Marc D’Antonio is a photo and video analyst for MUFON [Mutual UFO Network] as well as president for FX Models in Terryville. He has also appeared on the Discovery Channel's "UFOs Over Earth," and lectures at MUFON conferences around the country. His lecture on photo and video analysis of UFO footage is available on DVD.
Marc recently took some time to chat UFOs with us.
Damned Connecticut: How did you get interested in UFOs?
Marc D’Antonio: I guess back when I was a little kid I started getting interested in them just because I thought they were a fascinating subject. I’ve always been interested in astronomy, so at the age of 9, I knew I was going to go to school to become a real live astronomer, and in fact, that’s what I did. I went to Wesleyan University and I got a degree in astronomy, and it turned out to be a real fascinating thing to do. And of course, that made me wonder if there was life out there, and one thing led to another, and I started getting involved with groups that dealt with them.
Damned Connecticut: How did you get involved with MUFON?
Marc D’Antonio: After Walt Andrus first started MUFON years and years ago, I became a field investigator. I think I was still in high school when that happened. What happened was that you got the field manual about how to be a field investigator – I did it and investigated a couple of little things that happened in Connecticut here and there. I also spent a lot of time in Dudleytown with metal detectors and going up at night looking for paranormal activity, talking to people in the area who’d seen weird people in the place who seem out of place historically. All that stuff.
So I was into all that stuff and MUFON many years ago, and then I got out of it. I went on to get my degree in astronomy, and then proceeded to get involved with computer programming and all those things, which took me even farther away from MUFON. Then, I turned around and started my own business, and now I work at home, so I started getting interested in UFOs again, and I started making contacts with MUFON people again. They found out that I have a photographic background and they asked me to analyze some photos. I said, “Wow, just like the old days! Except now, better technology." So I started analyzing photos and the next thing you know, they say, “Hey, we have this Discovery Channel show. Do you want to be our analyst for the show?” I said, “Yeah, sure!” so I ended up being photo analyst for a couple of episodes of “UFOs Over the Earth.”
As of now, I’m becoming one of these analysts in MUFON that’s sort of the go-to person for the whole U.S., so I’ve started files for every state and I get investigations every single day. The ones that I get are the ones that have photo and video evidence. The ones that don’t have that, I don’t look at. I apply my science and photography skills to analyze them.
Damned Connecticut: So you get stuff every day. Are you shocked at the volume?
Marc D’Antonio: No, the reason being is that 99 percent of it is lens flares or accidental overexposures, double exposures, weird reflections, etc. What’s neat is that it addresses my scientific abilities to be able to decipher angles and geometry in the photo to show that weird disc-shaped UFO in the sky is really a reflection off the sensor line axis of the lens, for instance, and it’s actually a lens flare. And when you do geometric calculations of the reflections, you can calculate, “Oh yeah, at that focal length, that’s right exactly where I expect it to be.” You’re essentially forming a map of evidence that basically says, “Guess what? This is just a lens flare,” or “This is Jupiter.” I get a lot of that.
Damned Connecticut: Then saying that 99 percent of the time it’s explainable, what about that one percent that’s not?
Marc D’Antonio: Yeah, so far all I’ve gotten is the 99 percent. I haven’t seen the one percent yet. But I can tell you things I have seen that could easily be put into that category by anyone who didn’t have a background in astronomy.
For example, I had just had a “Mars party,” and I’d had about 10 people here at the house. We had the telescopes set up on the front lawn – as you might imagine, my friends and I have amassed some pretty high-end equipment. So we looked at Mars, had a good time, then everyone packed up and said their good-byes. Just after the last car left my driveway, I looked up and two bright lights appeared up in the sky a few miles up and as bright as headlights -- I could see my shadow by each one. As they moved across the sky, they got brighter, brighter and brighter, and it was hard to look at them, and then they faded out. The first thing I thought was, “Wow, anyone who didn’t know what an Iridium satellite was would look at that and swear they just saw the aliens arriving.” But it was an Iridium flare, a pair of them, and it often happens. I went back and did the calculations with a few of my astronomy programs, and sure enough, right over my house at that point, two Iridium flares were predicted. So, pretty neat stuff.
