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Lying with Pixels

  by Ivan Amato

Seeing is no longer believing.

The image you see on the evening

news could well be a fake—a fabrication

of fast new video-manipulation technology.

Last year, Steven Livingston, professor of political communication at George Washington University, astonished attendees at a conference on the geopolitical pros and cons of satellite imagery. He didn’t produce evidence of new military mobilizations or global pandemics. Instead, he showed a video of figure skater Katarina Witt during a 1998 skating competition.

In the clip, Witt gracefully plies the ice for about 20 seconds. Then came what is perhaps one of the most unusual sports replays ever seen. The background was the same, the camera movements were the same. In fact, the image was identical to the original in all ways except for a rather important one: Witt had disappeared, along with all signs of her, such as shadows or plumes of ice flying from her skates. In their place was exactly what you would expect if Witt had never been there to begin with—the ice, the walls of the rink and the crowd.

So what’s the big deal, you ask. After all, Stalin’s staff routinely airbrushed persona non grata out of photos more than a half-century ago. And Woody Allen ushered a variation on reality morphing into the movies 17 years ago with Zelig, in which he inserted himself next to Adolf Hitler and Babe Ruth. In films such as Forrest Gump and Wag the Dog, reality twisting has become commonplace.

What sets the Witt demo apart—way apart—is that the technology used to “virtually delete” the skater can now be applied in real time, live, even as a camera records a scene and instantly broadcasts it to viewers. In the fraction of a second between video frames, any person or object moving in the foreground can be edited out, and objects that aren’t there can be edited in and made to look real. “Pixel plasticity,” Livingston calls it. The implication for those at the satellite imagery conference was sobering: Pictures from orbit may not necessarily be what the satellite’s electronic camera actually recorded.

But the ramifications of this new technology reach beyond satellite imagery. As live electronic manipulation becomes practical, the credibility of all video will become just as suspect as Soviet Cold War photos. The problem stems from the nature of modern video. Live or not, it is made of pixels, and as Livingston says, pixels can be changed.

The best-known examples of real-time video manipulation so far are “virtual insertions” in professional sports broadcasts. Last January 30, for instance, nearly one-sixth of humankind in more than 180 countries repeatedly saw an orange first-down line stretched across the gridiron as they watched the Super Bowl. New York-based Sportvision created that line and inserted it into the live feed of the broadcast. To help determine where to insert the orange pixels, several game cameras were fitted with sensors that tracked the cameras spatial positions and zoom levels. Adding to the illusion of reality was the ability of the Sportvision system to make sure that players and referees occlude the virtual line when their bodies traverse it.

Last spring and summer, as Sportvision and rivals such as Princeton Video Imaging (PVI) in Lawrenceville, N.J,, were airing virtual insertion products, including simulated billboards on walls behind major league batters, a team of engineers from Sarnoff Corp. in Princeton, N.J., flew to the Coalition Allied Operations Center of NATO’s Operation Allied Force in Vicenza, Italy. Their mission: transform their experimental video processing technology into an operational tool for rapidly locating and targeting Serbian military vehicles in Kosovo. The project was dubbed TIGER, for “targeting by image georegistration.” “Just dial in the coordinates and the thing goes,” explains Michael Hansen, a young, caffeinated Sarnoff gadgeteer who can hardly believe he was helping fight a war last year.

Compared to PVI’s job, the military’s technical task was more difficult—and the stakes were much higher. Instead of altering a football broadcast, the TIGER team manipulated a live video feed from a Predator, an unmanned reconnaissance craft flying some 450 meters above Kosovo battlefields. Rather than superimposing virtual lines or ads into sports settings, the task was to overlay, in real time, “georegistered” images of Kosovo onto the corresponding scenes streaming in live from the Predator’s video camera. The terrain images had been previously captured with aerial photography and digitally stored. The TIGER system, which automatically detected moving objects against the background, could almost instantly feed to the targeting officers the coordinates for any piece of Serbian hardware in the Predator’s view. This was quite a technical feat, since the Predator was moving and its angle of view was constantly changing, yet those views had to be electronically aligned and registered with the stored imagery in less than one-thirtieth of a second (to match the frame rate of video recording).

In principle, the targeting step could have been hotwired to precision guided weapons. “We weren’t actually doing that in Allied Force,” Hansen notes. “We were just telling targeting officers exactly where Serbian targets were and then they would vector in planes to go strike the targets.” That way the human decision makers could pre-empt flawed machine-made decisions. According to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, TIGER technology was used extensively in the final three weeks of the Kosovo operation, during which “80 to 90 percent of the mobile targets were hit.”

So far, real-time video manipulation has been within the grasp only of technologically sophisticated organizations such as TV networks and the military. But developers of the technology say it’s becoming simple and cheap enough to spread everywhere. And that has some observers wondering whether real-time video manipulation will erode public confidence in live television images, even when aired by news outlets. “Seeing may no longer be believing,” says Norman Winarsky, corporate vice president for information technology at Sarnoff. “You may not know what to trust.”

A crude form of video manipulation already is happening in the satellite imagery community. The weekly publication Space News reported earlier this year that the Indian government releases imagery from its remote-sensing satellites only after defense facilities have been “processed out.” In this case, it’s not real-time manipulation and it’s up front, like a censor’s black marker. But pixels are plastic. It is perfectly possible now to insert sets of pixels into satellite imagery data that interpreters would view as battalions of tanks, or war planes, or burial sites, or lines of refugees, or dead cows that activists claim are victims of a biotech accident.

A demo tape supplied by PVI bolsters the point in the prosaic setting of a suburban parking lot. The scene appears ordinary except for a disturbing feature: Amidst the SUVs and minivans are several parked tanks and one armored behemoth rolling incongruously along. Imagine a tape of virtual Pakistani tanks rolling over the border into India pitched to news outlets as authentic, and you get a feel for the kind of trouble that deceptive imagery could stir up.

Commercial suppliers of virtual insertion services are too focused on new marketing opportunities to worry much about geopolitics. They have their eyes on far more lucrative markets. Suddenly those large stretches of programming between commercials—the actual show, that is—become available for billions of dollars worth of primetime advertising. PVI’s demo tape, for instance, includes a scene in which a Microsoft Windows box appears—virtually, of course—on the shelf of Frasier Crane’s studio. This kind of product placement could become more and more important as new video recording technologies such as TiVo and RePlayTV give viewers more power to edit out commercials.

