Amped FIVE Update 21826: Adjust Timestamp, Time Calculator, PTS Playback, Advanced Conversion Procedures, and Much More

Hi again everyone, and welcome to another HUGE Amped FIVE update. So huge, that we have decided to cover the new developments across three posts. This is an overview, and you will find links to separate pages on the new Timestamp Adjustment filter, and the new Fallback Procedures within Convert DVR.

Over the past 6 months, we have been working hard looking at timing information, and how we can help you in your analysis and presentation of this vital element in multimedia investigation. As a consequence, this update focuses heavily on the subject and you will identify that several of these new developments work and interact with each other.

We have a lot to get through and time is of the essence here so let’s move on quickly and take a look at the new developments.

Load Timestamp

When a video is loaded, and an associated timestamp is identified, we automatically load that file at the same time using the Load Timestamp filter (automatic loading of timestamp files can be controlled under Program Options). However, from this update, we now conduct a prior analysis of the timestamp file and warn you if there are inconsistencies between the frame count and timestamp values.

If you have conducted a batch conversion, or have extracted multiple streams from a proprietary CCTV container, you may have several files with different timestamps. As a consequence, when multiple files have conflicting timestamps, you will have the option of examining the files and then ignoring all further warnings if you are happy to proceed and understand what is required.

As you may read from this, we have a new filter that allows for timestamp adjustments and we will introduce you to that shortly!

In the Filter Settings panel for Load Timestamp, you will see a new button: ‘Open Timestamp in Default Text Editor‘.

This button does what it says, and opens the timestamp file in your default text editor. Having different values between the frame count and timestamps is not always something to worry about as it’s actually quite common. Inspecting the file can help you identify what further processing may be required depending on your task.

There is no need to edit the timestamp file here. To preserve the integrity and maintain a forensic workflow, the new Adjust Timestamp filter can take control of any adjustments needed.

Time Calculator

To further assist you in preparation for your timestamp adjustments, we have a fantastic new tool: the Time Calculator.

This tool works in a number of ways, depending on what information you have.
If you enter two time values and then click on Calculate, you will receive a duration or difference between those values.
If you have a single time and a known offset, you can calculate a second time. This offset can either be added or subtracted using the + or – buttons.

You can copy the timestamp directly from the Player Panel by simply right clicking the displayed value above the playhead bar.

All of the calculated values within the tool can be copied to the clipboard so they are immediately available for use within the new Adjust Timestamp filter or the Change Frame Rate filter. You can even copy/paste between chains!

We have also added a third function within this tool!
If you only have the milliseconds (MS) value, such as that identified within the Advanced File Info tool, you can enter a zero time in Time 1, and then the MS value, to convert this into Hours, Minutes, and Seconds. Pretty cool!

This tool is not only useful during the analysis process, but remember you can also use it whilst on a scene conducting a CCTV recovery, ensuring you are recovering the date and time parameters required.
For added functionality, all calculations can be copied and pasted into the Notes Tool.

Adjust Timestamp

After the analysis of a timestamp, or using the Time Calculator, you may have to adjust the visible timestamp.

Along with the common formatting and display options, all adjustment types are managed in separate tabs:

  • Shift: Change the timestamp according to time-offset or international timezone
  • Interpolate: Add missing Timestamps
  • Refine: Increase the precision of the displayed Timestamp

It is an extremely powerful filter and we have dedicated a separate post to dive deeper into all the options.

Learn more about the Adjust Timestamp here.

Add Text

Now that we have all of these new time functions, we can also give you some new time macros within the Add Text filter.

Macros are a fantastic time-saver in presenting certain file information within your video or image.

As an example, let us look at this chain:

The Load Timestamp is the Original Date and the Original Time.
$ORIGINALDATE
$ORIGINALTIME

The Adjust Timestamp will now give us the Date and Time.
$DATE
$TIME

In both of the filters, there is a ‘Disable Rendering’ option, which turns off the visual display of the data within that filter.

Then, by using the Macros within the Add Text filter, we can pick up the data from the previous time filters and place it within text information.

It is important to note the position of the Add Text filter within a filter chain. If you use this filter and then complete a frame selection task such as Remove Frames, you will retain the original, true information. On the other hand, if you use Add Text to display information about the time or PTS after certain frame tasks, then this information may not be available or incorrect.
Filter order, as always, is extremely important within a forensic environment.

Macros are also available from the Annotate filter within the Add Text tool.

Add Timestamp

The Add Timestamp filter is required when timing information is visible or known, but not able to be used or processed. Perhaps it is hard encoded onto the video in pixels, or it is only shown in an encrypted proprietary player.

The first tab stays the same with options for setting two timestamps at known frame references.

The timestamp values throughout the video will then be calculated based on the information entered.

We have now created a new List tab. This works a little differently and interacts, if necessary, with the new Adjust Timestamp filter.

You are now able to input single or multiple known timestamps, and then interpolate the missing values with the new Adjust Timestamp filter.

As is always the case in the Amped FIVE forensic workflow, it is easy to then report on what known values have been entered, and what values have been adjusted or interpolated.

