A recent article in the Guardian newspaper raised the possibility of footage on the Jeremy Kyle show having been “polished” in order to tell the story that the producers wanted to be told.
The role of content producers and editors is to tell stories using the content they capture. Skilled editors will craft beautiful stories by knitting together clips and footage from potentially hundreds of hours of raw footage (dailies/rushes).
The lack of retention of the rushes in works of fiction is unlikely to have a negative impact on society in future years but as the Kyle article highlights the retention of original footage needs to be taken more seriously where factual content is being edited or manipulated.
*“The family has concerns that the footage is polished and edited, and does not represent the totality of the footage that would have been recorded on all cameras on the day.”
The other brilliant example highlighting where studio footage has proven to be key in a criminal prosecution is the “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” cheating case.
**“In court, Ingram claimed the videotape of his appearance on Millionaire was “unrepresentative of what I heard”, and he continues to assert that it was “unfairly manipulated”. A video recording, with coughing amplified relative to other sounds including Ingram’s and Tarrant’s voices, was prepared by Celador’s editors for the prosecution and “for the benefit of the jury” during the trial.”
Given its nature live-action content is reasonably difficult to manipulate even with the ‘broadcast delay” but not so if the delay is in the minutes, hours, days, or months as is typical for reality-based programming.
The article raises three good questions for those producing factual content and also presents a real challenge for those organisations in terms of retaining the potential hundreds of hours of raw footage that goes into producing an hour of finished content that we the public consume:
- How are production companies and broadcasters protecting rushes or footage captured by studio cameras on the day?
- How can they prove the authenticity of those rushes in the years to come?
- Is it even possible to retain the original footage and find the clips you need when required?
Protecting rushes/dailies is not new in highly regulated industries like financial institutions that typically are required to adhere to internal or external regulations around the protection, authenticity, and ease of access to archive content.
They typically have to implement platforms and processes that ensure content security, access control, and availability of historical data.
- Authentic. Content will be ‘bit for bit’ the same now and in 10 years’ time.
- Immutable. Content is locked down from changes or deletion until a retention period has passed
- Audited. Ensuring access to content is controlled and audited
- E-discovery. Ensuring archived content can be found and shared within a given timeframe
Imagine the scenario where an analyst from a global bank gives an interview where the advice imparted during broadcast differs from the advice given on camera at the time of the shooting. Advice that could bankrupt individuals, companies, or even countries.
This manipulation of the message or story can be achieved with subtle editing or more recently the advances in deep fake technology.
It seems, from the last 4 years certainly, that we are all heavily influenced by what we see on the television or read in papers.
The flip side to deep fake video or manipulation in the edit is that people, politicians, in particular, will use the fact that deep fake technology exists to vehemently deny ever having said or done something on camera. This is highlighted in the excellent article by Daniel Thomas (BBC News):
“The first risk is that people are already using the fact deep fakes exist to discredit genuine video evidence. Even though there’s footage of you doing or saying something you can say it was a deep fake and it’s very hard to prove otherwise.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51204954
So it would appear that being able to prove the authenticity of raw footage has never been more important.
How is it done today?
Production companies who own the IP and rights for shows like “Jeremy Kyle” and “Millionaire” typically rent the studios and pay for the services of post-production companies to get the show made. Those studio and post companies will generally be responsible for protecting the rushes until the show has aired and many will hold on to them for longer periods of time until they no longer have the physical space or resources to manage them.
These cases highlight the need to find content from a show aired 3 or more years ago. A task that cannot always be done quickly, if at all.
Certainly, the rushes for the Kyle shows were and are protected by the post-production company involved but that is not always the case. Most organisations simply do not have the technology platforms nor the processes in place to address this.
One of the main concerns is and always will be “what is the business model?” Keeping finished content in an archive requires resources and long-term investment but there is value in exploiting that content. Doing the same for thousands of hours of raw footage has a less obvious return on investment. The only way companies will feel compelled to archive rushes forever is via regulation or as an insurance requirement to assist should any future litigation occur.
As discussed above, when and if regulations are introduced companies will be expected to find and produce evidential content within reasonable time frames or get fined.
Digital Content Governance Can Help
Good Digital Content Governance (DCG***), a mix of process and technology, can ensure content is protected, instantly accessible, and proven to be authentic at any time in the future.
It can also help organisations to beat Deep Fake or disprove manipulated images.
- Ensuring content is authentic: DCG platforms make multiple copies of content on ingesting using checksums (digital fingerprints) to ensure its integrity from day one and throughout the lifetime of the content. DCG can ensure rushes are immutable throughout their lifetime and can place retention policies on the data such that not even administrators can accidentally delete it.
- Protecting data: Digital Preservation processes ensure your content is protected at ingest and ensures it remains protected throughout its lifetime. However, this requires regular integrity checking of data which can be a costly exercise with legacy technology such as LTO. DCG platforms handle all aspects of good digital perseveration practice from continuous content protection and multiple copy protection (on and off-site) business rules support.
- Access: Providing searchable audits of every action during the lifetime of the media is essential, as it means you can track exactly what has happened to that content and who has accessed it. DCG platforms offer native, searchable audits of every action from ingesting, moves, deletions, attempted deletions, and most importantly, read. It has to be said that audit is also possible with public cloud accounts if the user logins are granular to individuals performing the actions.
- Search: Find is key. With the increasing volume of data coming in and out of the facility, metadata management is as important as protecting the content itself. The ability to search for content based on up to date, and relevant metadata, will unlock the value of content for many organisations. Loosely coupled metadata and the content will always make find an inefficient or impossible process.
DCG platforms protect the metadata along with the essence for the lifetime of the content. Using APIs enables future proof, integrated and automated workflows that ensure content can be found even if media asset management is not available. DCG platforms can also automate the extraction and indexing of any embedded metadata which will also vastly increase the efficiency of finding.
- Business Continuity: Using incumbent platforms that rely on the legacy archive and backup practices does not guarantee the continuity of business operations. It is a fact that data loss or loss of access to data can lead to catastrophic loss of revenue for any sized company and thus puts archive provision at risk.
DCG platforms provide automated and integrated business continuity functionality ensuring work can continue despite any outages. Implementing automated, asynchronous replication of metadata, data, and user access information ensures that everything that is needed will be available at the DR location. Integration of DCG platforms into the end-user ecosystem (ie they do not have to learn new skills) also makes this a non-disruptive process.
As detailed above, implementing a good DCG platform that is integrated into media workflows will bring value to the organisation and ensure content can be found under any circumstances.
In summary, there are some technical, commercial, and cultural issues to address in the creative video community if raw footage and archive content are to be protected in accordance with internal or external regulations. One of the biggest challenges will be the physical resources needed to archive thousands of hours of potentially 4 and 8k raw footage.
One potential option is to create a mezzanine or proxy version of those rushes, in a certified transformation workflow, that take up much less space than the originals but retain enough quality for video processing to be applied at future dates. Metadata can be captured during the ingest and transformation process or that metadata can be generated later on using any number of AI platforms.
Keeping those rushes on LTO or SAN, NAS platforms will not be sufficient in terms of good Digital Content Governance nor the ability to efficiently process the files in automated workflows.
These rushes will need to be kept in object storage or cloud storage platform whose very automated technologies ensure that good DCG is followed and ensures that the rushes are instantly available and searchable.
Object Matrix has over 20-years experience of implementing MatrixStore object storage into highly regulated environments. Its core technology has been designed with Digital Content Governance, security, and regulatory compliance at its core.