Damned Connecticut: What’s your take on intelligent life in the universe, aliens and UFOs?
Marc D’Antonio: Well, I wish you could come to Denver in August! I’m doing a keynote address at the MUFON symposium out there on that exact subject.
My take—and I can say this because it’s common knowledge for people who know my belief system—is that it would be arrogant for us to think that we’re alone. And during my talk, I will proceed to take people through this scenario where I show that for a long time, people thought life on Earth was tied to the Sun. You know, photosynthetic life. But then, people like Dudley Foster and Dr. Al Bradley, people at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute took the Alvin down to the bottom of the ocean, and they found smoking chimneys that are spewing 900 degree water that is filled with minerals, bacteria that live in the area, and the chemistry that could’ve formed life on Earth back when life was first forming. And they find around these “black smoker” chimneys, as they’re called, it’s an oasis of life. They make the discovery that there’s four- and five-foot-long tube worms living at these geothermal vents, and that these worms actually have hemoglobin in their blood. Something like that is that is an amazing discovery, especially when you consider that it’s not photosynthesis but chemosynthesis that forms the basis of life in the deep ocean.
What’s intriguing about that, and something pretty much irreconcilable with traditional historical dogma is that chemosynthetic life implies that we no longer have to be in a strict habitable zone to have life, such as a certain distance from the Sun. Down there, the pressures are immense – you’re talking 7,000 pounds per square inch – yet life abounds. And it’s not even based on sunlight, it’s based on chemical processes.
Take that out to Europa. Europa has an ice crust, and underneath it is a vast ocean. Could there not be chemosynthetic life under Europa’s crust? There absolutely could. The Martian methane – same thing. On Earth methane last about 12 years because of breakdowns, the atmosphere, the proximity to the sun and other chemical processes. On Mars, it lasts 350 years but methane also comes volcanic processes. So you figure, “Well, maybe it’s from volcanic processes,” except there are no active volcanoes on Mars right now, and there haven’t been for way more than 350 years – actually, we’re talking millions of years. So the implication there is that the methane has to be coming from somewhere. When you correlate where the methane is on Mars relative to water ice and water vapor – areas, for instance, where’s there’s persistent water vapor clouds on Mars – you’ll find that the methane is higher, too.
Now, that coincidence provides us with a tremendous amount of knowledge indicating that perhaps these are from Martian microbes, the only other thing really that can cause methane in these types of concentration. So, this implies again, that even within our solar system, it’s possible that life is the rule not the exception, or within reason, the rule not the exception.
If you take this and expand it out futher – and again, this is all in response to your question on what’s my take on life in the universe, etc. – if you go out 100 light years from the Sun in every direction, there are 500 more stars just like the Sun. One hundred light years in every direction. Okay? That’s 600 trillion miles in any direction. So, if you think about it, what it implies is that the galaxy, being 200,000 light years across – it’s a disc – and is 300,000 light years thick, that means there’s a lot of Sun-like stars in our galaxy alone. And the Hubble space telescope, looking at a small patch of sky – the size of your outstretched thumb, vertically – found one million galaxies in that small space.
So the arrogance, to think we’re alone, is very hard to face when you have such odds. If anything, statistics alone nearly proves that there are other life forms out there. So my take on it is: They’re there.
Damned Connecticut: I guess the next question is, are they here?
Marc D’Antonio: I was waiting for that!
Damned Connecticut: Well, you set me up. I have to ask it, right?
Marc D’Antonio: I absolutely set you up, as a matter of fact, because what I have to tell you about, “Are they here?” I firmly believe they are. I’m not just a science-type guy who looks at UFOs, I had a very unfortunate experience that took two years away from my life.
I ended up having an experience where I woke up in the middle of the night after several nights previous of noises. A light flashed in my face out of nowhere and I woke up paralyzed and under control by something in the room.
