Category Archives: How to

Using Snapshots in your Project

The ability to save a frame as a “Snapshot” has been a feature in Amped FIVE for quite some time. A simplified explanation of the use of Snapshots in interacting with third-party programs can be found here.

Today, I want to expand a bit on the use of Snapshots in your processing of video files.

There are often times that users have been asked to produce a BOLO flyer of multiple subjects and problems with the video file complicate the fulfillment of the request.

  • The subjects aren’t looking towards the camera at the same time / within the same frame.
  • There’s only one good frame of video to work with and you need to crop out multiple subjects.

Enter the Snapshot tool.

The Snapshot tool, on the Player Panel, saves the snapshot of the currently displayed image (frame) and its relative project.

When you Right Click on the button, a menu pops up.

The post linked above talks about working with the listed third-party tools. In this case, we’ll save the frame out, selecting a file type and manually enter an appropriate file name.

We can choose from a variety of file types. In most cases, analysts will choose a lossless format like TIFF.

The results, saved to the working folder, are the frame of video as a TIFF and its relative project file (.afp).

Working in this way, analysts can quickly and easily work with frames of interest separate from the video file. The same frame can be added to the project several times, repeated as necessary (in the case of cropping multiple subjects and objects from the same frame).

Amped FIVE is an amazingly flexible tool. The Snapshot tool, found in the Player Panel, provides yet another way to move frames of interest out of your project as files, or out to a third-party tool.

If you’d like more information about our tools and training options, contact us today.

Working Scientifically?

On Tuesday, May 22, I will be in Providence (RI, USA) at the Annual IACP Technology Conference to present a lecture. The topic, “Proprietary Video Files— The Science of Processing the Digital Crime Scene” is rather timely. Many years ago,  the US Federal Government responded to the NAS Report with the creation of the Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science (OSAC). I happen to be a founding member of that group and currently serve as the Video Task Group chairperson within the Video / Imaging Technology and Analysis Subcommittee (VITAL). If one was to attempt to distill the reason for the creation of the OSAC and its on-going mission, it would be this: we were horrible at science, let’s fix that.

Since the founding of the OSAC, each Subcommittee has been busy collecting guidelines and best practices documents, refining them, and moving them to a “standards publishing body.” For Forensic Multimedia Analysis, that standards publishing body is the ASTM. The difference between a guideline / best practice and a standard is that the former tend towards generic helpful hints whilst the latter are specific and enforceable must do’s. In an accredited laboratory, if there is a standard practice for your discipline you must follow it. In your testimonial experience, you may be asked about the existence of standards and if your work conforms to them. As an example, in section 4 of ASTM 2825-12, it notes the requirement that your reporting of your work should act as a sort of recipe such that another analyst can reproduce your work. Whether used as bench notes, or included within your formal report, the reporting in Amped FIVE fully complies with this guidance. There is a standard out there, and we follow it.

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What’s the Difference?

It was a slow week on one of the most active mailing lists in our field. Then, Friday came along and a list member asked the following question:

If I exported two copies of the same frame from some digital video as stills. Then slightly changed one. Something as small as changing one pixel by a single RBG value….so it is technically different…

… Does anyone know any software that could look at both images and then produce a third image that is designed to highlight the differences? In this case it would be one pixel …

To which, my colleague in the UK (Spready) quickly replied – Amped FIVE’s Video Mixer set to Absolute Difference. Ding! Ding! Ding! We have the winning answer! Let’s take a look at how to set up the examination, as well as what the results look like.

I’ve loaded an image into Amped FIVE twice. In the second instance of the file within the project, I’ve made a small local adjustment with the Levels filter. You can see the results of the adjustment in the above image.

With the images loaded and one of them adjusted, the Video Mixer, found in the Link filter group, is used to facilitate the difference examination.

On the Inputs tab of the Video Mixer’s Filter Settings, the First Input is set to the original image. The Second Input is set to the modified image, pointing to the Levels adjustment.

On the Blend tab of the Video Mixer’s Filter Settings, set the Mode to Absolute Difference.

