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The Media

Real-time Video Disinformation 264

slaytanic killer writes "Stalin-like realtime filtering of live video has recently been demoed. This article on Tech Review analyzes the myriad uses of this technology, from disappearing Nancy Kerrigans (shadows, ice & all), to dynamic product insertions of Win98 in 'Frasier.' Each frame rendered in less than 1/30th of a second, regardless of motion or changing camera angles."
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Real-time Video Disinformation

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  • by Zan Thrax ( 53693 ) on Sunday August 20, 2000 @07:19PM (#841033) Homepage
    while i really don't care much about your arguement with fluxrad, I gotta say that I find your (implied) belief that the American government wouldn't take away personal liberties if they feel the need. Ever heard of FEMA?

    Pax, Romana or Americana, doesn't do anything great for the world. All it means is the dominant world power considering its own people more important than anyone else's, even when its citizens are on someone else's territory...

    Like fluxrad said, most people are fairly intelligent, on an individual basis. Many even fail to act as part of the mob when given the opportunity. Most people don't bother thinking for themselves in their day-to-day lives, and just go with the flow because its easier. "People are stupid, panicky animals" -- sheep in particular for the most part. And no, I don't exclude myself. I play nice with society's rules, even though I feel that our society is seriously flawed. So do most people who say how stupid people are...
  • Max Headroom was doing ths for years. It made Simon Peller sound like he was going to release all those detained blanks, and instead of a Trojan horse, it was a Trojan sheep
  • No, you idiot, I'm saying that you can't just make a convincing lie in a couple minutes... or seconds.. it takes time to fool people.
  • fluxrad, as much as I detest the ignorance (apathy) of the world around them, American's aren't unique in being fucking idiots when it comes to group behaviour. Hell, its looking like we Canadians might just elect rabid capitalists next federal election, which should be a within a year of Dubya "I can't name 3 countries without getting one's name wrong" gaining power of the dominant power on the planet. I wish all the people like that prick in the new Molson ad were Americans, but there's just as many anywhere else...
  • Actually, that UNIX system in Jurassic Park was using a real interface. It's called "fsn []", and it was developed by SGI. Unfortunately, it's only available for Irix...

  • Two people have already given pretty accurate translations. What interests me is why you attribute something you can't even read to a "Fourth Reich Fanatic", just because it happens to be in German. The posted text is actually a lyric from a song (see by a band that protests against fascism.
  • And a few years back, Fox, during baseball games, started to insert their own ads on the backstop when seen by the center field camera. I believe they stopped the practice, when baseball/stadium owners threatened to sue them.
  • this information was available in the most recent (July/August) issue of MIT Technology Review... it's even available online! les/july00/amato.htm [] and by the way, it's katerina witt, not nancy kerrigan
  • One thing I've also noticed is the not so obvious removal of Sony logos on TVs and logos on shirts, giving the attitude from the producers that "If you don't pay for your logo to be on TV, we'll take it off" even for simple things like a television or a shirt.

    I wonder if the makers of the T-shirts could claim copyright infringement, since you're copying their shirt design. Sure, without modification this would fall under fair use, but with modification?
  • I live in a society where there is a thing called ethics. We all trust one another to varying degrees, but we have ethical standards. As a result of these standards, people within our society tend to believe what we tell each other, and we vigorously denounce those who we discover lying. Surely you've noticed a lot of vigorous denunciation of WJ Clinton, as an example. By this process of following a common ethic, we are able to establish a society. It's sometimes called 'civilisation.'

    There are people who seek to tear down this society, some of whom are known as nihilists. There's in fact a social revolution of sorts going on right now. Liars are being tagged and denounced, and even the party of the liars feels compelled to champion candidates who have the appearnce of having an ethical base to their personal philosophy.

    I won't go into a lot of proper nouns, because that always stirs up a fight. But be aware that there's a cultural revolution brewing, and nihilists, postmodernists, and other relativists of various stripes are coming down.

    It's a failed philosophy.
  • We need to get this technology extended to real life. Then the next time I'm on a date and it's going bad, I can substitute in Nicole Kidman, on the fly.
  • People are marveled this technology, advertisers love it and free-thinkers worry about the possibility of changing history or even live video broadcasts. Nobody else seems to have raised the point that this technology produces video that is pretty much always NOTICEABLY FAKE. You can be wowed by J.F.K appearing in Forrest Gump, or yellow lines across the football field, or John Wayne peddling beer...but all of this looks fake as hell. Yes, the technology will get better but this isn't anything new. Technology has existed to edit still photos for decades, and it has become very sophisticated. But bad fakes are easily spotted, and experts can spot even the best fakes. Experts won't always be able to analyze live video as it's being broadcast on CNN, but that'll force journalists to do something that they've almost forgotten how to do: check their facts.
  • There have been people who have gone to the moon and you can ask them. Failing that you could take a telescope and see the American flag that is there.
  • by Gray ( 5042 )
    Where can I buy one? I want to put my head on Walker Texas Rangers body.
  • When I went to tech school (Brown Institute) us Electronic tech types had to deal with the kind of people who were taking the 'broadcasting' course. BI has put many eminent 'broadcating professionals' into the market.

    My feeling in being around those airheads is that to be a broadcaster you have to be coached in having a proper voice. One particular advantage is if you start out with a head with the proper resonance characteristics. It also helps if you can learn to read the material smoothly without letting the content affect you.

