With the latest Amped FIVE Update 21826, we introduced Fallback Procedures within Convert DVR. In this post, we detail all the options available to you.
As anybody working with CCTV evidence knows, there are thousands of proprietary video formats and variants. To preserve forensic integrity, the raw data must be analyzed and ‘cleaned’ before placing that data into a standard container for decoding.
Without cleaning, it is possible that any resulting video may have pixel errors, missing or duplicated frames, muxed video streams, or lack of audio and time files.
That is the main purpose of Convert DVR, a simple and easy tool to analyze, clean, separate, and output proprietary video into standard formats for forensic analysis.
Fallbacks now give you a powerful set of options to extend this process and attempt to find a ‘procedure’ that will result in visual information if standard conversion is unsuccessful, without the immediate need to send the file to support.
One of the most important additions in the latest Amped FIVE Update 21826 is the Adjust Timestamp filter. In this post, we look at its importance and go through all the adjustment types.
Timestamps are either supplied along with a video file or have to be extracted from a proprietary container during the cleaning and conversion process that happens within Amped FIVE. Timestamps relating to surveillance video are often wrong and/or incomplete, perhaps only displaying once per second. They may also display the same time for a series of frames.
To preserve forensic integrity, and allow various display options, we must complete any changes to this data within a new step, so welcome to the Adjust Timestamp filter! You now have the option of showing two timestamps: the original and the adjusted. There are many reasons why you may need to adjust a timestamp so let us take a look at this valuable new filter and then go through some scenarios.
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.
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.
Here we are again for another blog post update, this time for Amped Replay – the enhanced video player for frontline officers and investigators.
Before we get into what’s new, let us just look back for a moment. In the two years since Replay launched it has quickly become the go-to application for those early moments in a video investigation. Converting proprietary CCTV formats, finding an offender or incident, performing simple enhancements using science-based image processing filters, and then we have the easy annotation and tracking and magnifying. And we cannot forget the automated reporting. Officers now have a powerful but easy to use tool that enables them to perform general video and image tasks, improve media releases and expedite case files.
If you deal with video in cases, but multimedia is not your sole responsibility then Replay is for you. With these latest updates, we have made it even easier to use!
Let us go through each stage, starting with the Import tab, and see what’s new.
As many of you will know, CCTV and imagery from Video Surveillance Systems are notoriously difficult to manage as every manufacturer can do what they want to their video. We have simplified this challenge by including the powerful Amped Conversion Engine directly into Amped Replay. When you import a proprietary file it is analyzed and made playable behind the scenes. This is a lossless process, conforming to international standards for forensic video processing, and ensures that you are seeing the actual pixels recorded with nothing changed by the conversion process or the player’s presentation.
In this update, we have added 6 new extensions including the .G64A and .EZVP formats. More format variants have also been added including one for the popular .H264 format. A format variant is a change in structure to a format that we have supported in the past.
We have been working really hard on timestamps over the past few months and in this update, we have 7 new time formats.
If you want to learn more about the Amped Conversion Engine, why not take a look at this recent article on Forensic Focus.
The first thing you will notice with the playback stage is some new information at the bottom.
We have added the pixel dimensions here, and this information will change if you alter the size of your video or image. So, if you start with a video of 944 x 1080, but you adjust the aspect ratio to 16:9, you will see the pixel dimensions change to 1920 x 1080. It will always display the size that you will export at, and this information will always be visible regardless of the stage that you are in. Being aware of the final pixel size of your video is important: for example, if you export a video with a resolution above 1920×1080, expect it to be downscaled when played on most devices to fit the display resolution.
Then we added two buttons next to the speed slider to help you either increase or decrease the Frames Per Second (FPS). You can now either drag the slider, hover over it and use your mouse or click the +/- buttons.
This is where we have added Smart Processing. What is Smart Processing we hear you ask? Well, Replay will analyze what you are starting with and if that analysis identifies that certain filters should be applied then we automatically apply them for you. Nothing will be done without the user selecting an enhancement process though and you can still override them if required. It’s also worth noting that whatever is selected will be documented fully in the report.
