Category Archives: FIVE

Trim, Crop and Watch Processing Time Drop!

Digital videos are constantly getting more and more bulky. Nowadays it is not uncommon to work on CCTV footage with resolution above Full-HD, sometimes even 4k. Unfortunately, this huge gain in resolution is often frustrated by extremely aggressive compression (at the end of the day, the video must fit into a DVR hard drive). And there is one more collateral effect of working with hi-res videos: the processing time increases.

Even if you are running Amped FIVE on a powerful computer, you may experience a significant slow-down when applying some filters to your footage. Remember that Amped FIVE processes your video in “live mode”: all filters in the chain are applied on-the-fly, and the result is rendered on the screen. If you feel the video is not playing fast enough, today’s Tuesday Tip is here to help you!

 

Our suggestion is to focus your analysis on the portion of footage that really matters, both in time and space.

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Amped FIVE Update 12727: Timeline, Multiview, HEIC support and more

With the new year comes a new update to Amped FIVE with some exciting new features and a couple of brand new filters!

Timeline

If one of your regular tasks is producing video for presentation purposes, you’ll be excited to know that there is now the option in Amped FIVE to combine multiple video chains together in our new Timeline filter, found under the Link group of filters.

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Static & Dynamic Tracking: never miss your object(ive)!

Probably, Tip Tuesday aficionados have already understood the trend: we’re alternating tips for FIVE and Authenticate every week. Well… it is true. And it is intentional!

Today we’re showing you some tips about tracking in Amped FIVE. Tracking an object is a basic, yet non trivial operation lying underneath a lot of Amped FIVE filters. You may want to track an object for annotation purposes, e.g. for having a red circle to follow the circled object as it moves. More frequently, you will be using tracking as a part of Local Stabilization, that is used to keep your object of interest static, so that you are able to view it better and effectively average its pixels over multiple frames.

Regardless of the goal, good tracking is essential to the success of your processing. That is why Amped FIVE features several different ways to track your object of interest:

  • Manual tracking
  • Static tracking
  • Dynamic tracking
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Amped FIVE Customization

Did you know the Amped FIVE interface can be customized to fit your preferences? Perhaps you have two monitors and want to adjust the panels, or prefer a darker application theme? No problem!

My personal preference is to use this layout, with the “darker” theme, as I tend to use only one monitor when using FIVE, but if you do want to re-organize the interface so it is more suited to your work style, each of the panels within the user interface can be moved or hidden from view.

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2018 LEVA DME Training Symposium – Amped Review

Hi everyone, great to be back writing a quick blog post on here. We are SO busy here at Amped with so much going on… but I do like to chat with you all when I can. 

This year’s LEVA event was in San Antonio, Texas.

What a place! If you ever get the chance to get down there, it’s a wonderful city.  

During the event, I held a 12-hour workshop on using Amped FIVE. Many people had received some training before, but some were new users, and some didn’t even have the software yet. That’s one of the many things I love about FIVE — it’s so quick to get using, once you understand the interface. 

The workshop concentrated on task and question orientated workflows —  how to complete a desired task, and how to answer a specific question. The magic of FIVE is that you can do multiples of these in a single project. 

No need to reformat or transcode in one piece of software, then edit images in another, then process video in one more. Keeping things simple means a much quicker result and that’s what we are here — to help you with getting results!

We looked at many functions and filters so I thought I would give a rundown here. It may help as a review to those who attended or be of interest to all you guys out there who may have missed a blog post over the past few years. 

Please note though that workshops like these allow you to see just some specific features of Amped FIVE — you really should attend the official Amped FIVE training to learn about all the possibilities in FIVE. Check the schedule here.

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Perspective Stabilization and Perspective Super Resolution

In our latest update to Amped FIVE, you’ll find two new filters that work together to stabilize and enhance video with an object that has some change in perspective as it moves: Perspective Stabilization and Perspective Super Resolution.

Let’s take a look at how they work!

You can also watch the two filters in action in our latest video found here:

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Amped FIVE Update 12076: Automatic Perspective Stabilization for License Plates and much more!

The festive season is on its way, but Team Amped are here with an early gift! We have another update to Amped FIVE and this time it’s huge!

Perspective Stabilization and Perspective Super Resolution

We’ve now created two new filters that work together to stabilize and enhance video that includes an object with a change in perspective as it moves. The most common scenario for this is the need to enhance the license plate of a moving car filmed by a static CCTV. While it has been possible to correct perspective issues since early versions of Amped FIVE using Perspective Registration, this could often be very time consuming and not always easy. With the Perspective Stabilization this step has now been basically automated. Of course, Perspective Registration is still there for you for the extra-difficult cases and for manual selection.

