We are all led to believe so-called “experts” have integrity, no biases, and can be trusted. As a graphic designer with 35 years experience, I fully admit to my biases, however if my professional opinion had potential international political ramifications, I would do my best to reach an honest conclusion.
I just read a story regarding the Obama birth certificate controversy and was intrigued by the following lines….
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.
Funny how small a world it truly is.
On Thursday morning, April 28th, I did a search to find an Adobe Illustrator “expert” to ask one simple question, was the birth certificate authentic?
Most didn’t return my messages, but one I did manage to get through to on the phone was… Jean-Claude Tremblay. He was on his way out the door so he asked me to send him my question(s) on his website’s online form and he’s get back to me.
Hello again, Mr. Tremblay, Here is a link to President Obama’s birth certificate’s pdf: http://www.blackandblondemedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/birth-certificate-long-form.pdf Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response. Bob Parks
In a follow-up email, I also requested he do a phone interview with me explaining his findings either way.
Mr. Tremblay responded that evening.
I have taken a quick look at the PDF.
It’s hard to tell which application this PDF was generated from beside the MacOS Preview application using the build in PDF generator.
Opening it in Illustrator we see that this is not a one piece scanned image. Why some portions are in separated clipping? I can tell exactly. I have seen many application doing such elements. It’s all depend of the application use to generate the certificate.
Hope this can help you.
I will be unavailable for the next few days.
One paragraph piqued my interest where Tremblay said, “Opening it in Illustrator we see that this is not a one piece scanned image. Why some portions are in separated clipping? I can tell exactly. I have seen many application doing such elements. It’s all depend of the application use to generate the certificate.”
Mr. Tremblay resides in a French-speaking area of Canada so there may be a translation issue, but the fact he had questions and said the pdf I sent him “is not a one piece scanned image” raised a red flag. One would think the authentic birth certificate would be a “one piece scanned image”. Why would it need to be in layers and what application could have been used to create these elements?
On Friday, Mr. Tremblay responded to my last email.
I won’t do any recording. Sorry…
Here my take on this after a few more testing.
The fact that their is pieces of clipping parts when opened in Illustrator come from teh scanning software using some kind of OCR technologies. I can easily introduce such results on any scanned document. Not exactly the same, it all depend on the software OCR technology involved.
So the fact that we see “layers” is not a proof this is a fake document.
Between you and me, I would be more afraid of a fake if it was a single bitmap images. Then it would be mainly impossible to now if someone added something before or after scanning it.
You can read more about
Mr. Tremblay is more of an expert on Illustrator than I am, so I have to take his word, but there are some things I do know as a Photoshop expert with two working eyes.
While there is a curl on the original document, the green safety paper behind it doesn’t curl with it. It’s clear the green background was added. It could be as innocent as to add some cosmetic value to a dank black-and-white form, but the fact remains this document is NOT an original.
After that conversation with Mr. Tremblay, he was contacted by Fox News and it didn’t go the way he’d have hoped.
Last Friday, I had a phone conversation with someone at FoxNews regarding the validity of Obama’s Birth Certificate PDF. A blog post was then published by them on Friday night. You can read it here.
My first idea was to post this on FoxNews.com, but I have not heard from them despite my repeated requests. So I’m posting here.
I want to clarify a few things written in that blog post after my brief conversation with Ms. Winter. The blog post on FoxNews has generated so many comments good and bad. I also feel that Ms. Winter has attributed a conclusion to me in the title that I did not mention during my interview. Some of my statements, mainly regarding the use of OCR software were also not 100% accurate. I only spent a short time looking at the PDF the day before. I feel obligated to make some clarifications.
First, I never thought that what I saw in the Birth Certificate PDF was a proof of its authenticity. For me, what I have seen does not prove that it is legit, nor that it is a fake, nor that there has been any tampering whatsoever. The title of the blog does not represent my conclusion. It would be unprofessional and simplistic within my area of competence to come to a conclusion one way or the other.
To recapitulate: Thursday, somebody emailed me and asked if I could look at the Birth Certificate (PDF) in question.
I opened the document with Acrobat Pro and also later using Adobe Illustrator. At first I found it strange to see a number of layers in the file, but without necessarily finding a deliberate act of manipulation. It is true that usually, when you scan a document you get a single image. So I told myself, maybe some OCR manipulation or some other technology was used to separate the text from the background of the image during the scanning process, as I have seen in the past. It is true that the OCR technology can be used to detect and analyze the text present in the image, to help in extracting text to enable searchabillity. Though I am not an expert on OCR, I know there are various technologies used to make a scanned document searchable, and sometimes it changes the text document by extracting it from the background. I closed the file and that was the end of it for me.
Now if you analyze the various resolutions of the images in the Obama’s Birth Certificate PDF in either Acrobat or Illustrator you will discover that they are mostly different; this is usually the result of such optimization of scanned document.
So, this is where Mr. Tremblay and I part ways.
If this were indeed an authentic document, all of the layers would be of an identical resolution. A PROFESSIONAL creating a forgery would make sure all of the elements on the various layers were of the same quality. An amateur might have assembled a document from quickly found or provided sources, pasted them together, and saved it as a .pdf instead of a flat .jpeg which gives anyone with Photoshop an unlocked front door to the layers and an opportunity for critical analysis.
I also want to mention that despite what some people said about me, saying that I’ve worked for Obama during his 2008 campaign is totally false. Being a Canadian, I might also add that I have absolutely no interest in the facts of this case leaning one way or another. I have no connection with Obama nor do I have received any money from FoxNews or anyone else.
— Jean-Claude Tremblay, 5/2/11
To be honest, I wouldn’t want to be in Mr. Tremblay’s position. Think about what happened to the women who spoke out against the Clintons; people who were minding their own business one day and had their names torn to pieces the next by the power of the White House. Imagine what would happen to that “expert” who comes out and details how and why President Obama’s birth certificate could be a phony.
That person’s life would never be the same and I’m talking possible loss of job (income), reputation, and possibly down the road, family. And seeing how most artists are in the liberal community, finding one who’ll be objective will be tough if not impossible.
What I do find most frustrating about this whole episode are the media punditry who jumped into the reporting of this disclosure as a done deal, they know the birth certificate is real, etc.
For Rachel Maddow, Charles Krauthammer, Shepard Smith, Tamron Hall, Ed Schultz, George Stephanopoulos, and all the others who asserted that the issue is closed, I have one question: What version of Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop do they have on their computers?