Robert D. Morningstar

THE Z-PANEL, DALLAS, '96: Zapruder Film Experts Expose Hoax With Multiple Optical Illusions
Zapruder Film Alterations Used Subliminal Editing Methods
Panel of JFK Assassination Experts Agree: Zapruder Film is an Optical Illusion & Hoax

November 21, 1996, Dallas, Texas

On the eve of the 33rd anniversary of the John F. Kennedy Assassination, in a field where contradiction and dissension are the norm and myriad controversial theories abound on "Who killed JFK?", some of the nation's top experts in the field have agreed on one thing: The Zapruder Film is an illusion and a hoax.

At the brainstorming session of more than 12 hours during which various forms of analysis were used, the panelists agreed that the Zapruder film as it is presented to the public to this day is an edited version which deletes several pieces of "missing time" by removing key frames and in some cases rearranging them.

Analysts used a variety of methods including time/motion studies, vector analysis, image blur analysis, atmospheric studies and gestalt psychology to dissect the film on a frame-by-frame basis. The consensus was that the film was radically altered to delete evidence that JFK was struck in quick succession by several shots to the head described by Secret Serviceman Roy Kellerman as a "flurry of shells".

The panel of experts was moderated by Professor James Fetzer of the University of Minnesota and David Lifton, author of "Best Evidence". Dr. David Mantik, concluded that key frames had been removed from the Zapruder film. This writer, a JFK researcher and panel member, proposed that these had been deleted to disguise the damage caused by several shots as damage caused by only one.

Dr. Mantik of the Eisenhower Medical Center in California, an expert on JFK medical and photographic evidence showed that the series of events depicted in the Zapruder film is not just improbable but nearly impossible using a variety of methods and "simple arguments from physics." His magnification studies demonstrated great distortions in the film with background objects magnified out of proportion to those in the foreground.

The panel, sponsored by the 1996 JFK Lancer Conference was held at the Dallas Grand Hotel. Beside Professor Fetzer and Mr. Lifton, other experts on the panel included Dr. David Mantik, physicist and radiation oncologist; Jack White, a photographic expert with 33 years of experience; Sherry Gutierrez, a senior crime scene analyst; Roy Shaeffer of Dayton, Ohio, a former Marine, photo and weapons expert; Chuck Marler, a film editor; Noel Twyman, publisher and mechanical engineer; Ron Hepler, independent researcher; and myself. This writer presented evidence exposing the use of gestalt psychology to create an illusion of continuous movement and acceleration in the motion of JFK's limousine and motorcade.

The panel confirmed that the limousine had to have stopped (twice) and that it's apparent velocity is an illusion. Though it appears to travel at nearly 30 mph, the limousine travelled no faster than 11.2 mph until after the final shot. This was confirmed by the accounts of eyewitnesses including the testimony of an eyewitness who rode in Lyndon Johnson's car:





District of Columbia, ss:

In response to the oral request of one of the attorneys for the Commission that I send you an affidavit for inclusion in the record of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, I make the following statement:

On November 22, 1963, as the President and Mrs. Kennedy rode through the streets of Dallas, I was in the second car behind them... the motorcade went down the slope of Elm Street toward the railroad underpass, a rifle shot was heard by me; a loud blast, close by...When the noise of the shot was heard, the motorcade slowed to what seemed to me like a COMPLETE STOP (though it could have been a NEAR STOP).

AFTER WHAT I TOOK TO BE ABOUT 3 SECONDS another shot boomed out, and after what I took to be about one-half the time between the first and second shot...

(calculated now, this would have to put the third shot one and one-half seconds after the second shot---by my estimate---

to me THERE SEEMED TO ME TO BE A LONG TIME BETWEEN THE FIRST AND SECOND SHOTS, a much shorter time between the second and third shots---these were my impressions that day), a third shot was fired.

After the third shot was fired, BUT ONLY AFTER THE THIRD SHOT WAS FIRED, the cavalcade speeded up, gained speed rapidly, and roared away to Parkland Hospital...I saw people fall to the ground on the embankment to our right, at about the time of or after the second shot, but BEFORE THE CAVALCADE STARTED UP and raced away.

....Sworn the 10th day of July, 1964.