I’m not a nutcase. I’m just a normal guy and I’m simply telling you what I saw. This translucent wand of light was going back and forth in front of my face, and I could only see it out of peripheral vision because my eyes were frozen looking straight ahead. So that hypnagogic state that you’re in when you wake up and your body and your mind aren’t quite linked up together, I was being held in. As a matter of fact, I was held in it so long that I woke up fully and was in a pure panic. And I could not move. I thought I was paralyzed and then I realized that I can’t hear, my eyes are frozen and fixed looking in one direction and I can’t even hear myself breathing from inside my body. I heard nothing – I heard the actual sound of what true silence is, and it was exceedingly frightening.
I thought there was something physically wrong with me, then I saw something in the room. The something in the room -- that little translucent wand, almost like a stick – passed in front of my face, and then the next thing I knew, I woke up. And when I pushed off the pillow gasping for air, it was saturated with blood. I felt as if I’d been punched in the face with a sledgehammer. The left side of my nose was swollen; I looked in the mirror and I could see no residuals effects other than caked blood around my nose. My hands were perfectly clean, which implies I didn’t do anything in the middle of the night to try and make my nose bleed.
It took me two years, on and off – I couldn’t breathe out of that nostril from that day forward. When I went to the doctor at Hartford Hospital, Dr. Lehmann, he said, “Wow, you got something up there!” and I said, “Well, interesting, what is it?” He said, “Well, it looks like a polyp, but it’s pretty big, though. I actually think I can get it.” He was able to snare it and pull it out in his office. He then put it in a bottle and said, “We’re sending it down to pathology. We do this with everybody. Don’t worry. It’s no big deal. It’s not a tumor. It’s just a standard little polyp.”
I asked him, “Just out of curiosity, can something like that form around a foreign object, you know, like if you worked in a metal shop and you got a metal splinter.” And he said, “Yeah, I could see how that could happen.” I said, “Well, can you have them check to see if there’s something in the core of that?” And he said, “Yeah, sure.”
I let it go and a week later, I’m waiting for his call. Nothing. And again, this is about two years after the event that cause that. So I called him back and I asked, “What did you find out? Did you call down to pathology?” And his response was almost predictable. He said, “Well, I hate to tell you this, and I just want to say, it’s not a malignant thing, it’s just a polyp.” So I said, “Where is it? Where is the thing?” He said, “Well, apparently, they lost it. Uh, I’ve never really lost anything before. I’m really, really sorry. But I promise you, it’s harmless.”
So from his point of view, he’s just worried that the patient that this is a tumor that might go undiagnosed or something, when in fact, the patient was thinking, “Why would that disappear? He said that’s never happened before. Why me? Why did it start now?”
So, the folks at MUFON say, “It was taken! It was taken by the Men in Black!” or whatever you want to say. But you know something, I don’t know where it went. But I do know that the combination of events is stranger than fiction. You can’t make that stuff up. So I don’t know what happened with it. But, as a result of my experience, I started looking more into UFOs again and that kind of thing.
As a result, I’ve become friends with Budd Hopkins. Budd wants me to go down to Manhattan with one of my kids who also woke up about four years ago and said he had to sleep in my and my wife’s bed. We said, “Okay, night terrors, whatever. Kids get that.” And then he preceded to say he had to do that every night and we said, “No, you can’t do it. What’s wrong? Why do you want to sleep in our bed all the time?” And his response – and by the way, I’ve never talked to kids about any of this stuff because I don’t want to scare them – he looked at me and said, “I’m afraid the aliens are going to come through my window and take me again.”
Great! Good! And that was right before my wife and I calling the police at 2 in the morning, for the next event. We live in a carriage barn-style house. The attic has one entrance, inside the house, up a ladder to a loft where you have to move a heavy door which is locked in place, not on hinges. It’s the only way in or out of the attic. We were laying in bed one night at 2 in the morning and were awakened by the sounds of little feet walking up in our attic. Thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump. You could see it traveling across the floor, you could feel the sound going right across the floor, walking around. Thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump. Bipedal, two legs, not a squirrel. They had a heavy footfall, but they weren’t like a full-grown adult. I’m 180 pounds, 5’9 – it wasn’t that. It was like a 12-year-old child trapped in the attic.