    Needless to say, mindless drones do well at that sort of thing. They rise to the top of their field.
  • <cynic>TV news is pap, anyway. Anyone who trusts the likes of Bryant Gumbell and Ted Koppel, not to mention Geraldo, to give them an accurate picture of reality probably won't be affected by editing and product placement. Every time I happen to catch one of the TV "news" shows, I want to throw a hammer through the TV just like the runner in the 1984 Apple ad. They are all smear artists with some type of agenda. I don't care if I agree with the agenda or not -- it's still not the news, it's an opinion and entertainment show. Mind control. Kill your television. </cynic>

    ---- ----
  • "Let it happens"

    I wonder if such tech could fix things like this on the web or ordinary people?
  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Sunday August 20, 2000 @08:06PM (#841050) Homepage
    Why not TV?

    Lots of it on TV already. Watch any Sci-Fi show. But it is not acceptable on the news (not that what's on TV is really "news").

    ---- ----
  • by Niac ( 2101 ) on Sunday August 20, 2000 @04:24PM (#841051) Homepage
    Welcome to the wonderful world of being unable to verify the authenticity of anything. You cannot prove that the inserted content is actually false, so how is it any different from /being/ the real content? It's not. :)

    Welcome to a brave new world. :P

  • people have been doing all kinds of live censoring of TV/Radio for years. Putting broadcasts on delays to filter out cusswords or other "inapropriate" uses of the media. This is just another logical extention of that. Much like the old insertion of "buy coke" frames in movies back in the 40's and 50's.

    my advice, don't discount the media...just be wary of the source.

    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • Imagine a tv show where everything is obviously Microsoft, all the books on the wall, on the computer screens, the patterns on the carpets....

    oh the HORROR!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Montag klopft es an die Tür
    und Arafat er steht vor Dir
    Dienstag gibt es Probealarm
    Paranoia in der Straßenbahn
    Mittwoch ist der Krieg sehr kalt
    Breschnew lauert in der Badeanstalt

    Donnerstag, Du weißt es schon
    tausend Agenten in der Kanalisation
    Freitag gehört der Mafia
    das Ravioli kommt aus Florida
    Samstag Abend Irrenanstalt
    KGB im deutschen Wald
    Sonntag, da ist alles tot
    im Golf von Mallorca der Weltkrieg droht

    Stalingrad, Stalingrad
    Deutschland Katastrophenstaat
    Wir leben im Computerstaat

  • Imagine the police taping an interview with a criminal suspect, for instance, and then changing their tape to show the suspect waiving his right to counsel and confessing to the crime. It sounds as though that's perfectly possible, and even comparatively easy, with this technology.

    My understanding was that the significance of this technology was that it could do in real time what people could already do in postproduction. That wouldn't affect the videotaped evidence scenario, would it?

  • It seems that every piece of video shot by or broadcast by MTV has the clothing logos (actually all logos) blurred out.

    (This is an observation from 1-2 years ago, I don't watch MTV much anymore)

    Maybe I was over-sensitive but I noticed something else. Instead of bluring out all logos and ofensive behavior (eg. making a pot-smoking gesture) I noticed that MTV does this explicitly in rap videos. While Primus had a cartoon charachter puffing away on a monster joint, Nas got blurred for putting his hands to his lips. While brit pop acts were all decked out in Adidas, Puma and Nike hiphopers became a blur as all their clothes were blocked.

    As I recall, one of the ways to get arround being 'censored' was to show your logos backwards. One of the hits od 97 or 98, 'If I Ruled The World' was shot almost entirely right-to-left so nothing was blurred, even while the camera rolled through times square.


    -- polish ccs mirror []
  • I don't think this is fully real-time yet.
    I mean I expected some cybernanny-like program that could just analyze the frames political correctness in real time and just erasing/modify "shocking" details.
    I actually think a porno film viewed with that should be really funny.
    By the way, it will be some time before they can accurately wash up the sound too (I don't mean "beeping").
    But once they can do it, nobody will even be able to harangue the masses on TV without being potentially either censored, adapted, etc.
    Frightening times, when themass-media are about to become even more powerful ever.
  • Let's just edit out those pesky protestors, then. Oh wait, they already did.

    ---- ----
  • by Calamity Jane ( 223787 ) on Sunday August 20, 2000 @08:08PM (#841059) Homepage
    One of the better uses I've seen in the vein of the yellow down line used in American Football to show the down, is in swimming. They add a line that moves at the speed of the current world record- so if a swimmer stays in front of that line, they've broken the record.

    It adds a lot of excitement, instead of watching the clock, you see the swimmers fingers just behind, or in front of the record. No confirmation, but I think they'll by using it in Sydney at the Olympics.

    Obviously this tech could be be ported to a lot of other sports. A line in the sand for long / triple jump, a moving line for running track races, ghost cars in motor sport, etc. Adding ads is boring; adding value by showing records I think is very interesting- it effectively combines many events / races into one, if we can see the best result everyone's trying to beat.

  • We had this problem last year is Australia with the football. What the broadcasteing chanel would do was cover real billboards on the ground with virtual ones of higher-paying competitors. It eventually got to the state where certain media company names were covered-up by the chanel as they weren't in the same media group. The solution we found here was to stop the chanel in question from filtering out what was going on on the actual ground. If I remember correctly, they also started covering-up sections of the crowd.
  • Maybe one day we will have a bunch of blue screens in baseball fields. Advertising is put in decided using a database with all your personal information

  • There is a Linux version as well... fsv
  • ...during their own baseball games tune in wednesdays or sundays to watch "first and ten technology" (the system that allows a yellow line indicating where the first down markers are to be shown on the field without overlapping players, refs, or the ball) they have begun to edit in ads behind home plate, that look so seamless you can't tell they are being rendered by 12 superfast computers in a van outside the stadium!
  • Then when it crashes, you'll get the other blue screen...

