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Amped FIVE Update 16112: Introducing the Audio Panel, Audio Redaction, H.264 Quality and More

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It’s time to introduce another update to Amped FIVE, our one-stop toolkit for all your video and image enhancement needs, and we’ve been working tirelessly behind the scenes to perfect our latest feature! Let’s dive right in…

The Audio Panel

Our user interface has a new look! Introducing the Audio Panel, allowing for the visualization of audio whilst simultaneously viewing your video files.

The Audio Panel is automatically enabled and can be found underneath the Player interface and can be disabled within the View menu.

A right click within the audio panel waveform will bring up the zoom menu, allowing for zooming into the waveform both horizontally and vertically in order to more clearly see peaks and gaps.

Clicking Hide will remove the Audio Panel, which can be re-enabled in the View menu.

Zooming into the audio track can also be achieved using several other methods:

  • Holding ‘ctrl’ enables zooming horizontally using the mouse
  • Holding ‘shift’ enables zooming vertically using the mouse

In both shortcuts, a left click or moving the mouse wheel upwards will zoom in and a right click or moving the mouse wheel downwards will zoom out.

Typically, the audio sampling frequency is so high that a sample-by-sample plot becomes unreadable at usual zoom levels – in this case, the ‘envelope’ plot is used instead and you’ll see this listed alongside the audio in the panel, as below.

The ‘envelope’ is the outer shape of a signal plot and, in our Audio Panel, is the root-mean-square (RMS) envelope, determined using a sliding window over multiple samples. This gives a measure of the power of the signal.

The view of the Actual Waveform can be seen above and will be indicated to the right side of the audio, showing how the Audio Panel and it’s zoom features can be utilized for more detailed work.

With the introduction of the Audio Panel, you’ll also find that audio is now supported by the Global Stabilization, Motion Smoothing, Block Difference, Image Aligner, Multiview and Timeline filters.

Now that we’ve introduced our Audio Panel, let’s take a look at our brand new filter that makes further use of this new audio feature.

Audio Redaction

Welcome to our brand new Audio Redaction filter! We’ve no doubt that a lot of you have been eagerly awaiting this feature in FIVE and we’re super excited to be able to finally share it with you!

Found under the Presentation filter set, Audio Redaction will allow you to edit any audio within your video files. In this example, I’ll be using car camera footage ‘.mov’ files including audio that I wish to censor, loaded into FIVE using the FFMS with Audio video engine.

First, let’s take a look at the new filter settings and parameters and how to use the new feature.

The timestamps of any removed audio will appear in the Redacted Intervals box. The waveform of my audio is immediately visible within the Audio Panel upon loading or selecting FFMS with Audio and I can now select which regions of the audio I wish to redact. To do this, hover the mouse over the waveform whilst holding the ‘alt’ key. You can now select the section of audio to censor, and the region will appear highlighted as below.

The default setting is for the selected region of audio to be silenced, however, this can be changed to three options of sinusoid sound should this better suit your presentation needs.

The Redaction Volume slider bar alters the volume of the redaction, measured in decibels, and you can adjust any required fade between the redaction and the audio using the Fade Length bar, measured in milliseconds. The arrow keys beside the numerical amount, either side of these filter parameters, allows for more accurate adjustments of Redaction Volume and Fade Length.

My full project with the redactions fully implemented (the highlighted sections of audio) can be seen above.

Our development and testing teams have worked hard to make sure that the Audio Panel and our Audio Redaction filter are intuitive, accurate and as perfect as they should be – we know how crucial it is for accurate redaction. We want to ensure that you can rely on FIVE for protecting sensitive audio information when presenting your video evidence, be it in the courtroom or in a more public social media environment.

Other New Features

Yes, it doesn’t stop there! We’ve added new features to the following filters:

Generate Report

When you generate a report, you’ll now find that the report folder is now named after the FIVE project name and you will now be asked for confirmation before overwriting a report folder.

