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Geolocating MH17 Crash Videos with Checkdesk

July 11, 2015

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

In the wake of the downing of Flight MH17 in Ukraine on July 17th dozens of videos of the aftermath of the crash were uploaded to social media sites. In the days and weeks after July 17th it was possible to geolocate some of these videos, and ahead of the 1 year anniversary of the attack we are looking at some of those videos that weren’t geolocated in the hope of creating an interactive map showing the locations where these videos were filmed.

To participate in the geolocation of these videos visit Checkdesk where we will be posting a few videos at a time to geolocate.

The following are guides and other resources on verification:


Google Earth Pro – Now free.

Clip Converter – Video saving site.

Keepvid – Video saving site.

Tube Offline – Video saving site for videos from – Site for archiving web pages.

VLC Media Player – A free and light weight media player with various useful tools and options.

Paint.Net – Free digital photo editing software.


A Beginner’s Guide to Geolocating Videos

Verification and Geolocation Tricks and Tips with Google Earth

Geolocation Techniques – Mapping Landmarks

Open Source Information in Conflict Zones

War and Pieces – Social Media Investigations

The Verification Handbook

Bellingcat Investigation Team

The Bellingcat Investigation Team is an award winning group of volunteers and full time investigators who make up the core of the Bellingcat's investigative efforts.

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  1. They Knew

    “Free digital photo editing software”

    What did you add, and what did you remove from Russian satelite photos, things you didn’t like?

  2. They Knew

    C’mon Bellincat, why is it so difficult for you to answer a simple question, why do you need photo editing software for, if you only use authentic images?

    • Just a A

      Quite simple, if you use satellite imagery from Google Earth or screenshot from a social media site you need such an tool. One prime example is the figure in the report you refer where different pics from different dates from Google Earth were combined in one figure.

  3. Mad Dog

    I think they are in conspiracy with the Chinese and so it takes a bit of time to answer your succinct questions.

  4. boggled

    They knew, they did not alter them the way the Russian MoD did like putting a SU25 on an image or altering dates.
    The reason for photo editing software, which someone not so asinine would know, is to label and identify items in a photo that is attached to your article.
    little red boxes, paths, waypoints, and other identifying features are added.

    IF you have any PROOF that Bellingcat doctored any of their photos to make a photo fit their narrative, as opposed to enhance for ease of viewing, please produce it.
    If you don’t, then your slander here is baseless and to anyone reading them would make anything you comment baseless.

    You are judged by your actions.

    Your comment approaches the line of being libel.
    If you want to continue using this tactic, you might end up finding yourself banned and legal actions taken.
    Just a word to the wise.

    If you have proof, show it, otherwise all your proving is you are a dunce providing baseless accusations, a smear campaign, propaganda, and slander.

    Fare thee well

  5. Ramsay Bolton

    Anyone reading the news from Ukraine at the moment?

    Right Sector has been involved in a fatal shootout with police in West Ukraine including the use of rocket launchers.

  6. Mad Dog

    Ramsay, a bit off topic don’t you think.
    Also, Boggled, your usually measured approach to some of the posters here is refreshing, but this last blast is a bit disconcerting despite the silliness of the original poster. Your measured approach does much more for the credibility of the site and helps to keep it out of the morass (slugfests) we see elsewhere. IMHO

    • Ramsay Bolton

      it was somewhat off topic but to be honest goelocating post-crash videos of the MH17 aftermath doesn’t seem that interesting to me.

      • boggled

        Ramsey, your welcome to your opinion, however there are a lot of people, me included, that would like to know the tools Bellingcat’s staff used in their methods.

        It is also cool they are asking for Bellingcat’s readers to participate in a program of Bellingcat’s and get involved in the process.

        They might help with future or personal investigations.
        They have opened many people’s eyes to the possibilities and potential of acquiring data and evidence from open source information.

        I find it nice to have some of the better tools all listed in one article.
        In a way of providing this, they kind of are like an inventor and saying what are the limits and improvements that need to be made, what are the faults that have not been exposed yet by use, and also helps people think about what the next generation of these programs should be in the future.

        It also helps Bellingcat say to doubters and amateur conspiracy theorists and other interested parties – here is what we use, experiment with it, see if you come up with the same results, if you don’t, let’s have a discussion about it.
        Sorry it does not titillate you, it does others.

        I know with your ‘skepticism’ if you could use the tools to find and geolocate a Ukrainian BUK near the launch site and time before MH17’s destruction, you would be going gung ho at it.
        Unfortunately you just cannot find that many deployed even though Ukraine’s military has had over 900 of them.
        I imagine about half though were located in Crimea and the Russians have refused to give them back.

        All your comments appear very pessimistic and negative.
        Maybe when you see a article that doesn’t excite you, go outside, get some sunshine and do a hobby or activity that interests you and makes you happy.
        You will live a longer, happier life for it.

        Like I said, your welcome to your opinion about individual articles and authors, but your pessimism in some comments does not move the conversation along for those who are interested.
        It just gives everyone that you are a crotchety old codger who tells kids to go play in another park away from you because they are disturbing your afternoon nap or pigeon feeding.
        Maybe the advice MadDog gives me here would be helpful to you as well, sometimes it is better to cancel a comment then make one.

        Fare thee well

    • boggled

      I know Mad Dog, and thanks for the reminder about replying to TROLLops, oops conspiracy theorist, oops, proKremlin commenters, oops, pro DNR commenters, oops, jealous of Belligcat agents, oops, FSB agents, oops, Kremlin paid propaganda agents, oops, evidence deniers, oops guys who want a little more proof, oops, etc. – What should I call them???
      In replying to them I should be challenging their narrative, not the them personally.
      I just bring myself down to their level.

      I will attempt to keep those emotions in check, but good people are dying from the Kremlin’s hybrid war besides those innocent souls of MH17.

      But your right, I should not reminding them what a possible reaction to their comment is, that is the admin or moderator’s job of the comment board, not my responsibility as a commenter and reader of this board.

      If there is viable evidence of MH17’s downing by Ukrainian forces or a valid counter claim to the article, it would be nice for the evidence to be shared here, people should feel welcome to comment, and I should not be scaring away the people that might just possibly provide something valuable, which I do not think will show up, but stranger things have happened in history.

      I should have kept it to the first four sentences and the last valediction.

      It does no justice to the rest of my comment if I call a simpleton a simpleton.
      Thanks again for the reminder, but sometimes a bully needs to punched in the nose to back off because that is the only thing they understand.

      Fare thee well

      • Mad Dog

        As you mentioned: I will attempt to keep those emotions in check, but good people are dying from the Kremlin’s hybrid war besides those innocent souls of MH17.

        And that is all the more reason to stick with your measured replies, not emotional attempts to punch them (deservedly) in the nose. Hit them with facts and solid reasoning, great weapons.

        • boggled

          Advice noted and I will go find a rubber band to put on my wrist in the future to snap before debating with apparent Kremlin propagandists who like to follow the Kremlin’s and FSB modus operendi of deny, discredit, deceive, dismay, with a smidgen of truth thrown in.
          Although it is not seen as much here at Bellingcat, other places have it much worse.
          A good article to read – relative to new and existing evidence on MH17 – as well as seeing the methods at work in the comment board can be by reading the article at novayagazeta and their comment board.
          Some very interesting facts are pointed out there from their own investigations.
          It is best to translate it in browser as opposed to pressing their English button.

          Search for – Почти год журналисты и эксперты, привлеченные «Новой газетой», исследовали обстоятельства гибели Боинга 777, взорвавшегося в небе над Донбассом.

          Fare thee well

          • Mad Dog

            Thanks, will do that. May have to buy a rubber band myself!

  7. boggled

    And another on there that is a very interesting read on honorable soldiers of Russia refusing to fight in Ukraine and how they are being prosecuted is through this link.

    The comments give as much insight sometimes as the article itself, if you ignore the FSB disinformation campaign.

  8. John

    Here is the rub: There are dozens of photos of some BUK traveling through Ukraine from what appears to be from Russia via geolocating. There are dozens of phone conversations of known rebels basically saying, oh no, we shot down a passenger plane. There are dozens of twitter and other social media accounts from citizens saying that the BUK was shot from somewhere south of Snizhne – including a damning comment from Shooter Girkin’s own account (from other posters apparently) that said “We did warn you — do not fly in our sky”. This evidence is in no way conclusive, but the huge amount of data all points to one conclusion. I have NOT SEEN ANYTHING NEAR THIS from any of those who suggest it was shot down by a Ukraine fighter plane, a Ukrainian BUK, an Israeli plane, an alien, or that the plane was full of dead people or whatever other claims have been lodged. Where is any of that data? There have been clearly altered photos from Russia. There has been nothing else. If Ukraine had a BUK there, don’t you think SOMEONE would have photographed it at least an 1/8 as much as the Russian BUK was photographed? Wouldn’t there be many people tweeting about seeing a plane shoot down a plane? Anything? Nothing? I thought so …

    • Mad Dog

      Duh! That is exactly the question that comes to mind when dealing with these alternate scenarios….Where is the evidence. Blasted by a laser canon from a Jovian moon time traveling for 100 years in the future? Discredit half of the information available here and you still have a damning case pointing right at the separatist area.


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