Whenever our friends in Pyongyang decide to troll the planet with one of their hilariously bad propaganda pieces, it always makes me wonder just how serious the North Korean regime is about this whole war thing. I mean, using video game footage and music to threaten 'Merica? C'mon, son. And those photoshopped photo-ops of your human-chicken-dumpling leader just don't inspire much confidence in the country's technological capabilities. But it's when North Korea combines war and fun-bad photoshopping that the real fun begins.
Experts, it appears, aren't all that impressed with the photo. That was particularly the case when the state-run Pyongyang press circulated other photos of the launch that were complete with columns of smoke from the missile, columns of smoke conspicuously absent from the initial photo that was circulated above.
As Markus Schiller and Robert Schmucker, of Schmucker Technologie, told Reuters, “Considering the track record of North Korean deceptions, it seems sensible to assume that any North Korean SLBM [submarine-launched ballistic missile] capability is still a very long time in the future, if it will ever surface.”
What the column-less photo lacked in smoke, it made up for with weird, poorly placed ocean smudges. That reddish patch of water you see to the left of the missile? That’s supposed to be the rocket’s reflection.
And, so, sadly, the only thing this launch report from North Korea tells us is that they still haven't gotten photoshop down. Oh well. If they ever did get into an actual shooting war again, I suppose they could always just photoshop themselves into some kind of victory pose. Given how often their progress with weapons technology turns out to be non-progress at photo-bullshitting, such a war is probably a remote possibility. Several of the commenters over at Gawker offered to help them out, of course, though this one is probably my favorite.
Before Photoshop, there were real airbrushes and paintings that were just a bit more flattering than a mirror. Movie magic is improving all the time with computer generated effects, and it's getting harder and harder to tell what's been altered (just assume everything is). You might not want to meet your favorite actors in real life after seeing how they've been modified. Here are a few links on digital touch-ups.
The being-bad-at-Photoshop arms race continues! For some reason, there appears to be a culture of "fake it 'til you make it" going on with some of our international rivals. Previous iterations include Iran's using Photoshop to ensure that everyone knows one of their new jets can't actually fly, as well as North Korea (of course) transposing several national leaders into photos to pretend like they opened a school for children (like anyone would believe that).
And now we can add China to the list, given that they're piss-poor attempt at manipulating a photo to look like leaders visited a really old women somewhere resulted in the insinuation that Chinese men have been eating their Wheaties and have turned into big, smiling giant-folk.
According to China News (via HugChina), the above photo supposedly features the vice mayor of Ningguo county and other officials "visiting" a 100-year-old woman—a very small one hundred year old woman, surrounded by a halo and giants.
Quick, someone save that happy old lady from the uber-men surrounding her! And these aren't even your ordinary, run-of-the-mill Chinese mega-men, either. They're ghost giants, as evidenced by that last guy on the right how appears to be made of a non-corporeal substance the likes of which hasn't been seen since the Ghostbusters were still employed!
Now, the image and the report have reportedly been taken down to ensure the Chinese people don't fly into a panic about the ensuing gigantic dominance, but wouldn't it be easier for the Chinese government to have actually visited this sweet old lady rather than parry the ensuing laughter over this poor propaganda attempt?
There's something of a saying that goes "fake it 'til you make it." The idea is that you look and act as though you've already achieved some goal. For instance, let's say you want to graduate from that annoying weird nation all the other nations put up with but kind of hate to a big boy nation where everyone respects and fears you. Well, North Korea has been faking it 'til they make it. The problem is that they suck at faking it. They fake being an existential threat to America using video game footage and soundtracks. But threatening America is the big time, requiring big, complicated faking-it efforts. What about the little stuff? Say, head of party Kim Jong-un's required appearance for the opening of a children's hospital?
Er, that's an interesting picture. I really like the way the people in the picture pop, you know? Perhaps it's because of the colors, or maybe it's because this is one of the worst attempts at photoshopping I've ever seen.
But did you look at the shadows and the lighting? The figures appear to be superimposed—something that internet commenters in China were quick to notice. Online in neighboring Japan, amused internet commenters showed how easy it was to add individuals to this scene.
Oh well, back to being the weird kid, North Korea. Maybe when you learn to lie like the rest of the world you can come back and play with our toys.
Summer is here, and with it, comes some of the most popular months for weddings. (June, August, September and October are apparently the most popular wedding months.) If you've ever been involved in a wedding, you know that photography is a significant part of the event -- with standard family poses and slightly goofier "everybody jump!" shots. Until recently, couples were satisfied with simple photoshop airbrushing to eliminate facial blemishes, but now... there are some slightly more advanced techniques for a young couple's wedding album. Here are just a few examples.
