You book an investigation. You load your car with a ton of equipment and drive anywhere from 15 minutes to 6 hours to your location. From here, you set-up your equipment and rotate the team through the building hoping to catch something interesting on video or audio. One or two interesting things happen over the course of the evening and then you pack up and make the return trip home. Now what?
What happens next is 100% dependent on the individual investigator and the team expectations. Many investigators will have one audio recorder or one camera to review. Others will have an 8 camera DVR system along with additional audio and video recorders. How each investigator conducts their review, if they do this at all, and how they document is up to the individual. Currently, paranormal investigation as a field of study has no standard requirements or expectations for evidence review and investigation documentation. Most teams do make an attempt to gather documentation and investigation reports for in-home private investigations but these also vary by team.
What I’m going to describe below is how I document an investigation. This process has steps that I can’t always complete due to time restrictions but I do strive to do most of these things for each and every investigation. I have no expectation that readers follow my lead but only that they consider what may be important for long term record keeping and future data that may be utilized in return visits to the same location.
- Start of Investigation: I carry a notebook to every investigation and enter in the following data at the start of the investigation. Date, time, location, team members, lunar cycle, elevation, coordinates of location, temperature, dew point, humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed, storm conditions, visibility, and general weather information.
- General Notes: If something specific happens during the investigation, I will make a note in my notebook regarding the time and location for further review.
- When entering any space: I state for my video or audio recorder the date, time, location, room, and team members present. This will help with review later.
- EMF Mapping: I wish I could do this at every location but it is usually reserved for residential cases and locations we investigate for 2 days.
- I will draw a rough map of each floor of the building and with the assistance of another investigator, take EMF readings in each room taking a minimum of 5 measurements per space. I will make notes about anomalies in these spaces for future reference.
- The long term goal is to have maps ready for locations that I regularly visit so a quick update can be done during each visit. This long term tracking can be useful for getting a better understanding of the EMF variations in a specific location. It is also a hope of mine that teammates will assist by adding their own data to these maps to form a larger picture of the location.
- End of Investigation: Make a note of the end time. Update weather data with ending temperature, dew point, humidity, barometric pressure, windspeed, and any changes in general weather.
- During Evidence Review
- Review each file individually. I have a grid in my notebook where I can enter the time the file begins, the piece of equipment, the file name, and any notes regarding that file. This is where my verbal notes during the investigation are helpful as I can accurately state the time of each file. If nothing is found, I write “nothing” in my notes.
- Note that knowing the time for your video and audio recordings can be really helpful if you need to correlate a recording with something a teammate has captured on their audio/video. This can help verify or debunk and experience.
- I then transcribe this information into a spreadsheet for long term data collection.
- A copy is also submitted to the team files for their records along with the full evidence clips (usually video).
- Creating a Digital EMF Map: I will scan any hand drawn maps and begin the process of creating a clean digital version for future use.
- Blank Maps: These are digital versions of the map that can be quickly printed and used by myself or teammates to make notes during a follow-up investigation. I find these useful in planning equipment and deploying teams.
- Date Specific Maps: This is a version of the map that has all of the EMF data collected on a specific date. A copy of this will be stored in my records and be submitted to the team files for future reference.
- Personal Experience Notes: If a personal experience occurred during the investigation, I will write a short description of the event including any audio/video files that correlate to the event. This is kept for future reference and also submitted to the team.
So, that’s it. I know, it seems like a lot of work but I strongly believe that if I am going to devote so much time going to these places, I should also devote time to recording the experience. We never know when a piece of information will be essential for gaining a better understanding of the paranormal. Once again, you don’t have to do things the way I do but you should always consider what you do and why you do it.
Much luck and happy hunting!