Monthly Archives: March 2016

Another Week of Terror

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Last week was a pretty awful one. More than 30 people were killed, and hundreds were wounded in Brussels, Belgium. And on Easter in Lahore, Pakistan, more than 70 people were killed and, again, hundreds were injured. There were also many children involved since the latter was carried out in a park.

The media exhaustively covered these events, because of the big numbers involved. But, unfortunately, these incidents are just a part of the horrible events which happen on a daily base. Some minor coverage has been given to the attacks in Iraq and Yemen, but not a word on many others.

If you go to this Wikipedia page, and you count the terror attacks which happened after Brussels (10 days ago, from today) you will see that there are 31 and dozens of other people have been killed.

Our prayers are with all the people killed in Brussels, Lahore and all the other places affected by this plague. Our prayers are with their families and for the people. Our prayers are for ourselves too, since we never know where the next attack will occur.

As a company, we strive to help law enforcement, intelligence agencies and all other organizations that fight crime and terror. Pictures and videos are a substantial part of the ongoing investigation and prevention of future happenings. As many of our users, friends and supporters know, we are always ready to help. If you need, you know where to find us. We will do our best.

 

Amped FIVE UK Demo Days

Over the past few months, in between delivering full courses in Amped FIVE, I have visited a number of UK Forces to assist them in getting a better understanding of the software.

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These have been very successful in getting people from different regions together to discuss general FVA topics and to see how the software can help them in their analysis and investigations.

“We have just had a most excellent FIVE demo day provided by Mr Spreadbourough and are very impressed with the product” – UK Force Imaging Unit Manager

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About the Amped-TASER deal: what changes for the users?

TL;DR: not much.Axon Taser

In light of the recent announcement of the partnership with TASER a lot of our customers have asked for more information about the deal.

It is as simple as this: TASER is now the exclusive source for our products in USA and Canada for law enforcement agencies (with cooperation also in other countries). For military, federal and other customers nothing changes. The same for our international customers.

TASER offers our products under the Axon brand with slightly different names.

There is no difference in features or user interaction between the different versions and the projects created with the Amped, or Axon branded products are 100% compatible.

At the core of the development and support we are still the same, but with a huge push in sales and company development that the critical mass of TASER and its awesome reputation brings.

Amped on YouTube

Sometimes it’s easier to see something than it is to read about it.

We have our own YouTube Channel that is a fantastic way to learn about the software and the functions of each application.

As the last nine months have seen some huge advances in the software, we thought the time was right to launch a new set of screencasts, with the first being a look at the Interface in Amped FIVE.

Head over to the channel today, and remember to subscribe so that you get notified immediately when new videos drop.

If you find that your software looks a little different, and you have an active support plan, you can update to the latest version of Amped FIVE by going into the menu “Help” > “Check for Updates Online”. If you need to renew your SMS plan please contact us or one of our authorized partners.

 

 

Aspect Ratio – Understanding the Information and Using the Filter

Our initial post on the subject of Aspect Ratio correction detailed the complexities surrounding how an image should be displayed, and the importance of understanding how our digital data has been created. This post will go into the information reported by Amped FIVE and how to use that information to make any necessary adjustments.

Let’s have a recap!

SAR Storage Aspect Ratio: Width by height ratio of the encoded digital video (calculated simply by dividing the width by the height of the actual stored frame).

SAR Sample Aspect Ratio: Width by height ratio of the pixels with respect to the original source. (Information, if available, that is stored within Mpeg4 streams).

DAR Display Aspect Ratio: Width by height ratio of the data as it is supposed to be displayed (information, if available, that is stored within the file or calculated using other values).

PAR: Pixel Aspect Ratio Width by height ratio of the pixels with respect to the original source (like Sample Aspect ratio, but calculated dividing DAR by Storage Aspect ratio).

It’s unfortunate that we have to define two different definitions for the same “SAR” acronym. Different standards and pieces of software use the same acronym, often without explicitly saying if it’s Storage Aspect Ratio or Sample Aspect Ratio.

How are these values displayed and calculated in Amped FIVE?

First up, we have the Quick Info Tool:

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Introduction to Aspect Ratio

In the recent Amped FIVE Update (7620), there were a number of enhancements all concerned with the Aspect Ratio of a digital image and the pixels that make up that image. In this series of posts, I will endeavor to simplify this subject with the aid of the new filters and features in Amped FIVE.

When developing Amped FIVE, a huge importance is placed on user flexibility. Can it do simple things quickly? Can it utilize advanced filters and algorithms? Can a user grow with the software to conduct higher level analysis and enhancement techniques as their skill level increases?

As a result, there are very few places where a user is restricted from performing a certain technique or applying a specific parameter. It is up to the user, based on their image assessment and the task required, to establish a process and then complete that process using the software.

During the implementation of the Aspect Ratio Filter, this user flexibility ethos was considered and, quite rightly, maintained.

You decide what ‘Output Aspect Ratio’ to apply. You decide how to rescale and what Interpolation method to use. It is up to you, the user, to utilize all the presented information and perform a process, based on that information.

It is, therefore, important to understand the complexities of Aspect Ratio and why the filter works in the way it does.

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Video Redaction in Amped FIVE

Preparing video for dissemination often requires that certain elements be hidden from the viewer. This is especially true with the increasing adoption of body-worn cameras. In this short post, I am going to highlight some of the filters that can be used, along with processing options, to make the job of video redaction much easier, quicker and most importantly, evidentially transparent.

To ensure integrity, I always begin by applying a hash algorithm value to my loaded video.

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Authenticating Social Media Images

This is the first in a series of posts on use cases for our products done by Jim Hoerricks. In this post, we’ll see the issues on authenticating images from social media.

As a general rule, there are three basic ways of authenticating an image prior to trial. The first way involves the photographer attesting to the image’s authenticity. The second way requires someone depicted in the image to say that, “yes, that’s me and that’s the scene as I remember it.” The third way gets a bit more complicated. The third way brings in a third-party to authenticate the image. It is hoped that this third-party authenticator’s findings are grounded in science and solid methods. Sadly, this is not often the case.

The scientific authentication of images that are taken directly from a camera are complex enough. But when the image is uploaded to social media, the images are changed. This change shows up in many freeware programs – like the one depicted to the right – as a warning that the image is processed or edited. Many unskilled technicians use a report like this as a basis to declare an image not authentic. This can cause problems in court. Continue reading

Digging out the processing history of an image with the Correlation Plot

In the recent post detailing the latest release of Amped Authenticate, 7644, we highlighted the new functionality included in the Correlation Plot.

When it comes to investigating a digital image, it is fundamental to understand as much as possible about its processing history. The more we know about the digital history of the image, the better we can design our way towards authentication. For example, we can properly choose which filters make sense to use and which not. Not only that, we may also find that some processing was carried that seriously undermine the integrity of the image, or gather evidence supporting authenticity of the image.

The Correlation Plot is a powerful tool in Amped Authenticate for detecting traces left by many different processing operations. It has been part of Authenticate for some time, but we recently worked hard to make its output easier to interpret and understand.

Before looking at the enhancements, what does the correlation plot do?

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The Correlation Plot, with some new additions!

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