Seeing isn’t believing: CU Denver center masters the science of truth in audio/video

Catalin Grigoras, Ph.D.
Catalin Grigoras, Ph.D.

In this month’s CU on the Air, we talk with Catalin Grigoras, director, and Cole Whitecotton, IT professional, at the National Center for Media Forensics at CU Denver. The only one of its kind in the U.S., the center not only graduates the top media forensics specialists, it and its students assist law enforcement and government investigations, researches scientific methodology, conduct analysis of raw audio and video and, importantly, the digital manipulation of audio and video.

  • (skip to: 1:40) The topic of deepfakes is a hot in the media, but what is it?
  • (skip to: 4:40)The previous generation of deepfakes – face-to-face – and vocal implications of manipulation.
  • (skip to: 5:35) Implications of the inability to authenticate video and audio – a new, fake reality.
  • (skip to: 6:26) Prominent examples of deepfakes – Nick Cage and Jordan Peele’s deepfake of Former President Barack Obama.
  • (skip to: 7:15) The National Center for Media Forensics at CU Denver, how it came to be, how it has progressed and where it’s going.
  • (skip to: 8:20) The center’s work with DARPA at the U.S. Department of Defense in creating deepfakes to find ways to recognize them.
  • (skip to: 9:05) Media forensics and working with the Denver Police and other law enforcement to authenticate audio and video, including “I did it.”
  • (skip to: 10:59) The center – completely unbiased is looking at the forensics and not any kind of outcome. It is completely neutral.
  • (skip to: 12:30) Some high-profile cases the center has helped with – Malaysian flight shot down over the Ukraine, Texas chemical plant explosion, Iranian Missiles.
  • (skip to: 18:00) Testifying in court – infrequently because the science speaks for itself.
  • (skip to: 20:00) The difficulty of detecting some audio manipulation because singing, accents, etc. can mask an individual’s normal vocalizations.
  • (skip to: 21:38) Who are the National Center for Media Forensics’ graduate students? Where do they end up in their careers?
  • (skip to: 25:50) The rewards of solving forensic science.
  • (skip to: 26:45) The self-evolution: Building of knowledge and generations of the science the past 20 years.
  • (skip to: 28:30) What’s next? Smarter and smarter smartphones – we know what’s in the labs and what’s being worked on and the natural, albeit quiet, evolution.
  • (skip to: 32:00) The introduction of deepfakes to the media and mainstream, the importance of being aware but not afraid. Don’t believe everything you see and hear.
  • (skip to: 33:15) Fake news and the role of media forensics to inform the discussion.