Don’t believe your eyes – nothing you see is real, and everything can be manipulated.
Many people have a long-standing belief that images are easy to forge, while videos are authentic because they’re impossible to tamper with. Well… that’s not really true. Several companies are making millions by tweaking how actors look on film, and soon, politicians could be tweaked in the same way – or rather, anyone could. Computer scientists from Stanford University in the US, and the Max Planck Institute and University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany, have developed software that can control the face of everyone, making them appear to say whatever the user wants to.
The team write on their project page:
“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.”
The technology works with any type of camera and video, and works surprisingly fast.
“Using advanced facial recognition, it looks at about 15 seconds of any face in a video and creates a 3D model of that face in real time,” Adam Freelander reports for Quartz. “The result is incredibly realistic, as you can see (ahem) in the video above.”
While for now, the technology just looks incredibly fun, but it has the potential to be extremely disruptive and dangerous. Just imagine, watching a video of someone and having no certainty if the person was actually there and said those things. It brings forth some intriguing, and very dangerous possibilities.
The technique seems to work better on some people than other, likely due to the similarities or differences between the subject and the user. When you make someone like Vladimir Putin smile, that just seems strange and unreal, but that smirk looks pretty good on George Bush.
Read the full paper here.