Author Archives: David Spreadborough

Amped DVRConv Update 20711: Important New Formats and Codecs

Format and codec conversion is a huge part of any video lab’s workload. Day after day, there is a requirement to extract video data from proprietary formats and perhaps convert files for playback in standard players. Although seamlessly integrated into all our video applications, having this video conversion ability as a stand-alone product can dramatically speed up triage and batch processing. That’s exactly where Amped DVRConv fits in.

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Amped FIVE Update 20532: Introducing Variable Motion Deblurring, Freeze Frame, Annotation Keyframing and Much, Much More

We never rest here at Amped Software and this latest update to Amped FIVE has several popular user requests and important changes. Let us get straight down to business and see the new and exciting developments that will make your life easier when investigating images and video.

Variable Motion Deblurring

Most users will know how powerful Motion Deblurring is. The ability to correct a linear blur on an object that is moving past a camera enables you to bring the pixels back together again. It’s quick and easy on a single image but what happens when it’s on a video and the blur changes with every frame due to the position of the object you are attempting to restore? Well, it used to be a long process, now not anymore!

Variable Motion Deblurring allows you to add blur parameters on a frame-by-frame basis, making changes to size, angle, and thickness.

Here we have the filter settings for 3 frames of a vehicle caught on CCTV.

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Amped Replay Update 19677: Keyframing, Dynamic Text Size and Enhanced Reporting

Here we are again with another update to Amped Replay, the CCTV converter and video player designed for today’s investigators. Image and video annotation is one of Replay’s key features so we have concentrated our efforts here to increase the tools’ simplicity and speed.

Let’s take a closer look!

Keyframing

Giving users various tracking methods, from manual to assisted, allows full flexibility when moving objects around the video area to hide, spotlight, or mark a vehicle or person.

With this update, we have introduced full keyframing, with size and location interpolation. Those people who have used video editors before may be aware of keyframing, but for those who have not, I’ll explain.

Adding a keyframe to an annotation, like a circle or an arrow, stores the parameters for that object at that frame. The parameters stored are the size and the location. A user can then add another keyframe at another frame and the object will automatically interpolate between this and the previous keyframe.

The benefit of this is that a user may only have to add 3-4 keyframes to track an object instead of frame by frame.

Keyframes can be added by the right-click options on the annotation or by utilizing the shortcut key ‘U’.

When this is activated you will also visualize a keyframe marker in the top left of the annotation.

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DVRConv Update 18959: New Formats, New Codec Variations and Increased Date and Time Decoding

With the simplicity of drag and drop conversion, it is no surprise that Amped DVRConv is used by so many labs to conduct quick and easy conversion for viewing and triage. Using the same powerful decoding, cleaning and conversion engine that powers Amped Replay and Amped FIVE, this standalone tool can be a powerhouse to prepare files for analysis in a streamlined forensic workflow.

Before we get down to the details of what is included in this update, we will take a more in-depth look at the workflow of DVRConv. Let’s first take a quick look at the initial setup to remind ourselves of the interface before going into more detail.

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Amped FIVE Update 18800: Introducing Chain Folders, Assisted Annotation Tracking and Protected PDF Reports

We are super excited about this new update to Amped FIVE that brings great new things to the History panel, the Annotate filter and to the Generate Report feature. So, let’s get to it and dive straight in.

Chain Folders

At Amped we strive to make our powerful software as user-friendly as possible. A clean and uncluttered workspace is paramount in ensuring that everything is easily made available to the user. With cases now involving multiple sources and files, we wanted to bring this approach to the History panel with the addition of Folders.

When you start Amped FIVE, you will now see a New Folder option in the History panel.

This gives you the immediate ability to set up your project, ready for loading your files.

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What is the Frame Rate?

This follows on very nicely from my previous post, ‘Where Is the Rest of the Video?’, where we had to analyze video metadata in order to answer questions about missing footage. In the case here, we have some discrepancies with the frame rate. Let us take a closer look.

The first thing to point out is that I have recently changed one of the Amped FIVE Program Options and I thought it was worthy of an initial mention.

I am coming across many more CCTV files with audio streams. Now, I am not saying that they all have noise, but they do have a stream. As such, I have changed my video engine default to FFMS with Audio.

This engine is now the default on new installations. However, if you have updated from a previous version, the old settings are retained.