Dennis Wilkinson, a Porsche-driving, sports-loving marketing expert who became CEO of 10-year-old PVI about a year ago, couldn’t be happier about that. Wilkinson’s eyes gleam when he describes a (near) future in which virtual insertion technology pushes advertisements to the personalized extreme. Combined with data-mining services by which browsers’ individual likes, dislikes and purchasing patterns can be relentlessly tracked and analyzed, virtual insertion opens up the ability to shunt personally targeted advertisements over phone lines or cables to Web users and TV viewers. Say you like Pepsi but your neighbor next door likes Coke and your neighbor across the street likes Seven-Up—the kind of data harvestable from supermarket checkout records. It will become possible to tailor the soft-drink image in the broadcast signal to reach each of you with your preferred brand.

Just 15 minutes up the road from PVI, Sarnoff’s Winarsky is also glowing—not so much about capturing market share as about the transforming power of the technology. Sarnoff has a distinguished history in that regard; the company is the descendant of RCA Laboratories, which started innovating in television technology in the early 1940s and has given birth to a plethora of media technologies. The color TV picture tube, liquid crystal displays and high-definition TV all came, at least in part, from RCA qua Sarnoff, which has five technical Emmys in its lobby.

The ability to manipulate video data in real time, he says, has just as much potential as some of these forerunners. “Now that you can alter video in real time, you have changed the world,” he says. That may sound inflated, but after looking at the Katarina Witt demo, Winarsky’s talk of “changing the world” loses some of its air of hyperbole.

Deleting people or objects from live video, or inserting prerecorded people or objects into live scenes, is only the beginning of the deceptions becoming possible. 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. With additional video manipulation technologies, previously recorded actors can be made to say and do things they have never actually done or said. “You can have dead actors star again in entirely new movies,” says Haseltine.

Contemporary shots featuring footage of dead performers have been around for several years. But the Hollywood illusion-craft that, for example, inserted John Wayne into a TV commercial required painstaking, frame-by-frame post-production work by skilled technicians. There’s a big difference now, says Haseltine: “What used to take an hour [per video frame], now can be done in a sixtieth of a second.” This dramatic speed-up means that manipulation can be done in real time, on the fly, as a camera records or broadcasts. Not only can John Wayne, Fred Astaire or Saddam Hussein be virtually inserted into pre-produced ads, they could be inserted into, say, a live broadcast of The Drew Carey Show.

The combination of real-time, virtual insertion with existing and emerging post-production techniques opens up a world of manipulative opportunity. Consider Video Rewrite technology, which its developers at the Interval Corp. and the University of California, Berkeley first demonstrated publicly three years ago. With just a few minutes of video of someone talking, their system captures and stores a set of video snapshots of the way that a person’s mouth-area looks and moves when saying different sets of sounds. Drawing from the resulting library of “visemes” makes it possible to depict the person seeming to say anything the producers dream up—including utterances that the subject wouldn’t be caught dead saying.

In one test application, computer scientist Christoph Bregler, now of Stanford University, and colleagues digitized two minutes of public-domain footage of President John F. Kennedy speaking during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Using the resulting viseme library, the researchers created “animations” of Kennedy’s mouth saying things he never said, among them, “I never met Forrest Gump.” With technology like this, near-future political activists conceivably will be able to orchestrate webcasts of their opponents saying things that might make Howard Stern sound like a mensch.

Haseltine believes video manipulation techniques will quickly be carried to their logical extreme: “I can predict with absolute certainty,” he says, “that one person sitting at a computer will be able to write a script, design characters, do the lighting and wardrobe, do all of the acting and dialog, and post production, distribute it on a broadband network, do all of this on a laptop—and viewers won’t know the difference.”

The End of Authenticity

So far, the widely witnessed applications of real-time video manipulation have been in benign arenas like sports and entertainment. Already last year, however, the technology began diffusing beyond these venues into applications that raised eyebrows. Last fall, for instance, CBS hired PVI to virtually insert the network’s familiar logo all over New York City—on buildings, billboards, fountains and other places-during broadcasts of the network’s The Early Show. The New York Times ran a front-page story in January raising questions about the journalistic ethics of altering the appearance of what is really there.

The combination of real-time virtual insertion, cyber-puppeteering, video rewriting and other video manipulation technologies with a mass-media infrastructure that instantly delivers news video worldwide has some analysts worried. “Imagine you are the government of a hypothetical country that wants more international financial assistance,” says George Washington University’s Livingston. “You might send video of a remote area with people starving to death and it may never have happened,” he says.

Haseltine agrees. “I’m amazed that we have not seen phony video,” he says, before backpedaling a bit: “Maybe we have. Who would know?”

It’s just the sort of scenario played out in the 1998 movie Wag the Dog, in which top presidential aides conspire with a Hollywood producer to televise a virtually crafted war between the United States and Albania to deflect attention from a budding Presidential scandal. Haseltine and others wonder when reality will imitate art imitating reality.

The importance of the issue will only intensify as the technology becomes more accessible. What now typically requires an $80,000 box of electronics the size of a small refrigerator should soon be doable with a palm-sized card (and ultimately a single chip) that fits inside a commercial video recorder, according to Winarsky. “This will be available to people in Circuit City,” he says. Consumer gear for virtual video insertion is likely to require a camcorder with a specialized image-processing card or chip. This hardware will take signals from the camera’s electronic image sensors and convert them into a form that can be analyzed and manipulated in a computer using appropriate software—much as photo editors at newspapers use Adobe Photoshop and other programs to “clean up” digital image files. A home user might, for instance, insert absent family members into the latest reunion tape or remove strangers they would prefer not to be in the scene—bringing Soviet-style historical revisions right into the family den.

Combine the potential erosion of faith in video authenticity with the so-called “CNN effect” and the stage is set for deception to move the world in new ways. Livingston describes the CNN effect as the ability of mass media to go beyond merely reporting what is happening to actually influencing decision-makers as they consider military, international assistance and other national and international issues. “The CNN effect is real,” says James Currie, professor of political science at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington. “Every office you go into at the Pentagon has CNN on.” And that means, he says, that a government, terrorist or advocacy group could set geopolitical events in motion on the strength of a few hours’ worth of credibility achieved by distributing a snippet of well-doctored video.

With experience as an army reservist, as a staffer with a top-secret clearance on the Senate’s Intelligence Committee, and as a legislative liaison for the Secretary of the Army, Currie has seen governmental decision-making and politicking up close. He is convinced that real-time video manipulation will be, or already is, in the hands of the military and intelligence communities. And while he has no evidence yet that any government or nongovernment organization has deployed video manipulation techniques, real-time or not, for political or military purposes, he has no problem conjuring up disinformation scenarios. For example, he says, consider the impact of a fabricated video that seemed to show Saddam Hussein “pouring himself a Scotch and taking a big drink of it. You could run it on Middle Eastern television and it would totally undermine his credibility with Islamic audiences.”