(S) Ralph W. Yarborough"

(Warren Commission Report, emphasis mine)


When properly dissected, the above statement is a good description of a car standing still...twice, a complete stop AND a near stop.


In February of 1992, this writer proposed the hypothesis that bullets fired at President Kennedy might have left visible condensation trails produced by the Bernoulli Principle (adiabatic condensation) in the Zapruder Film which might be found using modern digital technology. On June 17-18, 1992, this writer discovered a unique condensation line left by a bullet which traversed the President's car from left rear to right front striking both President Kennedy in the head and Governor Connally in the wrist and thigh at Z-295. This discovery conclusively disproved the "Magic Bullet Theory", accounting visually for Governor Connally's wounds to the wrist and thigh independent of his back wound or JFK's throat wound. In Dayton, Ohio, also in 1992, another researcher, Roy Schaeffer, a former Marine noticed the same phenomenon at frame Z-295, a condensation trail caused by the Bernoulli effect. Four years later, we would both present our research in Dallas as members of a closed door Zapruder Film Panel sponsored by JFK Lancer Publications' 33rd Anniversary Conference at the Grand Hotel on November 21st, 1996.


Working as an on-site team in Dealey Plaza late on November 21-22, 1996, Roy Schaeffer and this writer alternately took positions as JFK & Governor Connally precisely measuring body angles and street positions relative to Z-Frames 295-296. Our findings confirmed that the vector of the shot visible at Z-295 which left a visible condensation trail we discovered in 1992 demonstrated that the shot emanated from 6th floor windows in the Criminal Courts Building. Recently discovered news footage shows that those two windows were the only windows open in the Criminal Courts Building at that time.

THE FINAL ILLUSION UNVEILED: Stroboscopic Acceleration

Roy Schaeffer is a former Marine photo and weapons specialist with a very discerning eye for details. Schaeffer became aware of my work when I addressed the 3rd Decade Symposium on the JFK Assassination in Chicago in 1992 and 1993 when I became the first scientist to expose publicly the doctoring of the Z-Film. This led to our meeting in Dallas, November 1994, where we confirmed the exact frame of the micro-condensation trail phenomenon to be Z-295.  Since then, our parallel investigations have converged on similar conclusions, with each finding in the work of the other missing links of information which when correlated result in an unravelling of the tapestry of optical illusions in the Zapruder Film . As I stood atop Zapruder's perch near the Grassy Knoll that night of November 21st, I panned several cars as they made their winding course down Elm Street. It suddenly became obvious that none were going as fast as JFK's limousine appears to be going as it moves in the Zapruder film though all seemed to be moving at 20 mph or more. Some of the Z-Panelists' measurements across known distances showed that the limousine moved no faster than 11.165 mph. The Warren Commission estimate was 11.2 mph. and couched in very cryptic language.

As I stood there pondering the paradox, a town car about the size of JFK's car made the turn on to Elm Street. Accelerating very quickly down the road at approximately 30-35 mph, it finally appeared somewhat like what is seen in the Zapruder Film. But JFK's limo didn't move faster than 11.2 mph according to the FBI. The Warren Commission Report stated:

"The car maintained this average speed over a distance of approximately 136 feet preceding the shot which struck the president in the head."

Senator Yarborough states "I saw people fall to the embankment to our right, at about the time of or AFTER the second shot, but BEFORE the cavalcade started up...after the third shot was fired, but only AFTER the third shot was fired, the cavalcade speeded up..." (emphasis, this writer's ).

Only one conclusion can follow if there is truth in these two statements: The President Kennedy's car was travelling at an average speed of 11.2 mph during the final 136 feet before the President's head was struck as the car was DECELERATING to a STOP. But why don't we see this in the Z.-Film? The answer is that both the stop(s) and the deceleration of the vehicle have been disguised through the construction of optical illusions. This was done to create a false perception of continuous movement and speed through what this writer now calls "stroboscopic acceleration."

The solution to the mystery of how a car travelling at no more than 11.2 mph could appear in the film to be moving at 30 mph or more came to this researcher with Roy Schaeffer's discovery of a unique discrepancy between the Zapruder Film and another film of the assassination, the Hughes Film.


