THE ZAPRUDER FILM / Its Alteration

Altering the Zapruder Film

David Healy

[Editor's Note:The first to hear the news in Saigon, where he was stationed
with the US Army Military Assistance Advisory Group, David Healy has spent
more than 30 years in video and film production and post-production. The film
"feels wrong" to him, which has led him to consider the question of whether
it could have been edited with the technology and expertise available at the time.

Over the past 6 months I've built a few graphics that look into: IF!!! IF the Zapruder film is altered, HOW? Was the technology ,and operators available to do it?

I'm posting this SAMPLE image (it has considerable detail), it's 800x600 [all images in this series will be 800x600 ,jpeg @ 72dpi] it's rather large I know, for your review and comments. My hope? Novices regarding film processing and film optical printing equipment amongst us will/can grasp what in fact (I believe) was done to the JFK Assassination camera original film.

Film traveling mattes and counter-matte(s) can be a confusing issue, my challenge is to show the process in plain old ENGLISH and not doublespeak of which so much surrounds the "Zapruder Film". .

It's my opinion that we'll NEVER know the the true fate of the Zapruder 8mm camera original (Double 8mm-Split) film and I stress THE camera original, Zapruders and OTHERS btw! Zapruders more than likely never got out of Dallas. Then again it [Zapruders] could be in a thousand pieces at the bottom of a landfill in Central California somewhere.

Again, thanks ALL for YOUR TIME AND INTEREST, yours in particular Jack White, eventually this whole series of images will be dedicated to YOU and your tenacity in searching for the truth rin dealing with... through the morass called the Zapruder film.

I'm not forgetting Jim Fetzer, who's got the balls to shake up a few of the institutions involved (past and prersent) and demanding answers to some serious questions! Good job Dr. Jim...

I'm not a writer - so bear with me and the ramblings, then again you've probably figured that out!.

Original Message:   WHAT the Optical Printer Technican/Operator does ---

Thought it might be interesting for anyone to see just what the job requirements are for 'Film Optical Printer' technician. I ran across this job description on a website dealing with post production issues in the commercial film industry. BTW, various forms of this photographic craft have been around since the 1890's, we're NOT talking rocket science here. A confusing medium? YES! WHY? Because there's so many different way's to arrive at the same PRODUCT.

1. Sets up and operates optical printers and related equipment to produce fades, dissolves, superimpositions, and other optical effects required in motion pictures, applying knowledge of optical effects printing and photography:

2. Reads work order and count sheet to ascertain optical effects specifications and location of subject material on original photography film.

3. Analyzes specifications to determine work procedures, sequence of operations, and machine setup, using knowledge of optical effects techniques and procedures.

4. Loads camera of optical effects printer with magazine of unexposed film stock. Mounts original photography film in transport and masking mechanism of optical-printer projector and moves film into designated position for optical effect, using counter and film markings to determine placement.

5. Adjusts camera position, lens position, mask opening, lens aperture, focus, shutter angle, film transport speed, and related controls, using precision measuring instruments and knowledge of optical effects techniques to determine settings.

6. Selects designated color and neutral density filters and mounts in filter holder to control light and intensity.

7. Sets controls in automatic or manual mode, moves control to start camera, and observes printer operation and footage counter during filming.

8. Adjusts controls during filming operation when operating in manual mode, and stops camera when designated counter reading is observed.

9. Moves controls to rewind camera film and original photography film and repeats select portions or entire operation number of times necessary to produce designated effect. Sets up and operates animation and matte cameras and related equipment to photograph artwork, such as titles and painted mattes.

10. Sets up and operates single pass optical printers when enlarging or reducing film or performing related operations.

11. Sets up and operates subtitle camera and related equipment to photograph film subtitles.

12. Examines frames of film exposed with different combinations of color filters (wedges) to select optimum color balance based on experience and judgment.

Sean wrote:
Let's cut to the chase and let us know which frames in Zapruder were altered, around what date, and by which means-what kind of process. Give an example as you pick a Z-frame that's altered. Also, if you can, who was most likely to do the altering.