For all the heavy breathing, however, some experts remain unconvinced that real-time video manipulation poses a real threat, no matter how good the technology gets. John Pike, an analyst of the intelligence community for the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, D.C., says the credibility risks are simply too great for governments or serious organizations to get caught attempting to spoof the public. And for the organizations that would be willing to risk it, says Pike, the news folks—knowing just what the technology can do—will become increasingly vigilant.

“If some human rights organization popped up at CNN with some video, particularly an organization they were not familiar with, I would think that [CNN] would consider that radioactive,” says Pike. Same goes for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). “No responsible director of an established organization would authorize such a thing. And they would fire on the spot anyone caught doing it. The stock-in-trade of NGO policy organizations is that ’we tell the truth.’”

Even cool heads like Pike, however, concede that the media’s fortress of skepticism has an Achilles heel: the Internet. “The issue is not so much your ability to get fake video on CNN, but to get it online,” he says. That’s because so much Internet content is unfiltered. “This could play into the phenomenon in the news production process where you would not replicate the original report, but you might report that it was reported,” says Pike. And that could cascade into a CNN effect. “These are undoubtedly experiments that will be done,” Pike says.

The trouble is, says Livingston, it may only take a few such experiments to forever make people question the authenticity of video. That could have enormous repercussions for military, intelligence and news operations. An ironic sociological consequence might emerge: a return to heavier reliance on unmediated face-to-face communication. In the meantime, though, there will undoubtedly be some interesting twists and turns as pixels become ever more plastic.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ivan Amato is a correspondent for National Public Radio and the author of Stuff: The Materials the World Is Made Of a chronicle of cutting-edge research in materials science.

Copyright © MIT's Technology Review July/August 2000

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Lying with Pixels

by Ivan Amato

Seeing is no longer believing.

The image you see on the evening

news could well be a fake—a fabrication

of fast new video-manipulation technology.

Last year, Steven Livingston, professor of political communication at George Washington University, astonished attendees at a conference on the geopolitical pros and cons of satellite imagery. He didn’t produce evidence of new military mobilizations or global pandemics. Instead, he showed a video of figure skater Katarina Witt during a 1998 skating competition.

In the clip, Witt gracefully plies the ice for about 20 seconds. Then came what is perhaps one of the most unusual sports replays ever seen. The background was the same, the camera movements were the same. In fact, the image was identical to the original in all ways except for a rather important one: Witt had disappeared, along with all signs of her, such as shadows or plumes of ice flying from her skates. In their place was exactly what you would expect if Witt had never been there to begin with—the ice, the walls of the rink and the crowd.

So what’s the big deal, you ask. After all, Stalin’s staff routinely airbrushed persona non grata out of photos more than a half-century ago. And Woody Allen ushered a variation on reality morphing into the movies 17 years ago with Zelig, in which he inserted himself next to Adolf Hitler and Babe Ruth. In films such as Forrest Gump and Wag the Dog, reality twisting has become commonplace.

What sets the Witt demo apart—way apart—is that the technology used to “virtually delete” the skater can now be applied in real time, live, even as a camera records a scene and instantly broadcasts it to viewers. In the fraction of a second between video frames, any person or object moving in the foreground can be edited out, and objects that aren’t there can be edited in and made to look real. “Pixel plasticity,” Livingston calls it. The implication for those at the satellite imagery conference was sobering: Pictures from orbit may not necessarily be what the satellite’s electronic camera actually recorded.

But the ramifications of this new technology reach beyond satellite imagery. As live electronic manipulation becomes practical, the credibility of all video will become just as suspect as Soviet Cold War photos. The problem stems from the nature of modern video. Live or not, it is made of pixels, and as Livingston says, pixels can be changed.

The best-known examples of real-time video manipulation so far are “virtual insertions” in professional sports broadcasts. Last January 30, for instance, nearly one-sixth of humankind in more than 180 countries repeatedly saw an orange first-down line stretched across the gridiron as they watched the Super Bowl. New York-based Sportvision created that line and inserted it into the live feed of the broadcast. To help determine where to insert the orange pixels, several game cameras were fitted with sensors that tracked the cameras spatial positions and zoom levels. Adding to the illusion of reality was the ability of the Sportvision system to make sure that players and referees occlude the virtual line when their bodies traverse it.

Last spring and summer, as Sportvision and rivals such as Princeton Video Imaging (PVI) in Lawrenceville, N.J,, were airing virtual insertion products, including simulated billboards on walls behind major league batters, a team of engineers from Sarnoff Corp. in Princeton, N.J., flew to the Coalition Allied Operations Center of NATO’s Operation Allied Force in Vicenza, Italy. Their mission: transform their experimental video processing technology into an operational tool for rapidly locating and targeting Serbian military vehicles in Kosovo. The project was dubbed TIGER, for “targeting by image georegistration.” “Just dial in the coordinates and the thing goes,” explains Michael Hansen, a young, caffeinated Sarnoff gadgeteer who can hardly believe he was helping fight a war last year.

Compared to PVI’s job, the military’s technical task was more difficult—and the stakes were much higher. Instead of altering a football broadcast, the TIGER team manipulated a live video feed from a Predator, an unmanned reconnaissance craft flying some 450 meters above Kosovo battlefields. Rather than superimposing virtual lines or ads into sports settings, the task was to overlay, in real time, “georegistered” images of Kosovo onto the corresponding scenes streaming in live from the Predator’s video camera. The terrain images had been previously captured with aerial photography and digitally stored. The TIGER system, which automatically detected moving objects against the background, could almost instantly feed to the targeting officers the coordinates for any piece of Serbian hardware in the Predator’s view. This was quite a technical feat, since the Predator was moving and its angle of view was constantly changing, yet those views had to be electronically aligned and registered with the stored imagery in less than one-thirtieth of a second (to match the frame rate of video recording).

In principle, the targeting step could have been hotwired to precision guided weapons. “We weren’t actually doing that in Allied Force,” Hansen notes. “We were just telling targeting officers exactly where Serbian targets were and then they would vector in planes to go strike the targets.” That way the human decision makers could pre-empt flawed machine-made decisions. According to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, TIGER technology was used extensively in the final three weeks of the Kosovo operation, during which “80 to 90 percent of the mobile targets were hit.”

So far, real-time video manipulation has been within the grasp only of technologically sophisticated organizations such as TV networks and the military. But developers of the technology say it’s becoming simple and cheap enough to spread everywhere. And that has some observers wondering whether real-time video manipulation will erode public confidence in live television images, even when aired by news outlets. “Seeing may no longer be believing,” says Norman Winarsky, corporate vice president for information technology at Sarnoff. “You may not know what to trust.”

