There is an endless amount of content that exists of famous and politically influential people. To think that what you see in the media is entirely accurate to reality would be naive. Whether it be a TV commercial or public speech, nothing you see on camera tells the whole story of how the scene took place. All of this information creates a unique opportunity for video manipulation. The amount of creative editing done today makes it seem as if people appear in places they never were or say things they never said. All video content gets edited, but with today's editing software, the process has become more accessible for the average person to do and share on social media. Social media can make a video go viral without checking to see if it is legitimate. Yes, fake news is real.
The Rise of Video Manipulation
Video has been edited and manipulated since it was invented. Film sequences were spliced together to create something new. As video became digital and the tools used to edit and exploit video became easier to procure and use, creative video editing grew popular. We have all seen big-screen movies that use editing and computer manipulation to achieve the film's goal. Traditionally, this is how video manipulation has been used. Now, with everybody having access to video on their cell phones, there are an endless amount of videos to edit and manipulate. While this can be a hobby and used for its comedic value, it has taken more of a sinister turn as of late. The amount of video manipulation used in conjunction with the 2020 presidential election was staggering. It was routine to see manipulated videos that distorted reality and what people were saying and doing. Let's take a look at how the media and individuals made this happen.
What is Video Manipulation
Video manipulation is the rearranging of footage in creative ways to create a new sequence that appears to be two sequential shots.
Video manipulation is the rearranging of footage in creative ways to create a new sequence that appears to be two sequential shots. Doing this, you can create a video that seems to be one-shot but could be conveying a message that the person never said. Using continuity editing seems simple, but it can take some time to find clips that will work well together. In addition, trying to spot creative editing can be difficult because there are numerous tricks editors will use.
Jump Cuts to Distract You
At times editors will use jump cuts to draw attention away from the speaker. A jump cut is when the clip changes with an abrupt transition between two camera positions. When this is done, often the sound is muted from one clip, while the sound is overlaid from another clip. You can use jump cuts to splice two separate clips together. It could be two shots with a different camera position or a transition from one camera angle to another. Typically if the footage is legitimate, editors avoid jump cuts because of the jarring effect on the audience. Next time you watch a movie, it's worth noting the use of jump cuts to see if you can recognize when filmmakers use them.
How to Tell if Footage is Real
There are no accurate lie detectors on social media to tell you if what you are watching is real. It is up to you to be a detective and look for creative editing tricks to see if you are being deceived. We discussed earlier how jump cuts are used in post-production to distract you from the audio or video that is not accurate to a specific scene. A real clip will have the exact opposite of a jump cut. It will be edited to have smooth transitions between shots and camera movement. It is common on a video shoot to use dolly shots to achieve this. Promising filmmakers like using a camera dolly because of the smooth camera moves you can achieve. Camera dollies are rail tracks that cameras slide down to perform smooth movements in a single shot. Often in interviews, you will see a dolly zoom shot that slowly moves in on the person speaking. The other standard dolly shot used by a camera operator is a tracking shot. A tracking shot has a dolly movement side to side while the camera rotates slightly to stay focused on the speaker. A dolly shot will bring the viewer deeper into what the speaker is saying, unlike a jump cut that draws you away from the speaker. A good camera operator and post-production editor will make it a point to draw you into the speaker through quality camera work and smooth transitions from camera angle to camera angle. Pay attention next time you are watching an interview and notice this technique is used in creating an actual video that is honest and legitimate.
AI is the New Magician
You have learned to decipher a real video by quality filmmaking with dolly shots and smooth transitions between camera positions and movement. You also learned about distractions being created using jump cuts and how they can hide the fact that audio from multiple clips is being spliced together. The newest trend in media manipulation is the use of AI video and audio. AI video and audio can be challenging to detect and can make anybody appear to say almost anything. Technology companies are coming up with new software that is going to make fake videos virtually undetectable. This software will be able to reproduce your voice and likeness with lifelike movements.
Furthermore, the technology exists to take multiple audio clips of a person speaking and duplicate their voice. Their voice can then be used for ill-intentioned purposes. It is guaranteed that this new AI software will be used in mischievous ways. It will be used to cause confusion and undermine the truth.
When it comes to media manipulation, you can't trust what you see. There are tricks and techniques that are used by filmmakers to deceive audiences into believing something is real when it isn't. It doesn't matter if they use jump cuts or AI video; deception is present in the media and on social media. You need to be aware of what the media is sharing and do your diligence to fact-check what is being said. These tactics will not be going away anytime soon; you must develop your own set of skills to decipher fact from fiction.