… for Visual Effects

Tip #329: Blurs and Mosaics are No Longer Safe

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Blurs are no longer safeguards against protecting identity.

New graphics technology, combined with AI, recreates high-resolution images from blurry, low-res source files.

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For years, editors have used mosaic and blur effects to hide the identity of on-screen talent. However, recent research has found a way to reverse-engineer a high-quality image of the speaker’s face from a low-resolution blur. Here’s what you need to know.

Research published in Sept. 2018, from universities in the US and China has revealed a technology that “learns to reconstruct realistic [image] results with clear structures and fine details.”

Using a low-resolution image (on the left), their technology creates a high-quality result using off-the-shelf computer hardware and nVidia GPUs. Using AI, the researchers discovered an algorithm “to directly restore a clear high- resolution image from a blurry low-resolution input.”

“Extensive experiments demonstrate that our method performs favorably against the state-of-the-art methods on both synthetic and real-world images at a lower computational cost.”

Here’s a link to their scientific paper. The text is highly technical, but the images are frightening, if you are a producer charged with protecting someone’s identity.


If you want to protect the identity of an on-camera speaker, don’t shoot their face. Today’s technology makes blurs, mosaics and low-res images completely ineffective.

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  1. Ron Braxley
    Ron Braxley says:

    Looks like we’re back to the old school days of the black bars over the eyes.

    Seriously though, will this tech be able to overcome a straight black mask over a face?

    • Larry Jordan
      Larry Jordan says:


      Black bars, or, perhaps, silhouette lighting. But, pixels will become too easy to reverse engineer.


    • Larry Jordan
      Larry Jordan says:


      This is not for your incredibly handsome visage. Rather, its for all the people in your videos that you weren’t able to get releases for.



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