The CITRIS project Rashomon is featured in a compelling New Scientist article that discusses the ways that digital media can affect the way an event is viewed globally.
“MILLIONS of people took to the streets in Brazil last week across over 100 cities to protest against wide-ranging issues, including corruption and poor public services. Like the ongoing unrest in Turkey, such demonstrations can provoke violent crackdowns from security forces. More than ever before, the turmoil is being caught on camera, by news agencies and demonstrators alike. Shot amidst chaos, these videos and images are often uploaded devoid of context, commentary, or vetting.
The trouble is a single video merely gives viewers a snapshot of an event, says Christoph Koettl of Amnesty International, and snapshots can be misleading. New tools are changing this, putting images and videos of dissent in context. They have the potential to catch those who violate human rights in the act, making it possible to prosecute the perpetrators.
One such tool is called Rashomon, built by Ken Goldberg and researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. The software automatically syncs video from multiple sources shot from different angles, using metadata on the files – the date, time, type of equipment used, and information about the exposure – if that is available, or if not, visual and audio cues. Failing that, humans can also manually sync the videos.”
One chilling compilation charts protests on 31 May in Istanbul, Turkey. It shows a man screaming at an armoured van with a water cannon mounted on top. He charges at the vehicle and kicks it, then moves back into the street, still yelling. Without warning, the water cannon opens up, knocking him off his feet. He lands sickeningly on his head and doesn’t get up. From another angle people are seen rushing to the man’s aid, only to get sprayed themselves. Another angle clearly shows an identification number on the van.
“With Rashomon you might actually see who is shooting from a specific direction,” Koettl says. “Who was responsible? Who should be held accountable? This comprehensive view could be very, very helpful in our investigations.”