Testimony of Moses Weitzman

Before the Assassination Records Review Board - 4/2/97
13 Next we will hear from Moses Weitzman who is

14 a photographic expert who has worked with the Zapruder

15 film in the past.

16 Good afternoon, Mr. Weitzman.


18 MR. WEITZMAN: Much of what I was going to

19 say probably has already been voiced by previous

20 witnesses. My understanding of my testimony was to

21 comment on the technical value of keeping the original

22 and I believe there are several good reasons for


1 keeping the original in Archive control.

2 As already mentioned, technology is advancing

3 exponentially. In the future we will have better

4 capability of duplicating and analyzing the images both

5 photochemically and digitally. The copies that I made

6 for Time-Life was done 30 years ago. Even today's

7 technology is well ahead. There are better lenses,

8 film, and computerized digital scanning.

9 Because of the last mentioned item, digital

10 scanning, which would enable someone to accurately

11 record but also unfortunately to manipulate the image,

12 it would be important to keep the original as a

13 benchmark of accuracy to guard against irresponsible

14 manipulations of the image.

15 One of the -- I believe Mr. Lesar mentioned

16 something about the information between the sprocket

17 holes. Unfortunately, when I did the work 30 years ago

18 there was no equipment for duplicating 8 millimeter.

19 We jerry-rigged existing hardware and the way I came to

20 be recommended doing it was by the manufacturer of the

21 equipment, Oxbury Corporation. That imagery could very

22 well be duplicated by properly manufactured components


1 and if the material were to be retained by the

2 Archives, and I would recommend them doing so, it would

3 be well for them to invest in the hardware, which would

4 be nominal when all things are considered, to properly

5 duplicate this material with today's technology both

6 photochemically and digitally.

7 There are several very fine companies on the

8 west coast making motion pictures which are reaping

9 multimillions which I am sure would leap at the

10 opportunity to assist the committee in doing a better

11 job of this, and I would welcome any questions. I

12 guess that presentation is it.

13 JUDGE TUNHEIM: Go ahead, Henry.

14 MR. GRAFF: Mr. Weitzman, when did you last

15 see the film?

16 MR. WEITZMAN: I think I saw it for a second

17 time when, I believe it was CBS brought it to me for

18 duplicating. I think it was for an anniversary of the

19 assassination, possibly 1975.

20 MR. GRAFF: So you do not yourself know from

21 observation what the condition of the film is today?

22 MR. WEITZMAN: I was here about six or seven


1 months ago, here in the Archives, I don't remember

2 whether I was shown the film or not, but my

3 recollection was that in '75 it was in less condition

4 than it was when I first saw it. And with all things

5 that are not made of stone, they will deteriorate with

6 time. But preservation of film is a fine art today and

7 Eastman Kodak has put out many, many papers. It has

8 been my personal experience they even reclaimed a piece

9 of footage that the emulsion was peeling away from the

10 substrate. So there is certainly the possibility of

11 maintaining the film. It is approximately 30 some odd

12 years. You can keep films for a 100 years if it is

13 properly maintained.

14 MR. HALL: That was really the heart of my

15 question as well, and that is, is this truly a wasting

16 asset?

17 MR. WEITZMAN: Well, everything sooner or

18 later deteriorates and disappears, but I would think

19 for our practical purposes, I would think that you

20 could maintain this film at least for another 25 to 50

21 years, which would probably serve the purpose well

22 because by then the technology, which is advancing


1 exponentially, will enable us no doubt to record it

2 with permanent accuracy. That is not available today

3 and my original contention is that it should be kept as

4 a benchmark so that in the near future if someone

5 starts to manipulate the imagem and put things in there

6 that really are not supposed to be there, there will be

7 something that says, "Hey, this is what the original

8 was, there isn't XYZ person out there in the front."

9 MR. HALL: Do you know how many copies there

10 are of the Zapruder film?