You really start to get the feeling that some of these less-friendly nations aren't even trying anymore. We recently covered how North Korea tried to scare the bejeezus (technical term) out of the States with an incredibly strange movie about a man dreaming of the nuclear annihilation of America, except they used video game footage to produce it. This wasn't the first of such instances, but you begin to get the feeling that the attempts, at best, are not getting any better and, at worst, are getting even more lame. As someone who grew up in the 80's, I have to pine for the days when a possible enemy nation really put in the effort required to scare the hell out of me. The USSR did this extremely well, causing more people to build almost-certain-to-fail bomb shelters than The Discovery Channel would know what to do with. Each silly attempt only makes me shake my head, mostly because I have to wonder who these guys think they're going to fool in the era of the internet and its global group of fact-checkers.
Which brings us to the new fighter jet, unveiled by Iran and named the Qaher-313, which could well actually be able to fly, but you can't know that from the photoshopped pictures released to state run media. Here's a comparison between a stock image of Mount Damavand, a well-known natural landmark in Iran, and a suspiciously similar image with the new jet flying over it.
Look, it's not that the jet doesn't look pretty sweet flying over Mount Damavand, it's just that if the majority world opinion is that your country is still using Russian war technology because you can't build working models on your own, an easily-discovered photoshop of your plane... you know... actually flying probably isn't going to impress anyone. Put some effort into it, guys. At least figure out a way to alter the cloud formations, so they aren't identical.
Digital photography has created a massive amount of incredible images. Although professional photography has and always will require quite a bit of skill, the rise of amateur photographers is unmistakable. We've pointed out some cool photography before, and here are just a few more examples.
High school junior Kelsey Upton was puzzled. Why was a stranger from Iowa sending her a text message?
Her confusion turned to terror last fall when she learned that the person who had sent the message had plucked her personal information from a pornographic website. Without her knowledge, someone had placed her name and phone number on the site next to a photo of a naked woman, in an explicit position, who somewhat resembled her.
Her father, a federal investigator who previously worked for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, traced the posting to a Citadel cadet, with the help of law enforcement officials. But to their dismay, Upton and her father learned that no crime was committed. Now Randy and Kelsey Upton, who live in Oxford, Ga., plan to meet with legislators and other public officials to try to make such actions a crime. "I want him arrested," said Kelsey Upton, now 17. "But if that won't happen, I want a law about this so someone doesn't just get a slap on the wrist."
Well, the Uptons are in luck. Sort of. The Agitator informs us that Georgia State Representative Pam Dickerson is looking to close this legal loophole by making it illegal to "intentionally cause an unknowing person wrongfully to be identified as the person in an obscene depiction in such a manner that a reasonable person would conclude that the image depicted was that of the person so wrongfully identified." This would include using a person's name, telephone number, address or email address.
However, Dickerson feels that isn't enough. She then adds:
"Such identification shall also include the electronic imposing of the facial image of a person onto an obscene depiction."
Now, rather than just closing an unfortunate hole in Georgia's libel laws, Dickerson is aiming to make a pastime as old as the internet itself, photoshopping celebrities' heads onto porn stars' bodies, a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.
Now, I'm not here to suggest that the long and storied history of creating celebupr0n makes this a part of our rich cultural heritage and an unassailable act of free speech. What I am suggesting, however, is this:
2. Existing libel/defamation laws should already be handling Photoshopped head transfers. There's really no reason to take this from the civil arena and turn it into a criminal act.
3. It looks as if the Citadel is already planning on handling this internally as an issue between two cadets. Adding another law to the books is redundant at best and, at worst, is just encouraging people to holler for new laws every time they've been wronged.
4. If this law goes through, it will be subject to endless expansion, much in the way cyberbullying legislation has been stretched to cover such ridiculous acts as eye rolling and so-called "deliberate exclusion." Offended citizens who find themselves photoshopped into other (non-sexual) compromising positions, like say, having their male heads attached to clothed female bodies or made to appear as though they endorse businesses and lifestyles that they clearly don't, will feel the law doesn't go far enough. The internet is a very inventive place while most lawmakers are not.
5. It will be ridiculed mercilessly. See also this post (possibly NSFW) and this clip (possibly not safe for your brain):
We've covered the uncanny valley of various visual works before, but it's interesting that synthetic speech doesn't seem quite as polished as digital photo and video editing. Apple's Siri might be able to respond with some pretty witty comebacks, but everyone can still tell that the voice is computer generated. Here are a few interesting links on artificially-generated sounds and voices.
Photoshop has pretty much become a generic verb for altering a digital image. It's so common to use software to fix flaws in photos that it's a bit difficult to find unaltered photos now. Well, software will come to the rescue for that, too, and it'll help people determine which images have been touched-up. Here are just a few examples of some cool photo-enhancing tools.