A crude form of video manipulation already is happening in the satellite imagery community. The weekly publication Space News reported earlier this year that the Indian government releases imagery from its remote-sensing satellites only after defense facilities have been “processed out.” In this case, it’s not real-time manipulation and it’s up front, like a censor’s black marker. But pixels are plastic. It is perfectly possible now to insert sets of pixels into satellite imagery data that interpreters would view as battalions of tanks, or war planes, or burial sites, or lines of refugees, or dead cows that activists claim are victims of a biotech accident.

A demo tape supplied by PVI bolsters the point in the prosaic setting of a suburban parking lot. The scene appears ordinary except for a disturbing feature: Amidst the SUVs and minivans are several parked tanks and one armored behemoth rolling incongruously along. Imagine a tape of virtual Pakistani tanks rolling over the border into India pitched to news outlets as authentic, and you get a feel for the kind of trouble that deceptive imagery could stir up.

Commercial suppliers of virtual insertion services are too focused on new marketing opportunities to worry much about geopolitics. They have their eyes on far more lucrative markets. Suddenly those large stretches of programming between commercials—the actual show, that is—become available for billions of dollars worth of primetime advertising. PVI’s demo tape, for instance, includes a scene in which a Microsoft Windows box appears—virtually, of course—on the shelf of Frasier Crane’s studio. This kind of product placement could become more and more important as new video recording technologies such as TiVo and RePlayTV give viewers more power to edit out commercials.

Dennis Wilkinson, a Porsche-driving, sports-loving marketing expert who became CEO of 10-year-old PVI about a year ago, couldn’t be happier about that. Wilkinson’s eyes gleam when he describes a (near) future in which virtual insertion technology pushes advertisements to the personalized extreme. Combined with data-mining services by which browsers’ individual likes, dislikes and purchasing patterns can be relentlessly tracked and analyzed, virtual insertion opens up the ability to shunt personally targeted advertisements over phone lines or cables to Web users and TV viewers. Say you like Pepsi but your neighbor next door likes Coke and your neighbor across the street likes Seven-Up—the kind of data harvestable from supermarket checkout records. It will become possible to tailor the soft-drink image in the broadcast signal to reach each of you with your preferred brand.

Just 15 minutes up the road from PVI, Sarnoff’s Winarsky is also glowing—not so much about capturing market share as about the transforming power of the technology. Sarnoff has a distinguished history in that regard; the company is the descendant of RCA Laboratories, which started innovating in television technology in the early 1940s and has given birth to a plethora of media technologies. The color TV picture tube, liquid crystal displays and high-definition TV all came, at least in part, from RCA qua Sarnoff, which has five technical Emmys in its lobby.

The ability to manipulate video data in real time, he says, has just as much potential as some of these forerunners. “Now that you can alter video in real time, you have changed the world,” he says. That may sound inflated, but after looking at the Katarina Witt demo, Winarsky’s talk of “changing the world” loses some of its air of hyperbole.

Deleting people or objects from live video, or inserting prerecorded people or objects into live scenes, is only the beginning of the deceptions becoming possible. 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. With additional video manipulation technologies, previously recorded actors can be made to say and do things they have never actually done or said. “You can have dead actors star again in entirely new movies,” says Haseltine.

Contemporary shots featuring footage of dead performers have been around for several years. But the Hollywood illusion-craft that, for example, inserted John Wayne into a TV commercial required painstaking, frame-by-frame post-production work by skilled technicians. There’s a big difference now, says Haseltine: “What used to take an hour [per video frame], now can be done in a sixtieth of a second.” This dramatic speed-up means that manipulation can be done in real time, on the fly, as a camera records or broadcasts. Not only can John Wayne, Fred Astaire or Saddam Hussein be virtually inserted into pre-produced ads, they could be inserted into, say, a live broadcast of The Drew Carey Show.

The combination of real-time, virtual insertion with existing and emerging post-production techniques opens up a world of manipulative opportunity. Consider Video Rewrite technology, which its developers at the Interval Corp. and the University of California, Berkeley first demonstrated publicly three years ago. With just a few minutes of video of someone talking, their system captures and stores a set of video snapshots of the way that a person’s mouth-area looks and moves when saying different sets of sounds. Drawing from the resulting library of “visemes” makes it possible to depict the person seeming to say anything the producers dream up—including utterances that the subject wouldn’t be caught dead saying.

In one test application, computer scientist Christoph Bregler, now of Stanford University, and colleagues digitized two minutes of public-domain footage of President John F. Kennedy speaking during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Using the resulting viseme library, the researchers created “animations” of Kennedy’s mouth saying things he never said, among them, “I never met Forrest Gump.” With technology like this, near-future political activists conceivably will be able to orchestrate webcasts of their opponents saying things that might make Howard Stern sound like a mensch.

Haseltine believes video manipulation techniques will quickly be carried to their logical extreme: “I can predict with absolute certainty,” he says, “that one person sitting at a computer will be able to write a script, design characters, do the lighting and wardrobe, do all of the acting and dialog, and post production, distribute it on a broadband network, do all of this on a laptop—and viewers won’t know the difference.”

The End of Authenticity

So far, the widely witnessed applications of real-time video manipulation have been in benign arenas like sports and entertainment. Already last year, however, the technology began diffusing beyond these venues into applications that raised eyebrows. Last fall, for instance, CBS hired PVI to virtually insert the network’s familiar logo all over New York City—on buildings, billboards, fountains and other places-during broadcasts of the network’s The Early Show. The New York Times ran a front-page story in January raising questions about the journalistic ethics of altering the appearance of what is really there.

The combination of real-time virtual insertion, cyber-puppeteering, video rewriting and other video manipulation technologies with a mass-media infrastructure that instantly delivers news video worldwide has some analysts worried. “Imagine you are the government of a hypothetical country that wants more international financial assistance,” says George Washington University’s Livingston. “You might send video of a remote area with people starving to death and it may never have happened,” he says.

Haseltine agrees. “I’m amazed that we have not seen phony video,” he says, before backpedaling a bit: “Maybe we have. Who would know?”

It’s just the sort of scenario played out in the 1998 movie Wag the Dog, in which top presidential aides conspire with a Hollywood producer to televise a virtually crafted war between the United States and Albania to deflect attention from a budding Presidential scandal. Haseltine and others wonder when reality will imitate art imitating reality.