11 MR. WEITZMAN: Oh, God. Unfortunately, I

12 probably am the grandfather of many of them. The

13 original copy -- the original copy, the very first copy

14 I made was a 16 millimeter film which I showed to

15 Time-Life. They were very, very excited about that and

16 they commissioned us to make a 35 millimeter copy.

17 Since there did not exist any proper equipment, the

18 first copy I made in 35 millimeter was substandard

19 commercially. It was placed incorrectly via the track

20 area of the film. So it could not be used. That was

21 thrown into a box in my office.

22 I was general manager and quality control and


1 vice president of a company. I left the company

2 shortly thereafter and was then recalled by the owners

3 of the company, Technical Animations, to sell off the

4 assets, they wanted to close the company down, and lo

5 and behold, in my office there was my box with that

6 piece of film, that technically imperfect copy, and to

7 the best of my knowledge, that copy is what a great

8 many copies have been made from. I kept it as a sample

9 of my expertise, not being into the whole underground

10 culture of the Zapruder --

11 MR. HALL: Part of your portfolio?

12 MR. WEITZMAN: So to speak, yes, what I could

13 do, drawing a perfect circle, so to speak. I would

14 periodically trot it out to show to people. I presume,

15 at some point, because it was not -- I didn't keep it

16 under lock and key, someone made surreptitous copies of

17 it and used it.

18 MR. HALL: It seems to me if you are

19 concerned about baseline issues, that having some sense

20 of the spread, breadth of copies that are out there, it

21 becomes very, very important.

22 Thank you.


1 MR. JOYCE: Mr. Weitzman, to return to your

2 comment about the importance of preserving the film as

3 a baseline, I am wondering, are you absolutely

4 confident that you, on the basis of the knowledge you

5 have both of the original film and technology in film

6 making and film reproduction today, that you could

7 authenticate the original film in the camera as the

8 original film?

9 MR. WEITZMAN: Let me understand the

10 question. Are you asking me whether at the time I did

11 it initially did I knew it was the original film?

12 MR. JOYCE: No. I am asking you if we were

13 to take -- if the film were to be taken today, and one

14 of the important considerations does seem to me to be

15 -- or thought about -- the baseline, which other people

16 -- I think Jim Lesar mentioned that as well, are you

17 confident that the film can be authenticated as the

18 original camera copy of the film?

19 MR. WEITZMAN: Certainly Eastman Kokak could.

20 It was Kodachrome and there might be, I don't remember

21 precisely, but I believe there were edge markings on

22 the film as to when it was manufactured and they


1 certainly could make forensic examination of it when

2 the material was laid down. As to whether it is a

3 piece that was photographed originally, yes, you would

4 look at and if the image reads through the base, we

5 know it came from an original-camera.

6 As to whether it -- it would be impossible to

7 make a duplicate contact copy reading through the base.

8 Today, someone might have hardware to make an image

9 reading through the base optically, that is to say,

10 through a lens. But if one were to make a contact

11 copy, immediately you would see the difference. It

12 would not be proper to also read the wrong way. So

13 there are a lot of ground rules that one could

14 determine A) it is an original that was photographed in

15 a camera, and B) it wasn't made by a contact copy, and

16 the manufacturer could give you a good indication of

17 when this particular piece of film was manufactured.

18 MS. NELSON: I have been interested in what

19 you were telling us because we have heard that the film

20 was really no longer viewable, that it had

21 disintegrated, and I think part of the problem was that

22 in the earliest period when Time-Life had it, probably


1 didn't have quite the same facilities that the National

2 Archives has. Just to make sure I understand, what you

3 are saying is that really doesn't matter any more, no

4 matter how bad off the film is, something can be done

5 with it, and can revive it, restored it.