  • Even in the 1930's we didn't have this much nihilism. The most likely source is a bunch of disgruntled foreigners who insist (to everyone they ever meet out of the street) that the reason their lives are crappy is because of America and it's evil influences.
    The world is not comming to and end. There are always nasayers but they usually become like the bitter old man who just waits by the door for the mail to come every day just so he can redicule it to himself. Usually they write most of the complaint letters and die with more ulcers than swiss cheese.
    The toils and privations of this world aren't that extreme unless you happen to be a person who finds and critizes all of them daily.
  • I'd just like to congradulate Hemos for actually using the word 'myriad' correctly! About 9 times out of 10 that I encounter that word in use, it's used as an adjective. Even on the fucking radio or TV they fuck it up! Don't they have editors or something? Thank you.

  • The words "Wag The Dog" come to mind.
  • "Of course this is actually the way that things have always been. "

    "Certainly this has always been the case in print media, hence the saying that you can't believe everything that you read. "

    In the print media we have had for some time a wide range of authors and journalists reporting on a givin subject. This gives us the chance to read many different takes on said subject and decide for ourselves whats real and what isnt. Even with the technology desribed in the artical, in this day and age we still have that same option. Cameras are everywhere...almost anyone can capture any givin moment on us a wide range of sources to make our decission from.
  • yup... what may be even scarier is that people would watch it.
  • If you are inserting logos in video streams, I wonder if it would eventually be possible to include border information and a url. Maybe it could add these to known logos it spots. The cable settop box of the future may allow you to click on a logo in a live video broadcast and fire up a web browser.

    "This soaps boring but I wonder where I can get a shirt like the one the lead character is wearing - Click"

    I think The Truman show just got a bit closer.

  • Actually, I've tried using fsv, and it's kind of interesting, if not very practical. Unfortunately, I failed miserably to get it to display propoerly with my Voodoo2 under Mesa/Glide.

  • Indeed! Including the link, and the site itself.
    /.ed maybe?
  • Unless all the big stations decide that everyone quietly doctoring footage is better than blowing the whistle on those who decide to try. How many companies are the big TV news stations currently owned by? If I remember correctly, its no more than three. Howeever, that still leaves other media to say "hey, look at what THESE guys are doing..."

  • Isn't this the same thing that happened 8 months ago with NBC and CBS? Remember when CBS' coverage of Time Square NY digitally
    covered NBC' ads in every shot it real time? Slashdot even posted a story about it.

    Sooner or later this will be cheap enough that local station can buy it and start putting in local product placement. Imagine Buffy sporting
    a "Jerry's Bait Shop" t-shirt, or Frasier having a "Mike's Lube and Go" poster on the wall.

    Maybe they can make changes to people in the shows, and make the women on Ally McAnorexia look like something other than Stick Figures [].

  • by SethJohnson ( 112166 ) on Sunday August 20, 2000 @08:22PM (#841075) Homepage Journal

    This brings up a question that has been pestering me for a couple years now.

    It seems that every piece of video shot by or broadcast by MTV has the clothing logos (actually all logos) blurred out. This is especially prevalent in their dumb REAL WORLD tv show and the MAKING THE BAND [] show they have sold to ABC that plays on friday nights. Every single clothing article they're wearing will have the logos blurred out. When the kids walk into a room with posters on the walls, bang!, everything's blurred. Sometimes it's as if the people's faces are the only thing in focus. They'll even blurr the triple stripe pattern on a kid's addidas sweat pants.

    I always thought this was strange considering no other networks do this. I interpreted it as a step MTV had taken in order to try to get money from companies to have their logos featured in the content.

    I was talking to my roommate about this as we watched those poor, sodomized, teen boys get modelled into the next 'N Synch. He suggested that perhaps MTV has some clause in their advertising contracts that says no competing products will be featured during the shows (i.e. the dorks on Making the Band won't be shown wearing Addidas baseball caps right after a Nike commercial airs). Since the network has no idea what advertising is going to get picked up, they're just blurring everything that pops in camera.

    Perhaps this is unrelated, but does anyone know why Beavis and Butthead were always wearing Metallica and AC/DC shirts on their show, but every piece of merchandizing (keyrings, posters, mugs, etc) had them wearing 'Deathrock' and 'Skullz' shirts? I suspect the merchandizing couldn't feature the logo because of trademark law while the show was considered 'fair use'... You'd think Metallica would be rushing to sign a licensing agreement with MTV in order to promote themselves via such a lucrative medium. Oh, whoops! I forgot. I'm talking about Metallica here. Never mind.

  • seening as how i'm profoundly hard of hearing, i watch TV with close captioning on. I've watched more than one "live" broadcast of news, where the captioning was AHEAD of the words being said. Kinda hurts your faith in the news team. =)
  • Anyway, that was already the case...
    Ever seen on TV something you were at? It usually doesn't even look remotely like what you could see. The reason for that is that the picture have to make it seem bigger, louder and more interresting than it really was.
    They send a team there that will film for hours and make a 10 minutes reportage. Do you expect them to show something realistic or the best so that they can sell their pictures?

    Now you can not trust live transmission, I don't see this as being a big deal...
    But then, I have never really trusted the TV anyway, so this nothing new to me.

  • As a hardcore gamer with little to no interest in politics, I have to point something out. As I read further into the article, I realized that this technology has one application that wasn't mentioned: making FMV games that don't suck!!

    And it's about time, too.

    Pseudonews: Better than the real thing. []

  • Albert Einstein is fair game pretty much because of two reasons.
    1. He is dead.
    2. His estate (if he has one) dosn't care or is dead as well.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sarnoff are advertizing a lot what they are doing, but they were not the first ones to do that in real-time. The patents on such a method are owned in Europe and Japan by a company called Symah Vision. American patents are currently being opposed, I guess. See
  • Whome ever controls your information controls you. Wait a min, this could be cool, how long untill we get to see political ads with the opposition doing the nasty with farm animals?
  • yeah, right. with all the mac-lovers in the special effects business today? did you ever stop to wonder why so many macs are in movies, even with their "massive" marketshare?

    my favorite is still the "UNIX" system in Jurassic Park. Anyone got a user interface to the filesystem like that one???

