We really enjoy hearing from our users. We want to learn about your challenges so that we can try to help you find solutions for those challenges, and we really like getting to know you on a more personal level, learning about your interests and hobbies. If you want to share your story with us, get in touch!
Blaine Davison, from the Norman PD, has been an enthusiastic user for many years. As a former President and board member of LEVA, he strove to advance the science and practice of video forensics for all of North America. Colleagues in the forensics community have often mentioned his name, referring to him as someone who is able to get really amazing results on hard cases with Amped FIVE. He’s one of those users who is able to take advantage of the full workflow of Amped FIVE: from conversion of video formats, to enhancement, analysis, and presentation.Martino Jerian, Amped Software CEO and Founder
Blaine, tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background and your current role at the Norman, Oklahoma Police Department?
I’m currently a Detective, Forensic Video Analyst and Digital Evidence Administrator for the Norman, Oklahoma Police Department. I originally studied Communications and Technical Journalism while at University and worked for a year as a reporter for the ABC affiliate station in Rapid City, South Dakota after graduating. I then relocated to Oklahoma and started working “temporarily” as a 911 Operator for the local Sheriff’s Department thinking at some point, I would resume working in television news. I’m proud to say that “temporary” position turned into a twenty-five-year law enforcement career.
What made you decide to enter the field of multimedia forensics?
After several years as a uniformed patrol officer at Norman PD, I aspired to become a Detective. I’d gone through the detective selection boards and was on the short list to be assigned to the investigations division when the video analyst at the time took a similar position in the private sector. Because of my previous work and experience in television, I was selected to replace the outgoing video analyst.
What would you say are the biggest challenges with multimedia digital evidence and investigating crimes?
I think the biggest challenges with DME and criminal investigations pertain mainly to reliable playback and display of proprietary multimedia files. Nearly every type of multimedia file collected by an analyst is in a proprietary file format and may be encoded (written) using a codec that makes it very difficult in some instances to convert or transcode those files in a codec or format that allows for reliable playback. Equally as important as the ability to reliably convert a multimedia file is the ability to properly display that file so that it accurately represents the scene that was captured. In many instances, the pixel matrix of a multimedia file may be set to display an aspect ratio that appears very different to the scene as it was originally recorded. Luckily for forensic multimedia analysts, the tools we have at our disposal are getting better and better to help us address both challenges.
In your opinion, how important is it that digital forensic techniques and tools are based on the scientific method?
The ACE-VR scientific methodology is the foundation for digital multimedia forensics. It’s the method by which DME analysts are trained and when correctly followed, assures repeatable and reproducible results that meet admissibility challenges in courts around the world. I think establishing digital forensic techniques and having tools available that are based on the ACE-VR methodology is absolutely essential to assure not only the integrity of the analysts’ work but of the science of digital multimedia forensics as a whole. I’ve seen examples of tools and results generated from those tools that aren’t based on the ACE-VR methodology. In those examples, it’s easy to make the argument digital multimedia evidence can easily be altered to show whatever results help prove a particular point, which in turn would lend itself to digital multimedia forensics being referred to as “junk science”. That’s something all DME analysts want to avoid at all costs.
Why do you think that it is so important that forensic image and video analysts be properly trained?
Proper training for forensic video and image analysis is a crucial element in helping to set the foundation for digital multimedia analysis as a forensic science. Just as it’s important for an analyst to be trained in the ACE-VR methodology, it’s equally as important for that analyst to be properly trained in one or more tools or solutions to assist them in applying ACE-VR to their workflow. It’s vital an analyst be properly trained not only on what process they apply to a video or image and why, but how to actually apply that process within the solution or toolset they’re using. Proper training on both the “why” and “how” for an analyst will help prevent their evidence from being excluded when it gets to the courtroom.
How do you think the world of image and video forensics will change over the next few years?
I think we’ll continue to see more and more proprietary video formats utilize a common encoding standard, like h.264 which will in turn, make it easier for analysts to convert those proprietary video files into an open source format. I also think we’ll see an increased use of newer encoding algorithm’s like (HEVC) h.265, and in cloud solutions for delivery of video to and from owners to analysts to prosecutors. I also think surveillance video will be analyzed and reliably interpreted in a way to help determine things (vehicle speed for instance) that it hasn’t yet been to this point. The tools and solutions analysts use will continue to evolve to aid in determining factors and answering questions with video they haven’t been able to before.
How did you learn about Amped Software?
I was introduced to Amped Software by a colleague in 2011. I was immediately interested in one software solution to handle most of the analysis and clarification process I routinely did that normally took three software solutions. I received my first license for Amped FIVE in 2012 and used it for some very basic processes, but didn’t take advantage of all its capabilities. I received my first training on FIVE in 2014 and have used it exclusively to process well over 1200 cases since.
Do you have any interesting story or success case related to Amped Software products?
During an Amped FIVE training session in San Antonio, Texas last year, instructor David Spreadborough was demonstrating the new features of the Perspective Registration filter. He gave the class a video from a case in the United Kingdom which he was trying to identify a logo on the side of a vehicle. He challenged the class to use the Perspective Registration filter to do so. I was able to apply the filter in a way that helped produce a shape and a few letters within the logo. Another class attendee who was from the UK, was able to identify the city the video was recorded in and that the vehicle appeared to be one commonly used by civil engineering firms. Internet research of civil engineering firms in that particular city in the UK led to the positive identification of the logo David was asked to determine. It’s a great example of how with a collaborative effort and several perspectives on how to apply a particular filter, a tool like Amped FIVE can produce some truly amazing results!
When you are not busy looking at digital evidence, what do you like doing in your spare time?
When I’m not looking at digital evidence, I’m an avid golfer and enjoy fishing and traveling.