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Hi-res analysis of the 1973 Doyle footagePrintable Version

The high resolution footage
As mentioned earlier in the Where Light Meets Dark discussion forum regarding the 1973 Doyle footage, I found a second copy of the footage which is higher resoluation than that which I used in my first analysis of the 1973 Doyle footage.

The high resolution footage can be downloaded at El Tigre de Tasmania - Thylacinus Cynocephalus - I found Media Player (Win XP) wouldn't open it directly; I had to save the file then use another player. (Direct link to the video)

Many thanks to thylacine.1979.ws for making the clip available. In addition to being higher resolution, the image has been stabilized so that the animal remains vertically aligned, and it has been slowed down to make observation easier.

The MPEG file format
If you haven't read my original analysis (link above), please be aware that the MPEG file format was never intended to produce still-frames. The compression technique used by the format means that a full frame is stored only periodically - the intervening frames are rendered by over-writing only some parts of the last rendering of the image. Then, after several such "partial but overlapping" renderings, another full frame is rendered.

This has serious implications for any frame analysis of the footage. To date, I have no knowledge of the present wherabouts of the original film, however.

Still frames
Once again, I paused the footage for every frame and captured as many as was possible. This yielded 63 images.

The previous analysis spent considerable time evaluating such features as the shape and positioning of the animal's tail, legs, ears and similar features. The intent of this present analysis is not to reproduce that work, but rather, to see whether the higher resolution data gives any insight into whether or not the animal displays stripes.

Frames showing stripes?
The first logical step was to identify which frames appear to display anything which might be construed as a stripe pattern. Quite clearly, the resolution is still not high enough to show without doubt whether the animal is striped, but my reasoning here is that if the animal was striped, then surely that alternation in contrast would have rendered at least some data in some frames.

Please do note that is an assumption.

In order to qualify as "possibly showing striping", the dorsal surface (the back of the animal) was examined in every frame. The back had to show at least one area of colouration that was obviously in contrast to the surrounding area - it could be lighter or darker.

In two frames, the rump of the animal is obscured by a tree in the foreground, so of the remaining 61 frames, 26 were selected as showing areas of unusual contrast along the animal's back. That is an astonishing 43 percent!

Could the animal have unusual fur colouration causing these observations? Or is there a viable alternative explanation?

Highest contrast markings - click to enlarge

In my opinion, frame 43 is the one in which the colouration appears in highest contrast.

Lowest contrast markings - click to enlarge

With just a single black spot, frame 27 is probably the one which shows the least contrast in an area of colouration variance which was selected for inclusion in my count.

Alternative explanations?
Could these markings have been caused by something other than the animal's colouration? Certainly!

It became obvious even whilst capturing the frames, that many visual artefacts appear on the film.

The first kind of artefact sees itself appear for a single - or very few - frames, and then it disappears again. An example of this can be seen in frame 43 (the high contrast frame), above - where a large black mark appeared above the animal for a single frame.

These artefacts are most likely explained as originating with the source film. Although I have not spent the time to research such behaviour, I think most readers will agree they are familiar with such specks appearing on amateur film footage shot in the 1970s.

Such artefacts may account for a very small number of the selected frames - it would be quite extraordinary for them to appear exactly on the animal's back in over 40 percent of the captured frames!

The second kind of artefact is probably not so much an artefact, but a limitation of the resolution of the footage.

Obvious distortions - click to enlarge

Frame 14 best exhibits this second kind of "artefact" - at numerous points the head appears to exhibit unusual bumps. The appearance of this region is clearly replicated at other points along the back and at the rump. Quite clearly the animal is highly unlikely to have a bumpy head - nor a head exhibiting strong colour variation - as the vast majority of frames do not show anything like this at all.

Obvious distortion, second example - click to enlarge

Frame 32 shows similar distortion, this time at the chest and forepaw of the animal.

Ignoring for a moment, the cause of these "artefacts", their appearance has serious implications for interpreting the high contrast areas elsewhere on the animal. If we accept that such large areas of high contrast colouration cannot be due to the animal's appearance itself in areas such as the head and chest, then we have to accept that all such areas of contrast - no matter where on the body - can be explained by image distortion.

Distortion in background - click to enlarge

If we stop for a moment, and zoom out - recalling that we're not just examining the animal itself, but its whole context - you can see that similar distortion occurs in large portions of the background of frame 23. I selected this frame singly, whilst capturing the frames, to demonstrate this behaviour because even at that time the implications of this distortion became vastly obvious.