    Anyway, gettting back on topic, if the Microsoft show does come about, I hope it's titled "Everyone Hates Clippy"

  • by wiZd0m ( 192990 ) on Monday August 21, 2000 @03:26AM (#841083)
    "The only reason video evidence has had some credibility is that, until now, they have been hard to falsify."

    Your kidding right? 99% of the first world war I imagery you see on TV even today was completely made in studios in New York and London. The reason is simple, it would not sell! To show really tiny silhouettes moving in a field was . People needed drama. See

    The greatest WWI forge of all time is that private who get killed as he raises his head to get out of the trench to go charge the germans And you see him fall down dead.

    I agree tought that the net is very good at this from Fake nasa pictures fake.html to some Cia-Nazi conspiracy theoriest here

    At the end, the truth is : WE WERE NOT THERE and therefor we cannot trully take it for granted.


  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) on Sunday August 20, 2000 @06:30PM (#841084) Homepage Journal
    There are many times when I know that the little "live" written in the corner is accurate; usually because another channel is also live at the scene. I suppose they could be collaborating, but I doubt it.
    And this is also how you'll know if something is real or not. Imagine the joy that one station would feel if it caught another doctoring footage and the shit storm that would erupt. Checks, balances, redundancy and indepenant sources keep everyone honest (more or less)
  • This could be the greatest thing since....well since anything? We no longer need real brand name athletes, their obscene payouts, criminal records and constant bickering with owners. We no longer need owners or even teams at all. Just create a bunch of player agents and slap somebody's face on it. Imagine we could finally know if Ty Cobb is better than today's players, or if Walter Johnson could beat Randy Johnson. Swap out different stadiums like wallpaper. Hell auction off the rights to build your own players. Give them fishheads and metal arms and whatnot.

    wink wink wink wink. Seriously, this could signal the end of 'city' sponsorship in Baseball. You could just paste up corporate logos on stadiums on uniforms on anything and instead of for example the Seattle Mariners you would have the eBay/Coke/Nike/AT&T Mariners. It's what's sports are about anyway.
  • Welcome to a brave new world. :P

    Literary nitpick: Brave New World was about a future in which genetic engineering, eugenics, and behavioral programming were used to create happy, ignorant niche-people. When most people say "brave new world" in relation to a techno-dystopian scenario, they're actually invoking 1984. The biggest difference is that BNW actually made a decent argument for its ability to make 99.99% of the people genuinely happy, whereas in 1984 there was little question that everything sucked.

    - Michael Cohn
  • Heh.

    What I deliciously enjoy is that when people on TV use a computer, it is either completely non-branded (i.e., it doesn't look like WinXX) and looks like kooky bad science fiction, or they're using a Mac (esp. iMacs these days, I guess it's the happy fun colors...)

    The other example I can think of are ads that show people using WWW browsers. Always Netscape, never IE.

    It's probably the only place where I wish the TV world would influence the real world.

  • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <> on Sunday August 20, 2000 @08:55PM (#841101) Homepage

    Sure, and after a while people tend to discover that some sources are especially reliable, and they pay extra attention to them. The fact that people will give that extra attention, and in many cases extra business, to the most reliable sources is a key part of the reason that the press is as trustworthy as it is. In a real sense it's like the way that peer review of Open Source code helps to ensure that nobody deliberately slips in security bugs. The risk of being caught is enough to keep people from even trying. The result is that we know that we know that we can generally trust the facts presented in the Wall Street Journal, that ZDnet is less reliable, and the Weekly World News is completely unreliable.

    Of probably greater impact than the use of this kind of technology in the news media is its use in criminal justice. People are very heavily swayed by the perceived reliability of videotaped evidence. The fact that tapes can now be falsified with considerable ease, and that in many cases tapes of relevance in criminal cases will be unique and not subject to this kind of peer review leaves a very big and dangerous place for falsification. Imagine the police taping an interview with a criminal suspect, for instance, and then changing their tape to show the suspect waiving his right to counsel and confessing to the crime. It sounds as though that's perfectly possible, and even comparatively easy, with this technology. That's far scarier than a news program changing the logo on the side of a building.

  • Please, just shut up. This is a web site run by real people with thoughts and opinions and... aww screw it, just shut up right now, and continue to shut up into the foreseeable future.
  • That is a bit disingenious. Afterall, the underlying assumption is that the signals will be digial. Thus, the talking head can be watermarked (and thus signed) separately from the PIP graphic in the corner. Furthermore, the composition could be separately signed.

    As we move to product placement, it would be easy for the product-placement part to be signed by the manufacturer, and the rest of the sportscast by ESPN. Just like HTML pages, the client does the superpositioning. It is the obvious way to go.
  • Actually, the media does a terrible job of policing itself
    The popular media may not always police itself, but once you stray from the most popular few networks and look at the second strata of channels, you find great programs pointing out the bad behaviour of the major networks. Here in Australia we have a great program called Media Watch. It regularly points out the tricks and appauling behaviour of all the free-to-air stations and radio, including its own. It has relatively little direct impact as a general rule, but it's credited with "outing" a huge cash-for-comments scandal.

    Also in Australia, there's little love between 7 and 9, and they will go for the throat if they think the other station has done something the public will not like.

    In the US you have programs like The Awful Truth. They have a rough time, but they're out there. Show them some support and you know you'll have a media (and business) watchdog.