President Kennedy's vehicle was equipped with two bright red alternately flashing light signals mounted on the front bumper of the Lincoln Continental which, according to Ford Motor Company, flashed alternately for .41 sec/sec each, i.e., in 1 second both lights would flash "on" 2.439 (.41 sec "on", .41 sec "off", with the remaining .18 seconds divided into two transition sequences of .09 second between illumination and extinction, resulting in .50 sec total "on" time, with the midway point in transition time (t*time) .09 seconds, considered as beginning and end of "on"-time. Therefore, each illumination entails .045 seconds to come "on", .41 seconds of luminescence, and .045 seconds to go "off". Thus, .50 maximum "on" or MaxOn time equals .50/.41 ufl or 1.2195 ufl/sec.


Roy Schaeffer's observation of the discrepancy led this writer to the discovery something very unusual in JFK assassination research, a reliable standard for timing certain events which occurred during the assassination of JFK: the Hughes Film flasher sequence.

The Hughes' film shows each light flashing with the other in perfect synchronization for several seconds as the motorcade turned from Main Street onto Houston seconds before the right turn onto Elm Street. In the Hughes Film, as the cars come out of the shadows of Main Street, one sees for the first few seconds the lead car's "both on/both off" flashers and subsequently the emergence JFK's limousine with the alternating "one on/one off" flashers.

One can count the flash sequence frame by frame very accurately. This reveals approximately 7 frames of "on" time per flash with a t*time of 3.073 frames between flashes. Thus, due to thresholds and limitations established by the camera speed for the duration of exposure, one can at most see only 8.537 frames of continuous "on" time for either light each second. Flash Time (FT) plus one-half t*time equals Maximum "On" Time (FT +.5 t* = MaxOn).

Model 1 (as a Standard) Hughes Flasher Sequence

(Time = 1 second)

Phase On Trans. Off Trans Total MaxOn
Time .41 sec (.09t*) .41 sec. (.09t*) = 1 sec .5 sec
Observed 7 frames 1.5366 7 frames 1.5366 = 17.073 8.5366
True 18fps 7.38 1.62 7.38 1.62 = 18 9

Model 2 - The Z-Film  Predicted Rate of Flash in Zapruder Film Sequence

(Figures based on FBI, Mr. Z. & True 18 fps Camera Speeds)

(Time = 1 second)

FBI 18.3 7.503 1.647 7.503 1.647 = 18.3 9.15
Mr.Z 24 9.84 2.16 9.84 2.16 = 24 12
True 18 7.38 1.62 7.38 1.62 = 18 9

From the number of illuminated frames observed in the Hughes Film we estimate that Hughes' 8 mm. camera operated at 17.073 fps. (.41 sec = 7 frames, 1 sec = x frames; therefore, 1 sec = 17.073). This was 1.227 frames per second slower than Zapruder's camera by the FBI 18.3 fps estimate, or 6.9268 frames per second slower if we believe Mr. Zapruder at 24 fps. Mr. Hughes camera was not new.

In either case (18.3 or 24 fps), Mr. Zapruder's film should have registered more frames per flash than Mr. Hughes. It is self- evident that regardless of the Zapruder camera speed running at 18.3 frames or at 24 fps, we should see each light flash at least 1.2195 times per second if the film were shown at correct speed, or nearly one and a quarter times per second. Every 2 seconds of film should show 4.878 or nearly 5 flashes alternate between the two lights. However, this is not to be seen in the Zapruder Film.

More of the right side light is seen to illuminate and stay lighted for a longer time than the left side. The evidence indicates that frames were removed by the owners and handlers of the Z-Film in order to force their "facts" to fit their conclusion. It was necessary for the Warren Commission and the FBI to force "true" the time constraints demanded by their theory of the lone gunman.

Though the rhythmic alternating flashing red emergency signals are clearly visible in the Hughes Film, this characteristic is deficient in the Zapruder Film. Some of the right/left flasher alternations are missing in particular series of frames. Where their flash changes should be visible and continuous they are not and this was puzzling to the experts.

