Photo credit: The HISTORY® Channel
Every town has a local legend, from Bigfoot and Moth Man to strange noises and phantom fire appearances. The HISTORY® Channel’s latest series, “Beyond Skinwalker Ranch,” doesn’t speculate on what might be in an area and instead tasks its team with researching the lore, taking scientific readings, and reporting based on the data they get. While the truth to the stories is up for debate, the conditions of the remote areas they take place in are not. Despite the often-difficult filming locations, the show was able to easily capture data that could help separate fact from fiction using a FLIR T540 Professional Thermal Camera.
The goal of “Beyond Skinwalker Ranch”—a companion series to the original series “The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch” —is to explore other sites of unusual activity and ‘high strangeness’ phenomena by putting local legends and locations to the test using scientific methods. The show features experts Paul Beban and Andrew Bustamante searching for cryptids, spirit orbs, and UAPs around the country, from Arizona all the way to North Carolina. Using an array of different gear, the crew typically searches for traces of radiation, magnetic readings, and thermal variations.
“(Thermal) really does seem to be something that correlates with high strangeness,” says the show’s executive producer, David Carr. The crew regularly used a FLIR T540 while in the field to search for any thermal traces that would appear out of place. The team also regularly hooked the thermal camera into a larger monitor so the rest of the crew would be able to see a live thermal display of their area.
The FLIR T540 was designed with industrial inspections in mind but its features aligned with the nature of the show’s investigations perfectly. The camera includes 1-Touch Level/Span contrast enhancement, making it easy to emphasize the heat generated by a target for further analysis. The T540 can also be paired with a FLIR FlexView™ dual field-of-view lens to gain the ability to instantly switch from wide area to telephoto scanning.
FLIR T540 Thermal Imaging Camera
Despite thermography experience being light amongst the crew, they ran into no issues incorporating the T540 into their gear. “It was really part of our standard kit. It had an easy entry in terms of being able to operate and understand what you’re seeing,” Carr says. “We were able to get all kinds of interesting results and I’d say there are one or two episodes where the thermal results were kind of critical to our understanding of what was going on at a location.”
For one of the tests featured in the show, the crew set up outside of Bradshaw Ranch in Arizona and broadcast a 1.6 GHz signal: a frequency which has been linked to strange phenomena in the previous series. A wide outdoor area such as this typically cools down through the night, but Carr says the show captured a sudden rise in temperature only when playing their frequency. While it’s hard to say what would cause the temperature change, it’s objective data that can fuel further investigation and help reach the truth.
Stills taken from thermal video just seconds apart during their investigation.
“Beyond Skinwalker Ranch” was filmed from September 2022 to February 2023 and frequently faced snow and rain for most of their shooting days. Carr tells us that their average day filming was typically 10 hours long and, combined with the weather, would be tough to work with for most gear given the remote locations.
Perhaps the most extreme conditions took place in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, where the crew shot in -20 degrees Fahrenheit weather—the coldest weather the town had experienced since 1957. “Every single thing failed, from our portable generators to all of our computers to all of our electronic equipment,” Carr tells us. “Except for the T540 FLIR. That is the only thing that was able to withstand all those temperature changes and fluctuations of all the gear we had.”
“Beyond Skinwalker Ranch” is currently airing on The HISTORY Channel with new episodes releasing every Tuesday at 10PM ET/PT for the duration of the season.