Usually, when we think of retouching an image, we think of a photographer or retouch artist using photoshop to alter a still image. Turns out video isn’t exempt.
Peter Duke explains how the 60 Minutes crew altered footage of Steve Bannon:
I noticed the red eyes when I was watching clips of the interview last night, and figured something like this was going on. I don’t know much about color correction, but the way that Peter can estimate the amount of correction that’s happening based of the shade of Charlie Rose’s shirt is impressive. Makes me want to learn more about color.
Once I was talking with my brother about fake news, and his philosophy is now “show me the video.” Not the talking heads, not an article reporting on it, but the honest-to-gosh raw footage.
That’s a good start, but as we can clearly see here, video footage is also really easy to alter. There are structural alterations through editing, selective start and end times to cut off certain events from the feed. There are sonic edits, where you drop-in or dub in the wrong words, or splice together a new phrase from different phonetic sounds. And then there are visual spins like this one, where the editor goes out of his way to misrepresent the subject with bad lighting, color correction, or what have you. Frankly, with a sit-down interview, you could also achieve similar results with hot lights (done to Alex Jones), a mic too close, bad makeup, horrible clothing choices, or similar tricks.
This simple explanation by Peter Duke has me starting to think about critically evaluating all the video I watch, not just the photos I look at or the news stories I read. Every piece of information must be run through the bias-filter.
Video alone isn’t enough to get us at the truth of a matter. It’s certainly better than the written word or a still image for some things — like bare, on the ground reporting — but video cannot address ideas or abstract thoughts as well as the written word. Nor can it be as iconic as that perfect still image that visually encapsulates the ideas in a scene. And it’s just as susceptible to bias as other types of media.