We’ve dedicated an entire post to Perspective Stabilization and Perspective Super Resolution which will be published in the next few days.

Replace Channel

Another new filter! Replace Channel replaces one color channel with another. It’s found under the Channels filter set.

Replace Channel converts the image into another selected color space and replaces one of the channels with another. Let’s take this image, for instance:

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Video Evidence: Handle with Care

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 colour or light, crop out unwanted parts, or trim the end of a video. It’s then a simple click on the share button to immediately have that sent to friends or family via a messaging app or social media. 

Some of the new simplicities afforded to us can, unfortunately, cloud ones’ judgement when dealing with images and video for legal use.  Why do it one way, when it’s so much easier to do it another, perhaps quicker way?

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. Mr Mohammed Islam was earlier convicted at Flintshire Magistrates Court, where a CCTV image of a vehicle, alleged to be his, was used as evidence. After analysis and enhancement, it was proved not to be his vehicle and his conviction quashed. Mr Islam’s lawyer, Adam Antoszkiw, later stated the crucial evidence was not properly examined because of financial constraints.

Multimedia evidence, especially CCTV or low-quality mobile phone footage must be handled with care. 

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Getting the Result

As a Certified Forensic Video Analyst, one of the hardest calls is stating that nothing can be done. I cannot recover that face, that logo, or that license plate.

I have written many articles, and spoken at conferences, about the challenges with CCTV video evidence, so getting a result from poor footage can be immensely satisfying.

So, what is required then to get the result?

The planets of Evidence, Tool and Competency all need to be aligned.

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Using Enhanced Images in Court

I recently testified in court as a forensic image and video expert and, as is sometimes the case, the use of some filters to enhance images was questioned. As I have written before, there is some processing that should be entirely avoided, since it lacks accuracy and repeatability. For example, we should avoid techniques which add new information relying on data obtained by a training set, or techniques which have a random component.

Some years ago, there was a school of thought that said, only classical image processing techniques available for the analog photography can be applied to digital photography in the forensic context. What are the risks of applying the wrong processing? We are not interested in having a “pleasant” image, we are concerned about extracting information from it. The risks of wrong processing are:

  • Removing existing information: for example, removing the grain in a dark image can remove also important details.
  • Adding new information: for example, creating or amplifying image artifacts which may be misinterpreted as a real detail.

In this reasoning, we are not referring to details at the pixel level, but at the image semantic content. In general, if I resize an image, I add a lot of new pixels but if the processing is correct I am not adding any new relevant information.

It’s important to understand that most of the image processing techniques present a compromise: I enhance something at the expense of damaging something else. For example, if I lighten an image to show better a dark part, it’s very likely to lose details in the parts of the image that are already bright enough.

For this reason, it’s very difficult, in general, to say which techniques are good and which techniques are bad. Their applicability must be related to the specific case and the parameters used. Filters are just tools, and as such, they can be used in the right way, obtaining better images, or in the wrong way, damaging the image quality or presenting wrong information.

Because of this, it’s important not to blindly apply different enhancement and restoration filters, but to apply them in order to correct a specific defect. Similarly, the tuning of their parameters must be consistent with the amount of defect I want to correct. Abusing the filters can create images which are much worse than the original.

It is therefore important, as I’ve said many times, to work with experts who have specific experience in the forensic image and video analysis field. Who know what to do, and how to identify what has been done incorrectly.

A lot of pressure may be put on the processing done by the experts, but most people ignore that there are many other processing and possible issues happening during the image acquisition and visualization phases.

A lot of processing happens in the camera itself, from CCTV to smartphones. Unless raw image pictures are used, and this is very rare, the value of the pixels in an image are hugely dependent on the processing and encoding which automatically happens inside the device to obtain the ratio between image quality and technical limitations that the producer wished to obtain.

And then, even to simply visualize the image, there’s a lot going on under the hood. Different software can decode the image in a slightly different way which can enormously impact the final result, and a lot of image processing happens on the graphics card of the PC, on the screen, or on a projector. Just play with the brightness of the projector to realize how much the visible information in an image can be impacted by such simple tuning.

There is then the most critical part of the processing: our eyes and our brain. Different people see and want to see different things in the same image. Analyzing things in an objective and unbiased way is often very difficult unless you can measure things numerically. And in fact, avoiding and limiting the various types of biases are one of the most important aspects of forensic science currently studied.

This article, written by Martino Jerian, was originally published in Lawyer Monthly magazine. Click here for the published article.