07 November 2006
Faux Fauxtography
So, on YouTube, some guy posted a video claiming that the Whitehouse had edited President Bush's speech on the USS Lincoln to hide the "Mission Accomplished" banner. He claimed that there a "black box" at the bottom of the video was evidence that the video had been stretched and squished upwards to hide the sign.

Let's look shall we?

Wow, he sure seems impressive. And that black box is weird huh?
Was it an evil edit by the Chimpy McBushitler?? Of course not!

The "evil black box" he posted about is actually just a placeholder for CLOSED CAPTIONING text!

It's hilarious. Just use Real Player and tell it to open the following url: [Note: you will probably have to copy it and paste it into the "open" dialog in Real Player


Notice that the black box is gone.

That is the video link contained in the .smil file which is used to layout the form for Real Player in the link from the Whitehouse video server site.

The details:

.smil files are used to describe the layout of the Real Player viewer. And that's just what happened here.

In the .smil file there is a section titled "<region>" with an ID of "textregion". This is the "black box" in the video

<region id = "textregion"
background-color = "#000000"
top = "190"
left = "0"
height = "50"
width = "320"/>

Notice the size spacing etc are all consitent with the "evil black box"
It is defined as a place holder for closed captioning information.

To confirm this go into Real Player and choose "Tools | Options" this will open the options window. Go to "Content" on the left hand side and then look at the "Accesibility" section. In that section choose "Use supplemental text captioning when available". Apply that setting and watch the video again. Lo and Behold the "stretched video" is placeholding for the captioning and the captions appear in the "evil black box". [Note these are instructions for Real Player 10, your instructions may vary]

You can also confirm this by checking the .smil file from the Whitehouse web server. Near the bottom of the .smil file there is the following entry

title="President Bush Announces Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended"
alt="President Bush Announces Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended"/>

It's a block region tag for the closed captioning text stream. See how it refers back to the "textregion" id? This tells Real Player to run the closed captioning stream in that section. Removing the "textregion" block and the closed captioning block will remove the black box completely.

Why is that there? Simple. The feds operate under very strict accessibility rules and this was probably done to be compliant. How damned evil of them!

The moral of the story is don't listen to technically illiterate fools on the internet.

Moral for the guy who posted the video ("Mike Mcintee"): Understand the techonology involved before you go off an make a video making yourself look like a paranoid nut job on the Internet.

Link to .smil file for video : http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/05/20030501-15.v.smil
Link to html page containing link to .smil file; http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/05/20030501-15.v.html

Hat tip: HotAir
A Republican in San Francisco (Yes, he's under deep cover) relays his tales of interest... ...ok, "interest" is a strong and subjective word but you get the point.
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