggest two contradictory things in the same paragraph.

But then again, the film lasted one minute but the book says he shot four minutes of film - which is clearly wrong. What I suggest is that the entire filming process lasted four minutes but that does not include actual footage time. I speculate that the missing three minutes came during the rewinding of the motor previously discussed. Without the full footage to examine, I cannot be certain, but it is a reasonable hypothesis. Why would Tim Dinsdale take three minutes to rewind the cine camera when it should only take a tenth of that time? In the excitement and tension of such an event, it is easier to take longer over things. Perhaps he had finger trouble, a temporary mechanical problem arose or he was distracted by something. It is hard to pinpoint an exact explanation but the film footage ought to show up a three minute gap in this case.

The analysis seems clear to me. The estimated speed of 10mph calculated by JARIC stands and this is a problem if you think the object in the film is a common boat.

Let me finally say something about Dinsdale's reputation in the eyes of others. All say, despite his alleged cock up on the filming front, he was not to blame for any deception, was as fooled as anyone was but nevertheless he rendered an invaluable service to monster hunting. To the last sentiment I would agree.

However, I do detect an undercurrent of criticism which needs to be answered. I already mentioned the 4 minute criticism and the suggestion of something being hid - that is not true.

Another person who thinks the object is a boat claims that Tim Dinsdale could not have driven down to the shore in the few minutes he claimed. This is said because they tried it and took them ten minutes. If you read Dinsdale's account, he seems to have driven like a maniac, blaring his horn and then running for his life to the shore. I would say that the person probably did not drive or run in the manner Tim did (he may have been arrested for dangerous driving!). What obstacles lay in one's way in 1960 as opposed to now is also an open question.

Finally, Tim Dinsdale's widow, Wendy, seems to come in for a hard time when she refuses to allow her husband's film to be examined or put on public websites. If those websites were to use the film to prove her husband wrong then her actions do not surprise me. That doesn't mean she thinks it is a fake, only because the recipients of the film do. I would also point out that Tim Dinsdale's son, Simon, publicly stated the film was the monster only a few months ago. If he thought his father had shot a boat, I doubt he would have come forward with those statements.

So much for the speed of the creature in the film. Richard Carter appears to have dropped out of the Loch Ness scene, but there are others objections raised against the film today which I hope to cover in later posts.


  1. well done. a good analysis. I met Tim and thought him an honest and good person. He believed he filmed Nessie.One of the major criticisms of those who doubt the film is that their analysis was taken from a showing of the film on a TV programme ,which they then altered the resolution of the screen to show the boat.( see Tony Harmsworth's new book for details) There are all sorts of vaiables to take into account such as the type of tv, did the Tv people alter the film to show it on digital airways etc. It would not stand up to scientific scrutiny as a method.
    I love the site btw .Keep up the good work

  2. Thanks, I find it hard to believe people continue to suggest Tim Dinsdale could not distinguish between a common boat and a large creature thru binoculars. In his book, he had prior to this seen a log and was initially fooled until his binoculars resolved the issue - so why not later on? The suggestion he was tired and hyped up is an artefact for which the burden of proof lies with the critics of the film.

    I have scanned the loch many a time and never been fooled by boats. Any which were blobs a mile away were soon resolved to be boats by my trusty binoculars.

    As for contrast issues on the film, someone independent needs to look at this who is not looking for a boat. I hope to do this in the near future.

    1. I know it's virtually sacrilege to say it, but I've always thought TD's details about a humped back like a buffalo's, a dapple like a cow's were just made up embellishments to bolster his film. I am certain it's a boat, but I'm not sure TD knew it was at the time... but I'm also not sure he didn't know. What I am certain of is that he didn't see a humped back resembling a buffalo's.

    2. I agree. Adrian Shine did a thorough job with "Image Stacking" many frames of the film, and now it's certain that the film shows -sadly- nothing more than a boat. The process is nicely described on Dick Raynor's page with the resulting images. Why Dinsdale would come up with these fantasy descriptions what he had allegedly "seen" through his binoculars is hard to comprehend.