AGREED, if the optical printing definitions and idea[s] hasn’t gotten through at this point it won’t make any difference anyway

Couple of paragraphs of background, I’m one of those been there - done that kind of television guy’s, 30+ years of this stuff, first camera I used in televion work that didn’t need to roll around on a ton and a half pedestal was the CP-16 16mm film camera used for shooting news when I was at a ABC O and O station. I’ve virtually operated EVERY handheld camera made for the broadcast industry at one time or another since then up to and including today’s Panasonic and Sony’s new 16:9 High Definition handheld camera systems. I’m was an FCC licensed broadcast Engineer for 15 year’s (after 3 license renewal’s I didn’t bother anymore), I could field strip any camera handheld/studiohead, repair it and have it up and running again in hours provided I had access to scopes and parts.

My first film edit was on a Moviola Flatbed in 1967, first electronic *edit* in 1968 on two Ampex 1200’s running 2” videotape with Editec function, more commonly known then as Punch ‘n crunch editing. I’ve been editing ever since.When I wasn’t busy editing over the next 15 years I was shooting tape and or film for ALL three national networks AND a few television stations in the 5th rated market place in the country. Getting the globe trotting newscamera bug out of my system in 1982 I started doing programming for myself instead of others. I also engineered, designed and built 2 television production studios, engineered ,designed and built 2 editing facilities and field tested 2 ENG news camera packages for a Japanese camera manufacturer. (couldn’t buy American then - RCA got out of the business, but their old TK-76 3 tube Plum-i-con was a great handheld camera, they sold a ton of them. During the past 18+ years I’ve produced, directed,operated camera, editied over 600 pieces for various clients (companies, corporations and or governmental agencies (NASA).

For the [ast 13 years my specialty has been video post production for Silicon Valley High Tech corp’s and a few other Fortune 50 companies (not their AD agencies) with heavy emphasis on using a film/video/digital media COMPOSITING program called Adobe After Effects, a program with it’s current widespread usage has probably put most of the film high-end industry’s Optical Printing houses out of business).So do I know a little about this industry? Yeah. Can I draw paralells between how thing’s we’re done in the film optical business of 61-64 and video compositing post production troday? Yeah.

My initial interest in JFK? My father was a union president in Boston, Mass for many year’s, I was born there. He personally knew JFK, delivered thousands of votes for him in his statewide elections. Was invited personally by JFK to his presidential inaugaration. I was in the USArmy and served from 2/63 thru 2/64 with MAAG [Military Assistance Advisory Group] -Vietnam. My CIC was murdered in Dallas.

My interest in this has been for sometime now. I saw the Zapruder film sometime around the Geraldo showing, it was a bootleg copy some cameraman came across, the first time I saw it maybe 5 or 6 other television cameramen saw it, to a man we felt it was bullshit. Every man in the room had combat zone camera experience and the comments can be summed up as, either Zapruder knew what was coming down or he was stone *fucking * deaf. If he was unaware AND forward of any muzzle blast (from his right rear) especially within 50 feet he and whoever was up there with him would of been off the wall in a flash. Is that my opinion? Well, sometimes ignorance is bliss, in actuality I had and still have a tough time disagreeing with that point of view.

My kneejerk summation to the JFK Zapruder film? He was shot at by more than one rifle, from more than one position, possibly 3 positions but at least 2. I don’t give much credence to the so-called *jet effect*. Intellectualy - 2 guns from the rear, Gut level - 2 from the right rear and one from the right front, probably a insurance position (from the limo driver’s front facing perspective).

The final uptake, Zapruder has it in the can, the film as it sit’s in the camera, BEFORE it get’s to Kodak is the LAST time we can know for sure that it’s in it’s original state. All bets are off when that film enters Kodak - Dallas. We’re told Kodak can’t do the optical prints, fine Jamieson Film can do them. That’s the first RED flag for me Kodak* doesn’t have any Double 8mm PRINT stock available - gott’a use camera stock for print’s ah, yeah... right. Let me get this straight Kodak only sells film and film processing, that’s their corporate mission, their lifeblood even. And NO print film for the film of the CENTURY? (A project that may provide a little interest is why camera original film was used for the Zapruder optical prints -- could bumping from 8mm to 16mm look a lot better if it’s coming off of Kodacolor camera stock? hmm. Of course it does ! ! ! Oh... by the way, over the years we’ve been told about emulsion side out stuff regarding the ZAP film can’t this - that.... maybe one of these photo experts on the LN side of the aisle would provide me with the proper definition of bipack film printing more commonly called emulsion to emulsion printing.. One could make ANY camera original duplicate in a bipack setup look exactly like the original -- emulsion side out ... for the edge numbers, I hope this doesn’t come as to much of a shock but there is film manufactured withOUT edge #’s and footage count indications.