Video Writer

You’ll now see the option for selecting the quality of a H.264 output file from three options when using the Video WriterDefault, High and Visually Lossless, allowing you to have more choice regarding quality when using this format within this filter.

Before we look at the differences of each setting, it’s worth first explaining what the H.264 Constant Rate Factor (CRF) is.

The CRF is the default quality and rate control setting. The encoder used within FIVE allows us to set a value between 0 and 51, where lower values would result in better quality, at the expense of higher file sizes. Higher values mean more compression, but at some point, you will notice the quality degradation.

As we must be very careful not to lose visual information, all of our settings use a CRF with a low value.

Starting with an uncompressed, 10sec, 30fps, 1280×720 video where the original file size was a huge 395mb:

  • The Default setting, using a CRF of 18, results in a file size of 837kb
  • The High setting, using a CRF of 12, results in a file size of 1.33mb
  • The Visually Lossless setting, using a CRF of 1, results in a file size of 2.6mb

This last setting is “Visually Lossless” and not “Lossless” because for compatibility reasons it introduces very small variations in pixel values, caused by chroma subsampling. The chroma subsampling is needed for compatibility – most players don’t support H.264 files without it.
You should test and review all the settings to make sure you’re aware of the differences and perhaps test the videos with any players that you regularly use within your workplace.

Hint:

  • Default = Good quality, high compatibility, low file size.
  • High = High quality, high compatibility, medium file size.
  • Visually Lossless = Best quality, high compatibility, high file size.

We have also been optimizing our encoding so you will see some considerable speed differences in the video writing process.

Video Input

When you use the Video Input feature to capture an external video input, you’ll now find that the Start Rec and Stop Rec buttons now provide visual feedback, in that Stop Rec will be disabled whilst recording is in progress.

Add Logo

You’ll now find a new parameter when using the Add Logo filter, namely Additional Transparency, allowing you to increase the transparency of your agency logo when adding it to your project.

Histogram Equalization

We’ve now added the option to ignore black pixels during the computation when using Histogram Equalization. Simply check the box for Ignore Black Pixels in the filter parameters to improve the filter’s effect on any images that contain a black border.

Measure 3D

You’ll now see the option to draw helper lines that follow a vanishing point in order to assist you when using Measure 3D to analyze a scene.

You can do this either manually by selecting which axis to use from the drop-down menu or automatically which will use the axis best aligned to the cursor position. The vanishing point remains active as long as the Helper Lines tab is visible.

Convert DVR

You’ll now see that an informative tooltip is shown when Conversion Type is automatically switched to Transcode (due to parameter combinations not applicable to Copy Stream) so you know exactly what is happening when you are using Convert DVR for your video files.

Tools Panel

When using the Histogram tool within the Tools Panel, you’ll now find that the Show Saturated Pixels option works also on grayscale images.

Bug Fixes

There’s always a few! We’ve worked on resolving bugs found in the following filters:

  • Video Loader – We’ve fixed a bug that was causing the parameter Color Range to be ignored by the engine FFMS with Audio.
  • Video Writer – A bug that was causing an error while writing high-resolution videos in H.264 (4K or better) has now been fixed, along with a bug that was introducing tiny amounts of hue when saving greyscale videos in H.264. We’ve also fixed a bug that was causing format “mkv – Raw Video” to generate an incorrect output.
  • Motion Smoothing – We’ve corrected a bug that was causing an excessive amount of smoothing effect to be applied.
  • Compare Original – We’ve solved the issue with a bug that was causing an error when a chain contains filters Resize, Crop and Compare Original.

This update is huge and there’s still a lot more to come from Amped FIVE in the future so, what are you waiting for?

Don’t Delay – Update Today

If you have an active support plan you can update straight away by going into the menu About > Check for Updates within Amped FIVE. If you need to renew your SMS plan, please contact us or one of our authorized partners. And remember that you can always manage your license and requests from the customer support portal.

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