The importance of the issue will only intensify as the technology becomes more accessible. What now typically requires an $80,000 box of electronics the size of a small refrigerator should soon be doable with a palm-sized card (and ultimately a single chip) that fits inside a commercial video recorder, according to Winarsky. “This will be available to people in Circuit City,” he says. Consumer gear for virtual video insertion is likely to require a camcorder with a specialized image-processing card or chip. This hardware will take signals from the camera’s electronic image sensors and convert them into a form that can be analyzed and manipulated in a computer using appropriate software—much as photo editors at newspapers use Adobe Photoshop and other programs to “clean up” digital image files. A home user might, for instance, insert absent family members into the latest reunion tape or remove strangers they would prefer not to be in the scene—bringing Soviet-style historical revisions right into the family den.

Combine the potential erosion of faith in video authenticity with the so-called “CNN effect” and the stage is set for deception to move the world in new ways. Livingston describes the CNN effect as the ability of mass media to go beyond merely reporting what is happening to actually influencing decision-makers as they consider military, international assistance and other national and international issues. “The CNN effect is real,” says James Currie, professor of political science at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington. “Every office you go into at the Pentagon has CNN on.” And that means, he says, that a government, terrorist or advocacy group could set geopolitical events in motion on the strength of a few hours’ worth of credibility achieved by distributing a snippet of well-doctored video.

With experience as an army reservist, as a staffer with a top-secret clearance on the Senate’s Intelligence Committee, and as a legislative liaison for the Secretary of the Army, Currie has seen governmental decision-making and politicking up close. He is convinced that real-time video manipulation will be, or already is, in the hands of the military and intelligence communities. And while he has no evidence yet that any government or nongovernment organization has deployed video manipulation techniques, real-time or not, for political or military purposes, he has no problem conjuring up disinformation scenarios. For example, he says, consider the impact of a fabricated video that seemed to show Saddam Hussein “pouring himself a Scotch and taking a big drink of it. You could run it on Middle Eastern television and it would totally undermine his credibility with Islamic audiences.”

For all the heavy breathing, however, some experts remain unconvinced that real-time video manipulation poses a real threat, no matter how good the technology gets. John Pike, an analyst of the intelligence community for the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, D.C., says the credibility risks are simply too great for governments or serious organizations to get caught attempting to spoof the public. And for the organizations that would be willing to risk it, says Pike, the news folks—knowing just what the technology can do—will become increasingly vigilant.

“If some human rights organization popped up at CNN with some video, particularly an organization they were not familiar with, I would think that [CNN] would consider that radioactive,” says Pike. Same goes for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). “No responsible director of an established organization would authorize such a thing. And they would fire on the spot anyone caught doing it. The stock-in-trade of NGO policy organizations is that ’we tell the truth.’”

Even cool heads like Pike, however, concede that the media’s fortress of skepticism has an Achilles heel: the Internet. “The issue is not so much your ability to get fake video on CNN, but to get it online,” he says. That’s because so much Internet content is unfiltered. “This could play into the phenomenon in the news production process where you would not replicate the original report, but you might report that it was reported,” says Pike. And that could cascade into a CNN effect. “These are undoubtedly experiments that will be done,” Pike says.

The trouble is, says Livingston, it may only take a few such experiments to forever make people question the authenticity of video. That could have enormous repercussions for military, intelligence and news operations. An ironic sociological consequence might emerge: a return to heavier reliance on unmediated face-to-face communication. In the meantime, though, there will undoubtedly be some interesting twists and turns as pixels become ever more plastic.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ivan Amato is a correspondent for National Public Radio and the author of Stuff: The Materials the World Is Made Of a chronicle of cutting-edge research in materials science.

Copyright © MIT's Technology Review July/August 2000

welcome to the compositing world.... realtime or not. You're not going to make these guys day, Jack! Think they can handle a world where you can't trust ANY image you see in the media? :)

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Lying with Pixels

by Ivan Amato

Seeing is no longer believing.

The image you see on the evening

news could well be a fake—a fabrication

of fast new video-manipulation technology.

Last year, Steven Livingston, professor of political communication at George Washington University, astonished attendees at a conference on the geopolitical pros and cons of satellite imagery. He didn’t produce evidence of new military mobilizations or global pandemics. Instead, he showed a video of figure skater Katarina Witt during a 1998 skating competition.

In the clip, Witt gracefully plies the ice for about 20 seconds. Then came what is perhaps one of the most unusual sports replays ever seen. The background was the same, the camera movements were the same. In fact, the image was identical to the original in all ways except for a rather important one: Witt had disappeared, along with all signs of her, such as shadows or plumes of ice flying from her skates. In their place was exactly what you would expect if Witt had never been there to begin with—the ice, the walls of the rink and the crowd.

So what’s the big deal, you ask. After all, Stalin’s staff routinely airbrushed persona non grata out of photos more than a half-century ago. And Woody Allen ushered a variation on reality morphing into the movies 17 years ago with Zelig, in which he inserted himself next to Adolf Hitler and Babe Ruth. In films such as Forrest Gump and Wag the Dog, reality twisting has become commonplace.

What sets the Witt demo apart—way apart—is that the technology used to “virtually delete” the skater can now be applied in real time, live, even as a camera records a scene and instantly broadcasts it to viewers. In the fraction of a second between video frames, any person or object moving in the foreground can be edited out, and objects that aren’t there can be edited in and made to look real. “Pixel plasticity,” Livingston calls it. The implication for those at the satellite imagery conference was sobering: Pictures from orbit may not necessarily be what the satellite’s electronic camera actually recorded.

But the ramifications of this new technology reach beyond satellite imagery. As live electronic manipulation becomes practical, the credibility of all video will become just as suspect as Soviet Cold War photos. The problem stems from the nature of modern video. Live or not, it is made of pixels, and as Livingston says, pixels can be changed.

The best-known examples of real-time video manipulation so far are “virtual insertions” in professional sports broadcasts. Last January 30, for instance, nearly one-sixth of humankind in more than 180 countries repeatedly saw an orange first-down line stretched across the gridiron as they watched the Super Bowl. New York-based Sportvision created that line and inserted it into the live feed of the broadcast. To help determine where to insert the orange pixels, several game cameras were fitted with sensors that tracked the cameras spatial positions and zoom levels. Adding to the illusion of reality was the ability of the Sportvision system to make sure that players and referees occlude the virtual line when their bodies traverse it.