  3. Hi GB. My colleague Tony Healy met Tim at Ness and was shown his 'binoculars' - they were not full-sized field ones but actually portable opera/theatre ones like this:

    They would had done a lousy job over the long distance involved at the start of the event. I think theres something odd at Ness, but the skeptics may be right about the Dinsdale film.

    On another note - how can I get in touch with you directly? I have some interesting Ness material. Cheers Paul.

  4. Thanks Paul,

    Interesting thing about the binoculars. I'll see if the literature has anything further to say.

    When did Tim show these binoculars?

    You can contact me at

  5. Soooooooooo....why did Dinsdale refuse to allow JARIC to screen the film, limiting them to frame analysis only...?

    1. Good question and I don't have an answer. I always assumed there was only one celluloid copy and so he treated it very carefully and only played it occassionally. So my guess is he didn't want any potential damage/wear/tear over the years. But that's just me speculating.

      However, I would not take that as evidence that Tim thought it was a boat, else he would never given it up for any kind of close scrutiny by JARIC.

    2. The BBC made an excellent 35mm print of the original 16mm film, a full frame and a magnified version for telecine use on the Panorama programme.

      But yes, JARIC would want a first generation positive print, and maybe Dinsdale was unenthusiastic about allowing them full use of the only copy.

      But, not being a 16mm film expert, I thought numerous positive copies could be made from the original 16mm negative.

    3. I would assume Tim made a 16mm copy as a "backup". I would also guess the BBC have scrubbed theirs as they wantonly did with a lot of tapes in those days (hope not).

  6. It's on You Tube, but it runs for only 10 secs or so, and it doesn't have the boat comparison shot that Dinsdale shot later that day, but it still mystifies me, is it a boat ?

    I've been to that spot on the south shore road and it's a fair way from the loch shore and 100 foot above it, were Tim's bins strong enough to give him a detailed view of what was on the surface of the loch that morning of St. George's Day [ Significant, capturing the dragon of Loch Ness ? ]

  7. On Naked Science on Nat Geo they claimed to have analyzed the film and concluded that it was a "man on the boat". This was the scene where the object was swimming parallel to the shore.

    They did not analyze the sequence when the hump moves away from the camera or anything like that. An enhancement was done in the early 90s suggesting there was a rear body visible in the shot, but skeptics have debunked this because the lighting conditions on that day rule out that. However, there is a second hump that appears in scene occasionally.

    My interpretation is that the bump artifact they noticed is a shape on the monster's back. It could be a fin or a bump out of the hump. There have been some sightings of "male" nessies being larger and having manes.

    Dinsdale saw the monster on two more occasions but didn't photograph it. On one of these he was too caught up in the moment to do so. From what he said of one of his sightings he said the head was like a black anaconda and that when the head dove it caused a bubble of white foam.

    You should do a post on the Rines photographs. I do consider the "gargoyle head" pic just a tree stump, but I still find the flippers (even unenhanced or original enhancement) and the head and neck to be valid. When I view that picture I think the neck is rather short but the mouth is a little like the beak of a dolphin. There seems to be an eye or something at the side of the photograph; very lizard-like. There is also a "two bodies" photograph which seems to show two nessies...

    1. Also, there was some footage filmed last Summer in Lake Tianchi in China.

      it bears a striking resemblance to the Dinsdale film:

  8. Hi. Just wondering why you always give the benefit of the doubt to any argument which backs all these daft photos and films? Every dodgy detail is explained away, everything which points to a hoax or mistake is attacked in one or two sentences and then written off.
    Do you honestly see yourself as investigative?

    1. No worries, I am just counter balancing the dodgy half baked explanations that sceptics offer.

  9. Try overlaying multiple stills of the blob as it goes parallel to the distant shore. You end up with an image of a figure in a small boat. Case closed.

