In recent years, many have voiced increasing concerns with their ability to place trust in official data, and have faith in conventional narratives.
And for good reason: just yesterday a University of Chicago finance professor, while being interviewed at the Ambrosetti Forum, said that it is all about preserving confidence and trust in a “rigged game”: “if people are told enough by smart people on television that the economy has been fixed, and the market is a reflection of the fundamentals, then they’ll blindly support anything the Fed does.”
But while the saying “don’t believe everything [or anything] you read” and “trust but verify” may be more appropriate now than ever, the following video is an absolute stunner in its revelation of just how deep “real-time” media deception can truly go.
In a recently published paper by the Stanford lab of Matthias Niessner titled “Face2Face: Real-time Face Capture and Reenactment of RGB Videos“, the authors show how disturbingly easy it is to take a surrogate actor and, in real time using everyday available tools, reenact their face and create the illusion that someone else, notably someone famous or important, is speaking. Even more disturbing: one doesn’t need sophisticated equipment to create a “talking” clone – a commodity webcam and some software is all one needs to create the greatest of sensory manipulations.
From the paper abstract:
We present a novel approach for real-time facial reenactment of a monocular target video sequence (e.g., Youtube video). The source sequence is also a monocular video stream, captured live with a commodity webcam. Our goal is to animate the facial expressions of the target video by a source actor and re-render the manipulated output video in a photo-realistic fashion. To this end, we first address the under-constrained problem of facial identity recovery from monocular video by non-rigid model-based bundling. At run time, we track facial expressions of both source and target video using a dense photometric consistency measure. Reenactment is then achieved by fast and efficient deformation transfer between source and target. The mouth interior that best matches the re-targeted expression is retrieved from the target sequence and warped to produce an accurate fit. Finally, we convincingly re-render the synthesized target face on top of the corresponding video stream such that it seamlessly blends with the real-world illumination. We demonstrate our method in a live setup, where Youtube videos are reenacted in real time.
In simple English: famous “talking heads” speaking, chatting, interacting on TV can bepractically anyone masquerading as said celebrity, and due to the real time conversion, they can talk, react, answer questions and generally emote so that the deception is flawless and totally convincing.
So striking is the real time effect of the conversion, the creators of this algorithm felt the need to clarify their intentions:
This demo video is purely research-focused and we would like to clarify the goals and intent of our work. Our aim is to demonstrate the capabilities of modern computer vision and graphics technology, and convey it in an approachable and fun way. We want to emphasize that computer-generated videos have been part in feature-film movies for over 30 years. Virtually every high-end movie production contains a significant percentage of synthetically-generated content (from Lord of the Rings to Benjamin Button). These results are hard to distinguish from reality and it often goes unnoticed that the content is not real. The novelty and contribution of our work is that we can edit pre-recorded videos in real-time on a commodity PC. Please also note that our efforts include the detection of edits in video footage in order to verify a clip’s authenticity. For additional information, we refer to our project website (see above). Hopefully, you enjoyed watching our video, and we hope to provide a positive takeaway 🙂
Sadly, while the creators of this stunning technology are forthcoming about their intentions, we doubt many others, those who seek to manipulate and deceive the mass population by ways of the one medium everyone can relate to, namely TV, will be.
And to appreciate just how profoundly deceptive this technology can (and will) be for mass media manipulative purposes, watch the shocking 6 minute clip below.