New feature: open some proprietary DVR or corrupted video files in Amped Five

Here at Amped Software, we are always trying to make things faster and easier for our busy customers.

Anyone that is qualified to be a Forensic Video Analyst knows how much of a PITA (pardon my French) are proprietary codecs.

How often did you spend hours trying to get the right player just to view that there was nothing to recover in the video? Often, if you were able to do something, it took much less time than looking for the proper player or converter and getting it to work.

Earlier this year we introduced our uncompressed DVR Screen Capture tool, which allows an Amped Five user to grab the screen content while playing a proprietary video file for an immediate analysis in Five, without any loss of quality from the original proprietary player.

Working on this, and with some video files, we discovered another interesting fact. What we call a proprietary codec is quite often nothing less than an hidden version of a standard codec just put in a different video container.

A brief note about the difference between video container and video codec:

  • The video codec is the compression scheme used for a video stream (h264, divx, mpeg2…)
  • The video container defines the layout of encoded data in video file and is closely related to the file extensions (avi, mov, mp4…)

Basically, a video container may support different codecs, and the same codec may be supported by different container. Yes, it’s a mess, I know (but I’m a science nerd – I live for this stuff!).

Getting back to our point, we discovered that we are able to change the container of a proprietary video file to avi and without any transcoding (meaning loss of quality) and then able to open it in Five with our standard video engines. It works only with some proprietary formats, I dare say in roughly 20-30% of cases, but in those situations this can really saves a lot of time and headaches.

The new tool can be accessed by the menu File / DVR Change Container to Avi…

By the way, it also works to fix some corrupt or broken avi files that are also a common headache.

But it doesn’t finish here. We’ve worked hard to create a video decoding engine able to precisely seek frame by frame; which can be another problem with proprietary codec files. This can help with the amount of different and often non-standard compliant video formats where the frame rate is unstable. In these type of files, where the codec has bugs or is mildly corrupted (like many el cheapo DVR brands seem to produce) the seek may have major issues or won’t work at all.

We thus added a new tool, right under the previous, which you can access by File / DVR Convert to Uncompressed Avi…

This tool works in a similar way to the previous one, but converts any supported format to a raw uncompressed avi. This means that the output video file will be decoded very easily by any software with no need for any codec, and the frame-by-frame seek will be always perfect.

Be careful, because saving an uncompressed video file will often create huge files that will take massive amounts of storage space on drives, even several GB per minute. I told you it wasn’t easy; but we try to make it easier.

In order to check out our last tools you just need to update your Five installation (your support and maintenance subscription must be active – if it is not, contact us).

As someone says: enjoy!