Category Archives: CCTV/DVR formats

Amped DVRConv Update 17521: H.264 Quality Settings and New Formats

Today we bring you a new update to our powerful conversion software Amped DVRConv. Our development team continues to work diligently to ensure we can convert those proprietary videos you struggle to view.

In today’s update, we have added more formats that DVRConv can reliably convert for you as well as introducing H.264 quality settings which we have been recently rolling out to our other software packages.

H.264 Quality

In Update 16112 of Amped FIVE, we introduced the following quality settings for exporting H.264 video through the video writer:

  • 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

In today’s update, we have now enabled these quality settings within DVRConv.

To choose the quality settings for H.264, simply access the program options from the DVRConv interface and select your preferred option.

We continue to add new formats with every update and today’s update is no exception. Remember that you can always view the hundreds of formats we currently support and that we have recently added, by clicking on the Help button within DVRConv.

After clicking Help the Amped DVRConv Help manual will open, here you can view all the formats currently supported.

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 DVRConv. 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.

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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Try This at Home! Validation Is Important: Use These Datasets to Test Amped Solutions

Dear friends, welcome to this Tip Tuesday! It’s a rather anomalous one, indeed, since we’ll not show any trick about using a specific Amped solution as usual. But we’ll still provide you with a very good tip: we’ll guide you through some of the freely available datasets you can find online, that you can use to test and validate our Amped FIVE, Amped Authenticate, Amped Replay, and Amped DVRConv. Yes, you’ve read correctly! There is lots of data out there that you can use to make your own experiments and increase your confidence in our software reliability. Keep reading to find out.

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DVRConv Update 12801: Support for More New Formats, Format Variants and Timestamps

We’re here with another update for Amped DVRConv, one of the fastest ways to cleanly convert multiple video files.

Amped DVRConv remains one of the top go-to tools for practitioners who need to convert video quickly, cleanly and easily. It’s my first choice when I have a large amount of video files that I need playable – I simply drag and drop my files into Amped DVRConv and it does the work for me in the background, while I am free to work on other processing!

It’s also great if you are out in the field and need to convert video on the go, ready for when you return to the lab for input into Amped FIVE or to pass onto colleagues or other agencies. The great thing is, the original files are always preserved and log files created with each conversion, meaning your original video evidence is always kept secure.

We know how many different standard and proprietary video formats are out there and how frustrating it can be to come across a new format that you just can’t seem to do anything with.

For this reason, we are constantly working to add support for more formats that you send to us and in this update, we’ve done just that!

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Video Evidence: Handle with Care

Some of the new simplicities afforded to us can, unfortunately, cloud ones’ judgement when dealing with images and video for legal use.

Technology has, in most parts, made things incredibly easy. Take the example of photographs and video. We all now love to quickly snap a memory or record some footage of an event. We can adjust the colour or light, crop out unwanted parts, or trim the end of a video. It’s then a simple click on the share button to immediately have that sent to friends or family via a messaging app or social media. 

Some of the new simplicities afforded to us can, unfortunately, cloud ones’ judgement when dealing with images and video for legal use.  Why do it one way, when it’s so much easier to do it another, perhaps quicker way?

In late 2016, at the conclusion of a trial in Nottingham Crown Court, for four men involved in the murder of Aqib Mazhar, Judge Rafferty stated, “there must never be another case in this country where those analysing CCTV don’t have the best equipment.” The quote stems from the fact that it wasn’t until the trial had started that video material was properly reviewed and that significantly changed the weight of the evidence.

Whether it is CCTV evidence, mobile phone video or a sequence of images, the software used to review that evidence can alter the viewer’s interpretation. It could be that the player drops or misses frames. The player could present the video too dark, or too light. The player could change the shape and size of the image or video, resulting in objects appearing smaller or larger. Many surveillance system players alter the image to make it look better, even though that is not what was originally recorded – scary, but true.

In 2015, a conviction of Indecent Assault was overturned at the Court of Appeal. Mr Mohammed Islam was earlier convicted at Flintshire Magistrates Court, where a CCTV image of a vehicle, alleged to be his, was used as evidence. After analysis and enhancement, it was proved not to be his vehicle and his conviction quashed. Mr Islam’s lawyer, Adam Antoszkiw, later stated the crucial evidence was not properly examined because of financial constraints.

Multimedia evidence, especially CCTV or low-quality mobile phone footage must be handled with care. 

