New anti-piracy measure from Zoo Digital

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A new state-of-the-art security technology from Sheffield’s Zoo Digital is to be shown to an international audience at the forthcoming IBC event in Amsterdam.

Zoo Digital provides subtitles for Hollywood film studios, is unveiling the new feature, which involves machine learning and facial recognition, an industry first and could help TV and film makers in their battle against piracy.

Stuart Green, chief executive of Sheffield software firm Zoo Digital

Stuart Green, chief executive of Sheffield software firm Zoo Digital

The feature works similarly to rotoscoping, a visual effects technique used to create a matte for a live action sequence for compositing purposes.

ZOO’s technology will obscure all parts of each frame except the faces or mouths of screen actors, which need to be shown for accurate lip synching.

By spoiling the video stream in this way, TV and movie assets used for localization would have no entertainment value, thereby reducing their value as a source for piracy without impairing the dubbing and subtitling process.

Gordon Doran, ZOO Digital’s President said: “We’re dedicated to keeping the world’s most sought-after content in the right hands. Our new facial recognition capability helps manage the risk of handling TV and movie content.

“Although rotoscoping to spoil proxies has been around for a while, the manual technique is expensive and time consuming. By automating the process, the security feature could be used on all kinds of first-run content rather than just major Hollywood releases.

“We have a team whose priority is content security, and this new feature adds to encryption, two-factor authentication, individual watermarking and more. We’re at the top of our game when it comes to keeping TV and movie content ultra-secure – and this feature will help raise the bar for the industry.”

ZOO Digital will demonstrate the technology at the IBC, a leading event for the world’s media, between September 13 – 18.

The news comes during a strong year for the Sheffield-based tech firm which unveiled a 73 per cent of full year revenue last month to £22m, up from £12m in 2017.

The firm, led by chief executive Stuart Green, said​ it has steadily increased the number of quality voice actors and dubbing professionals ​to meet demand.

Zoo is increasingly finding work owing to the massive increase in people utilising streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon and is seeing this market grow at around 10 per cent each year.