But we are left with a question - how come these areas of high colouration contrast seem to consistently occur on the back of the animal? Despite the background distortion, couldn't the areas of contrast observed on the animal still be due to its own colouration?

In answering those questions, we perhaps come up with a theory for how these distortions appear in the images. Notice that in frame 23 there are also vast areas which appear to show minimal distortion - namely, the road in front of the animal.

Recall too, that the animated sequence involved the camera panning from right to left as it tracked the animal. The high-resolution version used for this analysis stabilised the image, but there was considerable vertical variance in camera angle also. Finally, bear in mind that the MPEG format only refreshes the full frame periodically. The PixelTools website summarises this excellently:

"Two adjacent frames in a motion picture sequence are usually very nearly identical. Often the only difference is that some parts of the picture have shifted slightly between the frames. MPEG compression exploits this temporal redundancy by carving each new frame into convenient pieces and searching the previous frame to determine where each piece came from. If the content of the current frame was mostly sent in the previous frame, why send it all again? Just send the instructions for shifting pieces of the previous frame to their new positions in the current frame."

In other words, in a vast majority of the frame captures, the presented image is actually like a mosaic of tiles which have been shuffled around slightly since the previous frame. Then periodically, an entire frame is rendered. On those areas of the frame where there is a lot of movement, the tile pieces are very small. This would include the animal itself in our analysis. On areas of the frame which do not exhibit much (apparent) movement - like the roadway - the tile pieces can be larger. For an example of the latter, also see the roadway behind the animal (above the WLMD logo).

Testing the theory
It would seem there is no real way to prove whether the high contrast frames are really due to the MPEG compression format, or to the animal itself. If the animal has only minimal striping, and given the low resolution of the footage (even in this high-res analysis), it is conceivable that many of the frames render without showing any apparent striping at all (which in this case would be the other 35 frames.

Still - for the next part of the analysis I adjusted the contrast levels of some of the frames. The aim behind this manual adjustment of the images was to emphasise the areas of contrast - to "wash out" the paler areas, and "darken" the darker areas.

In all cases I made the same adjustments: Using Microsoft Photo Editor on Windows XP I adjusted the image balance (Image menu, Balance option). The brightness (for all colours) was adjusted from a value of 50 to 80 (out of a possible 100), and the contrast (for all colours) was adjusted from a value of 50 to 80 (out of a possible 100). No further manipulation was employed.

High contrast, frame 23 - click to enlarge

Begining with this same frame, a striking observation is made - in addition to the dark colouration apparent on the animal's rump, a near-vertical band is emphasised, running from the animal's neck down its shoulder and chest onto the forepaw. The face also exhibits an obviously darker region, but the near-vertical stripe is a most unusual observation - regardless of the kind of animal this might be.

High contrast, frame 22 - click to enlarge

Examining the two frames prior to frame 23 produces equally interesting results. Frame 22 also exhibits the near-vertical band. However, the main portion of the body is "cleaner" and "less blotchy" than frame 23. Knowing more now about how MPEG videos render, this lends weight to the idea that the "blotchiness" in frame 23 is produced by the design of the MPEG format. Whilst we can't know for sure that frame 23 is not a full-frame re-render, the appearance of the near-vertical stripe in both frames would seem to imply that neither are full-frame re-renders.

High contrast, frame 21 - click to enlarge

The lack of this near-vertical band in frame 21 (immediately preceding these two) lends even more weight.

High contrast, frame 14 - click to enlarge

By way of comparison, here is frame 14 - which was shown earlier. Although not apparent in the unadjusted image, the rib cage and neck both show obvious areas of darker colouration - even more than any of the areas identified on first inspection (indicated by arrows).

Before we come to our conclusions, let's take a moment to carry out a similar investigation using known thylacine footage. The film frame captures presented here were taken from the MPEG formats presented at the online Thylacine Museum.

Film captures 1 and 2 - click to enlarge

These are just about the poorest quality images I could obtain from the known thylacine footage. Even though they are not great, the animal occupies far more of the frame than in the Doyle footage (which means there is more detail available), and the animal is walking - not running. It goes without saying that the footage is also black and white - not colour.

In capture 2, the animal's stripes are just barely visible at the point indicated by the arrows. Notice that with the emphasised contrast, even this slight hint at the stripes is accentuated.

Film captures 3 and 4 - click to enlarge

In capture 3 the same effect can be observed - the stripes are barely visible in the original frame, and become accentuated with the emphasised contrast.

