You're excited to set out on your first paranormal investigation or you just got some new equipment that will give you more opportunities to collect evidence of paranormal activity. Before you dive into your investigation, take the time to develop specific protocols for your team to follow. The framework of protocols and procedures ensures your paranormal investigation runs smoothly since each team member will be following the same game plan.
Equipment and Protocols for Paranormal Investigators
The protocols for equipment vary from one paranormal investigative group to another. If the group is well funded and organized, then the organization owns its equipment with a designated person to maintain, transport and store the equipment. Most groups aren't profitable enough to have this type of arsenal for group equipment and rely on each member purchasing and bringing their own equipment for the investigation.
If you are organizing a group, you need to take an inventory of existing equipment that members own and make a list of the equipment needed to carry out a complete investigation from the beginning to the end analysis.
James Blanche, the tech manager and lead investigator for Central Maine Paranormal investigations explained how his group has a limited number of DVR cameras. "We only have four DVR cameras, so it's kind of hard to cover the whole house." Instead, his team also uses a mini DV camera, an EMF meter, ambient air thermometer, and three K2 meters that are special EMF meters with light displays that supposedly allow communication with ghosts using a yes and no protocol.
There are other pieces of equipment you may want to include in your ghost hunting arsenal. A good variety of equipment includes EVP recorders, EMF detectors, DVR cameras, infrared camera, and other equipment.
Video cameras with audio capabilities can capture various activity that you can't see. It's helpful to set up several video cameras at vantage points to capture activity when you are and aren't present.
A thermal video camera lets you see heat signatures of ghosts or cold spots that can't be seen by human eyes. These devices measure the various fluctuations in the changes of temperature and often even reveal shapes or patterns within the thermal field.
Handheld Digital Audio Recorder
An audio recorder should be used in addition to a video camera. In fact, you should have two recorders running all the time to catch any possible EVPs. Make it a rule that no team members are allowed to whisper so you will know that any whisper captured might be an EVP.
Accelerometers measure even the most minute vibrations or accelerations of motion of objects. You can use this type of equipment to detect the movement of ghosts.
A laser grid is a type of ghost hunting equipment that creates a visual grid that allows you to see in real time any movement that disturbs the grid. This 3D map can help you define the shape and speed the potential ghost or paranormal anomaly creates.
How to Set Up Your Equipment
While the preliminary walk-through generally reveals where you need to place the equipment, you still need to create an equipment set up guideline. Each case and investigation will be different, but these guidelines can help you determine the optimum placement of your equipment. The most vital decision.
For example, a vital decision is where to set up your base camp. James says, "We try to find the area with the least amount of activity and set up a base camp, and then set up the cameras right on these hot spots." This, along with other protocols, should be included in your equipment set up guidelines.
Create Protocols to Assess Paranormal Investigation Cases
Before your group sets out to investigate a case, you want to be sure you have created protocols for each of the stages of investigation. This pre-planning will result in a more productive investigation. Once you have several requests for your group to investigate possible hauntings, set an assessment protocol that allows you to assess and prioritize the cases. This protocol should cover several areas.
- Conduct a phone interview with your client.
- Create a brief questionnaire to use during the interview with at least five questions to determine validity of the claim of a haunting.
- Perform a brief research on the haunted property with defined perimeters of your research, such as the local library, historian, newspaper archives and other resources.
- Assess the results.
- If your analysis reveals that the case appears valid and warrants your team investigating.
- Use priority parameters to compare with other open cases and schedule your investigation.
Establish Protocols for Your Paranormal Investigations
Establish the protocols for your pre-investigation. This preparation for your investigation will determine how successful it is. You need a set protocol for presenting the information to your team before you head out to investigation.
- Send details via text or email.
- Avoid giving a psychic medium any details to keep from contaminating your investigation.
- Before arriving at the investigation site, estimate how much time it'll take your team to set up the equipment.
- Estimate how much time you want to spend investigating.
- Decide the areas you wish to focus the most time and the areas that will require the least amount of time investigating.
- Estimate the time it will take to breakdown the equipment, back up and travel back to your office or homes.
Who's in Charge of What Tasks?
Assign each team member specific duties during the investigation. James says, "You're supposed to have someone with you at all times, mostly for safety. When you're alone in the dark you're going to get freaked out. If you experience something, having someone there gives you some credibility."
You can breakdown the duties, such as:
- Designate a lead investigator for the case.
- Assign teams of two or more, depending on size of your group, to work together during the investigation.
- Decide what types of equipment each team will use.
- Determine who mans the base camp with the computer, DVR camera set up, and other equipment needed to monitor the investigation in real time.
Preliminary Walk-Through Procedure
Create a procedure for conducting a preliminary walk-through of the site with your client. This is best done with the team leader and the person in charge of setting up the equipment. Include specific questions to ask the client based on their concerns and stories of paranormal activity. While there are no guarantees you'll capture evidence of ghostly activity, you increase the odds the more time you spend on this part of the investigation. Sometimes, a walk-through jogs a client's memory of past encounters or events previously not mentioned.
Protocols for Evaluating Paranormal Investigation Evidence
Some teams prefer to work in a real time evaluation during the investigation. Some cases may demand this type of approach, while others may require going over the evidence after the initial investigation. Create protocols for both types of investigation so you can easily take on whichever one you encounter.
Go Through Evidence
Depending on how much time your team spends on an investigation, you may end up with hours of video recordings and EVPs to review. Another set of guidelines is needed to help team members approach this vital part of all paranormal investigations.
This can be a monotonous process of viewing hours of video with no activity. Include techniques members can use to prevent their minds from wondering and possibly missing valuable paranormal activity.
- Work in teams.
- First view the video with the sound off.
- Review the same video a second time with the sound on.
- You may discover captured EVPs during the second viewing.
Tips for Reviewing Your Evidence
You want to review other types of evidence and create documentation of these. It's important that the original photos, videos, EVPS, and other forms of evidence be preserved. Copies can be used for various software evaluations.
First review the photos and then download to a computer program that allows you to control lighting, contrast, and color. This makes it possible to discover anomalies not seen in the original photo. If you do see something odd in the original photo or video, this type of software helps you make a determination if it's an artifact or a real anomaly. You need perimeters for conducting this type of analysis, so everyone follows the same protocols.
You will also need to set a standard for declaring an audio recording as an authentic EVP since there can be different types of interference. It's vital that you have set guidelines for how-to make this type of evaluation, since there is the risk of contamination from street sounds, rustling clothing, or radio frequencies.
Create Team Paranormal Investigation Protocols
It's important that your team create these and other protocols for your paranormal investigations. When you follow set guidelines and protocols, it ensures a continuity in your investigation and removes the risk of false conclusions drawn from contaminated evidence.