Last spring and summer, as Sportvision and rivals such as Princeton Video Imaging (PVI) in Lawrenceville, N.J,, were airing virtual insertion products, including simulated billboards on walls behind major league batters, a team of engineers from Sarnoff Corp. in Princeton, N.J., flew to the Coalition Allied Operations Center of NATO’s Operation Allied Force in Vicenza, Italy. Their mission: transform their experimental video processing technology into an operational tool for rapidly locating and targeting Serbian military vehicles in Kosovo. The project was dubbed TIGER, for “targeting by image georegistration.” “Just dial in the coordinates and the thing goes,” explains Michael Hansen, a young, caffeinated Sarnoff gadgeteer who can hardly believe he was helping fight a war last year.

Compared to PVI’s job, the military’s technical task was more difficult—and the stakes were much higher. Instead of altering a football broadcast, the TIGER team manipulated a live video feed from a Predator, an unmanned reconnaissance craft flying some 450 meters above Kosovo battlefields. Rather than superimposing virtual lines or ads into sports settings, the task was to overlay, in real time, “georegistered” images of Kosovo onto the corresponding scenes streaming in live from the Predator’s video camera. The terrain images had been previously captured with aerial photography and digitally stored. The TIGER system, which automatically detected moving objects against the background, could almost instantly feed to the targeting officers the coordinates for any piece of Serbian hardware in the Predator’s view. This was quite a technical feat, since the Predator was moving and its angle of view was constantly changing, yet those views had to be electronically aligned and registered with the stored imagery in less than one-thirtieth of a second (to match the frame rate of video recording).

In principle, the targeting step could have been hotwired to precision guided weapons. “We weren’t actually doing that in Allied Force,” Hansen notes. “We were just telling targeting officers exactly where Serbian targets were and then they would vector in planes to go strike the targets.” That way the human decision makers could pre-empt flawed machine-made decisions. According to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, TIGER technology was used extensively in the final three weeks of the Kosovo operation, during which “80 to 90 percent of the mobile targets were hit.”

So far, real-time video manipulation has been within the grasp only of technologically sophisticated organizations such as TV networks and the military. But developers of the technology say it’s becoming simple and cheap enough to spread everywhere. And that has some observers wondering whether real-time video manipulation will erode public confidence in live television images, even when aired by news outlets. “Seeing may no longer be believing,” says Norman Winarsky, corporate vice president for information technology at Sarnoff. “You may not know what to trust.”

A crude form of video manipulation already is happening in the satellite imagery community. The weekly publication Space News reported earlier this year that the Indian government releases imagery from its remote-sensing satellites only after defense facilities have been “processed out.” In this case, it’s not real-time manipulation and it’s up front, like a censor’s black marker. But pixels are plastic. It is perfectly possible now to insert sets of pixels into satellite imagery data that interpreters would view as battalions of tanks, or war planes, or burial sites, or lines of refugees, or dead cows that activists claim are victims of a biotech accident.

A demo tape supplied by PVI bolsters the point in the prosaic setting of a suburban parking lot. The scene appears ordinary except for a disturbing feature: Amidst the SUVs and minivans are several parked tanks and one armored behemoth rolling incongruously along. Imagine a tape of virtual Pakistani tanks rolling over the border into India pitched to news outlets as authentic, and you get a feel for the kind of trouble that deceptive imagery could stir up.

Commercial suppliers of virtual insertion services are too focused on new marketing opportunities to worry much about geopolitics. They have their eyes on far more lucrative markets. Suddenly those large stretches of programming between commercials—the actual show, that is—become available for billions of dollars worth of primetime advertising. PVI’s demo tape, for instance, includes a scene in which a Microsoft Windows box appears—virtually, of course—on the shelf of Frasier Crane’s studio. This kind of product placement could become more and more important as new video recording technologies such as TiVo and RePlayTV give viewers more power to edit out commercials.

Dennis Wilkinson, a Porsche-driving, sports-loving marketing expert who became CEO of 10-year-old PVI about a year ago, couldn’t be happier about that. Wilkinson’s eyes gleam when he describes a (near) future in which virtual insertion technology pushes advertisements to the personalized extreme. Combined with data-mining services by which browsers’ individual likes, dislikes and purchasing patterns can be relentlessly tracked and analyzed, virtual insertion opens up the ability to shunt personally targeted advertisements over phone lines or cables to Web users and TV viewers. Say you like Pepsi but your neighbor next door likes Coke and your neighbor across the street likes Seven-Up—the kind of data harvestable from supermarket checkout records. It will become possible to tailor the soft-drink image in the broadcast signal to reach each of you with your preferred brand.

Just 15 minutes up the road from PVI, Sarnoff’s Winarsky is also glowing—not so much about capturing market share as about the transforming power of the technology. Sarnoff has a distinguished history in that regard; the company is the descendant of RCA Laboratories, which started innovating in television technology in the early 1940s and has given birth to a plethora of media technologies. The color TV picture tube, liquid crystal displays and high-definition TV all came, at least in part, from RCA qua Sarnoff, which has five technical Emmys in its lobby.

The ability to manipulate video data in real time, he says, has just as much potential as some of these forerunners. “Now that you can alter video in real time, you have changed the world,” he says. That may sound inflated, but after looking at the Katarina Witt demo, Winarsky’s talk of “changing the world” loses some of its air of hyperbole.

Deleting people or objects from live video, or inserting prerecorded people or objects into live scenes, is only the beginning of the deceptions becoming possible. 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. With additional video manipulation technologies, previously recorded actors can be made to say and do things they have never actually done or said. “You can have dead actors star again in entirely new movies,” says Haseltine.

Contemporary shots featuring footage of dead performers have been around for several years. But the Hollywood illusion-craft that, for example, inserted John Wayne into a TV commercial required painstaking, frame-by-frame post-production work by skilled technicians. There’s a big difference now, says Haseltine: “What used to take an hour [per video frame], now can be done in a sixtieth of a second.” This dramatic speed-up means that manipulation can be done in real time, on the fly, as a camera records or broadcasts. Not only can John Wayne, Fred Astaire or Saddam Hussein be virtually inserted into pre-produced ads, they could be inserted into, say, a live broadcast of The Drew Carey Show.

The combination of real-time, virtual insertion with existing and emerging post-production techniques opens up a world of manipulative opportunity. Consider Video Rewrite technology, which its developers at the Interval Corp. and the University of California, Berkeley first demonstrated publicly three years ago. With just a few minutes of video of someone talking, their system captures and stores a set of video snapshots of the way that a person’s mouth-area looks and moves when saying different sets of sounds. Drawing from the resulting library of “visemes” makes it possible to depict the person seeming to say anything the producers dream up—including utterances that the subject wouldn’t be caught dead saying.