Film captures 5 and 6 - click to enlarge

Once again, capture 5 demonstrates the same effect. Capture 6 shows two thylacines. Interestingly, the fur around the neck "washed" right out with the increased contrast.

Film captures 7 and 8 - click to enlarge

Captures 7 and 8 really show how the stripes are actually emphasised by the process which was employed to adjust contrast - again, bearing in mind the differences between the films.

Capture 8 shows this magnificent animal in a beautiful profile. Note that a near-vertical band appears from the shoulder down to the rib cage - just a little behind the location where the MPEG artefact was observed.

All things considered, I believe it is most likely that the apparent "stripes" observed in the 1973 Doyle footage are the result of artefacts introduced by the MPEG delivery format.

At this stage it would be incredibly fantastic news if anyone were able to announce the present location of the original film reel. Via personal communications I am led to understand that the MPEG formats we currently have available were produced from a VHS recording of a television broadcast. Taking all these data conversions into account, I have no doubt that the original film would contain more - and crucial - information which might assist in more definitively asserting whether or not this animal has stripes.

However, in consideration of the above observations I believe the evidence as presented is not strong enough to conclude that the animal has stripes.

Clearly the limitations of the technologies allow for the possibility that the animal may yet be striped, but with the data available I cannot conclude that.

That tail - click to enlarge

In closing, I present frames 25, 27, 43 and 56 - all of which show that remarkably stiff, thin and long tail which in my earlier analysis I counted as one of the most intriguing, and thylacine-like features of this animal.

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Topic Area - Doyle thylacine
Topic Area - Doyle thylacine
Topic Area - Doyle thylacine
Topic Area - Doyle thylacine

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Doyle Footage
Posted on: 2006-12-17 14:01:25   By: DT40
Hi Chris,

Thanks for the thoughtful further analysis. It is frustrating that the original film's whereabouts are seemingly unknown. I for one am still leaning towards the animal being a Thylacine.



[Reply ]

    Re: Doyle Footage
    Posted on: 2006-12-17 16:12:30   By: admin
    Thanks Dave - yes, it's a tough one not having the original... here's hoping it does come out of the woodwork.

    Even though in this analysis I conclude that the "stripes" are probably not caused by any markings on the animal, there is still room for it to be a thylacine (ie minimal striping, or film resolution too low - for example, you can barely, if at all see the eyes, and even something as large and prominent as ears is only clearly depicted in some frames). And then there is that tail again!

    I wonder how many people answering the poll on the homepage are thinking "It's not likely a thylacine because it's in South Australia"?

    There are reports to the present day of South and West Australian sightings, and Paddle (2000) in his book (The Last Tasmanian Tiger) cites early literature which refers to the presence of thylacines as far afield as the Blue Mountains in NSW (on the western outskirts of coastal Sydney) and South Australia.

    [Reply ]

Posted on: 2007-01-13 09:34:07   By: Anonymous
What ever it is running gait looks a bit different from that of my Greyhound.
I agree, that tail is very unusual too.

[Reply ]

    Re: running
    Posted on: 2007-11-01 13:29:34   By: Skillet
      Edited By: Skillet
    On: 2007-11-01 13:33:10
    Yes, the gait is unusual for a canine. It shows a distinct 'rolicking' motion like a child's rocking-horse.

    The similarity to an African hyena's gait could account for "hyena" as being one of its local names.

    Then there's that tail, a running dog's tail would not be held nearly so stiffly... in the film it's nearly immobile.

    Very undoglike.

    You will see where the rump of the running animal appears fractionally higher than the shoulders. This is another thylacine trait.

    Most convincingly a tiger IMHO!

    [Reply ]

Posted on: 2007-01-16 16:54:55   By: Anonymous
The film scenes make the animal look very much like a thylacine. I've looked at other animals that look similar, but none look identical to the video. The only downside is that the stripes can play a trick on your eyes. When you look at them from the back, or even directly from the front, the stripes seem to disappear!

[Reply ]

Posted on: 2007-01-18 04:34:03   By: Mobofg
I Would bet it is a thylacine

[Reply ]

Thylacine vid
Posted on: 2007-01-18 05:12:11   By: Mobofg
Hello Chris,

Congratulations for you work with the video.

I'm from Europe, I've lived in the "bush" for some years, seen many foxes, and this is not a fox. Also if this was a mangy fox without hair, guess it would be lighter in colour (Skin colour).

If it is not a thylacine it can only be a dog.

When a fox runs, it seems to use a more crouch position, and also has a more jumpy style of running. also when it runs fast or it is scared (think this would be the case), they put their ears down, like if they were glued to the head. This is never seen in the video. The ears are always erect and pushed forward.