In Dallas, as the Z-Panel deliberated, David Lifton, author of "Best Evidence", expressed aloud his wonder as to why the owners and handlers of the film should wish to remove this information. Roy Schaeffer pointed out that the car's right side flasher light appears to light up for a longer time as the car passes down Elm Street with the other light thus out of synch. It was noted that the frequency of the flasher sequence could have been used to time the actual length of time depicted more accurately. Schaeffer presented a chart depicting the duration of each flasher's "on" time correlated with its Z-frame number.


Upon returning to New York, I began to cross-check Roy Schaeffer's figures to confirm his finding of an asynchronous flasher cycle from Z-133 through Z-182. As I proceeded to count the flasher lights "on" time to mark the flasher cycle, I recalled that Roy Schaeffer had mentioned that the flasher cycle frequency "could have been used to time the Z-Film". Thinking algebraically for a moment, I realized that this actually was still a perfect timing instrument, a real "metronome", which could be employed to time the Zapruder Film very accurately REGARDLESS OF TAMPERING! Applied and interpreted correctly, algebraic analysis of the flasher pulse, symbolic logic and set theory, could tell us who was right, Mr. Zapruder or the FBI and reveal to us both the actual speed of the camera shutter and how much time is missing from the film.

Using a time line and algebraic logic, the visual illusions of time dilation into time contraction re-engineered into the Zapruder Film were disassembled. Temporal anomalies and discrepancies were discovered and thus confirmed manifold alterations.

It became apparent to this researcher that if the stroboscopic effect of the flashing lights which should be visible is NOT visible then we must in fact be seeing a stroboscopic effect ALREADY induced in segments of the film by removal of some frames in which the alternate light should be flashing. A simple example will clarify this.

Let us suppose that we have before us two lights which alternate with each other, one second on, one second off and each one is set to illuminate as the other is extinguished. If the viewer, watched with open eyes unblinkingly he would see both lights illuminating alternately. However, if the viewer were to commence blinking consciously, opening and closing his eyes, one second open and one second closed, he would then only see a light illuminated on one side or the other. Which one he would see illuminated would be determined by the phase of his blinking rate relative to either light. This insight explained the absence of the illumination of the some of the left side flasher.

The alternating flash effect of the lights has been altered by the removal of some frames showing the left side illuminated. In effect, we cannot see the alternating stroboscopic light effect because we are viewing them stroboscopically ALREADY (the exception being that the viewer isn't blinking). Someone else has done it for him! Those who altered the film induced an artificial "blinking rate" for the viewer by removing the left side flasher frames thus altering the 2.439 flash per second pattern. How was that pattern changed and to what effect was it used? Once we unveiled the illusion, the pattern rate was easy to calculate from the flash cycle and the camera speed.

There are at least two ways to study the pattern and changes made to it. This depends on whether Zapruder was actually shooting his film at 18.3 frames per second as the FBI/Warren Commission "test results" stated or at 24 frames per second as "Mr. Z" told the Commission. Regardless of the actual camera speed (18.3 vs. 24), 1 second of film should produce 2.439 flashes/sec from both lights. The absence of the correct flash rate from the Z-Film shows the net result to be a deliberately manufactured optical illusion.

The following analysis studies the phenomenon and its absence where it should appear under both regimens (18.3 and 24) and the results indicate clearly how the optical illusion of 30 mph+ speed in a vehicle travelling officially at only 11.2 mph was artificially created.

The lights flash at the rate of .41 sec/sec meaning "on" for .41 seconds, "off" for .41 seconds, leaving a residual of .18 seconds of "on" to "off" time during transition and vice versa. This transition time (.18 seconds) can also be expressed as (.09 sec x 2, i.e., .09 seconds for one to light and .09 seconds for the other to extinguish). This calculation then renders a value of 1.647 frames per transition phase between "on" and "off" states in the cycle using the midpoint (.045) as the limit of MaxOn time.

Since the transition cycles overlap with each other, the lights are NEVER both "OFF" though they may be BOTH "ON" and equally luminescent for a moment in transition. Therefore, in any given 1-second span of time, we should see both lights flash 2.439 times, i.e. nearly 5 flashes every 2 seconds. The predicted rate is not demonstrated in the Z-Film. Something is wrong in the timing.

The FBI's 18.3 fps rate estimate requires the production of 7.5 lighted frames per unit flash. Our formula also reveals that this value is also a "limit". That is to say, that if the findings of the FBI tests were correct, Zapruder's camera should NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER be able to record MORE than 7.5 + (.5 t*frames) of a single flasher's illumination.

