Welcome, Tip Tuesday lovers! Those of you who are creatures of habit will be shocked: for the first time, we’re dedicating a tip to Amped DVRConv! For those who don’t know, DVRConv is Amped’s solution to the obnoxious problem of unplayable CCTV video files. It shares the powerful video conversion engine featured in Amped FIVE, so we have been asked from time to time “why should we get DVRConv if we already have Amped FIVE?”. This week’s tip tries to answer this question.Continue reading
We’re here with another update for Amped DVRConv, one of the fastest ways to cleanly convert multiple video files.
Amped DVRConv remains one of the top go-to tools for practitioners who need to convert video quickly, cleanly and easily. It’s my first choice when I have a large amount of video files that I need playable – I simply drag and drop my files into Amped DVRConv and it does the work for me in the background, while I am free to work on other processing!
It’s also great if you are out in the field and need to convert video on the go, ready for when you return to the lab for input into Amped FIVE or to pass onto colleagues or other agencies. The great thing is, the original files are always preserved and log files created with each conversion, meaning your original video evidence is always kept secure.
We know how many different standard and proprietary video formats are out there and how frustrating it can be to come across a new format that you just can’t seem to do anything with.
For this reason, we are constantly working to add support for more formats that you send to us and in this update, we’ve done just that!
Yes, you heard correctly – we’re here with yet another update! We’ve added some highly sought-after features to Amped DVRConv, the fastest and easiest way to convert proprietary video formats.
Settings Lock Down Option
Sometimes system administrators need to lock down the settings of Amped DVRConv in order to avoid having users modify the settings accidentally, which could disrupt the workflow of the lab; for example setting a conversion to transcode instead of stream copy. Now it is possible to protect these settings, allowing only system administrators to modify them!
Some of the new simplicities afforded to us can, unfortunately, cloud ones’ judgement when dealing with images and video for legal use.
Technology has, in most parts, made things incredibly easy. Take the example of photographs and video. We all now love to quickly snap a memory or record some footage of an event. We can adjust the
Some of the new simplicities afforded to us can, unfortunately, cloud ones’
In late 2016, at the conclusion of a trial in Nottingham Crown Court, for four men involved in the murder of Aqib Mazhar, Judge Rafferty stated, “there must never be another case in this country where those analysing CCTV don’t have the best equipment.” The quote stems from the fact that it wasn’t until the trial had started that video material was properly reviewed and that significantly changed the weight of the evidence.
Whether it is CCTV evidence, mobile phone video or a sequence of images, the software used to review that evidence can alter the viewer’s interpretation. It could be that the player drops or misses frames. The player could present the video too dark, or too light. The player could change the shape and size of the image or video, resulting in objects appearing smaller or larger. Many surveillance system players alter the image to make it look better, even though that is not what was originally recorded – scary, but true.
In 2015, a conviction of Indecent Assault was overturned at the Court of Appeal.
Multimedia evidence, especially CCTV or low-quality mobile phone footage must be handled with care.
We’ve released another update for Amped DVRConv, one of the fastest ways to cleanly convert video. It is also the simplest; a clean installation tool that allows anyone who works with digital video to drag and drop proprietary video evidence in order to achieve a standard playable file – cutting out the hours, or even days, it takes to locate a proprietary player. Drag and drop – it’s that easy! With DVRConv, alongside Amped FIVE and Amped Authenticate, your workflow from scene to laboratory is completely covered and together they provide great weapons in your forensic video and image analysis arsenal!
Let’s say you regularly process video evidence and, like a lot of technicians and analysts, you are tasked with retrieving video from a scene at a location other than your lab or office. Retrieving CCTV from DVRs at scene can often be laborious, fraught with difficulty and a lot of the time the scenes are a fair distance away from your usual office. One of the most important steps during the recovery of CCTV evidence is checking to see if the download has been successful, which means playback of what is more likely to be proprietary video at scene using only a laptop and your recovery tools.
Saving time at a video recovery scene is crucial and it’s a nightmare having to trawl through hundreds of proprietary players, some of which won’t work on your current operating system or might have different versions of the same type of player. The conversion engine in Amped FIVE would be ideal, but you want something more portable to add to the tools on your retrieval laptop. This is where DVRConv steps in to quickly convert and playback your downloaded files in an easily customisable and cleanly installed package!
Utilising exactly the same conversion engine as FIVE but with twice the portability, you can not only playback and confirm your video files at scene, but have them ready for clarification and enhancement in FIVE for when you return to the office or lab. Logs are provided for disclosure and the original files are left untouched, maintaining the continuity of your video evidence from the beginning.
In our most recent update of Amped DVRConv, we added the ability to separate the audio and video streams in your DME files – to save the audio as a separate file. For some, this functionality went unnoticed. For others, it was a huge deal.
