Here Comes Fake Lip Syncing

You think fake news is bad now, just look what is coming. It’s the ability to take a video and adjust the lip synce to make the person say anything you want.

Jennifer Langston of the University of Washington writes:

University of Washington researchers have developed new algorithms that solve a thorny challenge in the field of computer vision: turning audio clips into a realistic, lip-synced video of the person speaking those words.

As detailed in a paper to be presented Aug. 2 at SIGGRAPH 2017, the team successfully generated highly-realistic video of former president Barack Obama talking about terrorism, fatherhood, job creation and other topics using audio clips of those speeches and existing weekly video addresses that were originally on a different topic.

“These type of results have never been shown before,” said Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, an assistant professor at the UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. “Realistic audio-to-video conversion has practical applications like improving video conferencing for meetings, as well as futuristic ones such as being able to hold a conversation with a historical figure in virtual reality by creating visuals just from audio. This is the kind of breakthrough that will help enable those next steps.”

In a visual form of lip-syncing, the system converts audio files of an individual’s speech into realistic mouth shapes, which are then grafted onto and blended with the head of that person from another existing video.

The team chose Obama because the machine learning technique needs available video of the person to learn from, and there were hours of presidential videos in the public domain. “In the future video, chat tools like Skype or Messenger will enable anyone to collect videos that could be used to train computer models,” Kemelmacher-Shlizerman said.

Because streaming audio over the internet takes up far less bandwidth than video, the new system has the potential to end video chats that are constantly timing out from poor connections.

“When you watch Skype or Google Hangouts, often the connection is stuttery and low-resolution and really unpleasant, but often the audio is pretty good,” said co-author and Allen School professor Steve Seitz. “So if you could use the audio to produce much higher-quality video, that would be terrific.”

By reversing the process — feeding video into the network instead of just audio — the team could also potentially develop algorithms that could detect whether a video is real or manufactured.

The new machine learning tool makes significant progress in overcoming what’s known as the “uncanny valley” problem, which has dogged efforts to create realistic video from audio. When synthesized human likenesses appear to be almost real — but still manage to somehow miss the mark — people find them creepy or off-putting.

“People are particularly sensitive to any areas of your mouth that don’t look realistic,” said lead author Supasorn Suwajanakorn, a recent doctoral graduate in the Allen School. “If you don’t render teeth right or the chin moves at the wrong time, people can spot it right away and it’s going to look fake. So you have to render the mouth region perfectly to get beyond the uncanny valley.”

A neural network first converts the sounds from an audio file into basic mouth shapes. Then the system grafts and blends those mouth shapes onto an existing target video and adjusts the timing to create a new realistic, lip-synced video.

Previously, audio-to-video conversion processes have involved filming multiple people in a studio saying the same sentences over and over to try to capture how a particular sound correlates to different mouth shapes, which is expensive, tedious and time-consuming. By contrast, Suwajanakorn developed algorithms that can learn from videos that exist “in the wild” on the internet or elsewhere.

“There are millions of hours of video that already exist from interviews, video chats, movies, television programs and other sources. And these deep learning algorithms are very data hungry, so it’s a good match to do it this way,” Suwajanakorn said.

Rather than synthesizing the final video directly from audio, the team tackled the problem in two steps. The first involved training a neural network to watch videos of an individual and translate different audio sounds into basic mouth shapes.

By combining previous research from the UW Graphics and Image Laboratory team with a new mouth synthesis technique, they were then able to realistically superimpose and blend those mouth shapes and textures on an existing reference video of that person. Another key insight was to allow a small time shift to enable the neural network to anticipate what the speaker is going to say next.

The new lip-syncing process enabled the researchers to create realistic videos of Obama speaking in the White House, using words he spoke on a television talk show or during an interview decades ago.

