Category Archives: Training

Extracting Channels

If you’ve attended one of my classes or lectures, you’ve likely heard me say the following phrase many times, “There’s what you know, and there’s what you can prove.” The essence of this statement forms the basis of the Criminal Justice system as well as science.

What I “know” is subject to bias. What I “know” is found in the realm of truth. As a Kansas City Chiefs supporter, I “know” that the Oakland Raiders are a horrible team. I “know” that their fans are the worst in the world. After all, the Chiefs are the best and their fans are as pure as the wind-driven snow. This is “true” to me. Whilst funny and used to illustrate a point (I’m sure there are some really great people among the Raiders fan base), truths are things we “know.” Truths are rooted deep in feelings/emotions and unlikely to be changed by facts. There is a segment of the US population that believes it true that Elvis is still alive and that he’s likely hanging out on some Caribbean island with Tupac and Biggy Smalls.

Facts are measurable; they form the basis of tests of reliability. I can measure the temperature in a specific location and you, standing in the same location, can perform the same test and come to the same measurement. Supported by facts, our tests in this discipline become reliable, repeatable, and reproducible. Our conclusions can thus be trusted.

What on earth does this all have to do with Amped FIVE and Forensic Multimedia Analysis? I’m glad you asked.

By now, you’re well familiar with the fact that Amped Software operationalizes tools out of image science, math, statistics, etc. We also operationalize tools and training out of the world of psychology. By this I mean if we’re going to work in the visual world, we must know how that visual world operates not only from a mechanical standpoint but also from how the brain processes the inputs from its collection devices.

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Using Snapshots in your Project

The ability to save a frame as a “Snapshot” has been a feature in Amped FIVE for quite some time. A simplified explanation of the use of Snapshots in interacting with third-party programs can be found here.

Today, I want to expand a bit on the use of Snapshots in your processing of video files.

There are often times that users have been asked to produce a BOLO flyer of multiple subjects and problems with the video file complicate the fulfillment of the request.

  • The subjects aren’t looking towards the camera at the same time / within the same frame.
  • There’s only one good frame of video to work with and you need to crop out multiple subjects.

Enter the Snapshot tool.

The Snapshot tool, on the Player Panel, saves the snapshot of the currently displayed image (frame) and its relative project.

When you Right Click on the button, a menu pops up.

The post linked above talks about working with the listed third-party tools. In this case, we’ll save the frame out, selecting a file type and manually enter an appropriate file name.

We can choose from a variety of file types. In most cases, analysts will choose a lossless format like TIFF.

The results, saved to the working folder, are the frame of video as a TIFF and its relative project file (.afp).

Working in this way, analysts can quickly and easily work with frames of interest separate from the video file. The same frame can be added to the project several times, repeated as necessary (in the case of cropping multiple subjects and objects from the same frame).

Amped FIVE is an amazingly flexible tool. The Snapshot tool, found in the Player Panel, provides yet another way to move frames of interest out of your project as files, or out to a third-party tool.

If you’d like more information about our tools and training options, contact us today.

Working Scientifically?

On Tuesday, May 22, I will be in Providence (RI, USA) at the Annual IACP Technology Conference to present a lecture. The topic, “Proprietary Video Files— The Science of Processing the Digital Crime Scene” is rather timely. Many years ago,  the US Federal Government responded to the NAS Report with the creation of the Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science (OSAC). I happen to be a founding member of that group and currently serve as the Video Task Group chairperson within the Video / Imaging Technology and Analysis Subcommittee (VITAL). If one was to attempt to distill the reason for the creation of the OSAC and its on-going mission, it would be this: we were horrible at science, let’s fix that.

Since the founding of the OSAC, each Subcommittee has been busy collecting guidelines and best practices documents, refining them, and moving them to a “standards publishing body.” For Forensic Multimedia Analysis, that standards publishing body is the ASTM. The difference between a guideline / best practice and a standard is that the former tend towards generic helpful hints whilst the latter are specific and enforceable must do’s. In an accredited laboratory, if there is a standard practice for your discipline you must follow it. In your testimonial experience, you may be asked about the existence of standards and if your work conforms to them. As an example, in section 4 of ASTM 2825-12, it notes the requirement that your reporting of your work should act as a sort of recipe such that another analyst can reproduce your work. Whether used as bench notes, or included within your formal report, the reporting in Amped FIVE fully complies with this guidance. There is a standard out there, and we follow it.