    And if you still don't trust the media, get out and actually talk face-to-face with your elected leaders and politicans from various parties...

  • It would have been nice of them to mention the Libertarians as well as the Green Party. Last I checked, the Libertarians were polling ahead of Pat Buchanan.

    Pacifica probably doesn't like the Libertarians, though...

    ---- ----
  • No I was not kidding.

    The thing is: untli (about) now you'd need a studio to reenact the event or really nifty proffesional video editing tools (or frame by frame editing before video) That didn't make "filmed evidence" impossible to falsify, but very hard and very expensive. Esp. in comparison to faked stills.

    I doubt that those WWI films would hold up in court too...

  • I was watching a football game one time and the line of scrimmage was highlighted with a yellow line. It was great because you could see a lot of the depth perceptive aspects better. This form of image rendering is great for informational purposes and other such devices; it lets the public understand or relate to something better through non-interference with the actual event. That way the action is not interfered with. It will be great when things like the line of scrimmage hilight can be interactively turned on and off (like a dvd feature).

    Even the samurai
    have teddy bears,
    and even the teddy bears

  • This is far beyond the ten-second delay on live shows allowing for bleeping foul language.
    If the broadcaster, or someone (like a cable company, or random evil government spook, or malicious cracker with access to the previous systems) who's systems the signal travels through, can change any part of a live broadcast they want. Don't like the President's speech decrying the conglomeration of all the television and cable corporations? Fire up the voice synth software, and rewrite the speech, as he gives it. The people that are actually there will get the real deal, but every one else will hear what you wanted them to hear...
  • by Fervent ( 178271 ) on Sunday August 20, 2000 @06:53PM (#841142)
    I say let it happen. It's going to happen anyway. Since the earliest days of TV, man has been trying to alter broadcasts to filter content. Whether it be for entertainment (superimposing a painted picture of western scenary behind some cowboys) or for information (superimposing a weather map on a bluescreen behind some meterologist). Are we supposed to stand there and say "That weather map isn't real! I don't want to be mislead. Show me the wall behind that guy."

    There have also been struggles between corporations for brand marketing. Since networks started embedding watermarks on their screens, rival networks have tried everything to remove them (from whiting them out to blowing the screen up a few inches). Even early TV networks would sometimes try to hide huge corporate logos of other networks (CBS's attempt to hide the NBC logo on one of the video cameras in Vietnam footage is a good example).

    I say let it go. We've already accepted computer generated foolary in movies and in video games. Why not TV?

  • I will guess that this instant artificial product placement, like the network show mentioned, will be common place within a year or two, and annoy the heck out of consumers. However, it may reduce the number of distinct commercials as product placement becomes more common and as Tivo and Replay make it easier to ignore separate commericals.

    I agree that in a year or two there will be a lot of instant artifical product placement, and it will continue to grow over time. I do not think it will lead to a decrease in the number of rude commercials (didn't we all learn it was rude to interrupt as children? Obviously the network executives did not take the lesson to heart...) but rather simply to an increase in adds altogether.

    We'll need a junkbuster for video, just to keep the dreck of the marketers from clogging up our already over-sensed minds.

    On another note, I fear the use of this product in the hands of the government (read: corporate america). How soon until the police beat demonstrators who are (hypothetically speaking) protesting Exxon's pollution of the Alaskan coastline after another accident senseless, then manufacture the footage showing said protestors rampaging and rioting, to justify their actions to the public after the fact?

    The future, such as it is, is growing increasingly ugly. I only wish I could punch the amoral idiots who are developing this technology in the nose -- just because we could do something doesn't mean we should, much less that we have to do it.
  • I think you've hit the nail on the head. Wow... think what men would pay to see Cindy Crawford in a hard core porno, or what women might pay to see Tom Cruise doing whatever they pleased... (and of course we'd want to throw in the Coke cans/Win98 boxes in the background...)
  • by linuxonceleron ( 87032 ) on Sunday August 20, 2000 @04:33PM (#841159) Homepage
    This type of technology is being used for many obvious purposes and not just subtle uses for product placement. Watch a baseball match today on television and the mat behind the batter will be overlaid with video advertisements which change every few minutes and sometimes animate, or show the speed of the ball thrown. In the real stadium all you see is a blank mat. One thing I've also noticed is the not so obvious removal of Sony logos on TVs and logos on shirts, giving the attitude from the producers that "If you don't pay for your logo to be on TV, we'll take it off" even for simple things like a television or a shirt.
  • Seriously, i think it would be really cool to watch friends or star trek with the script translated into jive on the fly.

  • Pretty much any piece of video that has ever been recorded is becoming clip art that producers can digitally sculpt into the story they want to tell, according to Eric Haseltine, senior vice president for R&D at Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale, Calif.

    The questions this brings up about authenticity aside, what if (when!) it becomes cheaper to recycle media stars, actors, newscasters, etc... than to produce a genuine piece of work with real people? Would there be a dearth of new faces or will viewers tire of the same old people? This recycling concept accepted as a given, I wonder if this would lead to a "freezing" of culture? With no new material being produced, will people bother changing the mood and and social reflections in these recycled adaptions? Out there, I know, but worth consideration. Brings to mind Ronald Reagan in the Cafe 80's in Back to the Future II.
  • The only real weapons against lies are philosophy and logic. It always helps to be informed to the best of your ability, but it's never been a substitute for moral contemplation. Know thyself -- the unexamined life is not worth living.
  • by Elvis Maximus ( 193433 ) on Sunday August 20, 2000 @09:59PM (#841167) Homepage

    This explains all those African-Americans at the Republican convention!


  • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) on Sunday August 20, 2000 @10:02PM (#841170)
    Right now I imagine it takes a fair amount of cpu power to do this, so only networks can afford it. However, in 5 years or so, it will probably be within reach of ordinary folk -- like you!

