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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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April 29, 2011 - 3:44 pm

The other day, the day the president finally stopped his million dollar posturing and released his birth certificate, I took a look at the layers issue and found, first, that yes the president’s BC is a layered file, and second, that OCR technology explains how it got that way.

Well, Fox News has found a doc expert who more or less agrees with my analysis.

The doubters have latched onto the idea that Adobe Illustrator — the premier program for computer graphic artists — “reveals” evidence of document manipulation in the Obama birth certificate. They note Illustrator reveals nine separate layers of the document, and claim it’s “proof” the file has been altered.

But that’s not so, says Jean-Claude Tremblay, a leading software trainer and Adobe-certified expert, who has years of experience working with and teaching Adobe Illustrator. …

Tremblay explained that the scanner optical character recognition (OCR) software attempts to translate characters or words in a photograph into text. He said the layers cited by the doubters shows that software at work – and nothing more.

“When you open it in Illustrator it looks like layers, but it doesn’t look like someone built it from scratch. If someone made a fake it wouldn’t look like this,” he said.“Some scanning software is trying to separate the background and the text and splitting element into layers and parts of layers.”

Tremblay also said that during the scanning process, instances where the software was unable to separate text fully from background led to the creation of a separate layer within the document. This could be places where a signature runs over the line of background, or typed characters touch the internal border of the document.

For whatever it’s worth, while I would never claim to be an Adobe Illustrator expert, I have worked with Photoshop and other Adobe products since about 1996 or 97. That’s around the time I attempted to build a non-linear editing computer with off the shelf parts and a video capture card, and failed, ending up becoming an Avid editor. I later spent 8 years doing video & multimedia production, graphics, animation and such as a NASA contractor on the Hubble Space Telescope project. None of that means I’m right and your favorite expert is wrong, but it does mean I have enough familiarity with the issues at hand to be able to come up with a workable hypothesis about what happened. OCR is the explanation I arrive at. I’m not saying this is the definitive last word engraved on stone tablets. Just my opinion based on my experience of why the doc is layered when it’s reasonable to expect it not to be. I was surprised when I opened it up and found the layers myself.

Oh, and by the way, yes it’s pretty odd that the WH released the document that way. That’s not evidence of dishonesty in my mind. It just looks like rank incompetence on the part of whoever handled the processing. They did the scan with OCR turned on and didn’t even know enough to check for layers or any other kind of anomalies.

Update: Ok, for those of you who are still hanging on to this, go here. And here. And here. One of those links goes to NRO, another goes to Adobe, and another goes to Ace of Spades. Just how widespread is this conspiracy of yours? Hm?

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.
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