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Could Rushes be the Key to Disproving Deep Fake Video?

26/08/2020

-- Could Rushes be the Key to Disproving Deep Fake Video?

A recent article in the Guardian newspaper raised the possibility of footage on the Jeremy Kyle show having been polished in order to tell the story that the producers wanted to be told.

The role of content producers and editors is to tell stories using the content they capture. Skilled editors will craft beautiful stories by knitting together clips and footage from potentially hundreds of hours of raw footage (daillies/rushes).

The lack of retention of the rushes in works of fiction is unlikely to have a negative impact on society in future years but as the Kyle article highlights the retention of original footage needs to be taken more seriously where factual content is being edited or manipulated.

* The family has concerns that the footage is polished and edited, and does not represent the totality of the footage that would have been recorded on all cameras on the day.

The other brilliant example highlighting where studio footage has proven to be key in a criminal prosecution is the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire cheating case.

** In court, Ingram claimed the videotape of his appearance on Millionaire was unrepresentative of what I heard , and he continues to assert that it was unfairly manipulated . A video recording, with coughing amplified relative to other sounds including Ingram's and Tarrant's voices, was prepared by Celador's editors for the prosecution and for the benefit of the jury during the trial.

Given its nature live action content is reasonably difficult to manipulate even with the broadcast delay but not so if the delay is in the minutes, hours, days or months as is typical for reality based programming .

The article raises three good questions for those producing factual content and also presents a real challenge for those organisations in terms of retaining the potential hundreds of hours of raw footage that goes into producing an hour of finished content that we the public consume:

How are production companies and broadcasters protecting rushes or footage captured by studio cameras on the day?

How can they prove authenticity of those rushes in the years to come?

Is it even possible to retain the original footage and find the clips you need when required?

Protecting rushes / dailies is not new in highly regulated industries like financial institutions that typically are required to adhere to internal or external regulations around the protection, authenticity and ease of access to archive content.

They typically have to implement platforms and processes that ensure content security, access control and availability of historical data.

Authentic. Content will be bit for bit' the same now and in 10 years time.

Immutable. Content is locked down from changes or deletion until a retention period has passed

Audited. Ensuring access to content is controlled and audited

E-discovery. Ensuring archived content can be found and shared within a given timeframe

Imagine the scenario where an analyst from a global bank gives an interview where the advice imparted during broadcast differs from the advice given on camera at the time of the shooting. Advice that could bankrupt individuals, companies, or even countries.

This manipulation of the message or story can be achieved with subtle editing or more recently the advances in deep fake technology.

It seems, from the last 4 years certainly, that we are all heavily influenced by what we see on the television or read in papers.

The flip side to deep fake video or manipulation in the edit is that people, politicians, in particular, will use the fact that deep fake technology exists to vehemently deny ever having said or done something on camera. This is highlighted in the excellent article by Daniel Thomas (BBC News):

The first risk is that people are already using the fact deep fakes exist to discredit genuine video evidence. Even though there's footage of you doing or saying something you can say it was a deep fake and it's very hard to prove otherwise. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51204954

So it would appear that being able to prove the authenticity of raw footage has never been more important.

How is it done today?

Production companies who own the IP and rights for shows like Jeremy Kyle and Millionaire typically rent the studios and pay for the services of post-production companies to get the show made. Those studio and post companies will generally be responsible for protecting the rushes until the show has aired and many will hold on to them for longer periods of time until they no longer have the physical space or resources to manage them.

These cases highlight the need to find content from a show aired 3 or more years ago. A task that cannot always be done quickly, if at all.

Certainly, the rushes for the Kyle shows were and are protected by the post-production company involved but that is not always the case. Most organisations simply do not have the technology platforms nor the processes in place to address this.

One of the main concerns is and always will be what is the business model? Keeping finished content in an archive requires resources and long term investment but there is a value in exploiting that content. Doing the same for thousands of hours of raw footage has a less obvious return on investment. The only way companies will feel compelled to archive rushes forever is via regulation or as an insurance requirement to assist should any future litigation occur.

As discussed above, when and if regulations are introduced companies will be expected to find and produce evidential content within reasonable time frames or get fined.

Digital Content Governance Can Help

Good Digital Content Governance (DCG***), a mix of process and technology, can ensure content is protected, instantl
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