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  • Is it possible to edit video so iPhone can’t take a photo/video of content?

    Posted by Ariel Spilkin on October 25, 2023 at 2:23 pm

    Hi Forum,

    an absolute noob here, so possibly a silly question.

    I wonder if it’s possible through video editing, to purposefully induce screen capture distortion effects on a video to such an extent that when presented on a monitor/laptop/projector, it makes capturing a clear photo or video of the content using an iPhone nearly impossible, while still remaining intelligible to the human eye (without causing seizures).

    A bit of background. I recently attended a conference and used my iPhone 13 to take some Live Photos of the presented slides. While visually I could see the presented material without any issue, my iPhone photos had all sorts of distortions that made it difficult to read the content. I was surprised that my iPhone was stumped by a simple projector’s refresh rate.

    Now I’m curious, is it possible to use video editing to purposefully induce these effects?

    e.g. Could I edit video of a slide presentation so that if I were to take a photo of the content that is presented on my MacBook 2014 Retina display, or my Dell 1080 60FPS monitor the captured photos or video would be too distorted for me to read, while the original content would still be visually intelligible to me.

    I’ve tried to research the matter, but I’ve never seen anything exploring how to induce, not reduce, these distortions.

    Thanks for the help, hopefully it’s an interesting question!

    Sarmad Ahmad replied 4 months, 1 week ago 4 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • Craig Seeman

    October 28, 2023 at 7:17 pm

    It’s an interesting idea.

    It’s sort of like HDCP (copy protection) which allows you to play a video but prevents electronic copying. Or maybe it’s like what’s done with playing Netflix or AppleTV on your computer. You can see the movie but if you try to record it with Quicktime the video is blank.

    See this

    It seems the best they can do is a digital watermark that is traceable.

  • Craig Seeman

    October 28, 2023 at 7:19 pm

    And this mentions a patent for infra red technology which the eye won’t see but the camera will and therefore impact the image in that regard.

  • Ariel Spilkin

    November 7, 2023 at 3:26 pm

    Hi Craig,

    thank you for your response. Apologies that it took me a while to get back to you, the Autumn flu hit me quite hard.

    Both links are fascinating, particularly the idea of embedding forensic watermarks in an image or item that is capture. Thank you for sending them through.

    Do you think that it could be possible to at least mimic the reduced refresh speed that one would expect to cause such capture issues?

    In essence, let’s assume a screen has 60 FPS. The screen shows black, however every second frame will show an image. Meaning that the screen alternates between black and an image. Wouldn’t the screen as far as the external capture device be concerned in essence exhibit a 30FPS?

    Or am I misunderstanding the matter?

    Thank you!


  • Osman Muhammad

    November 29, 2023 at 8:48 am

    Hi Ariel

    Theoretically, it’s challenging to induce specific distortions through video editing that would significantly affect an iPhone’s ability to capture clear photos/videos without impacting the human eye’s viewing experience. However, altering the refresh rate, resolution, or employing rapid scene changes might cause some level of distortion but might also negatively impact the viewing experience for humans.

    There isn’t a straightforward method within conventional video editing that precisely induces distortions only detectable by specific camera sensors like those on iPhones while keeping the content intelligible to the human eye. This task might involve specialized techniques and testing not typically addressed in standard video editing.

    While certain methods may slightly deter clear captures, they often compromise the overall viewing experience. Ultimately, striking a balance between deterring camera captures and maintaining visual clarity to the human eye can be complex and might require specialized knowledge beyond regular video editing


  • Sarmad Ahmad

    February 14, 2024 at 2:29 pm

    Yes, it is possible to induce screen capture distortion effects through video editing to make capturing clear photos or videos difficult while remaining intelligible to the human eye. Techniques such as altering frame rates, adding intentional artifacts, or manipulating visual elements can be employed to achieve this purpose.

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