In this case, the upper limit of the possible number of exposures, or FRAMES PER UNIT FLASH (fr/ufl) for the camera speed set results in [18.3 (fps) X .50 sec. (ufl) = 9.15 fr/ufl] or 9.15 frames per unit flash (9.15 fr/ufl). It could take no fewer frames unless this was due to dirt in the gears or loss of tension in the spring drive. More importantly for our purpose, accurately measuring time, the camera could NEVER resister more than 9.15 at the FBI estimate.


This writer had thus found an accurate gauge with which to measure the accuracy of the FBI camera speed test performed for the Warren Commission. A definitive test was conducted which settles once and for all the question of "who is right?": the FBI (18.3 fps) or Mr. Zapruder who recalled shooting at 24 fps.

Mr. Zapruder, the man who shot the film, the man who owned the camera, the man who put the film in the camera was correct. 24 fps.


Calculating what we should see in the Zapruder Film versus what we do see in the Z-Film, we can estimate how many frames have been removed and analyze the resultant visual effect thus produced. As stated above, the ..41 cycle per second flash rate of each light should produce a clearly discernible 2.439 flashes between the two lights every second or nearly 5 flashes every 2 seconds. If Mr. Zapruder was filming at 24 frames per second as he stated repeatedly to the Warren Commission, then every second of film should render a constant of at least 9.84 sequential frames showing one or the other light illuminated (.41 x 24 fps) not counting transition frames.

Similar constants proceed from using the FBI estimate of 18.3 fps on which the WC then based all other tests, estimates and assumptions on that conclusion. What the FBI played down to the public, overlooked (?), or did not consider important was the fact that Zapruder's Bell and Howell camera did have 3 settings: single frame, 18 and 24 frames per second. Having owned such a camera for many years, this writer knows that the 24 frame per second rate was a "slow motion" feature of Mr. Zapruder's camera!


It is evident from the facts presented above that Mr. Zapruder was telling The FBI and The Warren Commission indirectly, though in plain and simple terms, that the film he had shot was shot in 8 mm. "slow motion". Therefore, everything in the film ought to move much more slowly than normal when shown at 18 fps (standard 8 mm. projection speed) 24fps/18fps = 1.33 seconds for each one at 24.

This demonstrates unequivocally that time should appear stretched out by a factor of one-third and movements should appear 33 percent slower than their actual speed. What we should be seeing is "time dilation": time stretched out 1.33 seconds for each second of actual time...but we do not. Quite to the contrary, we see time and events contracted.


When we analyze the Z-Film using these mathematical findings we note that what we do see is an artificially accelerated film where a vehicle moving no faster than 11.2 mph appears to move at 30+ mph. How could this be achieved artificially? How can we test the film accurately for temporal discrepancies and anomalies? The answer follows.

If we allow ourselves to believe the FBI/Warren Commission estimate and utilize the 18.3 frames per second rate for our calculations, the figure show that the viewer of the Z-Film should see 7.503 frames of continuous illumination alternating between the right and left flashers with 1.647 transition frames (designated "t*frames") between unit flashes or "on"-time.

This transition phase of 1.647 t*frames represents a simultaneous "on-to-off" period for one light and "off-to-on" period for the other. It is logical and reasonable then to assume that the midpoint (1.647/2 = .8235 of 1 t*frame) would correspond on average to the exact moment when both lights must briefly show equal intensity or luminosity. But it is evident in studying the Z-Film that the alternation between the two lights is deficient and badly out of synch. This indicates that transition frames (t*-frames) and many of the "flash-on" frames showing the left side flasher unit lighted have been removed.


From the data, we can calculate very accurately that for every 18.3 frames exposed using the FBI figure, 7.503 frames plus 1.647 t*-frames or 9.15 Z-frames, would have to be removed for every predicted but missing "unit flash" (ufl).