You can see in the image below that we have a strange ‘squished’ video and we have our mouse over the Correct filter group.
As soon as Correct and Auto are selected, the new Smart Processing option will be applied.
Amped Replay has identified that the image must be line doubled to increase the vertical size. You will also notice that the image size at the bottom has also changed to the new size.
In this next example, we have lots of jagged edges in our video.
By selecting Correct, Replay will analyze the video and detect that it requires Deinterlacing.
The Correct filter group deals with analog to digital problems and the new Auto option does a great job in quickly identifying what the problem is and fixing it correctly for you.
We have also added an Auto option to the Aspect Ratio filter group. For this, let us go back to the 944 x 1080 video we looked at earlier.
Rather than squished wide, this is squished thin and it just doesn’t look right. Using the new Smart Processing within Aspect Ratio the image will be adjusted correctly.
You can now see that we have the correct image presentation size.
Video can be captured, encoded, and stored very differently from how it should be presented. Identifying differences in storage and presentation is the key to our new Auto functions. Presenting incorrect footage in the media or in court can cause recognition problems or raise challenging questions. This new functionality has been developed to help those users with limited video knowledge avoid these issues.
For those users that know a little bit about forensic image and video analysis, it is worth pointing out that we do not use the metadata to conduct these changes. Metadata can often be wrong. Analog to digital CCTV recordings are rarely tagged to be displayed at 4:3 aspect ratio. Interlaced video is often stored incorrectly. The Smart Processing in Amped Replay has been built after analyzing hundreds of cases and is a major step forward in simplifying the decisions that investigators need to make in presenting visual evidence correctly.
A few small changes have been made to the Annotate tab after user feedback. We start with the Canvas Extension option.
This is now OFF by default. To better understand how this works, and why the behavior has been changed, look at this frame from a video where I have followed the track to outside of the frame. Tracking is one of the most used features in Amped Replay.
When I export the video or frame, I will not retain the part of the circle in the checkerboarded area. My video size will stay the same and the red circle will move outside of my video. This is what I want to happen.
There are times though that you will want to enable the Canvas Extension. Look at this image and note the size at the bottom.
Now, let us use Magnify:
Even though we have dragged our box out of the image area, the size of our image has not changed. It is still 632 x 940. If we exported this frame or video, half of the magnified area would be cut off. If you see the black and white checkerboard, and you want to keep the annotations, just remember to go to the options and select Extend Canvas. You can then select what color you want it to be.
Next, we have Padding within the Text Tool.
When using the text annotation, you now have the ability to pad the text borders. It is a very simple little change but really smartens up your overlays to ensure that the text is not right on the edge of your graphic.
Within the Export Actions, we have the addition of more options within the report.
You will now find a checkbox to Include Bookmarks in the Report.
Whenever you create a report, either on its own or while exporting processed multimedia, the bookmark thumbnails and any associated description will be included.
You will also notice that all annotations are now included.
The reporting options now make it easy for users to comply with multimedia processing regulations as everything is documented. What you watched, what you did, and what you have exported.
Last, and by no means least, we have the hidden admin file, used when Amped Replay is installed on a police network. This document gives a huge amount of customization power to IT Support Units.
We have now added admin controlled selection of the Hash algorithm used in Replay and documented it in the reports.
You can learn more about the admin-settings.ini file in this Tip Tuesday.
With all the automatic processing, the power of annotation, and now full detailed reporting, Amped Replay really does make it easy for the front line to deal with video and images.
Fixed a bug that stopped JPEG2000 images from being loaded.
Fixed a bug that caused incorrect frame index in interlaced video.
Fixed a bug where annotations were set incorrectly in deinterlaced video.
Fixed a bug that caused annotations to spin during keyframing.
Fixed a bug that presented incorrect frame numbers in the report if Deinterlace was used.
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 Replay. If you need to renew your SMS plan, please contact us or one of our authorized distributors. And remember that you can always manage your license and requests from the customer support portal.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 FIVEProgram 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.