6 MR. WEITZMAN: Unless the image is totally

7 destroyed, and I don't know that answer, the process of

8 duplicating it is on a frame-by-frame basis, on

9 equipment -- at least the equipment that I had used, an

10 optical printing machine, which looks like a motion

11 picture projector sitting on a lathe bed facing a very

12 precise camera focusing on the image and photographing

13 it, is advanced frame at a time. Also, one would use a

14 full-immersion gate that is kind of an aquarium that

15 each individual frame is surrounded by a liquid that

16 has the same refractive index as the emulsion. That

17 would remove a good deal of the damage. If it were

18 being scanned rather than being put onto film, but

19 scanned digitally, then that image could be enhanced

20 and repaired, so to speak, as many modern motion

21 pictures are being done for commercial re-release. So

22 unless the material is really, really destroyed, it can


1 be brought to near pristine condition.

2 MS. NELSON: That is an important

3 consideration for us.

4 JUDGE TUNHEIM: There is, however, Mr.

5 Weitzman, from the evidence -- that some of the frames

6 from the original are missing, through handling at some

7 point in time in its past. That, together with the

8 somewhat deteriorated condition that the film is in, is

9 there any argument that first-generation copies made

10 today be better evidence of the original than the

11 original itself?

12 MR. WEITZMAN: Certainly a copy should be

13 undertaken now with today's technology. It is better

14 than what I had 30 years ago. No question about it.

15 And I think if that were to be done, someone should

16 invest 10 or 15 or $20,000 that is necessary for the

17 hardware to duplicate regular 8 millimeter with full

18 immersion gate. The missing frames were missing when I

19 got the material because that was part of what it is.

20 However, if there exists those frames elsewhere, even

21 if they aren't very good, they could be reinserted and

22 enhanced. So you could reconstruct the digital copy


1 that in some ways might be better than the original.

2 But nevertheless, the original would still be the

3 benchmark because one would assume this is being done

4 by responsible people and being held under responsible

5 circumstances.

6 MR. HALL: Help me a little bit here. There

7 are, in fact, copies of the Zapruder film that predate

8 the taking of those frames -- so there is in fact a

9 copy that contains those now-missing frames in the

10 original, right?


12 MR. HALL: The question that I would pose

13 then, and this is in the area of speculation, would it

14 not be the case that that copy would have, for

15 evidentiary purposes, because it is pristine in the

16 sense that it has not been chopped up, greater value?

17 MR. WEITZMAN: No, sir. Because of the

18 contact copy, in my understanding, that is to say, it

19 is an 8 millimeter that was made not optically with a

20 lens but by contact, a sandwich, and as a result of

21 that, fine detail was lost.

22 MR. HALL: So the argument then would be that


1 previous copy, the full copy that was with the frames

2 in it is of value but it doesn't in your judgment

3 transcend the necessity of having the original as the

4 baseline?

5 MR. WEITZMAN: That is correct.

6 JUDGE TUNHEIM: We have heard arguments that

7 there is the ability to enhance the original, to make

8 it into a sharper image, make a better film out of it.

9 Is that true, can you take the film today and enhance

10 it or are we simply creating new issues where there

11 weren't issues before?

12 MR. WEITZMAN: Yes, there is that capability.

13 I am not an expert in computer technology. I have a

14 passing understanding of it because it is now a

15 technology that is coming to fruition after I retired.

16 However, from the literature I have read the answer is,

17 yes, you can take an unsharp image and sharpen it.

18 There are algorithms that will determine where the

19 edges meet, so to speak, of a light and a dark area and

20 create a new image. You can even -- well, you have

21 seen it in motion pictures, Jurassic Park and any

22 number of them, where they create and paint full


1 images. But unfortunately that very capability would

2 enable someone who is irresponsible to paint in

3 something that doesn't exist. So the necessity of

4 keeping that meter block in archive is very, very

5 important.

6 MR. HALL: So the baseline argument really

7 turns out to be important not just in terms of gauging

8 other copies but taking into account with what might be

9 done with the original if it were in private hands, to

10 some way distort --

11 MR. WEITZMAN: Sensational exploitation.

12 Needless to say, everyone has been exposed to that sort

13 of thing.

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