If we use Mr. Zapruder's figure (24 fps) we find that for every 24 frames exposed by Mr. Zapruder, 9.84 sequential frames should show continuous steady illumination of the right or left flasher. The midpoint of 2.16 transition frames at 1.13 t*frames, would indicate the point showing equal intensity or luminosity during phase change. This would therefore make it possible to observe one of the lights illuminated for 10.97 sequential frames. But this would be IMPOSSIBLE if the FBI estimate of 18.3 fps had been correct since 18.3 fps speed would set the upper limit of sequential frames at 9.15.

Our calculations show that 9.15 frames would have to be deleted to account for each unit deviation from the predicted unit flash rate of 2.439 unit flashes per second (ufl/sec) or nearly 5 flashes every 2 seconds (4.878 per 2 second interval, or 4.876 ufl/ 2 "secint").


In cross-checking Roy Schaeffer's findings, this writer found that the right side flashes fully on at Z-136 and remains on for at least 10 continuous frames thereby tilting the scale of credibility more toward Mr. Zapruder than to the FBI test results for if we have .41 seconds equal to 10 frames it follows that 1 second = 24.39 frames per second. This is .39 fps faster than Mr. Z.'s 24 fps but let us remember that his camera was new with Bell & Howell state of the art gears and spring technology.

Here, for the sake of arguing a logical proof, let us pretend to be Warren Commissioners or Hoover men and ignore this embarrassing little discovery for the moment. Let us pretend that we still believe 18.3 frames per second is the correct figure.

As noted above, at 18.3 fps, each flash should result in 7.503 sequential frames of a continuously illuminated flash unit, right or left. A corollary thought would be that if the .41 sec/sec flash rate and the FBI estimate of 18.3 fps are both correct then, under no circumstances should we see more than 9.15 sequential frames (7.503 + 1.647 t*frames) of one flash unit continuously illuminated. But in fact, we do see more than 9.15 sequentially illuminated frames several times but, unfortunately for the handlers and tamperers of the Z-Film, NOT the predicted number of times (4.878 per 2-second interval). This fact betrays the intrusion of interloping hands.


In studying frames Z-133 through Z-182 for the flasher frequency phenomenon, this writer discovered another interesting paradox. This 49 frame segment should represent the apparent passage of 2.6775 seconds of time using the FBI\Warren Commission standard of 18.3 fps (49 f/18.3 fps = 2.6775956 seconds).

However, by applying the 2.439 ufl/sec flash rate calculated previously to this interval of time, our calculations predict clearly that we should see 6.5306 (2.439 X 2.6776) alternating flashes before they disappear completely behind the sign at Z-182. If we use Mr. Zapruder's figure, the time represented by 49 frames equals 2.04 seconds. This would then render a predicted 4.97556 flashes within that interval of time.


In either case, the Z-Film is significantly deficient, coming up short by 2.5306 by one standard (18.3 fps) and short .97556 by the other (24 fps). Closely scrutinizing and measuring this 49 frame span we find that the lights alternate only 4 times when we should have seen at least 4.97556 or as many as 6.5306 unit flashes.

Our study found one of the left side flash sequences (lasting 7 frames) between Z-148 and Z-154 to be deficient by at least 5 frames at the 24 fps rate (12) and too brief (7 vs 7.5 frames) at the 18.3 fps rate.

At frame Z-133, JFK's limousine appears suddenly and abruptly into the film with the left flasher "on" and remaining "on" for 3 frames (Z-133-34-35) before changing to the right side flasher completely at Z-136 then remaining on through Z-146. Our study used this intact 11 frame sequence beginning with Z-136 as our standard since it shows no cuts, splices or inserts. Beginning the count with frame Z-136 as fully "on"-time, we arrive at a figure of 11 sequential "on"-frames which matches closely what was predicted by our 24 fps model at 10.94 (see Model 2 above). Then, counting Z-135 as a t*frame, the value rounds to 12 also as in Model 2.

AN INTERRUPTED FLASH SEQUENCE: If X=12 and (X-Y)= 7, then...

Z-147 is a transition frame with both lights illuminated equally.  Frame Z-148 shows the left side gaining in luminosity as the right side fades. The left flash unit remains lighted until the first splice at Z-154, a 7 frame span of time equal to .3825 seconds at 18.3 fps. or ..2916 seconds at 24 fps.

After the second splice at Z-155, we have missed at least 5 left side flasher frames (based on a 12 frame cycle) including transition frames to the right side flasher.