Before you set out on a paranormal investigation, take time to develop specific protocols for your team. The framework of protocols and procedures ensure your paranormal investigation runs smoothly with each team member following the same game plan.
Equipment for Paranormal Investigation Protocols
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.
Ideal Equipment for Paranormal Investigations
If you are organizing a group, you need to take inventory of existing equipment members own and make a list of the equipment needed to carry out a complete investigation from the beginning to the end analysis. If possible, for more expensive pieces of equipment, members may decide to pool their money to purchase the equipment for group use. This could be things such as infrared cameras, motion detector cameras, DVR cameras, and different types of analysis software.
Maximize Your Equipment
James Blanche, the tech manager and lead investigator for Central Maine Paranormal investigations, the Maine branch of the national TAPS family. Maine Paranormal Society 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." He explains 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.
Guidelines for Where and How to Set Up 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. 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.
Protocols for Assessing 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.
Determine and Prioritize Caseload
Once you have several requests for your group to investigate possible hauntings, you need to set an assessment protocol that allows you to assess and prioritize the cases. This protocol should cover several areas.
Phone Interview With Potential Client
You'll first want to conduct a phone interview with your potential client. You need to create a brief questionnaire you can use during the interview. Come up with at least five questions you need answered in order to determine the validity of the claim of a haunting.
Brief Research of Property History
Conducting a brief research on the haunted property will help you make a better determination about the possibility of a legitimate haunting. Define the perimeters of your research, such as the local library, local historian, local newspaper archives and other resources.
Assess Case by Case
Once you've conducted a preliminary investigation of validity of claims, such as property history and previous claims of a haunting, you're ready to assess the results. If your analysis reveals the case appears valid and warrants your team investigating, you're ready to prioritize it in comparison to your other open cases.
Preparation Protocols of a Paranormal Investigation
You need to establish the protocols for pre-investigation. The preparation for your investigation will determine how successful it is. You want to have a set protocol for presenting the information to your team prior to the investigation. This can be as simple as an email or text giving the details you wish to share with team members. In some cases, as with a psychic medium, you won't share many details to ensure there's no contamination of the information the psychic receives during the investigation.
Who's in Charge of What
As part of your preparation protocol, you need to assign each 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." Be sure you breakdown the duties, such as:
- Designate a lead investigator for the case.
- Assign teams of two or more, depending on size of group, to work together during the investigation.
- Decide what types of equipment will be used by which teams. Be sure you have a good variety of equipment, such as EVP recorders, EMF detectors, DVR cameras, infrared camera, and other equipment.
- Determine who will man 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
You need to create a procedure for conducting a preliminary walk-through of the site with the client. This is best done with the team leader and the person in charge of setting up the equipment. This protocol should include specific questions to ask the client based on the client's concerns and report of paranormal activity. While there are no guarantees you'll capture evidence of ghostly activity, you increase the odds the more time you spend in this part of the investigation. Sometimes a walk-through jogs the client's memory of past encounters or events not mentioned previously.
Time Allotment Per Investigation
Prior to arriving at the investigation site, you need to estimate how much time it will take your team to set up the equipment and how much time you want to spend investigating. Remember that each investigation will be different and require its own plan of action. Decide the areas you wish to focus the most time and the areas that will require the least amount of time investigating. Be sure you include the time it will take to breakdown the equipment, back up and travel back to your office or homes.
Protocols for Evaluating Paranormal Investigation Evidence
Some teams prefer to work in 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 both types of cases.
Going 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 are needed to help team members approach this vital part of all paranormal investigations.
Procedures and Tips for Reviewing Videos
It 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. If possible, work in teams. You need to view the video with the sound off the first time and then a second time with the sound on. The latter viewing may also review captured EVPs.
Assign Team Members Evidence Review
James suggests, "Every hour you record you've got to sit down and go through. That's definitely the hard part. We try to share the workload and have everybody review it because people could miss things." He explains that each member has an assigned job. "I usually watch DVD, Jen will watch the mini DV camera, and other people will review the audio," he says. Since it can be a lot of work reviewing the evidence, his group limits their caseload to one a month. "It can take two or three weeks after the investigation to go through it," James explains.
Preserve Original Videos, Photos and EVPs
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 to use various software evaluations.
Analyze Videos and Photos
You want to review the photos and then download to a computer program that allows you to control lighting, contrast and color. This will allow you to discover possible 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 of the anomaly. You need perimeters for conducting this type of analysis, so everyone follows the same protocols.
Protocol for Assessing and Determining EVPs
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 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 conclusion based on contaminated evidence.