Finally, we have added some more formatting tools to allow for the background color to be added to the text or selected area.

Timeline

The Timeline filter allows you to concatenate a series of chains together into a single chain. You can select at what point in the chain you require.

We have added a new button, ‘Add All’, to allow you to quickly select the last filter in every chain.

The last filter in all chains is the Add Text filter. By clicking ‘Add All’, the chains will all be added at that stage. So quick and easy!

Annotate

The Annotate filter has had some small tweaks on usability. Firstly, all the tools now have a ‘Render Flattened’ button.

When editing an annotation you are seeing a much higher resolution representation of the graphic as you are editing on screen. By flattening the annotation, you will see it as it would be output within the video or image. You can always go back to editing by selecting it with your mouse.

Next, we have a change to default behavior. Within the Annotate Options, you have the ability to extend the image canvas. This is now off by default.

Remember, canvas extension allows for the output video to extend dynamically if the annotation exceeds the original video frame. When tracking, you may want to move an annotation out of the video frame (if a suspect walks out of view, etc). However, you usually do not need to visualize the object beyond the edge of the frame. If you do, you can turn this back on, or also use the Frame Size filter prior to annotating.

Remember also, the Add Text Macros that we mentioned earlier, these are also available from the Text Annotation tool!

Player Panel

As we have learned, there are various ways that we can control the speed of the video. For this update, with all the new timing functionality, we have developed a new playback control, ‘PTS Playback’. This is enabled through a right-click of the play button and selecting, PTS-based Playback.

Average FPS Playback stays the same. If you have a file with 1208 frames and the timing in the file indicates a duration, then a frame rate can be calculated. If the result is 14.953 frames per second then each frame will progress evenly with a duration of approx 0.066ms.

PTS-based Playback allows for more accurate timing if the file has a PTS controlled, variable frame rate.

In the image below, we have used Add Timestamp to put in the first known time value presented by the proprietary player and then have this displayed at the top of the (redacted) video. We have interpolated the subsequent values using the Adjust Timestamp filter based on the PTS. Under this we have used the Add Text filter with macros, to display relevant information. This now matches to the millisecond, what the player was presenting.

Changing our playback control to PTS-based, our timecode display now refers to the PTS information held within the file. So, if the PTS does not start at 0 (because it has been extracted directly from a larger stream on a DVR), then the value presented here will alter accordingly. It will also be converted from seconds to hours and minutes etc.
This time relates to the stream, not the CCTV’s ‘real’ time.

When playing back the file, it will playback according to the PTS Duration. If a frame is to be held for 120ms, it will be. If it is to be held for 0.040ms, it will be.

And then we have the Zoom factor!

This is a very small, but visually noticeable reminder within the Player Panel that what you are seeing may not be what you would export. You may be viewing image interpolation. Anything other than 100% will be displayed in RED.

Sequence Writer

A small addition to this filter, but a very handy one. We have added a new Image Filename parameter to the output images.


So now, when all your images are exported, the word that you have placed here will be used before the frame number.

Convert DVR

Convert DVR is probably the most powerful and used tool within Amped FIVE. Not only does it automatically give you immediate decoding options when you load a proprietary video file, but you have direct access to it from the File menu and also from within the Video Loader filter settings.

Do you want to convert or concatenate many files and leave the loading until later – Just access Convert DVR from the File Menu.
Already loaded the file, but it has index or playback problems? Just open it in Convert DVR directly from the loader and try a new container.

In this update of FIVE, we wish to introduce you to a new function in Convert DVR, which is Fallback Procedures.

Fallback procedures are exactly that; procedures to try if standard conversion fails. To hopefully give you visual, actionable information prior to submission to Amped Support. File analysis and the identification of correct cleaning methods come included with your active SMS plan. You also help others, ensuring that in the future, another investigator will not have to resort to fallbacks as it would then be included in the Amped Conversion Engine.

Learn more about Fallback Procedures in Convert DVR here.

Formats

With every update of Amped FIVE, you get new and updated format support!
By updating to this new revision of FIVE, you get decoding of 6 new video formats including the increasingly popular .bwv file format.

We have identified 3 new variants of already supported file formats and 2 new timestamps. Audio has not been left out, with a new audio format now being decoded directly within FIVE.

Do not forget; if you drop a file into FIVE, or have to use the fallback procedures for any reason, please use the Uploader within the support portal to send an example of the file type to us.
By working as a team we can all help others in the battle for direct proprietary video decoding.

Bugs

As always, we have worked hard to squish some bugs identified recently, including:

  • Add Timestamp: A bug that caused an error if the filter is moved within the filter chain whilst the video is playing.
  • Multiview: A bug that caused the audio envelope to fail if the input videos were reset.
  • Bookmarks: A bug that caused a failure of the bookmark when dragged from the History Panel.
  • Timeline: A bug that was creating two visualizations of any redacted areas.
  • Annotate: A bug that caused annotations to spin when keyframing (quite fun to watch, but not really appropriate for court!)

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.