President Donald Trump released a video message on Twitter on Thursday discussing his health and the treatment he received following his COVID-19 diagnosis.
In the video, Trump stands in the White House grounds. There was immediate speculation that the president was not in fact outside but had used a green screen to produce a false background.
Social media users raised the question of a green screen once Trump tweeted his video yesterday. The claim soon gained traction on Twitter and some prominent people began asking the question. Apparent distortions in the video, like the shadows and the background appearing to be on a loop, prompted the comments.
“I think it’s pretty clearly a green screen. The sharpness of the outline and the lighting. Also it’s a very long way to bring a sick president to shoot something when you have the Rose Garden,” wrote MSNBC host Chris Hayes.
Christopher Orr, film critic for The Atlantic, also said it appeared a green screen had been used: “Why the digital background? It’s a sunny day in DC. This could have been filmed on the actual White House lawn.”
Orr later deleted the tweet and sent another, sharing the opinion of another user that the video background was genuine. However, by then the speculation had taken off.
“This is in front of a green screen,” tweeted veteran Star Trek actor George Takei, who is a prominent social media user and a critic of the president. His tweet now has more than 4,000 retweets.
Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley who specializes in the analysis of digital images, told the Washington Post that the evidence in the video made it unlikely that a green screen was used.
“I don’t see clear visual evidence that the video is shot with a green screen, the crisp shadows appear to be consistent with the sun as the light source, and the reverberation in the audio does not sound like it is indoors,” he said.
The White House also denied the video featured a green screen. Spokesmen Judd Deere said Trump was filmed on the South Lawn.
Film editor Dylan Reeve said on Twitter he also doubted the video used a green screen and that it was more likely the apparent distortions in the video were due to the social media site itself.
“I think Twitter’s video compression is messing with a lot of people. It adds a lot of artifacts to things—and when you start peeping with a sceptical [sic] mind they can look like mistakes or giveaways,” he said.
Data scientist Logan Williams told Buzzfeed News: “This is a product of video compression.” Farid, also speaking to Buzzfeed, agreed with Williams about compression. Both also said the shadows were consistent with the movement of the sun.
Several experts have said the evidence does not support the use of a green screen and have agreed any oddities are the result of Twitter’s video compression. The president did not use a green screen.
Newsweek has reached out to experts for independent comment.