    I imagine junkbuster will be much different then, zapping out product placement ads, replacing bilboards with your email summaries, and so on. I haven't thought about this much yet.

    I will guess that this instant artificial product placement, like the network show mentioned, will be common place within a year or two, and annoy the heck out of consumers. However, it may reduce the number of distinct commercials as product placement becomes more common and as Tivo and Replay make it easier to ignore separate commericals. In 5 years, it will be the ordinary way to do things. Then -- Gnoview! It will start out primitive and for geeks, get better, then proprietary programs will jump in, and it will be a war between the new junkbuster trying to find ads to zap, and the producers trying to get ever more tricky with placement to make the ads harder for a program to spot.

    This sounds like a lot of fun!

  • by C.Thomas ( 136702 ) on Sunday August 20, 2000 @10:06PM (#841172) Homepage
    And this is also how you'll know if something is real or not. Imagine the joy that one station would feel if it caught another doctoring footage and the shit storm that would erupt. Checks, balances, redundancy and indepenant sources keep everyone honest (more or less)

    Yes, they *would* keep everyone honest, if it were not for the fact that the media have common goals, all being megacorporations. The filtration of what you see on television has been going on for a *very* long time. The danger of being misinformed by the news lies more in what is not reported than in what is outright falsified - for example, the fact that 5000 children are dying every month in Iraq from the sanctions on food and medicine. For example, that the US and Britain have been bombing Iraq almost every day for the last year. Thought the war was over? It hasn't been in the news recently, has it? Since it is not in the media's interest for you to know this, it's Not News(tm).

    Likewise, it's Not News(tm) that peaceful demonstrators are getting beat, shot with rubber bullets, tear gassed and pepper sprayed by police merely for excercising their right to peaceful assembly outside of the democratic and republican national conventions. If these events are documented at all, the people being beaten are branded as "anarchists" or "rioters".

    Television is controlled by the megacorps, and if you watch it, your world view is being shaped by what they want you to know. So, do yourself a favor: Kill Your TV and load up to find out what is really happening.

    As for this technology, it merely adds one more weapon to the arsenal of the megacorps, which can and will be used against YOU if you watch television.

  • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) on Sunday August 20, 2000 @10:07PM (#841173)
    Remember that Canadian outfit that netcast tv shows and got sued to death? Remember those framing lawsuits, claiming that putting someone else's content inside a frame with your own ads in other frames was copyright infringment?

    How long before a stadium advertiser sues the network for eliminating their ad? After all, the big audience for that stadium ad is not the in-person crowd, but the tv audience. Suddenly they are paying rates for millions of eyeballs and getting just thousands.

    I smell lawyer fodder!

  • There's a parallel happening here on the internet, ISP's are using border caches, most of which have the capability to rewrite URL's or change content.

    These caches are transparent and unavoidable.

    Does anyone know (for the paranoid) of any trusted proxy servers, and how do we know they're to be trusted.
  • There's a great deal of evidence that the memories of most untrained witnesses are basically worth crap - except as an emotional appeal for an equally untrained observer.

    This is especially true if the witness's recollection has been "tainted" by watching a doctored video - after all, they're told this is a video of a real event, and they're used to believing what they see on the TV news as being an accurate depiction.

    If I were on a jury, I wouldn't trust an "eyewitness" account, except for gross details (ones that it would be really hard to misremember), and if I had a suspicion that a videotape had been tampered with (for instance, if the defense showed some kind of inconsistency in the video which might indicate tampering), then I'd probably be inclined to distrust almost ALL of the evidence that the prosecution was presenting.

    That's just me of course, I figure most people would probably let it ride. If you get a regular flow of stories about how easy it is to perfectly rewrite videotape, however, then eventually people are going to start ignoring it as an accurate depiction of anything.
  • Do you know any hiphop fans? If they see wearing or using they are very likely to buy . Hiphop fans are, advertising-wise, the most easily led people in the universe.

    I give my friends a really hard time about this.
  • Capitolism is trillion dollar drug companies spending hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbyists and advertisments to convince Americans that cheap, price-restricted drugs is a bad thing.

    Capitolism isn't progress, it's simply an economic ideal (that alot of people who have plenty of money already want to push toward).
    While it can facilitate progress, it is, in and of itself, just an idea. It happens to be one that many people are distrustful and suspicious of. Rightly so, in many cases. I have no problem with people advocating capitalism as a good method of improving life for a population. What I don't like is people advocating capitalism for its own sake, which is all that things like the private health care crap that Klien and Harris are pushing. (If you don't know the names, you shouldn't be telling me how close my country is or isn't to being communist.)
  • by Bob Uhl ( 30977 ) <eadmund42&gmail,com> on Monday August 21, 2000 @07:11AM (#841186) Homepage
    I think that you may perhaps have missed the point of Brave New World. The idea--as I understand it, both from the book itself and from Huxley's subsequent collection of essays--was that everyone in the happy society was living a second-rate life. The nightmare was that it was really and truly inescapable. At least in 1984 one could theoretically hope to break free. But no-one had any incentive to break out of the mediocre horror that was the brave new world.

    The relevance to technology issues is that Huxley warned us that if the vast majority are content then anything is justifiable. In other words, if the majority are satisfied that it is fair to prevent us from playing DVDs we own, or that we should not be allowed to reverse engineer (engineering is good, so reverse engineering must be bad, like hacking!), or that we should not own but lease our software, then it will happen. The majority rules, but it ain't necessarily right.

  • My point is that this is not mere censorship. This is the potential to _alter_ unfavourable speech, rather than merely silence it or ignore it.