Currently, the neural network is designed to learn on one individual at a time, meaning that Obama’s voice — speaking words he actually uttered — is the only information used to “drive” the synthesized video. Future steps, however, include helping the algorithms generalize across situations to recognize a person’s voice and speech patterns with less data – with only an hour of video to learn from, for instance, instead of 14 hours.

“You can’t just take anyone’s voice and turn it into an Obama video,” Seitz said. “We very consciously decided against going down the path of putting other people’s words into someone’s mouth. We’re simply taking real words that someone spoke and turning them into realistic video of that individual.”

The research was funded by Samsung, Google, Facebook, Intel and the UW Animation Research Labs.

Exactly.

Can you imagine the damage they could do to someone like President Trump? Or anyone they consider an enemy. Frightening times indeed.

Our Senators Deserve Our Scorn

Senator McConnell issued this statement last night on the repeal of Obamacare:

But as the Conservative Treehouse blog noted:

I’m not sure what McConnell’s strategy is here because a “repeal only” amendment on the bill would need 60 votes for passage. It is beyond doubtful that eight democrats are going to vote for a “repeal only” bill. Correction, I just noticed McConnell’s trickery, the 2015 bill was a defunding bill, not a repeal. McConnell is just tricking people into thinking this was going in the direction of a repeal. It’s not.

The GOP have never, ever, voted for a repeal. That would take 60 votes. They voted in 2015 to defund it using the 51 vote threshold of ‘reconciliation’. They’ve never once had a repeal vote on Obamacare.

Therefore, if this actually goes to a vote, this appears to be constructed simply as an exercise to prove a vote was taken. ObamaCare remains and the implosion continues. McConnell’s political calculation here is trickery. Nothing more. O-Care remains.

After eight years of promises, election cycles that put Republicans in office and the triumph of Trump winning the presidency partly by promising the repeal of Obamacare, our Republican senators wouldn’t come together.

Can you name a good one among them? Everyone of them should face a Republican primary challenger. That challenger should win and take the seat away from each. The people we have in the Senate today are the most petty, vile, money grubbing idiots in Senate history.

I used to think we had some good ones. Ted Cruz, for instance, seemed to be a true conservative. He deserves the nickname Trump gave him – Lyin’ Ted. I am currently reading Roger Simon’s book, The Making of a President 2016. He cannot stand Cruz because he is duplicitous. Stone documents time after time that Cruz flagrantly lied. It’s no wonder that his fellow senators despise him.

Rand Paul also seemed to have his head on straight. But he’s been one of the main obstacles to the very repeal he claims to want. Save me from the purists in our party. Their vision of GOP utopia lives only in their own minds. Paul needs to get down off his high horse and help get rid of as much of it as he can and not block repeal. Is he still bitter about his primary plunge?

Mike Lee of Utah also suffers from his Never Trumpism. One of the side effects of it apparently is blindness. He, too, would rather we all have premium hikes, abortion funding and death panels rather than give an inch on repeal. Shame on him. Trump extended the olive branch early to him, proposing his brother’s name for the Supreme Court. Still Lee obstructs.

Susan Collins is not a surprise. She’s always acted more like a Democrat than a Republican. In fact, there’s a ratio to her. The more conservative and Republican a president is, the more she moves away from her party. Thanks for nothing, Sue.

Our own Tennessee senators aren’t exempt from scorn. Corker preens like some kind of foreign policy whiz, but he never has to be responsible for anything. When has Alexander done something? He seems at best inert.

The rest of them have been so caught up in running away from the Russia story that they allow that stupidity to continue. They waste taxpayer money bloviating, but nothing ever happens. All the committees they had to look into Obamas wrongdoings – like Benghazi – went nowhere.

Maybe Roman emperor Caligula was right when he made his horse a senator. All the ones we have seem to produce is dung. Yet we pay their salaries. At least a horse only requires a stable and hay.

Phony RNC Survey Irks

You may have received a survey from the RNC. It’s really a money raising effort. I don’t think they care what we want; the questions are rigged to please conservatives.

