We love chatting with our users. We are always interested to hear about your views on image and video forensics, what your challenges are, and just simply getting to know you! If you are interested in sharing your story with us, let us know.
Sotiris Pavlides has been an Amped user for many years. His toolbox of digital forensic software includes all Amped Software products. We’ve met many times at industry events and at the numerous Amped software training courses he’s attended. He is an expert user who believes in continuous training in order to be able to keep up with the pace of advancements in digital forensics and technology.
Sotiris, tell us what you are doing at the Cyprus Police.
I am the Head of Photographic and Graphic Lab, of the Cyprus Police Criminalistic Services. I have a Master’s Degree in Communication. Our lab activities include Crime Scene Photography, Forensic Photography, Image and Video Analysis and Enhancement, CCTV Retrieval and Analysis, Facial or Items Comparison, Image Authentication, and etc.
Why did you choose to work in the field of multimedia forensics?
I have always been interested in image and video processing, especially creating funny TV productions where everything can be done. When I joined the police force and started to work in the Photographic and Graphic Lab (it was around the year 2000) I had received the first case about video authentication. This is what made me start thinking about the field of multimedia from another perspective. The new challenge for me was not to know how to create or manipulate a video but to know how to look for traces to identify if a video was authentic or not. Even though it was for analog video, I found the entire procedure, analysis and investigation very interesting.
You’ve been in this role for quite a long time. What do you think are the biggest challenges with multimedia digital evidence and investigating crimes?
I think the biggest challenge is when you have to deal with massive video data coming from different DVRs. We are also faced with problems when we collect or retrieve the footage from these systems. For sure, this is not an easy procedure. Moreover, the video compression (artifacts, loss of details), low frame rates, and in general, the low quality of footage we get from these systems is a challenge.
What do you think are the main forensic challenges surrounding image validation?
I think that the main challenge are the images coming from the web or social networks.
Do you think it is important that digital forensic techniques and tools are based on the scientific method?
I think this is the most important thing. Working with tools that are based on proper methods means the user will get accurate results. If we don’t work according to proper science we risk that the results of an analysis may be incorrect and because of this we can convict an innocent person and let the guilty one free.
You and your entire team of forensic image and video analysts have attended quite a few of the Amped Software training courses. Why do you think it is so important to be properly and continually trained?
A doctor must be trained to be able to recognize what a patient is suffering from to then give him the right therapy. A forensic image and video analyst must be able to work in the same way. That means the video analyst must be well trained (and must always be up-to-date) to recognize what the problems are in an image and video and then use the appropriate tools or methods. If video analysts are not properly trained, their procedures could lead to incorrect results.
Do you see the world of image and video forensics changing over the next few years?
I think that there is already a dramatic change with the footage we receive every day. But I am afraid the data will continue to increase (more sources like body cameras, smartphones and of course higher resolutions). In addition, I think that the access to the data will also change. The traditional way of storage on the capture device will change to network storage which means it will not be easy to access and get the footage. One more thing, today we are also faced with more types of compressions and codecs and this continues to grow.
How did you learn about Amped Software?
While attending one of the ENFSI–DIWG (European Network of Forensic Science Institutes – Digital Imaging Working Group) meetings, I realized that many users in that group were using Amped Software products. When I learned more about the products, I decided to also purchase them for our lab.
So, tell us how you spend your time outside of the criminalistic lab?
I like bicycling and walking. I also enjoy reading magazines or news about technology.