Azure Media Redactor launches
Mon 21 Nov 2016
Microsoft’s Azure Media Redactor is now available for public preview. The product is a new addition to the Media Services suite of software offered by Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing and data center group.
The Azure Media Redactor performs anonymization of individuals in media files by automatically blurring their faces. To date, this has been difficult to accomplish automatically, because a machine tends to identify false positives (blurring non-face objects) and false negatives (not blurring an individual’s face), particularly in cases where video includes bad lighting or fast movement.
Manual blurring of faces captured on video is currently a time and labor-intensive process. Using the new redactor software, however, facial blurring for an entire media file can be accomplished automatically, within seconds. It is now available for preview in all public Azure regions, as well as for the U.S. Chinese government platforms.
Current clients of the media services suite of products offered by Microsoft Azure cloud data centers include NBC Sports, Xbox, and Fuji television services, all of whom use Azure media services for broadcast.
The Azure Media Redactor works by detecting faces in each individual frame of video and tracking the face throughout, so that the same individual is detected from all angles and their face is automatically redacted. It can operate in fully automatic mode or a two-pass workflow that allows a user to select pertinent faces from a list and to make arbitrary frame adjustments where required.
The system produces a redacted mp4 file in either mode.
Media redaction is required to protect the privacy of individuals speaking to the media under conditions of anonymity, as well as protecting the privacy of minors and bystanders caught on tape apart from the primary subject. The Azure Media Redactor can be of particular usefulness in helping with the speed and ease of releasing body camera and phone footage requested under the Freedom of Information Act. The Act requires that in appropriate circumstances videos must be released upon request, however, protecting the privacy of individuals caught on film aside from the primary action required labor-intensive manual redaction prior to the availability of automated redactor software.
Similar services are offered by independent companies such as VIDIZMO, which offers software for automated redaction designed for law enforcement agencies using the Azure cloud service.