computational image of faces

Media-Nxt: Computational Image Manipulation

Research: Wasim Ahmad

August 6, 2018

Imaging + Machine Learning + Cloud Computing

Computational Imaging and Recognition is a family-friendly term for a technology that has pervaded the world of both pornography and politics. Known as “deep fakes,” they are videos where someone’s head is superimposed onto (usually) another person’s body, creating a realistic, compelling video version of the person in question. This is how a young Princess Leia could appear in a new Star Wars film (Rogue One), and the way researchers manipulated a video of former President Barack Obama giving a speech that he never actually gave.

Computational imaging technologies, machine learning, and, sometimes, arrays of powerful cloud computing clusters work in tandem to take source video of someone’s image (say Barack Obama) and then superimpose it and match facial movement with another body (like Donald Trump). It’s so scarily good that Hollywood stars worry about the negative implications of fake videos released with their images. Many prominent platforms—Twitter, Reddit, and even Pornhub, have banned the lewd videos created using this technology… 

Media-Nxt is an annual report from the Newhouse School’s Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship examining emerging technologies that are beginning to disrupt the media industry. To read more, and to download the full report, visit and enter your email address.