  10. Hi, what got you interested in the Loch Ness Monster?

    1. Probably my interest in dinosaurs and sci-fi as a kid many moons ago.

  11. It pains me to say because I admired Tim as a decent honest man, but after many years of study it's plain to even landlubbers like me that Dinsdale filmed a small boat crossing the loch, this means of transport was more common 50 years ago than now.
    It has a bow wave, it has a propeller wake, if it was a large animal surging through the waves it would leave a markedly different wave pattern behind it. Truth is, the wakes of the "monster" and the comparison boat are so similar as to be identical.

    The real mystery is why it has taken decades to come to this obvious conclusion.

  12. Excellent analysis, and a marvellous photo. I simply don't think it's possible to reach an absolute conclusion with missing information that one will never obtain, but I think you effectively countered prejudiced nonsensensical arguments based on something in the sceptics head rather than in reality.

    A few things in not sure of. What did Mr Dinsdale cock up here? Did he give sceptics ammunition by handing them 'too much information', or perhaps leave things open to interpretation (the home of the professional sceptic)?

    Secondly, I've been watching old episodes of an American show called 'In Search Of...', I'm sure you've heard of it. In one particular episode Mr Dinsdale is seen commenting that the infamous 'Loch Ness Muppet' photo (a photo that still gives me the creeps, to get honest) is one of the best images of the creature yet. I find that odd, but he did say that one of his sightings was of an animal like a black anaconda, and I can see where he might draw a parallel with the 'muppet' photo.

    In response to a guy above who commented that Mr Dinsdale's binoculars were merely opera glasses, I find that quite unbelievable. I had binoculars better than that as a child. Given, as you say, his preparedness and professionalism, I really don't think so.

    As for the film itself, I really don't know what it is. I know as a photographer that the direction and type of light hugely alters what details are visible, as well as film stock and lens. I would find it hard to believe that the object disappearing is a trick of the light. I have certainly never witnessed that, though I do not take film, only photos. I would love to know what trick the light was playing that particular day. It sounds a bit desperate, to be honest. I'd love to see a proper version of the film, but all I get are short clips.

    And with regards speed of object, can we not just take a portion in isolation, add up the frames and estimate time passed, and then estimate distance. Giving us speed?

    1. The full film can be viewed here:

    2. As for those opera glasses, yes, seems hard to believe. The camera was borrowed from the Burton family, so Tim did seem to be short on resources. Only his family can answer for sure.

    3. I've always thought that going straight across and then turning sharp left is an odd way to cross the Loch. Is it possible that the second parallel sequence is indeed a boat and has no relation to the first 'moving away' frames? Did Tim unknowingly film two completely different objects that day?

  13. Riitta Law the object was filmed following the route a boat would take crossing from Foyers to Invermoriston.It is interesting to note that TD himself said he was out on the loch in one of these small boats the previous afternoon so we know they were in the area.
    i have made this crossing myself 4 or 5 times and you tend to go straight across because thats the way the current pushes you then you turn closer to the other side.

    1. You're popping up all over the place, Steve. I am not sure if your comment will be seen one year on, but people do flag up to be informed of new comments, so you never know.

  14. Spending another sleepless night reading my favorite blog (and this article for the 10th time probably). If you could include links to subsequent entries concerning the film (specifically the ones hinted at for future - now several year old- analyses), that would be well appreciated.

    Lacking Dinsdale’s book at the present time, I have two basic questions if you would be so kind as to indulge me.

    (1) Is the ‘standard’ (perhaps not a helpful term) version of the film (for instance if you search on YouTube for it) not the entire film? This may be a novice inquiry so forgive me redundancy.

    (2) Is the footage that makes up the second half of that ‘cut’ of the film simply what it appears (to this student at least) to be? Ie, it’s obviously a boat and is (as you stated) simply control footage? I only ask because I see a ton of very lazy skeptics write the film off by pointing out that obvious fact and thereby dismiss it. This disconnect has confused me because even for lazy skeptics, that’s rather audacious.

    Hope you find the find the time, and keep this blog up. I adore it.

  15. (1) Full film is here:

    (2) Second part is comparison footage of boat taken later the same day.