In one test application, computer scientist Christoph Bregler, now of Stanford University, and colleagues digitized two minutes of public-domain footage of President John F. Kennedy speaking during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Using the resulting viseme library, the researchers created “animations” of Kennedy’s mouth saying things he never said, among them, “I never met Forrest Gump.” With technology like this, near-future political activists conceivably will be able to orchestrate webcasts of their opponents saying things that might make Howard Stern sound like a mensch.

Haseltine believes video manipulation techniques will quickly be carried to their logical extreme: “I can predict with absolute certainty,” he says, “that one person sitting at a computer will be able to write a script, design characters, do the lighting and wardrobe, do all of the acting and dialog, and post production, distribute it on a broadband network, do all of this on a laptop—and viewers won’t know the difference.”

The End of Authenticity

So far, the widely witnessed applications of real-time video manipulation have been in benign arenas like sports and entertainment. Already last year, however, the technology began diffusing beyond these venues into applications that raised eyebrows. Last fall, for instance, CBS hired PVI to virtually insert the network’s familiar logo all over New York City—on buildings, billboards, fountains and other places-during broadcasts of the network’s The Early Show. The New York Times ran a front-page story in January raising questions about the journalistic ethics of altering the appearance of what is really there.

The combination of real-time virtual insertion, cyber-puppeteering, video rewriting and other video manipulation technologies with a mass-media infrastructure that instantly delivers news video worldwide has some analysts worried. “Imagine you are the government of a hypothetical country that wants more international financial assistance,” says George Washington University’s Livingston. “You might send video of a remote area with people starving to death and it may never have happened,” he says.

Haseltine agrees. “I’m amazed that we have not seen phony video,” he says, before backpedaling a bit: “Maybe we have. Who would know?”

It’s just the sort of scenario played out in the 1998 movie Wag the Dog, in which top presidential aides conspire with a Hollywood producer to televise a virtually crafted war between the United States and Albania to deflect attention from a budding Presidential scandal. Haseltine and others wonder when reality will imitate art imitating reality.

The importance of the issue will only intensify as the technology becomes more accessible. What now typically requires an $80,000 box of electronics the size of a small refrigerator should soon be doable with a palm-sized card (and ultimately a single chip) that fits inside a commercial video recorder, according to Winarsky. “This will be available to people in Circuit City,” he says. Consumer gear for virtual video insertion is likely to require a camcorder with a specialized image-processing card or chip. This hardware will take signals from the camera’s electronic image sensors and convert them into a form that can be analyzed and manipulated in a computer using appropriate software—much as photo editors at newspapers use Adobe Photoshop and other programs to “clean up” digital image files. A home user might, for instance, insert absent family members into the latest reunion tape or remove strangers they would prefer not to be in the scene—bringing Soviet-style historical revisions right into the family den.

Combine the potential erosion of faith in video authenticity with the so-called “CNN effect” and the stage is set for deception to move the world in new ways. Livingston describes the CNN effect as the ability of mass media to go beyond merely reporting what is happening to actually influencing decision-makers as they consider military, international assistance and other national and international issues. “The CNN effect is real,” says James Currie, professor of political science at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington. “Every office you go into at the Pentagon has CNN on.” And that means, he says, that a government, terrorist or advocacy group could set geopolitical events in motion on the strength of a few hours’ worth of credibility achieved by distributing a snippet of well-doctored video.

With experience as an army reservist, as a staffer with a top-secret clearance on the Senate’s Intelligence Committee, and as a legislative liaison for the Secretary of the Army, Currie has seen governmental decision-making and politicking up close. He is convinced that real-time video manipulation will be, or already is, in the hands of the military and intelligence communities. And while he has no evidence yet that any government or nongovernment organization has deployed video manipulation techniques, real-time or not, for political or military purposes, he has no problem conjuring up disinformation scenarios. For example, he says, consider the impact of a fabricated video that seemed to show Saddam Hussein “pouring himself a Scotch and taking a big drink of it. You could run it on Middle Eastern television and it would totally undermine his credibility with Islamic audiences.”

For all the heavy breathing, however, some experts remain unconvinced that real-time video manipulation poses a real threat, no matter how good the technology gets. John Pike, an analyst of the intelligence community for the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, D.C., says the credibility risks are simply too great for governments or serious organizations to get caught attempting to spoof the public. And for the organizations that would be willing to risk it, says Pike, the news folks—knowing just what the technology can do—will become increasingly vigilant.

“If some human rights organization popped up at CNN with some video, particularly an organization they were not familiar with, I would think that [CNN] would consider that radioactive,” says Pike. Same goes for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). “No responsible director of an established organization would authorize such a thing. And they would fire on the spot anyone caught doing it. The stock-in-trade of NGO policy organizations is that ’we tell the truth.’”

Even cool heads like Pike, however, concede that the media’s fortress of skepticism has an Achilles heel: the Internet. “The issue is not so much your ability to get fake video on CNN, but to get it online,” he says. That’s because so much Internet content is unfiltered. “This could play into the phenomenon in the news production process where you would not replicate the original report, but you might report that it was reported,” says Pike. And that could cascade into a CNN effect. “These are undoubtedly experiments that will be done,” Pike says.

The trouble is, says Livingston, it may only take a few such experiments to forever make people question the authenticity of video. That could have enormous repercussions for military, intelligence and news operations. An ironic sociological consequence might emerge: a return to heavier reliance on unmediated face-to-face communication. In the meantime, though, there will undoubtedly be some interesting twists and turns as pixels become ever more plastic.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ivan Amato is a correspondent for National Public Radio and the author of Stuff: The Materials the World Is Made Of a chronicle of cutting-edge research in materials science.

Copyright © MIT's Technology Review July/August 2000

welcome to the compositing world.... realtime or not. You're not going to make these guys day, Jack! Think they can handle a world where you can't trust ANY image you see in the media? :)

Along the same lines, check out this:

http://www.911closeup.com/nico/911chron_timeline_nico.html

Jack

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Think they can handle a world where you can't trust ANY image you see in the media?

I never trusted anything I saw in the media anyway. But this raises the level of my distrust to a whole new plateau. Could the much derided theory, of the WTC south tower "suicide plane" as video special effect, inserted into the live CNN satellite feed, have some merit after all. I believe it is at least possible.

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I never trusted anything I saw in the media anyway. But this raises the level of my distrust to a whole new plateau. Could the much derided theory, of the WTC south tower "suicide plane" as video special effect, inserted into the live CNN satellite feed, have some merit after all. I believe it is at least possible.

A very interesting concept ... just one question though ... If the suicide plane was a special effect, then what was all the actual eye witnesses looking at??? And if there actually was a plane that flew into the tower, then why the need for a special effect???