There is also another thing very different from dogs. When a dog runs, the body seems to bow, either up or down, with the running movements. This animal seems to almost "jump" from the front to the hind legs, without bowing much the back, that's why some people say it reminds them a horse running. It is like the back was in some way more rigid than a dog.

I've downloaded a running dog video and pause it in much stances, to obtain comparison. I would say that only 5% to 10% of the stances would bare any similarities, being the rest totally different. It is a thing you can try.

Clearly, the animal has longer back legs, because it uses them has the main source of power while running, this is why in some stances the animal looks like a Kangaroo.

The head is too big for the body. And in stance 25, just before crossing the road, the animal looks in the camera direction, it is possible to see a thylacine face. I mean just look at that stance alone and compare it to other thylacine photos.

Other important stances are 43 and 56. In these stances the animal resembles very much a kangaroo and is possible to watch the thick tail at the rump. It's almost triangular at the base.

The tail is the most important feature. Always straight and rigid. very big for the size, almost like a cat tail (comparing tail/body size). A dog or a cat with such a tail would bend it for sure, it is never heald that straight.

Also tried a different thing. I showed the video to my father and grandfather. Both bushman and hunters. they don't know anything about Tasmanian tigers. Ask them simply what it was on the video. One answered it was very strange, because it seems to be a dog that runs like a cat. The other said it was some kind of odd wolf. No one even mention a fox, since they know them so well...

Sorry for the long text, and bad English hope you'll understand!

Best Regards,

[Reply ]

    Re: Thylacine vid
    Posted on: 2007-01-18 15:44:59   By: admin
    Thanks Miguel - some great insights - especially the fact that three generations of people come to the same question mark: they're not sure what it is, but none mentions fox (or dog without qualifying the strange gait).

    There is still one more thing I would like to try (perhaps someone will beat me to it?) And that's to see whether you can work out the gait - ie, if this animal had paint on it's feet, what tracks would it have left?

    This is because a dog's and a thylacine's gaits are very different. Until now, however, I have not had the time to see whether this video is good enough to work out the gait. I think the stabilised version would offer the best shot.

    [Reply ]

Kevin Cameron pictures
Posted on: 2007-01-18 05:19:16   By: Mobofg

Seen your comment on the thylacine 1979 (sitio espanol) about the Kevin Cameron pictures, saying you were planning to put them in your site. Any chance of getting the five photos?

I think you could put them in here anyway, since I've found them anywehere else, and they're currently in a spanish site, wich is not possible for everyone to read.

Best Regards,

[Reply ]

    Re: Kevin Cameron pictures
    Posted on: 2007-01-18 15:47:42   By: admin
    Yes, I am planning to, but I want to spend a bit of time analysing them also. (ie, hopefully to contribute a new opinion to the discussion on those photos).

    [Reply ]

Fox/dog videos - Comparison
Posted on: 2007-01-18 07:21:23   By: Anonymous
Hello again,

I know this is not a great help!
But since you’ve requested fox videos, here they go!

Another note regarding your first comment to the video. Feral cats grow larger because they’re domestic animals that become wild; the bigger ones survive better, so they tend to grow (natural selection). Foxes are already a wild species so I don’t think they can grow bigger like feral cats. Never seen and/or never heard of a much bigger fox.

Added two special videos at the end.

In my opinion, foxes ears are bigger, body is smaller in length and neck is longer.

Fox running in Horse’s field

Fox hunt with eagle. This video is kind of violent because the eagle kills the fox. But if you can, watch the video until the end, there’s a replay in slow motion of the fox running.

Fox filmed from window. I included this one, because it is almost the same scenario.

Mangy fox . Note how the ears look a lot bigger when hair is lost.

Fox chased with a truck. Not a great video, because the fox runs in front of the truck, and not aside, like the Doyle video. But it was the only one I found of a fox running fast. Note how it swings the tail while running.

Greyhound running (chose greyhound due to the constant comparisons to the thylacine body)

Clouded Leopard video, this is the living animal with the most similar thylacine’s body proportions. But this could be a tricky video, since the animal in the Doyle’s footage is probably a puppy, and thylacines are know to elongate as they grow and become adults.

Hope it helps,

[Reply ]

    Re: Fox/dog videos - Comparison
    Posted on: 2007-01-18 15:53:45   By: admin
    Thanks again! That saves me some work! I'm still hoping the original Doyle footage will come to light somewhere somehow. That should give us better resolution and more information to work with.