Upon loading the video into Amped FIVE, I can see from the File Info tool that an audio stream has been detected, but the waveform envelope in the Player bar is empty.

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Where Is the Rest of the Video?

Video investigators often receive files with little or no information surrounding the source, acquisition or handling. The files are often created by people with little knowledge of the legal requirements of data type and continuity. These issues, and quite a few others, all impact on the initial investigation as discrepancies can cause major problems further along in a case.

Let’s look at this file for example…

All images with sensitive data have been redacted.

Upon viewing in Windows, the thumbnail and extension are shown, and hovering over the thumbnail reveals further information.

I am being told that it’s a Windows Media Video, it’s just under 4Gb and has a length of just under 27hrs.

The CCTV request for footage did detail a time duration of 27hrs so it all looks good so far.

As the title of this blog post is, “Where Is the Rest of the Video?”, you just know that things are going to go wrong!

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The Power of Projects in Amped FIVE

Hi all, it’s been a while! I’ve missed you!!

I am currently going through the last few years of Amped FIVE training and it has highlighted several useful points that I want to pass on. All the points can get wrapped up neatly under one word: Workflow! And where does this get used the most? In our Amped FIVE projects.

A workflow is a repeatable pattern of activity and processes through which work passes from initiation to completion. Having workflows is a core requirement of any Forensic Image and Video Unit (FVIU), ensuring that the quality of work is maintained through standard operating procedures. The challenge for FVIUs, though, is that they are starting with a non-standard product; with every case, video and frame being different. Therefore, any workflow set for a technician or analyst must be dynamic, placing the importance on their competency to select the right tool, method and/or process to complete the objective.

Let us say that two analysts are requested to complete the same tasks – to locate a vehicle in CCTV footage, enhance the license plate and then create a small video clip for use within a legal system.

Analyst No.1 starts by copying the data from a media exhibit and then uses the tool they know best to quickly screen capture the video within its dedicated video playback software. This creates a new ‘working’ video file. This can be imported easily into the court presentation software, which creates another file for presentation. The analyst uses the working file to create several still images. They do this by utilizing another piece of software, and then they import those still images into image editing software. Attempts are made to conduct restoration and enhancement but with no success.

Analyst No.1 has used six different pieces of software and has created several files, that will all need to be saved and documented. Although they have completed the tasks, the workflow is complicated, the integrity of the exhibits could be questioned, and the processes used have caused a loss in the visual information that resulted in the enhancement being unsuccessful.  

How about analyst No.2?

They use Amped FIVE (of course). With FIVE’s ability to control everything from ingest, through file analysis and into the restoration process, a trained user is much more likely to avoid many workflow problems and get the results they require.

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2018 LEVA DME Training Symposium – Amped Review

Hi everyone, great to be back writing a quick blog post on here. We are SO busy here at Amped with so much going on… but I do like to chat with you all when I can. 

This year’s LEVA event was in San Antonio, Texas.

What a place! If you ever get the chance to get down there, it’s a wonderful city.  

During the event, I held a 12-hour workshop on using Amped FIVE. Many people had received some training before, but some were new users, and some didn’t even have the software yet. That’s one of the many things I love about FIVE — it’s so quick to get using, once you understand the interface. 

The workshop concentrated on task and question orientated workflows —  how to complete a desired task, and how to answer a specific question. The magic of FIVE is that you can do multiples of these in a single project. 

No need to reformat or transcode in one piece of software, then edit images in another, then process video in one more. Keeping things simple means a much quicker result and that’s what we are here — to help you with getting results!

We looked at many functions and filters so I thought I would give a rundown here. It may help as a review to those who attended or be of interest to all you guys out there who may have missed a blog post over the past few years. 

Please note though that workshops like these allow you to see just some specific features of Amped FIVE — you really should attend the official Amped FIVE training to learn about all the possibilities in FIVE. Check the schedule here.

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Getting the Result

As a Certified Forensic Video Analyst, one of the hardest calls is stating that nothing can be done. I cannot recover that face, that logo, or that license plate.

I have written many articles, and spoken at conferences, about the challenges with CCTV video evidence, so getting a result from poor footage can be immensely satisfying.

So, what is required then to get the result?

The planets of Evidence, Tool and Competency all need to be aligned.

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