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Learn to accurately determine measurements from CCTV at the OFVAA Annual Training Event

The Ontario Forensic Video Analysts’ Association (OFVAA) is holding its 6th Annual Training Event from April 30 – May 4, 2018, at the DoubleTree Fallsview Resort & Spa by Hilton in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

The full week of training will focus on “Forensic Still Image Photogrammetry” and will cover a range of topics around height analysis from surveillance video and still images with practical hands-on training by field experts including Amped Software’s David Spreadborough. Students will perform and validate scientific height analysis using multiple methods including Reverse Projection, Laser Scanning, Computer Image Creation, and also Measure 3d in Amped FIVE.

This event provides a unique opportunity to use all these techniques to identify each one’s ideal use scenario, in order for officers and analysts to use the right technique in the right scenario, cutting costs and time.

For more information visit: http://www.ofvaa.com/training

What’s the Difference?

It was a slow week on one of the most active mailing lists in our field. Then, Friday came along and a list member asked the following question:

If I exported two copies of the same frame from some digital video as stills. Then slightly changed one. Something as small as changing one pixel by a single RBG value….so it is technically different…

… Does anyone know any software that could look at both images and then produce a third image that is designed to highlight the differences? In this case it would be one pixel …

To which, my colleague in the UK (Spready) quickly replied – Amped FIVE’s Video Mixer set to Absolute Difference. Ding! Ding! Ding! We have the winning answer! Let’s take a look at how to set up the examination, as well as what the results look like.

I’ve loaded an image into Amped FIVE twice. In the second instance of the file within the project, I’ve made a small local adjustment with the Levels filter. You can see the results of the adjustment in the above image.

With the images loaded and one of them adjusted, the Video Mixer, found in the Link filter group, is used to facilitate the difference examination.

On the Inputs tab of the Video Mixer’s Filter Settings, the First Input is set to the original image. The Second Input is set to the modified image, pointing to the Levels adjustment.

On the Blend tab of the Video Mixer’s Filter Settings, set the Mode to Absolute Difference.

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Learning & Development

I’m at Schiphol again!

For those unaware, this is the airport in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

I’m often here as I use this airport as a layover for many international flights when I can’t get one from my local airport in the UK.

This time though I have stayed here, in the Netherlands, delivering more Amped FIVE training.

It’s an easy airport to find a quiet spot to type!

I haven’t been able to blog as much as I would like over the past few months as I have been running many different training sessions and workshops. During these, I have noticed an emerging trend but never made the connection until this week.

To lay the foundations for this subject, let’s look at how a large law enforcement agency or a country made up with smaller agencies are commonly organised. I know there are many, many configurations but you should get the picture!!

First, we have a Regional Police Force.

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The Flexibility of the Add Text Filter

If you’ve wondered at the filters in the Extract Filter group and asked yourself, what are these for, you’re not alone. Depending on your specific use case with Amped FIVE, there are likely a few filters for which you have no use in your current context. Others, you may use in a very specific way each time – but others may use them differently.

Thus it is that I encountered a request for a feature that’s been in Amped FIVE for quite some time. I’ve responded to the request with details on how to accomplish the task. Now, I’ll expand on the question and share a more detailed look at an often overlooked filter – Add Text. (click on the images to see the full-res versions)

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Training – We also come to you!

Many of you will have seen the recent Amped Training schedule, detailing some of the training events at our HQ in Trieste, Italy, and also at the Henderson training facility in the USA.

As we mentioned, we also come to you… and this is important in a number of ways.

Forensic Video Analysis and the enhancement of Digital Images and Video, is a relatively small sector in Forensic Science. However, the input, (the amount of product being acquired), and the output, (the amount of images and video presented as evidence), is huge.

As a result, those people doing the job are very, very busy people… but if you are one of those people – you don’t need us to tell you that!

At Amped Software, we understand this. That’s why, whenever possible – we will come to you… wherever you are!

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New Amped Training schedule. Book your seat now!

We provide complete hands-on training courses on the use of our products at our Amped Software Training Labs in Italy and in the USA. For some countries, we can also arrange for in-house training at your organization. The purpose of the Amped Software training is to:

  • Provide students with the theory and the basics of image processing
  • Understand different issues affecting images and videos in an investigative context
  • Acquire an in-depth knowledge of all product features
  • Work effectively on real cases and be able to testify on the results

Below is a list of some of the next scheduled classes. For more details and to register for any of these classes please click here.

Upcoming Classes

Amped FIVE

January 24-26, 2017 / Henderson, NV, USA
Instructor: Jim Hoerricks

February 27-March 01, 2017 / Henderson, NV, USA
Instructor: Jim Hoerricks

March 02-03, 2017 / Henderson, NV, USA
Instructor: Jim Hoerricks

March 14-17, 2017 / Trieste, Italy
Instructor: Stefano Bianchi

March 27-29, 2017 / Garland (TX) Police Department, USA
Instructor: Jim Hoerricks Continue reading