First thing I did was jump out of bed and ran in to look at my kids. They’re in their beds! There’s something in the attic. By this point, my wife’s awake. “What is that? Who’s up there?” “I don’t know.” There’s no way in or out of that attic, except through the inside of the house. So I walk around the other side of the door to look where that entrance is – it’s locked and in place, as always. But something was walking around in the attic. Thump-thump-thump-thump-thump-thump. Literally. Not creaking doors; solid footsteps, like stocking feet footsteps. You could actually almost see the sounds, it was so powerful. You would never mistake for it anything other than what we said it was.
We called the police, and they showed up within five minutes. They did a survey around the outside of the house. Nothing. They came inside. Nothing. What we didn’t do was go up into the attic. I didn’t want to face that. There was something going on up there that I felt I shouldn’t be seeing. Whenever I thought about going up into the attic, I went into a cold sweat. I’m not a panicky person in anyway – I’m actually an investigator of those kinds of things. I mean, who else would go to Dudleytown in the middle of the night, and hang out on the mountain? Something was saying, “Don’t go up there, this is not a good thing to see, whatever it is.”
Now, I did go up there a few days later, and I looked at the dust on the floor to see if I could footprints or whatever, but it just wasn’t clear enough to see. I couldn’t really tell. But it was a very strange event.
So, for all those reasons, I think they’re here. And that’s part of the reason that I’m getting more involved with MUFON. Now, I’m working with their online database looking at photos from many years ago to the present, and hopefully, providing dispositions on the cases, to be able to close them, or say that they’re truly unknown.
I don’t know if you got the chance to watch the Discovery Channel show, but in that there really was no solid conclusion for actual events.
Damned Connecticut: The first event you talked about, the “wand” before you eyes, how long ago was that?
Marc D’Antonio: That was before kids, approximately 15 years ago.
Damned Connecticut: And then the incident with your son, you said, was about five years ago.
Marc D’Antonio: That’s correct.
Damned Connecticut: Anything since then?
Marc D’Antonio: Well, only with him, but I don’t like to breach the subject with him.
Damned Connecticut: That’s fine. I understand.
March D’Antonio: No, I don’t mind talking to you about it. I just don’t like to breach the subject with him because . . . he’s a little afraid when you say the word “alien.” You start to see him tense up.
The other thing that happened is that in the old house where I grew up in Plainville, that’s where my parents lived and where I lived – my mother lived there until a couple of years ago. In that house, years before the event with me, my nieces were staying there and being taken care of by grandma. The older of the two nieces who were there, at the time, was 7. My other niece was 5. And they were sleeping in the bedroom that was my bedroom when I lived there. And the older of the two woke up in the middle of the night to find a little man at the end of the bed.
He was dressed, in what she said was a blue coverall-thing – this was a 7-year-old talking, so the way she described it had to be translated, sort of. She said he had dark sockets for eyes and a smile all the way down and up his face. It wasn’t a smile as much as it was a mouth, a crinkly-edged mouth, all the way around and up like a big wrinkle.
And she saw this thing and it started pulling the covers off. When that happened, she woke up my other niece, and when my other niece woke up and started to sit up, the thing at the end of the bed panicked and my niece said, in her 7-year-old terms, it disappeared in a crackle.
She drew a picture of it, and I had a photo of that picture for many years. And that was in Plainville, Connecticut.
Throughout the years, my family has had these kind of weird experiences. My mother has seen ghosts. My mother knew when her brother was shot in the head a world away in Manila in the Philippines. She woke up in the middle of the night, and she saw the entire of image of what happened and said, “Oh my god, my brother’s dead.” Sure enough, Western Union delivered a telegram later on the next day saying that. She was inconsolable from that moment forward. She knew he was dead because she saw it happen and he was half a world away.
That all being said, these experiences seem common to our genetic lineage in our family. My grandmother had a sea captain who lived in a house with her except he was a ghost and he was dead a hundred years. My mother saw the ghost and it was tweaking my father’s toes in the middle of night when they were up at her in Maine. And my mother was so used to seeing these things that she got stern with the ghost and said, “You cut that out! You leave him alone.” And she said he acted like he was insulted and he walked out of the room. That’s my mother. She’s very direct and doesn’t embellish anything. In fact, you have to draw the details out.