It’s back and forth between Jamieson and Kodak and eventually we end up with 3 UN-SPLIT Double 8mm optical prints on Kodak Double 8mm camerastock. Let’s stop right here A conspiracy may be unfolding, but here I think it starts in earnest. Imagine what one extra (4 total) Double 8mm Un-split optical print from Jamieson would do to the equation here. Secret Service get’s their 2 copies, Life gets their’s + the camera original, everyones making copies, making stills off of 8mm frame blowups, the NPIC is looking over the film for Ruskie involvement, everyone in Washinton has a lupe in their hand checking for this and checking for that. Of course this is making any film alteration time table look horrible, there’s no time for this no time for that, all copies are accounted for.... bullshit in my estimation. ... BTW

Maybe Stolley never got the camera original, maybe he got a camera stock optical print, how would he know? Maybe he did, but that’s beside the point, maybe the Zapruder Camera Original has never left Dallas, even to this day! 4 Double 8mm optical prints + the camera original, so simple, not a thing has to change as we know the story up to today. Give me 4 matte artists, 2 optical printer journeymen, 1 effects director some 8mm Kodacolr camera stock,16mm and 35mm camera AND print stock one 4 projector head optical/aerial printer with bi-pack option,hmm - maybe even a tri-pack option, one Step Printer for making travelling mattes ... then you can swing by in 14 day’s and pick up your order. THEN WHAT?

Well it’s Christmas season, just have to make 4 deliveries exchange the 2SS copies the 1 Life Unsplit version (that’s been split undoubtedly) and the *first-day issue* Life Camera original. You say... somebody’s gonna knooooowww. Life published a few frames, so what! The few that saw the 8mm film only remember Kennedy’s brains on the street, wether it was frame 313 or 613 with a stopped limo or not they could care less. The perp was caught within 12 hours was dead within 48 hours and the gov has the film, it’s over and done with.... oop’s I forgot something ... find a hidey-hole for a couple EXTRA altered Zapruder Films then BURN the ACTUAL Camera Original. As an aside: As evidence in a muder trial the Original Film from Dealey Plaza of the assassination could and most probably would mean execution, without it, pure speculation - maybe a conviction, but there’ll never be closure regarding this murder, not even with a confession. in my estimation the Zapruder camera original NEVER left Dallas and was destroyed 37 years ago.

How was it editied?

Why edit it? Simple question isn’t it? WHY? Sure isn’t that we want to cover up the deed hell it was done in front of everyone and GOD. Might be something as simple as editing out incriminating scenes and or frames.

Was the film altered (1.) ? Yes! Why? Possibly remove any indication the SS as an AGENCY might of had anything to do with any assassination plot. It’s my firm belief that the SS did NOT plot and or plan this crime, they may of been lax and screwed up their job that day, but the SS as an agency did NOT conspire to murder the president. Quite frankly I think they (as an agency) we’re as much a victim of this murder as we the citizens of the USA were victims. As individuals? Eh, there may have been an agent or two that could of been persuaded to join a group that planned to ouster the president.

So what was removed?

A. The limo left turn problems, probably 100-140 frames

B. The limo stop (momentarily or extended) 10-40 frames

What're the totals? Say 6 seconds to 8 seconds of material, out - immediately before any other considerations are made. No big deal easily accomplished, take about an hour, but what’s the rush? The only thing we need here if an alteration is under way is a frame count and THAT is very easy to provide.

Was the film altered (2.) ? To create a lone nut killer! Why? We don’t need an assassination conspiracy at this time to go along with ALL the other problems we’ve got on a international scale (Communism in general - Moscow in particular, Havana specifically). Remove all frames that show indications of another discharged weapon in the Plaza:

So what was removed?

A. These frames could be found in the *limo stop* extracted frames above.

Was the film altered (3.) ?

To prove the lone nut scenario! How? First any indication to prove the film was altered during the kill zone frames had to be eliminated. (Think about it what had to be eliminated? Anything that did NOT move in the “background layer” of the limo that was in direct photo coverage area of Zapruders lens. From the Zapruder camera POV what wasn’t moving that can be construed as a point of reference? The traffic on the other side of the lawn wasn’t moving.  (continued)