Two very specific use cases required this functionality. You asked. We delivered.
Case #1 – Child Exploitation/Human Trafficking
Agencies responsible for investigating cases of child exploitation/human trafficking were spending a lot of time redacting video files (blurring faces and other sensitive information) in order to send files off for audio transcription. The distribution of files in child exploitation cases (files that can be considered child pornography) for transcription is now made a lot easier with DVRConv. All of the evidentiary videos can be loaded into the tool and processed without having to view the footage. DVRConv helps to dramatically speed up the process of getting files to transcription whilst protecting identities and shielding staff from the harmful psychological and legal effects of viewing/distributing such material.
Case #2 – Police Generated Video
Agencies that have deployed body worn/vehicle-based cameras or have interview room recorders often have to send the resulting video files to outside companies for transcription. Like the case above, they are faced with having to redact the visual information prior to releasing the files to their contractor. Even if the agency has chosen a CJIS compliant transcription contractor, they may have agency policies that require the redaction of the visual information prior to release. DVRConv eliminates the need to perform a visual redaction ahead of such a release of files. Having this ability is already saving agencies a tremendous amount of time/money.
Users of DVRConv do not require specialized training. The tool can be used by anyone. It’s drag-drop easy. Plus, the settings can be configured so that the resulting audio file meets the requirements of your transcription vendor.
Today we released an update to Amped DVRConv, the easiest way to convert videos from proprietary DVR formats.
We have been working on this update for some time and a few users have received beta updates in order to support formats that were urgently required. During this period we have re-engineered a good part of the architecture to improve stability, speed and format compatibility.
A crime occurs and is “witnessed” by a digital CCTV system. The files that your investigation wants/needs are in the system’s recording device (DVR). What do you do to get them? Do you seize the entire DVR as evidence (“bag and tag”)? Do you try to access the recorder through its user interface and download/export/save the files to USB stick/drive or other removable media?
Answer: it depends.
There are times when you’d want to seize the DVR. Perhaps 5% of cases will present a situation where having the DVR in the lab is necessary:
- Arsons/fires can turn a DVR into a bunch of melted down parts. You’re obviously not going to power up a melted DVR.
- An analysis that tests how the DVR performs and creates files. For example, does the frame timing represent the actual elapsed time or how the DVR fit that time into its container? Such tests of reliability will require access to the DVR throughout the legal process.
- Content analysis questions where there’s a difference of opinion between object/artifact. For example, is it a white sticker on the back of a car or an artifact of compression (random bit of noise)?
If you’re taking a DVR from a location, you can follow the guidance of the computer forensics world on handling the DVR (which is a computer) and properly removing it from the scene.
We work in the field of forensic video analysis, which is generally intended as the analysis of the images themselves and their context in a legal setting. For this reason, our customers often ask us if our products are valid for court use and if they have been validated and certified. We have written this post as an answer to the most common questions related to this topic.
You can also download this as a PDF document here.
What are the scientific foundations of Amped Software products?
All the processes implemented in our software follow the principles of scientific methodology. Any process follows these basic principles:
- Accuracy (Reliability): our tools and training program help users avoid processing errors caused by the implementation of an inappropriate tool or workflow and help mitigate the impact of human factors / bias.
- Repeatability: the same process, executed by the same user at a different time, must lead to the same result. The project format in Amped FIVE, for example, does not save any image data. Every time a project is reopened, all the processing happens again starting from the original data. In the event that a project file is lost or as a part of a validation or other test scenario, the same user can repeat the steps and settings, guided by the tool’s report, and achieve the same results.
- Reproducibility: another user with the proper competency, should be able to reproduce the same results. Amped FIVE generates a complete report detailing all the steps of the processing, the settings / parameters applied, a description of the algorithms employed in the processing and the scientific references for those algorithms (when applicable). In this way, another user, with a different tool set or by implementing the same algorithms, should be able to reproduce the same results. Given the huge number of implementation details and possible differences, it is not expected to produce a bit by bit copy of the results, but only to produce an image of similar informative content.
Additionally, we apply strict due diligence on the applicability of the algorithms for the forensic environment. Not every algorithm is, in fact, properly applicable in a forensic science setting. We cannot use algorithms which have a random component because they would not be reproducible and repeatable (when we do, we set a fixed seed for the random number generation) and we cannot use algorithms which “add” external data to the original, for example improving the quality of a face with information added from an average face. All information is derived from the actual evidence file.
We employ algorithms which have been validated by the scientific community through peer review, such as university textbooks, scientific publications, or conference papers. If for some specific task, there are not good enough algorithms available or we need to adapt existing algorithms, we describe the algorithm and attempt to publish them in scientific journals. Continue reading