So this stuff has followed my family around forever, I guess. My niece saw that little blue guy then in the house that is exactly 5,280 feet from here that we used to live in, and I had the experience with the wand, part of the reason we moved, and then in this house, my son has had the experience where he’s said he’s afraid the aliens are going to come through the window and take him again. You know, you’re just as likely to find science fiction shows with aliens painted as funny characters as not funny characters, so why he would be so firmly planted on that side is only explainable if something happened to him that we’re not aware of.
Marc D’Antonio: While we’re talking, I’m going to log into the MUFON database, find the reports for Connecticut and find the most recent one. I did see a couple, let’s take a look.
There is no shortage of Connecticut ones, actually. I also see photos associated with a number of these. I see triangle craft spotted … oh man, let’s just stick with 2009.
In 2009, [there were sightings on] Jan. 2, Jan.5, Jan. 5 again, Jan. 8, Jan. 10, Jan. 21, Jan. 25 and Feb. 2. One of those was an unknown unmanned aerial vehicle. Another was lights doing strange maneuvers in the sky . . .
A lot of people are mistaking Venus in the early evening and Jupiter in the morning as UFOs, even more so as we get farther around the Sun. They see them close to the horizon and they scintillate. They just change all kinds of colors and people often think of that as rapidly spinning spherical shape. And then when you take a video of it, that’s precisely what it looks like. It’s not what it is.
Connecticut has had a lot of sightings recently.
Damned Connecticut: Are there any basics to look for when watching or seeing something unusual in the sky?
Marc D’Antonio: Well, everything is different, but I guess a rule of thumb is to look for behaviors in the object that would just not be normal for say, a normally occurring object such as a star or a planet in the sky. Ninety-degree turns is a good one. One hundred eighty-degree change of direction is a good one.
Speaking of, I’ve been in a tirade with a bunch of people who think they understand microgravity, you know, flying in orbit. And what they don’t understand is how particles actually act in orbit in a microgravity situation. There’s this one famous video of a tether that NASA had released on one of the shuttle missions, and the tether broke with a satellite at the end of it.
People see all these things flying around, and I’ve been nicely trying to explain to people that these are bits of ice and broken tether floating near the shuttle. There’s nothing to disperse them; there’s no wind, so they tend to stick around the ship. Not only that, the pieces of ice aren’t going to melt, they tend to collide with each other, and they change direction rapidly because the reaction-control thrusters on the shuttle are always firing to keep them at station. Inside the shuttle that sounds like a popping noise. Pop-pop-pop. These are small bursts outside the shuttle. And these bursts propel these little things all the time. Little things collide with other little things and send them in all different kinds of directions.
So people are citing those and saying, “It’s intelligent control.’ Except when they zoom in on the tether and satellite way in the distance, these objects, which are also supposed to be really far in the distance, go vastly out of focus, showing immediately that they’re right outside the shuttle window, and that they’re just little pieces of ice and debris.
I had one guy who said, “If you look carefully, you can see the actual shape of the flying saucer spacecraft. You say they’re out of focus; they’re not. They’re round ships. Look at the black hole in the center and then you see this little notch in it as well.”
Okay, I looked at that and I laughed. You know what that is? The camera is a Cassegrain telescope camera. It has a central secondary mirror that obstructs the main barrel. You’re seeing the doughnut-shaped characteristic of an out-of-focus Cassegrain telescope image. And that square notch is a small prism that’s inserted into the field. It’s a guide stalk. There’s a tiny little mirror there that takes light in so you can guide it from off axis. It’s called an off-axis guider.
I tell that to them, but of course, they want to believe it’s UFOs more than the actual truth of the actual camera lens taking a picture. So that’s what I go up against with these kinds of people. That kind of makes it tough to do what I kind of do. But they stopped arguing with me now – you take away their ability to argue by just telling them the facts.