    Still ... to what end? We're talking about 34 year old evidence! :)

    [Reply ]

the gait...
Posted on: 2007-01-19 12:49:29   By: Mobofg
Hello Chris,

I know this is a little crazy, but here is my analysis on the running style/gait of the animal. It has no scientific background, and is merely what I see.

I could note some other things.

1 – This animal never touches the ground with both of the front legs and back legs at the same time while running (except maybe when it slows down just before crossing the road). So it kind of runs jumping from the front to the back legs. This is not a “strange” way of running, but is best known among cats.

2 – The animal while running pushes the legs very high. I mean in some stances it looks like a kangaroo because of this. In other stances we can see the back legs almost above the head. This is connected with I’ve said before, regarding the rigid back in the animal. Since the animal apparently doesn’t bow the back while running, is has to do this kind of jumps to run. This is a great factor to lower speed, since the legs are held very high before they touch the ground again; the animal loses speed in this process. Great runners like cheetahs gain speed by maintaining their legs very close to the ground all the time. Thylacines are historically not known as fast runners…

3 – When watching this I remembered Tigerman’s notes regarding the video on the online thylacine museum. This animal seems to use the front legs to maintain balance while running. It is almost like all the power comes from the back legs. The front legs sustain the body, and then the back legs push the animal forward again. Tigerman also notes this in the young thylacine he saw in 2002 as described in his book. This is responsible for the gallop style of running.

Now the gait:

I analyzed the animal since it crosses the first tree. It touches 12 times the ground with the front legs and 11 with the back. I will describe it below, as first front leg to touch the ground and second, the same for back legs:

1 – (Number of the step) RL-LR (this means front right leg first to reach the ground them left leg – left back leg first to touch the ground, then right leg)

1 – RL – LR (opposite front/back legs)
2 – LR – RL (opposite front/back legs)
3 – RL – RL (same front/back legs)
4 – RL – LR (opposite front/back legs)
5 – LR – RL (opposite front/back legs)
6 – RL – RL (same front/back legs)
7 – RL – LR (opposite front/back legs)
8 – LR - RL (opposite front/back legs)
9 – RL – LR (opposite front/back legs)
10 – LR – RL (opposite front/back legs)
11 – RL – RL (the passage 9-10-11 in the back legs is easily seen in the video)
12 – RL - ?

This may not be right, since some stances are impossible to figure out. But when I linked it, a pattern came up, from steps 1-6 and then 9-12, it is the same. But there’s a gap in stances 7/8. Then I realized one thing. The animal takes an unnatural step in this moment. It is precisely when the animal hits the road for the first timw. It is possible to see that the animal pushes forward the right front leg much, maybe surprised by the sidewalk, it was a way of not falling. The same happens to us, sometimes we have to put the same foot at front two times, in order not to fall in stairs or something, it makes a clumsy walk, but helps to not fall. This naturally breaks our walking pattern of left, right, left, right, to something like left, left, right, left, right,…

This explains the different pattern, and guess it will be quite obvious if you look carefully.

Now we have to compare it to dog/fox running.

Again I note I can be wrong, and this can not help at all. If so, it was a nice try…

It is 34 year old evidence, but it is a thylacine 37 years younger than Benjamin!

Best Regards,

[Reply ]

    No Subject
    Posted on: 2008-02-15 12:26:46   By: Anonymous
    A few things- Gait is VERY thylacine-like. Look at the rocking motion. Also I am convinced that the animal does have stripes. If this footage does show an adult thylacine, how likely does that make it that they still exist? I mean, this footage is from a while ago.

    [Reply ]

      Posted on: 2008-02-15 13:37:30   By: admin
      It's a real shame we don't have any footage of a thylacine running as fast as it can, don't you think?

      I don't think it's a fox because of the rocking motion in the way it runs. That really only leaves thylacine or dog. I don't think it's a *greyhound* because of the way the tail is held straight - but it would take a long time to check every possible dog breed to see whether any of them hold their tail straight when running.

      Just one more thought - when a puppy runs it tends to have that kind of bounding look to it, doesn't it? But then, how many puppies bolt dead straight across a street like that?

      [Reply ]

Posted on: 2008-06-05 05:27:19   By: Anonymous
I have literally just looked at this footage again (a long time for a while). I know the footage is very very poor but the ears appear to flap as its running. I know we have no footage of the Thylacine running but from images its ears appear to be very stiff.

The ears of a greyhound do flap when running. However the physique of the animal in this footage does not resemble that of a Greyhound. Its definately too stocky.

[Reply ]

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