Bigfoot Encounters

Big Foot show goes high tech on Discovery

By GERI PARLIN of the Tribune staff, Copyright LaCrosse Tribune, Wisconsin

What is Big Foot? Where is Big Foot? Does he really exist, or is he just a hoax perpetrated by prankster Ray Wallace?

Cue the spooky music and get ready to hear the story of how two local men got pulled into the legend of Big Foot. Reuben Steindorf, president and senior animator at Vision Realm Entertainment in La Crosse, was hired to re-create forensic details for a show that will air at 8 tonight on the Discovery Channel. Steindorf, in turn, hired Bill Kult of Soundframe Studio to create music for the show.

"Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science," explores the legend of Big Foot and asks: Is this creature fact or fiction? Before working on the special, Steindorf was teetering toward the camp of the nonbelievers. "Before I got involved, it was kind of like the Loch Ness Monster to me. Now, I can't really say whether or not I believe in it. There's some pretty compelling evidence."

How compelling?

Well, more compelling than the 16-inch foot-shaped carvings that the late Ray Wallace used in his version of Big Foot. Wallace, who died last November, was exposed as a prankster by his family. But that doesn't mean the legend of Big Foot will die, too, Steindorf said. There is still forensic study being done on Sasquatch and some of it is pretty compelling, Steindorf said.

"They sent me the foot casts, and in defense of their foot casts, they weren't the wood-carved ones of Ray Wallace."

Steindorf got much of his information and specifications from Jeffrey Meldrum from the department of biological sciences at Idaho State University, who sent plaster foot casts to use in Steindorf's re-creation of forensic evidence gathered in the search for Big Foot.

"They're pretty huge, too," Steindorf said with a laugh.

He began work in May and worked on it for seven and a half months. He's even in the special, Steindorf said.

"They came down here with a film crew and filmed us. They lit me like a vampire."

The real work took place on long days and nights at the computer as Steindorf built Big Foot in virtual world.

"They had me start from scratch with all their data. I rebuilt the skeletal frame of this alleged guy."

And you better believe it was checked for error, Steindorf said.

"I had 14 to 15 people that were approving my stuff. This is pretty intense stuff. It's been scrutinized."

Steindorf said exposure of the Wallis hoax will probably fuel interest in the Discovery special.

"It's kind of a mixed blessing. I'm just kind of going with the flow. It brings more publicity to the project," he said, so more people are likely to tune in tonight.

One of them tuning in will likely be Bill Kult, film composer and audio engineer for Soundframe Studio. He provided background music for the special.

"I need 25 minutes worth of music," Steindorf told him.

"There really wasn't much direction," Kult said. "It was pretty much, 'Make it spooky.' I used a lot of flutes and chimey sounds. There were reverbs and a lot of things drifted off."

So is Kult a believer?

"To be honest, I never did believe in Big Foot," he said, but after working on the special he's more open to the idea.

"Maybe there is something out there. There could be something out there, but I would never personally see it because I am stuck in my music studio 24/7."

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