Introducing single-frame forensic watermarking

In the fast-changing world of digital protection, we’ve taken traditional watermarking one frame further. Let us introduce our latest innovation: single-frame forensic watermarking, one image identification. This novel approach allows us to embed tunable robustness level watermarks across digital assets, all retrievable with just one image; wheter is an image, video, or document you’re trying to protect.

In this blog entry, we’ll dive into this exciting one-image identification method, exploring the benefits opened by this new approach when compared to regular watermarking, as well as the technology behind it.

single-frame watermarking

What’s single-frame forensic watermarking?

Single-frame forensic watermarking is a technique that conceals vital information within a single frame of digital media; like videos, images, or documents; for authentication, copyright protection, and content tracking in case of leaks. The best part? Extracting the hidden data from the digital asset is as easy as using just one picture.

What sets this approach apart is that it only needs one frame or image reference to retrieve customizable watermark information, such as user IDs, IP addresses, and session data. For example, a picture of a computer screen taken from a phone would be enough to retrieve the forensic watermark. In contrast, previous watermarking technologies require at least 30 seconds of continuous medium to high-resolution footage to identify such information at the user level.

By employing single-frame watermarking, we provide a discreet, almost imperceptible way to identify the origin or ownership of digital content, even if it’s been altered or manipulated. The technology is designed to complement other security measures, such as digital rights management (DRM), to safeguard intellectual property (IP), prevent unauthorized use, and empower content creators and rights holders to protect their rights in the digital realm.

The technology behind single-frame forensic watermarking

The solution consists of two parts: an embedder and an extractor. For the embedder, we have developed a unique algorithm able to entrench the watermark during the encoding process using our Video Toolkit cloud solution.

The watermark is embedded server-side by creating unique watermark IDs, strategically hiding them within video frames or other visual digital assets. With tunable robustness levels, the watermark’s visibility can be precisely regulated to suit various use cases, ensuring its survival even in low-bitrate video and single-image files.

The AWS cloud-based extractor, our second part of the solution, scans various areas of the video frame, image, or document, identifying through our unique algorithm the hidden watermarked data with remarkable resilience using just a single image. This is known as blind extraction: the process of retrieving or extracting a hidden watermark from a watermarked image or document without having access to the original watermark or any additional information about it.

Single-frame watermarking high-level workflow
The single-frame watermark is embedded through our Video Toolkit solution

Our unique algorithm robustness ensures the watermark would withstand various attacks and transformations that may occur during unauthorized distribution or leaks. Resilience against common attacks such as camcording, HDCP stripping, collusion, and screencasting is ensured.

Another winning feature is our algorithm’s perceptual model, which checks that the watermark will be placed in the best possible area of a frame, improving imperceptibility without diminishing robustness.

Single-frame forensic watermarking benefits

One of the key advantages of this new tech lies in its efficiency. Single-frame watermarking doesn’t require lengths of high-quality evidence to extract the source’s information. Similarly, other prominent benefits of the single-frame approach include:

  • Swift action: The beauty of the single-frame watermark lies in its ability to swiftly extract and pinpoint the source of leaked or pirated content, enabling rapid corrective measures. This proves incredibly handy, especially in scenarios involving video production, where proving leaks might be hindered by limited evidence quantity or quality. Imagine this: a leak surfaces from a third-party company involved in production. With the ability to identify the source promptly, you can rapidly address any security gaps that might have occurred.
  • Renewed deterrence: Potential infringers are aware that their activities can now be easily traced back to them, reducing the likelihood of unauthorized distribution and increasing the risk of legal consequences for IP theft and content leaks.
  • Solid evidence: By retrieving the watermark from a single frame or picture; content and right owners can easily establish their ownership and prove the unauthorized use of their assets, strengthening their case in court.

Forensic watermarking for every use case

Considering that most of the content leaks come from inside studios, single-frame watermarking is particularly well-suited for production and post-production workflows. For example, to protect and trace everything from raw footage, scripts, and dailies; to remote desktop editing environments and mezzanine files.

However, the applications of single-frame watermarking extend beyond studio production workflows. There is a lot of potential in the security, authentication, and IP protection spaces. Media outlets combatting fake news and deep fakes can leverage our technology to watermark visual content, easily identifying any alterations made by malicious entities.

Additionally, government agencies concerned about sensitive information leaks, video game firms seeking to protect development workflows, and publishing and educational platforms concerned to shield their exclusive content from piracy and leaks can all find immense value in our solution.

On the other hand, traditional forensic watermarking fits other use cases in the video delivery workflow. Forensic watermarking excels in scenarios where robustness is crucial, and the watermark needs to be detectable across various frames. For example, video on demand (VOD) for over-the-top (OTT) services require forensic watermarking to protect premium 4K/UHD and HDR video when distributed across devices.

At castLabs, we also provide A/B forensic watermarking options together with our partner ContentArmor. Selecting the ideal watermarking technology depends on the individual needs and priorities of each use case.

Get in touch for a demo

Single-frame watermarking is set to strengthen the efforts against piracy and curve content leaks and IP theft beyond the media and entertainment industry. A tunable solution that delivers efficient results. Want to see it yourself? Get in touch with us at to arrange a live demo. You can also find us at IBC 2023 at booth #5.G55, where you’ll be able to test the solution.

Contact us

Whether it’s a script, dailies, or previews you’re aiming to protect, single-frame watermarking’s got you covered!

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Posted by

Jean Navarrete

Jean Navarrete
Digital Marketing Manager

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