    There are many times when I know that the little "live" written in the corner is accurate; usually because another channel is also live at the scene. I suppose they could be collaborating, but I doubt it.

    And I've seen JFK too. Imagine if the live broadcast could have been altered as it was being sent out? The networks probably wouldn't have done it then, but I'm not so sure about now.
  • by guran ( 98325 ) on Sunday August 20, 2000 @10:55PM (#841199)
    And yet, this is nothing new.

    Falsified paper documents, falsified signatures, falsified fotographs... The only reason video evidence has had some credibility is that, until now, they have been hard to falsify.

    What maters is that we, as well as the courts, are well informed on what is currently possible to fake.

  • Right now the biggest problem with TV is all the traditional commercials. Tivo takes care of that in a pretty good way (I love my Tivo!).

    I don't think we're going to be able to remove all the commercials from an edited program though. It is preferable to insert the commercials into the programs rather than between segments of programs. The four minute gap is too big of a chunk of time, and it makes watching normal TV painful.
  • Yes nowadays, whenever you see a logo or anything else that can be identified with a certain brand, you can be sure it is payed for.

    Look at an action movie, for example. I bet you'll never miss what brand and model the heros car is. OTOH You will have to concentrate very hard to identify any other vehicle in the movie (apart from generic policecars etc) Then the hero has a drink. Either from a bottle with a *very* focused label, or an anonymous glass.

  • I've noticed this as well. It is really strange how popular it is among gansta thugs to wear clothing with the name of a rich, white, effiminate fashion mogul emblazoned all over it.
  • Nah, I don't really think that we will freeze yesterdays culture. I'd rather think that we will see synthetic stars, think William Gibson's Idoru...

    *sigh* I see a future of carefully market adjusted stars and celebrities, checked in real time against the reactions of some user panel. Everything edited to please the average man and woman. Everything adjusted to fit into the sponsors latest campaign.
    A world where n'sync and Britney Spears will seem original...

  • MTV has a "No-Ad" policy in videos. I remember because Neil Young was told his video for "This Bud's For You" would not be run because it had all sorts of advertising icons in it (Making fun of them.). Eventually, they allowed the video, and he won the Best Video award at their video music awards. Kinda funny huh?
  • America already lives in the Brave New World, and it's growing with a frightening rapidity.

    In the USA, fully one-third of the population can't name a single first-amendment right, and over forty percent are in support of limiting freedom of speech.

    In the USA, alcohol kills six times more people than illegal drugs do, and smoking kills 30 times as many. Yet the USA is increasing the amount it spends on its anti-drug war, increasing invasive police search-and-seizure practices, and is doling out ever-harsher penalties for possession.

    The USA had an imprisonment rate of 110/100000 during the 1900-1975. In 1997, the imprisonment rate was 645/100000. A nearly six-fold increase.

    At the present incarceration rates, one in twenty Americans can expect to go to jail during their lifetime. If you're black, close to one in three of you will end up in jail at some point in your lives.

    In the USA, prison labour is serious competition to the unimprisoned workforce. Your employer could lose contracts to prison labour, with the result that you'll be out on the street.

    The USA is the only "democracy" that does not allow ex-felons to vote. As a result, well over four million citizens are unable to vote.

    The states increased prison spending by 30% between 1987-1995. In the same period, they decreased education expenditures by 18%.

    Sixty-four percent of the US population did not vote in 1998. More than half the children in the USA live in a household that does not vote.

    "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."
    -- South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko

    The American public believes that it is not oppressed.

    As long as it continues to believe it, the problems listed above will only continue to grow.

    The USA is no longer the land of the free. It is the land of the misinformed, passive public.

    The recent altercations in Philidelphia and Los Angeles; the news of FBI wire-tapping, data snooping; the reality of corporations invading their employees privacy; and the support of a significant portion of the population in allowing these things to happen: evidence that the USA is becoming a police state.

    In fact, the USA is currently very much the Brave New World. Where it's headed is 1984.

    Unless those people who recognize that the trend towards police-state politics is undesirable start to stand up and demand change, they might as well bend over and take it right up the ass.

    It's time for the informed people to become active people. Sure as no one in the general public is going to save the country.

  • Or, at least, I have: the new Ikea advertisements that claim "If we can update this old classic..."

    I've seen two: one that have "Eight is Enough"(?) and one that has "Gilligan's Island."

    I won't go out on the limb and say it was done in real-time, but I'll betcha it was done using the PVI technology.

    It's bloody impressive. *Really* really impressive.

  • Sounds like something an aggressive defense lawyer would use to bring doubt on a videotaped confession. It also sounds like there would be a requirement for use "confession" videotape equipment which uses a certified watermark-type technology designed to detect tampering with the resultant video.

    On the other hand, it would be REALLY suspicious for a judge or jury to learn that an organization like a police department had the equipment to do "perfect" false-video-editing (I don't think the good equipment is going to have an insignificant cost compared to the usual cost of equipment requested by a typical police department).

    I could see some "intelligence" agencies or criminal organizations using this kind of technology to frame people.
  • I swear, whoever moderated the parent of this message as a "Troll" must have done it so that it had one of each. It's been modded as Interesting, Insightful, Informative, Funny, Overrated, and now Troll.

    Can someone do me a favor and mod it Flamebait and Redundant as well so I can have a full house?


    Kevin Fox
  • This isn't actually true - an expert can spot fake photos, and even non-experts can spot CGI in movies. Adding real-time CGI into TV broadcasts is going to be bloody obvious to those people.
  • by KFury ( 19522 ) on Sunday August 20, 2000 @05:23PM (#841254) Homepage
    All kidding aside (just for this post), just think of how handy this would be if it were in the hands of people other than censors and advertisers.

