To finish off our coverage of the Syfy Digital Press Tour panels, we’ve got a bit more of Syfy’s reality programming.
First up was Destination Truth, with paranormal investigator Josh Gates, which has become a staple in the Syfy lineup and is currently finishing it’s 4th season and production beginning on 6 all new episodes. So, where are they headed in the new episodes?
“Central America is kind of a big missing part of our world map,” Gates said. “So we’re going to be doing a couple of episodes in Panama. Excited about that. We’ll be in Argentina, which is a place we haven’t visited, I think, since the first season of the show. A couple episodes in Namibia in Africa, which is a really interesting country that we’ve kind of — our tours haven’t really reached yet. So it will be really neat to be able to showcase that. And India, for the very first time, which is a place that we’ve wanted to go since the very beginning of the show. It’s a country that’s logistically difficult to film in. And we’ve always sort of hoped that we’d be able to bring the show there. Now we’re able to do that, which is terrific. And we’re going to be going to be Antarctica this year, which is something that we have joked about for a long time. And now actually, crazily enough, we’re going to do it.”
As for Ghost Hunters Live? Gates will be hosting that again, and this time, Warehouse 13‘s Allison Scagliotti will help co-host. “She’s great. For those you who were at Comic-Con this year, she did a terrific job moderating panels down at Comic-Con. So I’m sure she will be a capable cohost.”
How do they choose where to go? “Yeah, it kind of comes at us in a couple
of different ways,” Gates answers. “The best way and the way that we try to figure out what we’re going to shoot is to look for stories that are really in the news. We want to go to places where people claim to really be experiencing some sort of paranormal phenomenon or seen some sort of mystery creature. So we look to news sources around the world. We have fixers in different countries around the world, producers that we have good relationships with. We have them looking at local news sources for us as well. Sometimes we’re also just trying to hone in on an area, as with Central America, th is year. We knew we wanted to go there. So we started focusing our search efforts on that region to find stories there. But typically it comes from things that are in the news.”
What was the most shocking thing they discovered while filming? “Some of the places we’ve been to have been really shocking. We did a Chernobyl episode last year. And I think, though we sort of knew what we were getting into, that was a location that, I don’t think any of us really were prepared to kind of actually see what Chernobyl is like today. It’s a really scary place. And that’s been true of a number of places we’ve been to, abandoned places. We did — it’s just aired, I think, last week. We did a ghost episode in a sunken fleet in the Pacific and were able to go down into these Japanese warships from World War II. And to see sake bottles still sitting on tables and to see bits of, things from the ship that are still just sort of sitting down there frozen in time. Sometimes you get a real direct connection with the past in some of these episodes that can be kind of alarming. You’re not really ready to see that stuff.”
And yes, he really does have that much car trouble in real life.
The next reality panel was for Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files, with the team of Ben Hansen, Bill Murphy and Jael de Pardo. Fact or Faked was a breakout hit during the summer, and will begin airing six new episodes starting on October 28th, right after the season finale of Destination Truth.
Now that the show is popular, they get all sorts of submissions of videos to be investigated, but it wasn’t that way in the beginning.
“Initially we had to kind of do it on our own because we didn’t have the submission line set up,” Hansen, a former FBI agent, said. “So it was really quite a task. It started out kind of like Bill and I primarily, and then the other team members started getting involved. And it was really just hours and hours of, like, searching on YouTube. We looked a lot at the paranormal blogs. But, you know, it’s trying to get a lot of this stuff that’s not mainline, and that’s kind of difficult to do. So I would actually go to some of the MUFON meetings, which is the Mutual UFO Network. I would start networking with the people there asking, ‘Hey, do you know anyone who has a really cool video?’ It was really kind of difficult at first. But now that we’re out there, we have a lot of people who are submitting themselves. But that kind of also adds another problem in that you’re getting some people who are purposely making hoaxes. And we don’t really encourage that because we’d like the legitimate stuff, but that’s kind of where we’re at right now is trying to balance searching on our own as opposed to other people bringing them to us.”
So what kind of video will get investigated? “Well, there’s several criteria that it has to meet,” according to Murphy. “The video itself has to be compelling. And it has to have an available witness. And the video has to be testable. So if it’s a video that is in deep space, that’s not something that we can replicate very easily. So we may discard it for that reason.
“If it’s an anonymously posted video, then that removes the witness. If it’s a compelling video, that’s pretty easy to discern when you look at it. If it’s got that factor that’s kind of like a wow and ‘Is this real or not?’ then it’s one that we’re likely to present to the rest of the team.”
If the hosts were to try and fake their own video, what kind of video would they fake?
Ben Hanson responds, “I actually made a few ghost pictures myself just for fun. And I didn’t realize Photoshop was all that difficult to use. So ghosts would be fun. And I’d like to do a really good UFO.”
“For me, it would be telekinesis, moving objects with just mind power,” Bill Murphy said. Jael de Pardo would also do a ghost video.
Jael de Pardo, who was previously on Destination Truth, said about her transition, “Well, I loved being on ‘DT’ because it’s all the adventure. We get to travel to some really exotic places. And it’s rugged. We have some wild times just running around in the middle of the jungle at 2:00 in the morning. I put myself in situations that I never imagined I would be in. And on ‘Fact or Faked’ I think it was a really smooth transition because we’re looking for the same things. The thing that’s different about ‘Fact or Faked’ is that we actually get to strategize a bit more specifically because we have these experiments. So it’s more planned out. It’s more thought out. It’s more scientific in the sense that we have this time that we have to put into these experiments.”
Ben added, “You get to sleep in a hotel more.”
So, where are they going next? Future episodes include Hawaii and Australia. “I used to live in Australia,” said Ben. “So it was awesome to go back and to dive the Great Barrier Reef again. It’s just an amazing adventure.”
Our last panel wasn’t a typical one, but more of a demonstration of what we can expect with the upcoming show Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen, which stars chef Marcel Vigneron, runner up in Top Chef‘s second season, and since we would be heading to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter later on, the demonstration would have a Harry Potter theme.
Marcel’s style of cooking is referred to as “molecular gastronomy”, which involves the science of cooking, especially the transformation of different foods and ingredients during the cooking process. Often, he uses naturally derived chemicals such as maltodextrin and extreme cold provided by liquid nitrogen to transform ingredients in different ways.
The first item he had for us was “Hogwarts chips” (pork rinds I believe) with a yogurt-based dip, and what looked like an egg yolk with some sugar was a “butterbeer sphere” with brown butter powder, made using a spherifcation process which he demonstrated. The butterbeer sphere was mild tasting, but good.
Next we had Dragon Eggs, which was a twist on scotch egg, a hard-boiled egg, wrapped in sausage (dragon, of course), breaded and fried. I’ve never had a scotch egg before, but it was quite tasty. And from what I hear, not very good for you.
He then demonstrated making “Dragon’s Breath”. He took some popcorn and made a caramel popcorn pellets. He then took them and “cooked” them in liquid nitrogen. They created an interesting effect when eaten, as the person who ate it would for a short time breath “steam” through their nose and mouth.
Lastly, he whipped up some pumpkin milkshakes using liquid nitrogen, by mixing some roasted pumpkin and creme anglaise, and used the liquid nitrogen to rapidly freeze it and give it a very creamy consistency.
And so ended our day of panels…and off to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter…