On Lateral Movement and Field of Vision

Exchange the techniques and skills needed to walk the shadows. Post your guides and how-tos here.
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Psychlonic
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On Lateral Movement and Field of Vision

Post by Psychlonic » Wed Jun 23, 2021 11:41 pm

Felt like writing today and I wanted to write something I've never really seen discussed here or anywhere else.

One thing I learned early on is that when moving at night, you're much easier to see if you are moving laterally in front of a potential threat. That is, if you are facing in a direction and someone is moving from your left field of your field of vision to your right, you are much more likely to see them.

A basic concept I think we can all agree with, but it needs to be put into effective practice.

Any time I pick a route from one spot of concealment to the next I factor this in, whether I'm in a ditch wanting to move to a treeline or alongside of a fence wanting to cross the street in an area with tight housing. In my mind I'm always looking to find a balance between three things:

1. Distance from most likely threats. How far away are the people who are potentially going to see me?
2. Lighting. Self-explanatory.
3. Factoring in 1 and 2, the point at which I can safely begin to move laterally without drawing attention.

Distance and light go hand in hand. The lighter it is, the farther away you need to be before you can safely move laterally. There is a simple correlation between light levels and the distance which you can see something. Therefore, when I move I attempt to leverage all advantages by moving laterally to as few threats as possible. Ideally none.

For example, let's say I'm knelt down next to a wooden fence and need to cross the road in front of me. There are street lights that aren't immediately nearby but they are close enough that the area has enough ambient light that if someone is looking around, they'll see you crossing probably. Across from me is another wooden fence that I need to either get over quickly or get around the corner of to be safe.

Assuming the fence I'm at surrounds a house and light levels are high enough, my most probable course of action is going to be to crunch myself down into a minimal profile and swiftly cross in a straight line in front of the house (without straight up running and opening my profile back up) to avoid lateral movement and roll into prone on the other side in front of the fence. Then quickly low crawl around the corner before kneeling again.

It's a hypothetical of an extreme need-stealth situation but I've been in similar situations just trying to move across blocks and when any crossing can result in failure you take every precaution you can. Assuming of course that every other route is worse.

Let's paint a more probable scenario. You're moving along a fairly low risk area that's nearly a thieves highway but you need to move in front of an occupied building. You have two choices. Circle around it from farther away to allow lateral movement, or you may need to take an erratic path that consists of closing in to reach a point of cover, moving away again directly away from it to avoid lateral movement and do so until you reach another point of cover or can move laterally.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this, but I never see talked about anywhere. Probably because it's something only we would ever use because we're trying to absolutely maximize stealth. That, and we actually do this for real. I think any operator who's out long enough will develop this sense dynamically because when you're moving through new areas you need to adapt fast and it's just the logical way to go about it. Xanatos will recognize this habit from my weird route through the lower field below the castle at NOPCON.

Just something to consider, it's been a standard method of mine for years and it's probably helped me more than I'll ever know. As for judging everything, that's something you have to develop. Just observe. What's the light like? How far can you see? At what point do you think moving sideways would make you more visible? Who's likely to see you? That's the absolute most stealth way to pick your point A to point B routes. As tempting as it is to just get out of an opening as quickly as possible, sometimes a little trickery will pay huge dividends.
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Re: On Lateral Movement and Field of Vision

Post by Sicarius » Thu Jun 24, 2021 12:01 pm

Awesome, I have some stuff written down regarding this and some sources. Apparently, the eye and brain work like this for two major reasons. One, movement and outline is easier seen on an object moving laterally. The outline changes more rapidly, as what is behind the object changes. Something moving towards you is changing the outline less. The object gets larger, with the outline changing slowly. Two, the eye and brain notice lateral movement, especially on the horizon, because it signals prey animals(usually). Human hunters would have been able to identify herds more easily and stalk them, with less chance of being spotted.

Lateral movement, in my experience, also becomes extremely exaggerated when you utilize peripheral vision.
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Re: On Lateral Movement and Field of Vision

Post by Psychlonic » Thu Jun 24, 2021 4:07 pm

That's pretty much it. I think the other big factor in relation to night time is that we expend the rods in our center field of view quickly when peering into darkness, hence the doctrine of looking in "circles" around what you're really trying to see in low light. So if we want to look at the science behind it, not only is what you're saying true but by only moving toward or away from a threat you remain in their diminished area of vision denying their eyes the usage of fresh rods. Some people are clever enough to know about this fault, but largely everyone simply looks directly at areas they think something is in. Coupled with achieving the lowest profile possible* and it becomes almost impossible to see a person past a certain distance. You yourself might feel incredibly exposed, but a little paranoia to persuade you into performing your best isn't going to hurt anything.

* viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1533
Obviously, going into prone is the ideal static profile but low crawling across a street is clearly leaving you visible overall for a longer period.

And of course if you find crossing the fence is safe in said scenario:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1889

Shameless plug, but also kind of relevant. We rarely have to think about vertical movement but similar principles do apply and it can become important. One thing I see a lot of are ~6' wooden fences that reflect a lot of light. Chances are good that if street lights are illuminating one, your profile will be highly visible scaling it hence my imaginary scenario above seeing me drop down and crawling at the base in the shadows. The choice depends on where the corner is if any, lighting, possible tall grass, etc. Still, if you decide to go over the lit fence your moving profile will draw the same attention that moving laterally will.
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Re: On Lateral Movement and Field of Vision

Post by Sicarius » Thu Jun 24, 2021 6:46 pm

Psychlonic wrote:
Thu Jun 24, 2021 4:07 pm
That's pretty much it. I think the other big factor in relation to night time is that we expend the rods in our center field of view quickly when peering into darkness, hence the doctrine of looking in "circles" around what you're really trying to see in low light. So if we want to look at the science behind it, not only is what you're saying true but by only moving toward or away from a threat you remain in their diminished area of vision denying their eyes the usage of fresh rods. Some people are clever enough to know about this fault, but largely everyone simply looks directly at areas they think something is in. Coupled with achieving the lowest profile possible* and it becomes almost impossible to see a person past a certain distance. You yourself might feel incredibly exposed, but a little paranoia to persuade you into performing your best isn't going to hurt anything.

* viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1533
Obviously, going into prone is the ideal static profile but low crawling across a street is clearly leaving you visible overall for a longer period.

And of course if you find crossing the fence is safe in said scenario:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1889

Shameless plug, but also kind of relevant. We rarely have to think about vertical movement but similar principles do apply and it can become important. One thing I see a lot of are ~6' wooden fences that reflect a lot of light. Chances are good that if street lights are illuminating one, your profile will be highly visible scaling it hence my imaginary scenario above seeing me drop down and crawling at the base in the shadows. The choice depends on where the corner is if any, lighting, possible tall grass, etc. Still, if you decide to go over the lit fence your moving profile will draw the same attention that moving laterally will.
I have some thoughts about crossing obstacles but I am inexperienced and have no muscle, so I will keep them to myself for a while.
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Re: On Lateral Movement and Field of Vision

Post by Psychlonic » Thu Jun 24, 2021 7:31 pm

It's another max stealth consideration. I can get over such a fence in about a second silently in a variety of ways, what the choice boils down to is whether or not the motion is worth it.

You actually don't need to be especially strong to cross that kind of fence and I find the same usually applies to cyclone fences that aren't topped with barbed wire. If you can be sure you don't be landing on anything loud or unsafe, you just grab the top of the fence, squat as low as you can while keeping your hand grip, and pull with your arms while exploding upward with your legs. Being as light as you are, this should be super easy. Lazy vault your legs over the top and use your arms to pull you forward just enough to land on the other side. Simple.
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Re: On Lateral Movement and Field of Vision

Post by Xanatos » Thu Jun 24, 2021 10:12 pm

Either that or do a gate vault, where you flop your torso over the fence and use your hands to push/lift your legs over. Doesn't work on spiked/barbed fences though.

On lateral motion, a couple of times I've been in someone's FoV (whether they're actively looking for me or just passively scanning) and managed to back away slowly to duck out of sight. While I didn't think of it at the time, I made sure to move as linearly as possible to avoid lateral tracking, only ducking sideways when I got to some form of concealment.
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Re: On Lateral Movement and Field of Vision

Post by Sicarius » Fri Jun 25, 2021 12:27 am

Psychlonic wrote:
Thu Jun 24, 2021 7:31 pm
It's another max stealth consideration. I can get over such a fence in about a second silently in a variety of ways, what the choice boils down to is whether or not the motion is worth it.

You actually don't need to be especially strong to cross that kind of fence and I find the same usually applies to cyclone fences that aren't topped with barbed wire. If you can be sure you don't be landing on anything loud or unsafe, you just grab the top of the fence, squat as low as you can while keeping your hand grip, and pull with your arms while exploding upward with your legs. Being as light as you are, this should be super easy. Lazy vault your legs over the top and use your arms to pull you forward just enough to land on the other side. Simple.
How tall are your walls and fences? Mine are 6 or 7 feet usually. I may try that, it just seems too loud. I am positive I am moving too slowly and/or being too quiet sometimes while operating.
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Re: On Lateral Movement and Field of Vision

Post by Sicarius » Fri Jun 25, 2021 12:28 am

Xanatos wrote:
Thu Jun 24, 2021 10:12 pm
Either that or do a gate vault, where you flop your torso over the fence and use your hands to push/lift your legs over. Doesn't work on spiked/barbed fences though.

On lateral motion, a couple of times I've been in someone's FoV (whether they're actively looking for me or just passively scanning) and managed to back away slowly to duck out of sight. While I didn't think of it at the time, I made sure to move as linearly as possible to avoid lateral tracking, only ducking sideways when I got to some form of concealment.
I will accidentally kill myself if I try that vault...
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Re: On Lateral Movement and Field of Vision

Post by Psychlonic » Fri Jun 25, 2021 12:58 am

Sicarius wrote:
Fri Jun 25, 2021 12:27 am
How tall are your walls and fences? Mine are 6 or 7 feet usually. I may try that, it just seems too loud. I am positive I am moving too slowly and/or being too quiet sometimes while operating.
Same here, I think that's standard for privacy. The big consideration if you do it is simply how solid the fence is. If you feel it and the fence moves or creaks a bunch then yeah there's the chance of making a ton of sound. Or if you try to cheat by kicking the front of the fence on your way up for extra momentum. Generally though if it's solid your main concern for silence is your landing on the other side. I usually break the fall by either letting myself fall forward on the other side and absorbing some of the momentum with my arms or if I'm going over too quickly a shoulder roll disperses the momentum without making too much sound.

There's not necessarily a one-size-fits-all best solution, you just go with the best method the fence will allow you to do. Or wall. If they're especially solid or at least have really strong posts, a lot of times you can do a modified gate vault and swing yourself into the other side of the fence, stop yourself at the post with a foot, then just kind of cat down to ground level without making any sound.
Knowledge alone is not power, it is the potential for power. That potential can only be unlocked through applying that knowledge and realizing the skill.

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