Bill Miller

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I never trusted anything I saw in the media anyway. But this raises the level of my distrust to a whole new plateau. Could the much derided theory, of the WTC south tower "suicide plane" as video special effect, inserted into the live CNN satellite feed, have some merit after all. I believe it is at least possible.

A very interesting concept ... just one question though ... If the suicide plane was a special effect, then what was all the actual eye witnesses looking at??? And if there actually was a plane that flew into the tower, then why the need for a special effect???

Bill Miller

Those are good questions. As far as eye witnesses go, if some kind of remote controlled drone, with no resemblance to a United Airlines 767, were flown into the tower at over 500 mph, then it's possible that people standing on the street would not have gotten a good enough look at it to positively identify it as such. Since there is little, if no doubt that something hit the towers, then it does stand to reason that the perpetrators would use something resembling the designated hijacked 767 (United Airlines). It would be much easier for them to use an actual 767, retrofitted with remote control software, that could be used to fly the plane from the ground. On the other hand, maybe that would have been too sloppy, as an actual 767 could have caused more damage than desired, to the point of knocking loose the carefully placed explosives at the impact point. On the other hand a remote controlled drone, or missile[s?] would also probably knock the explosives loose at the impact point. I am not saying I believe in this particular theory of the plane being a special effect, but am only open minded to it's possibility. Another possibility is that the perps of this dastardly crime, intentionally planted doctored videos and photos into the evidentiary record to confuse the hell out of everyone, and lead them down a rabbit hole of endless speculation. Maybe that is what these black ops people planned all along: to give the public so much evidence of conspiracy, much of it contradictory, and leading in opposite directions, so it will take them so many years to figure out, they (the perpetrators) will be old or dead by the time it is all pieced together. I have no doubt that they thought like this before they decided to go ahead with the operation. This whole thing was planned and carried out by a neo-con black ops team in the CIA/JCS/military intelligence sector of the U.S. government. That is one thing I have no doubt about.

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A very interesting concept ... just one question though ... If the suicide plane was a special effect, then what was all the actual eye witnesses looking at??? And if there actually was a plane that flew into the tower, then why the need for a special effect???

Bill Miller

Those are good questions. As far as eye witnesses go, if some kind of remote controlled drone, with no resemblance to a United Airlines 767, were flown into the tower at over 500 mph, then it's possible that people standing on the street would not have gotten a good enough look at it to positively identify it as such.

Brian, any thoughts to what happened to all those passengers and crew that were abord those planes if they were drones that hit Towers???

Bill Miller

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A very interesting concept ... just one question though ... If the suicide plane was a special effect, then what was all the actual eye witnesses looking at??? And if there actually was a plane that flew into the tower, then why the need for a special effect???

Bill Miller

Those are good questions. As far as eye witnesses go, if some kind of remote controlled drone, with no resemblance to a United Airlines 767, were flown into the tower at over 500 mph, then it's possible that people standing on the street would not have gotten a good enough look at it to positively identify it as such.

Brian, any thoughts to what happened to all those passengers and crew that were abord those planes if they were drones that hit Towers???

Bill Miller

Miller asks some valid questions without an insult!

For some theories, click:

http://www.apfn.net/Messageboard/10-16-03/...ion.cgi.45.html

http://www.serendipity.li/wot/plissken.htm

http://www.serendipity.li/wot/operation_pearl.htm.

By the way, very few witnesses actually reported seeing or hearing

the second plane. Everyone was focused on the burning tower.

Jack

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From what I recall there were numerous witnessess to the crash, I look for some. Any ideas on how they could have done this with numerous live cameras filming and broadcasting from various angles? T

Len, please allow me to have a stab at this possible alteration stuff ... who knows, it may be fun.

I think that to accomplish the effect that you previously described ... that they would only need a 24 hour window of time, an optical printer, and the help of David Copperfield.

Hey, this thinking up crazy possibilities is kind of fun after all!

Bill Miller

Edited by Bill Miller
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Brian, any thoughts to what happened to all those passengers and crew that were abord those planes if they were drones that hit Towers?

There are several possibilities. 1). The flight control computers of the original flights were overridden by remote control, the planes were then swapped with remote controlled drones, and then dumped into the Atlantic Ocean - 2). the flight control computers of the "hijacked planes" were taken over by remote control and the planes then flown into the World Trade Center - 3). the aircraft, including passengers and crew, that we are told hit the towers, never existed as scheduled flights that day.

There seems to be some support for possibility # 3, in that the National Bureau of Transportation Statistics did not list either American Airlines flight 11, or American Airlines flight 77 as scheduled flights on September 11, 2001. Operaton Northwoods outlined a plan to blow up airplanes and create lists a fictional passengers, complete with newspaper obituaries, mock funerals, etc. Could something similar have been done on 911? It certainly sounds too bizarre to be true, but who can say for sure? Possibility # 2 would seem to be the most plausible of the three, as it would eliminate the flights, passengers, crew, and hijackers in one fell swoop, so to speak. I really don't know exactly how it happened, but it is sure a fascinating mystery to ponder.

Edited by Brian Smith
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Real planes do not melt through steel walls without

explosion, fire, smoke, debris breaking off. Aluminum vs

steel columns...which wins? Does this video show what

actually happened?

Jack

It is very odd how the plane goes right into the building as if it is flying into an open door. There appears to be no resistance from the outer steel perimeter of the tower. One would think that a hollow aluminum tube, like the fuselage, would crumple up while slamming into a steel building, but I do not have the expertise to say this would definitely be the case. Considering that the aircraft was travelling at a speed of over 500 mph, maybe it is not so odd after all. It really should be analysed by someone with expertise in the fields physics, aerodynamics, and/or structural engineering.

Anyway, what the hell is that "thing" under the starboard wing?? There is definitely a protuberance of some kind under that wing. It is very pronounced in this particular video. Claims of it being a normal part of a Boeing 767, like a wing faring, have already been debunked. What is it?

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In a previous post I offered three possibilities as to what happened to the passengers and crews of the supposed flights that were involved in the WTC and pentagon "attacks". I should have offered one more possibility: 4). the flight control computers of flights AA 11, UA 175, and AA77 were overridden by remote control, the planes were then dumped into the Atlantic Ocean, and the World Trade Center and pentagon events were then carried out with the use of pre-planted incendiary devices, and a fake CGI special effects plane inserted into the live CNN south tower impact. This is not entirely impossible, as all live broadcasts of the south tower hit were the same CNN footage, run through the same satellite feed. Other videos of the south tower hit appeared later. Could this have allowed time for the perpetrators to create other videos showing a fake GGI generated United Airlines plane to be presented later, as evidence backing up the official story? This is all very much out there, but as far as I know, it is at least a possibility.

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