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DVRConv Update 11571: Multiplexed streams, timestamp extraction and more formats now supported

We’ve released another update for Amped DVRConv, one of the fastest ways to cleanly convert video. It is also the simplest; a clean installation tool that allows anyone who works with digital video to drag and drop proprietary video evidence in order to achieve a standard playable file – cutting out the hours, or even days, it takes to locate a proprietary player. Drag and drop – it’s that easy! With DVRConv, alongside Amped FIVE and Amped Authenticate, your workflow from scene to laboratory is completely covered and together they provide great weapons in your forensic video and image analysis arsenal!

Let’s say you regularly process video evidence and, like a lot of technicians and analysts, you are tasked with retrieving video from a scene at a location other than your lab or office. Retrieving CCTV from DVRs at scene can often be laborious, fraught with difficulty and a lot of the time the scenes are a fair distance away from your usual office. One of the most important steps during the recovery of CCTV evidence is checking to see if the download has been successful, which means playback of what is more likely to be proprietary video at scene using only a laptop and your recovery tools.

Saving time at a video recovery scene is crucial and it’s a nightmare having to trawl through hundreds of proprietary players, some of which won’t work on your current operating system or might have different versions of the same type of player. The conversion engine in Amped FIVE would be ideal, but you want something more portable to add to the tools on your retrieval laptop. This is where DVRConv steps in to quickly convert and playback your downloaded files in an easily customisable and cleanly installed package!

Utilising exactly the same conversion engine as FIVE but with twice the portability, you can not only playback and confirm your video files at scene, but have them ready for clarification and enhancement in FIVE for when you return to the office or lab.  Logs are provided for disclosure and the original files are left untouched, maintaining the continuity of your video evidence from the beginning.

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CCTV appeals: Don’t underestimate the importance of image quality

‘Caught on CCTV’ — how many times do we read or hear those words?

With cities worldwide sitting under the gaze of millions of public and private cameras, it is no wonder that in many cases, the best chances of identifying an offender starts with the image caught on CCTV.

But, the simple task of getting an image can sometimes be a challenge so it is no wonder that people look at the shortcut and simply take a picture of the CCTV monitor with their phone. It’s quick, simple and you immediately have an image.

This is great when recognition is time critical. The image of the ‘man in the hat’, the 2016 Belgium terror suspect, was first released after a snap of a CCTV screen. Then, a few days later, the forensically acquired evidential images were released.

When something is not time critical, then the correct acquisition of the original video will help immensely in any integrity or authentication issue. Not only that, but if any restoration or enhancement is required, then you will have a much better chance of image recovery.

Faces and vehicle licence plates are often requested for recovery. They have two matching characteristics – high detail. It is these high details that are lost when a piece of CCTV is captured incorrectly, snapped from a PC screen, re-recorded with the analogue video output, or obtained any other way that changes the original digital structure.

An added problem with some of these processes is that small details can change shape and become blended together. Letters and numbers on licence plates start to look like other digits.

It can be frustrating to use multiple pieces of software with a need to ensure no loss of quality during every stage. This obviously adds extra and unnecessary time to the workflow. Time that is extremely valuable in today’s policing environment.

A by-product of using Amped FIVE, the ‘all-in-one’ solution, is that investigative decisions can be actioned much faster. “Am I going to get something from that?” If the answer is no, then it’s time to move on. Spend the time on what is achievable and negate the impossible.

If there was not a correct acquisition of this original video, it may not have been possible to enhance the dark image to recover the details of the vehicle and license plate.

Licence plates usually stay within the policing world but faces, clothing configurations, and tattoos regularly end up in the press, social media, and within online galleries for recognition.

Therefore, it’s worth taking a bit of time with these to ensure the highest possible chance of some good intelligence. It can also avoid some embarrassment – reading through public comments on a few sites makes for painful reading due to the image posted being so bad!

Read the full article originally posted on Police Oracle.

Why investigating digital video is such a ‘huge pain in the proverbial’

With CCTV probably being the number one piece of digital evidence used in cases, many officers will have asked questions like, how do I get the footage; why is it not playing; or how can I get an image? It’s important therefore to understand why we have ended up here. Why digital video, specifically from the surveillance industry, is such a huge pain in the proverbial!

As computers and digital video started to creep into normality, the surveillance companies started to think of ways to say, and prove, that they were better than the other. One of the easiest ways to do this was to use a bespoke recording method and format, to suggest that it was better than the other. This is where it starts to go pear-shaped.

Very quickly we ended up with non-standard video files, requiring a player that could not install on a Force computer, with no method to interrogate, analyze, validate or process the evidence as required by the investigation.

It has been nearly 20 years since the start of Digital Video Recorders, and you will be glad to hear that things are improving. But, it is going to take a long time for many of these poor systems to get replaced by ones that are fit for purpose.

Read the full article published on Police Oracle.