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Thoughts on pixelization

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A columnist's musings on pixelization and anonymity, from The Beijing News.

Don't Trust the Mosaic

by Mrs. Fish / TBN

A bank staffer who had misappropriated 20,000 in public funds ended his flight and turned himself in to the authorities. The entire sum was returned to the public trust, and no criminal charges were pursued. The provincial television station asked for an interview, but the request was immediately rejected. The reporter said, don't worry, we'll protect your privacy by putting a mosaic over your face. He said, go to hell, who trusts your mosaic? Two days ago the city station added a mosaic but it was utterly useless. Now the neighbors all point whenever I go outside.

Zhu Bajie wears a helmet to cover his ugliness. But the TV stations' mosaics do not stop at hiding ugliness. In anti-pornography news, when the discs are completely exposed and you don't want to stir up base passions - mosaic them! At the scene of a horrific car accident that stamped everyone's ticket - pixelate it! A whistle-blower report, when straight-on shots are no different from suicide - pixelate them! Sometimes, however, it's only the face of "Deep Throat" that is pixelated, and nothing is done to the voice. This will confuse strangers, but it won't escape the eyes and ears of acquaintances. So someone who dishes dirt about his superiors on TV should never look to a spotty mosaic to keep him out of trouble.

A friend of mine often has people who can't expose their faces speak with their backs to the camera. A woman once persisted in her refusal of this technique - her rationale was that her back was too broad, and she had no waist. "So ugly!" Such aestheticism in the midst of anonymity shocked the cameraman: "You've got no face - what do you need a waist for?" Another time, at a drug clinic, he had a girl who was in the process of quitting drugs stand with her back to the camera. He faced the camera, but unfortunately he was facing the sun, too. After he came back he found that his face was all squinted and drenched in sweat because of the sun. Reviewing the tape, the procuder said to the caption editor, "I say we put a mosaic over the reporter - he looks just like someone quitting drugs."

At an interview with a police anti-gang hero, to protect him, it was suggested to shoot him from behind, add a mosaic, blur the lens, or film in backlit silhouette. The officer did not like any of the four options, and finally said, I'll just wear sunglasses, OK? The reporter, who was caught up in the hero's story, immediately agreed. After the piece had been filmed, the leadership of the PSB's political office reviewed the film together with the station's leaders. Following graphic descriptions and tense, thrilling scenes, the protagonist appeared: flat-top, dark-red short-sleeve T-shirt, huge, dark motorcycle goggles, lying askew on a sofa....the censors paused a moment, and then erupted. The political department, angry and embarrassed, said, "What kind of anti-gang hero is this? He looks like a gangster himself. Shameful!" Without waiting for the station leader to unleash his anger, the cameraman was immediately called back to work. The final segment showed the police officer dressed in his uniform sitting at a window, shot as a standard silhouette, with buildings, the river, and far-off mountains visible through the huge pane of glass.

Actually, if we weren't so stuck in our ways, we could use even cheaper techniques to replace the mosaic. We could, for example, shave off hair and eyebrows - this will reportedly produce a complete stranger. Or we could buy a bunch of plastic masks. The worst would be to shoot with the camera inverted. I don't think that anyone would turn their TV upside-down to look.

鱼夫人《不要相信马赛克》 (TBN, 2007.03.07, not yet online)

There are currently 2 Comments for Thoughts on pixelization.

Comments on Thoughts on pixelization

fuck u !
he is our leader!

IN relation to this post, Cognitive Daily recently ran an experiment to find out how good people were at recognizing famous faces and other things in extremely low-resolution photos. Findings include that people can reconise faces at 12x14 pixels or even less.
Link (via boing boing)

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