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Testimony of Moses Weitzman

Before the ARRB, 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 image 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?

11             MR. WEITZMAN:  Yes.  

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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