Quick Entry Form

Share some details about yourself

How would you like us to contact you?

Please provide us information about your enquiry

Thanks for getting in touch.

We have received your enquiry and a member of our friendly team will reach out to you shortly to discuss this further.

Sorry, there was a problem submitting your request. Please email us at [email protected] or call us on 0161 971 3200


Back to Articles

The Loch Ness Monster

February 2020 3 min read

Humans are story-tellers, and for hundreds of years we've been trading ideas and teaching generations through the medium of narrative. Story-telling techniques are powerful tools, and consuming fiction for entertainment is a past-time you'd be hard-pressed to eradicate.

But what happens when fiction is presented as fact?

Generally, given enough life experience and a critical approach to information, most people are capable of discerning truth from fabrication. If I tell you there's an elephant balancing on top of Big Ben you'd probably laugh - the idea is so ridiculous it's easily filtered out from fact.

But what if I told you that a silverback gorilla had escaped from Chester Zoo? With just enough truth, certain statements trigger the sliding scale of rationality to shift. Chester Zoo certainly has a silverback. Animals have been known to escape before, and silverbacks are intelligent, powerful creatures.

What if I showed you a video of a silverback climbing over the zoo's fence?

With the spoken word and printed page (or backlit pixel), it's easier to dismiss claims. But with images, claims begin to take on a new life.

So powerful is the medium that it's been known to spawn decades of folklore and debate. The idea of the Loch Ness Monster gained serious traction after a photograph taken in 1934 began to circulate - after all, seeing is believing.

The Loch Ness Monster

Quite a lot has happened since that famous photo was taken. We've been used to airbrushed models and advanced CGI in films for years now, but now there exists technology that doesn't require years of training and hours of skilled time for something fantastical.

This video is the output of this open-source project and was created by training the software to map horses to zebra, and then giving it a video of a horse. This technique mimics the human brain's ability to form complex models of reality in our heads, and then apply those models to the real world.

As an example, take a look at this photo:

Horse and Man with Tool

Having never seen the image before you're still probably able to discern:

  1. That there is a horse,
  2. There is also a human,
  3. The human is caring for the horse,
  4. There is a tool involved in this action.

The above analysis happens without conscious thought thanks to the advanced networks of recognition we have stored in our heads. The software applied to the video above uses the same principals to build an understanding of the world.

The video above isn't perfect, but it's pretty interesting. Given that this technology is still in its infancy, in a short time it'll be hard to tell the difference between fabrication and reality.

Why Crazy Realistic Zebra Horses Matter

Sure, painting a horse in real-time to look like a zebra is cool, but how does it impact me?

The above video demonstrates the sheer power of a similar technology. In a short period of time, it's possible to build out the very realistic video and audio without a requirement for techniques such as 3D face mapping and advanced voice analysis.

And while the tale of a loch's mysterious inhabitant is certainly interesting, the rise of questionable media (see everybody's favourite topic: fake news) hints at a dangerous undercurrent that might cause a dramatic shift in content production in the near future.

No longer do we seem to care whether or not something is factually accurate. The value of content is now measured by the number of likes, clicks and retweets it garners.

At least initially the technology will be used to amuse - if I could make any celebrity say something outlandish and funny, I'd probably give it a whirl!

But what happens when a bad actor picks up the tool, subtly tweaking content and dropping in an inflammatory phrase? Combined with social media's penchant for viral content, something entertaining could spread extremely quickly.

What if I sent you a recording of your best friend disowning you, and used it to manipulate you?

Soon, the loch will be overflowing with monsters. Only they'll be in Ultra HD, and be indistinguishable from reality.


Want to hear more of our opinions on Loch Ness Monsters and other things? Get in touch over on Twitter @cantarus

Written by Tom Walters Principal Consultant & Nessy Enthusiast

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author unless explicitly stated. Unless of course, the article made you laugh, in which case, all credit should be directed towards our marketing department.