Don’t let facts get in the way of your nice story! I believe in UFOs probably more than you, for reasons I won’t divulge, I would say to them. But that’s the internet. Don’t let the fantastic cloud your point of view. When you see a UFO for real, it’s not going to be the life-changing event you think it is. It’s actually going to be very mundane by the time you actually see one.
Damned Connecticut: Do you think recent advances in technology have helped ufology?
Marc D’Antonio: When I did my talk out in San Jose, I [was asked] to look at some photos of something called “the drone.”
I explained very clearly why it was a CG (computer-generated) ship put into actual photos, cropped in. I proceeded to recreate it. In my San Jose talk, I did it live. I built a drone ship in front of everybody. I actually did it in a series of screenshots because I did not want to have to depend on the 3-D program to do what I wanted to do, so I did everything and made it a series of screenshots, so I guess it wasn’t really live, but it was close enough. I did effectively, with the talking between slides. It took me longer to talk to them through the creation with the screenshots than it did to actually create it with the program without having to talk.
So I did it live and I recreated it. I said, “All the basic tools to create this are in every 3-D program you can buy. Look, this is a bevel. Look, this is a smooth shift. They use different terms in different programs. You know, here’s a subdivide.” I pointed out to people how that worked, and I showed how with the advance and advent of these new – and relatively cheap – 3-D programs, you could fool someone.
It’s hurt ufology in that now there are a lot of bogus cases out there. However, all it means is that they get guys like me – and there are a lot of guys who know a heck of a lot more than I do – who can come along and say, “That’s computer-generated, and here’s why. And let me recreate it while I’m at it.” Now that’s what I did with the drone ship, but there’s other people who could’ve taken it ten steps farther than I did.
So yeah, technology can hurt, but the same technology that they can use to fool ufologists, we can use to analyze their tricks. And I do. I use the same tools to unravel their hoaxes that they use to create them. It’s give and take, you know what I mean?
Damned Connecticut: How much of your time do you spend with this?
Marc D’Antonio: My job is that I’m a model-maker. I work from home and build computer-generated models, so [as such] we have the tools of the trade as well as the talents of the trade, not just mine, but other people’s. A lot of the time I can put guys off on a project and I’ll come into my office during lunch and go through an analyze things. I’ll also do it at night. My wife goes to bed early because she works up at UConn, and I’ll come in here and I’ll do photo and video analysis when there are no kids around. You know, some of these things can be pretty scary. I also do some paranormal ones, showing ghosts and all that stuff -- one woman who says her best friend died, and look, it’s coming out of my head now. You know?
Damned Connecticut: So you do paranormal analysis, too?
Marc D’Antonio: Yeah, I’m doing a paranormal investigation for a friend who is a MUFON director, a person who is charge of a whole state and there’s a lot of paranormal activity surrounding her life. She’s asked me to check out her pictures to let her know if she’s crazy or not. I tell her, “Only you know that answer. I can tell you what the world may call you.”
Damned Connecticut: If people are interested in sending you something to analyze, can they send it to you?
Marc D’Antonio: If they have a sighting, I encourage them to send it MUFON. If they imagery and they send it to MUFON, I’ll see it because they’re going to send it to me. So it’s a good thing for them to send it to MUFON.
MUFON has a database where you can submit your own sighting. You could go up there right now and put up your own sighting. You could also go up there and try to fool them, put something up there that’s not true and cause trouble. It’s a little bit of an honor system, but we can quickly differentiate with our technology the wheat from the chafe. Not only that, if you look at the database, you can say, “I saw a bright thing and an alien came out,” but you can’t just say that. You’re going to get contacted by someone. They’re going to interview you, they’re going to ask other witnesses. They’re good at this. They know people are going to try and pull their wool over their eyes, so by the end of the interview, they’ll know if that’s being done or not.
MUFON has had people try to fool them for many, many years. To their credit, most of the people have been able to be smoked out, so to speak. People who have tried to submit photo and video credit, it’s either real or it’s Memorex. We try to say it’s possibly real, which it could be. But we’re looking for the Holy Grail, something that is indisputable.
-- Again, a big thanks to Marc for taking the time to talk with us. You can read more about UFOs at MUFON.