It’s kind of like a sleazy phone call informing you you’ve won a cruise; if you first send them money.

Here’s a response someone showed activist Jack Posobiec. He posted it on Twitter:

At one website I saw a thread on which people made similar complaints:

eheh…I hope the RNC is getting a lot of these.

The RNC gets a “very blunt” response from me each time they send a survey…it isn’t pretty.

I have sent several in the same vane to the RNC. They can pound sand until they support President Trump’s agenda and get rid of Ryan, McConnell, McCain, Graham, etc. #MAGA

Thanks. Now I know what to do with mine.

We did the same. Hubbie also noticed on the last survey a week ago, that Health Care wasn’t on the list of priorities and let them know what he thought of them. Lol. They got nary a penny from us either. Keep it up, Treepers-RNC isn’t liking what they are seeing.
Glad I’m not the only one who’s been responding like this.

Yes. They got exactly that message from me a few weeks ago.

That will not make it pass the first inspection. Once the reader sees that it does not follow the form it gets shit canned. Never to be seen again.

Standard practice.

Huh, got that last week, and just ripped it up.
This is a better idea, if there’s a next time.

That’s okay, another one will arrive this week, and next week, and the next. Then the number of pleas for we “have to fight those horrible Dems” will increase as the elections of 2018 move closer. Then you’ll see the request for donations from current Congressional members saying “I’m fighting for you in Washington, so don’t let this primary guy or gal take me out.” And of course, you’ll see we’re with President Trump all the way. 🙂

I’m looking forward to seeing who President Trump does a little stumping for – and who he does not…

One commentator was right. Health Care is not on the survey. Here are the questions they ask:

“Please rank the following issues according to the importance you believe they should have as President Trump and Republicans in Congress move to turn our nation around with “1” being the most important:
Build a border wall and stop illegal immigration
Reverse President Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders
Fully enforce our immigration laws and withhold federal funding from ‘sanctuary cities’ who harbor illegal immigrants in violation of federal law
Re-equp and rebuild our military
Reduce federal regulation and cut corporate tax rates to get the economy growing
Encourage domestic exploration and production of domestic energy sources
Renegotiate trade deals to put American jobs and interests first
Shrink the size of the federal bureaucracy to make ti more accountable and efficient
Tax reform to simplify the income tax system, making it flatter and more fair”

Odd, isn’t it that Health care’s not on there?

This RNC fund raising method is almost insulting. We all know who’s stalling the Trump agenda besides the Dems.
They really should can this canned fundraising method.

We all know we will gladly contribute to the RNC when the GOP in the Senate and House start passing Trump’s tax reform plan and finish the repeal of Obamacare.

Then many of us will kick in some dollars.

Bill’s Advice Fell on Deaf Ears

Both Presidents Bush 43 and Clinton the first were interviewed recently. They were asked what a candidate needs to win the presidency.

The answer Bill gives is shocking.

If he believed this he certainly didn’t direct Hillary to follow this advice. She didn’t have an agenda. She didn’t listen to the people. She did run down her opponent without listing what she would do in office. It’s was always about her, not the people.

Humble? Hillary was the antithesis of that. She certainly had nothing to show for her years at the State Department. It was all about the number of people she could shake down.

And she lost.

Michelle Loves Her Limelight

Here’s a headline I can agree with on Michelle Obama: “Retirement agrees with her!” Yes, please, Michelle, don’t go near politics again.

It’s from The Daily Mail and discusses her appearance at the ESPY awards – whatever those are.

As you see she donned “bondage-style heels and a sleek hairstyle.”

At least she’s got those muscular, mannish upper arms covered.

Now compare with the tasteful, classy Melania Trump:

By the way, Michelle, what’s with your husband dumping his wedding ring on these numerous jaunts abroad? Trouble in paradise?

I thought the purpose of staying in DC was to be near your daughter in high school. Looks like that’s not too important anymore.