    I would love if information specific to me was able to be incorporated into my everyday sensorium. I'd really like it if, for example:
    • Instead of seeing a wendy's ad behind home plate, I saw an infographic of how many messages were in my inbox
    • When someone opens their fridge on tv, I see what's in my fridge (ooh, I need more jolt!)
    • When watching Tiger drive a ball down the fairway, I see text messages from friends trimmed into the green instead of the Nike Swoosh
    • My portfolio scrolls at the bottom of the screen instead of whatever random stocks CNNfn highlights

    Of course, this is just the beginning. Soon, commercials and then sitcoms would be prepared in VXML (video-extensible-markup-language) so that you could choose whatever theme you want and personalize the show to you.
    For example:
    • UPN Tuesday Theme: All black, all the time
    • UPN Wednesday Theme: All sci-fi, all the time
    • Simpson Animation Theme (animated La Femme Nikita with Lisa's spiky hair?)
    • NBC YuppieVision

    You get the picture...

    but of course we won't see this, because the dollars are driven by the ads.

    Kevin Fox
  • The perfect example of this was when ABC blacked out the CBS logo (or vice versa) during the 2000 New Years Eve party in Times Square.

    How did that finally turn out anyhow?

    Kevin Fox
  • How do you know its LIVE in the first place, and not post-processed and passed off as being live? At some point you just have to trust what you are told by those publishing information, or you can choose to live in a state of X-files-ish paranoia.

    I really don't think this is bad in any way. Like any technology it will have great uses and also be abused.

  • I think that is rather insulting seeing as I am a human being and I have college educated people in my family.
    In general there is not a vast cartel to control the media and what it's content is. This was made expresely clear in my class in American government many years ago. In general there are different interests which control what the media prints. Just like the government you have various factions competiting for what will be done, where, how, how, with how much money, and in what manner.
    The news has to pay for it's airtime somehow and they do that through that commercials and tailoring content to fit what them deem as a suitable demographic through a system that I dont' exactly know about but I am sure involves statistical samples and taking the mean of said samples with low standard deviation.
    Also the people who actually act as anchors are probably not wanting to have their content tailored to foolish levels.
    The system works and will continue to work. People are becomming more and more educated as the tech boom continues. Peple are entering colleges at a good rate. That's better than back in the 40's-50's when television started. Drop out rates are also lower.
    I think you better look at the stats and then come back and claim that people are stupider now than they were before. Focus has shifted. Maybe the fact that a number of the skilled people are spending more time on the internet and reading books and working more might just be an answer.
    Even if I have a doctorate degree I can't alter the content that I see on television or the radio until I own them.
    PS. Actually I didn't have a televion for many years in my house as a child and then it broke and we didn't have one for a number more. I know that constitutes good and bad television and I have seen things that I don't currently like. But I don't act like a nihilist and bemoan my fate. Please if you think they should do better by all means get into broadcasting. They need less pretty boys weith pretty armani suits and nice teeth and hair. In fact by being on slashdot you have probably taken the first step into becomming more informed. Excelsior to you sir!
  • by kabir ( 35200 ) on Sunday August 20, 2000 @05:17PM (#841269)
    Have you ever been overheard a conversation between a couple of your coworkers/family/etc. full of concern, speculation, and drama, only to find out that they were talking about soap opera characters rather than real people? As many people, including Pat Cadigan, I believe, have noted this seems to be a fine indicator of the level of "reality" that people ascribe to television. It's not just video either, but television. Odds are if you show it on the news there are a whole lot of people who will believe it. I'm not quite sure when we ended up in a culture that's quite so trusting of media (heck, maybe it's just human nature), but it's quite disturbing.

    "Live" TV was one of the last forms of broadcast that I felt had any integrity, but now that's going the way of the evening news. Where, exactly, does that leave me for finding out what's _actually_ going on in the world?
  • You know, the porno industry's really going to be the force driving this one. Who cares about geopolitics and mind-games carried out on a national scale: politicians and the non-apathetic, that's who. But porno... there's a universal audience in that one. Think about it... anyone, any time, doing anything. No longer need to wait till they're legal either. There'll be fake movies going around the net that look just as good as the real thing. Fantasies about the neighbor? Take a 10 minute film of them in the backyard and turn it into an orgy before it leaves the camcorder. This is frightening, yet somehow intriguing...
  • When you can't verify the data itself, you've only got the reputation of the source to go on.

    Soon it may not be the video itself, but the digital signature on it, that carries veracity and inspires trust. Maybe tamper-proof (or at least tamper-evident) digital video cameras will each have a unique private key and will sign the video with the reputation of the manufacturer; maybe the operator will provide his key to the camera and sign the data himself.

    Digital signatures don't guarantee truth; but they stake the reputation of the signer (whether named or psudononymous) on the contents. In a data-driver world, your reputation as a source of good bits becomes vital. (Look at how excited peoplke get about /. karma, only a pale and distorted reflection of reputation.)

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Sunday August 20, 2000 @07:18PM (#841293) Homepage Journal
    He who controls the past, controls the future! And now we even control the present.
  • by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <> on Sunday August 20, 2000 @06:01PM (#841295) Homepage

    Of course this is actually the way that things have always been. If you can't directly witness something yourself you are inherently trusting someone else to pass it on to you. You have no real knowledge of, to pick an example, whether there really was a Russian sub lost in the Barents Sea or whether it was an elaborate hoax. You're trusting that the people who bring you news are being honest and not showing you a bunch of crap.

    Certainly this has always been the case in print media, hence the saying that you can't believe everything that you read. This invention doesn't really change anything, except that it makes the need for trust in your news deliverer more explicit- and in some well publicized cases so far showing how untrustworthy some of those news deliverers actually are.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson