Brilliant Details: Learn How to Use Amped FIVE’s Macros to Add Adaptive Text to Your Frames and Make Compelling Videos

Reading time: 5 min

Dear Amped blog habitués, welcome to this week’s tip! In Italy, we have a saying that goes like this: “Anche l’occhio vuole la sua parte”. It basically means that “you should also please the eye”, as a way to say that the outer aspect of something is, all in all, pretty important. Translated for the forensic image and video enhancement world, it means you should invest in presenting your results, otherwise, even a brilliant piece of work could remain unexpressed. This tip shows how to annotate the results obtained in Amped FIVE with text macros, adding a lot to the usability and professional-feeling of your videos.

The presentation of results is a key step in the forensic workflow. Proper presentation ensures that your audience understands what they are seeing and what you did. The way you present your results can also make it easier or harder for your audience to formulate questions. Want a very trivial example? If you add page numbers to your printed reports, one can easily ask you “why did you say so and so on page 37?” Making the same question without page numbers is, of course, possible, but less friendly. (Before you ask, yes: PDF reports generated with Amped FIVE have page numbers!).

The above consideration remains true when dealing with videos. With Amped FIVE, it’s very easy to add customized text annotations to your videos. Just head to the Presentation filter category, and then click on the Add Text filter. You’ll see the filter gets added to the chain, and its Filter Settings panel will automatically appear:

Needless to say, you should type the text in the Text: panel. You can then customize the font type, size, and color clicking on the Set Font button. By default, no background color is applied. You can enable it by clicking on the Background Shape dropdown menu:

If you choose Text, the background rectangle will automatically adapt to fit the text size, while choosing Selection allows you to manually drag the background rectangle. Here is an example of my favorite combination (yellow on black):

Okay, that was easy… but following our “add page numbers in the report” directive, now we may like to add details about which video we’re looking at (e.g., adding the filename) and which frame is displayed at every moment. Of course, while we may manually type the filename, that’s infeasible for the frame number! That’s why Amped FIVE features the macros. Do you see that Add Macro dropdown menu? Let’s click on it and see what it proposes…

I still remember how I felt the first time I clicked on it, it was like “YES! YES! YESSSS!”. Just what I hoped for! Let’s just click on the File Name (No Path) entry: we see that “$FILENAME” gets simply added to the text. And then let’s do it again with Position in Frames. This is how our Text box looks like now:

Let’s manually add some additional text, and here’s what we have in less than 30 seconds:

Lovely, isn’t it? Of course, the Filename and Frame Position are just basic macros. You can add timestamps (if available from the video container, or you add them manually), and other time-related information as well. By using the Date Format and Time Format menus, you can customize how time and date should be formatted (e.g. 2020-02-25 vs 25-02-2020, and so on).

Keep in mind that the Add Text filter is a… filter, so it sits in the chain and “sees” the video as it is at that point of the chain. That means, if you resized the video at some prior point in the chain, then the Image Width macro will print the current resized resolution, not the video’s original one. If you want to print the original resolution, simply make sure that the Add Text filter is placed before the Resize filter.

There are a couple of macros, however, that makes an exception to this rule. You see, you can choose between Position in Frames and Original Position in Frames (and the same for “time” in place of “frames”). These come in handy when you have to use a Range Selector or any other filter from the Select Frame category. It’s better explained with an example: let’s add a Range Selector filter to the example shown above, where we take out the first 50 frames of the video.

Now, the same frame that was number 53 in the original video, is now displayed as frame number 3 because we dropped the first 50 frames before the Add Text filter.

Mmm… it makes sense, but what if we wanted to show the original frame number? That’s what the Original Position in Frames macro serves for! Let’s simply add it, here’s what we have:

Adding text with macros is especially beneficial when you’re going to combine several chains into a single video with the Multiview or Video Mixer filters since you can add information that explicates “which video is which” even when they’re shown combined together.

If you were not using macros before reading this tip, I’m sure you will begin doing that now: they’re just so quick and useful! And now that I think about it… adding context to your videos using Amped FIVE is probably easier than adding page numbers in most text editing programs!

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