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Identify Social Media Files with Amped Authenticate

Amped Authenticate Update 10641 introduced the new Social Media Identification filter. It can be found in the File Analysis filter group.

The filters in the File Analysis group are generally looking at the file’s container to return relevant information about the file. The Social Media Identification filter examines the file for traces of information that may indicate the file’s social media source. The key word here is “may.”

The workflow that I will explain here is typical in the US and Canada. Take from it what you need in order to apply it to your country’s legal system.

Let’s begin.

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Amped Authenticate & Griffeye Analyze DI Pro: a synergy that empowers forensic analysts!

The partnership between Amped Software and Griffeye keeps growing and so does the integration between Griffeye Analyze DI Pro and Amped Authenticate. Analyze DI Pro is a media investigation software for handling large volumes of images and videos, filter irrelevant digital files, prioritize, correlate and identify the most pertinent material in investigations. It will let you scan and import data from a device or from a folder on your workstation. Once the import is complete, you can easily browse and intelligently sort/filter media.

In this post, we’ll take a look at what Griffeye Analyze DI Pro enables you to do when linked with the Amped Authenticate plugins. Let’s create a case and import a folder containing a few JPEG files.

Analyze DI Pro lets you look at image metadata, and Amped Authenticate users know how interesting they are, but, we also know that a single image may contain hundreds of Exif metadata, and reading all of them is quite a boring job. Luckily, from the very same panel above we can call in Amped Authenticate File Format Analysis to automatically spot suspicious metadata. Once you installed Authenticate and the corresponding plugin in Analyze DI Pro, this is just as simple as right-clicking on one or all the images and then hit the “Plugin” voice and select “Amped Authenticate – File Format Analysis” from the pop-up list as shown below.

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Amped DVRConv for transcription?

In our most recent update of Amped DVRConv, we added the ability to separate the audio and video streams in your DME files – to save the audio as a separate file. For some, this functionality went unnoticed. For others, it was a huge deal.

Two very specific use cases required this functionality. You asked. We delivered.

Case #1 – Child Exploitation/Human Trafficking

Agencies responsible for investigating cases of child exploitation/human trafficking were spending a lot of time redacting video files (blurring faces and other sensitive information) in order to send files off for audio transcription. The distribution of files in child exploitation cases (files that can be considered child pornography) for transcription is now made a lot easier with DVRConv. All of the evidentiary videos can be loaded into the tool and processed without having to view the footage. DVRConv helps to dramatically speed up the process of getting files to transcription whilst protecting identities and shielding staff from the harmful psychological and legal effects of viewing/distributing such material.

Case #2 – Police Generated Video

Agencies that have deployed body worn/vehicle-based cameras or have interview room recorders often have to send the resulting video files to outside companies for transcription. Like the case above, they are faced with having to redact the visual information prior to releasing the files to their contractor. Even if the agency has chosen a CJIS compliant transcription contractor, they may have agency policies that require the redaction of the visual information prior to release. DVRConv eliminates the need to perform a visual redaction ahead of such a release of files. Having this ability is already saving agencies a tremendous amount of time/money.

Users of DVRConv do not require specialized training. The tool can be used by anyone. It’s drag-drop easy. Plus, the settings can be configured so that the resulting audio file meets the requirements of your transcription vendor.

If you’d like to know more about Amped DVRConv, or any of our other Amped Software products and training options, contact us today.

The Amped FIVE Assistant Video Tutorial

We recently announced the release of the latest version of Amped FIVE (10039) where we introduced a new operational mode through a panel called the “Assistant”.

The Assistant provides a set of predefined workflows which can be used to automate common operations or guide new users, but it’s not obtrusive. You can use it or not, and you can always add filters or do anything, as usual, it’s just an additional option.

We’ve created a video tutorial so you can see it in action. See below or watch on YouTube now!

We’ll be adding more videos to our YouTube channel soon, so follow us to get more videos like this.

The Authenticate Countdown to Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Christmas is coming! To celebrate that Christmas is almost here we will share a daily tip and trick on how to authenticate your digital photo evidence with Amped Authenticate.

Follow us daily on our social networks in the month of December as we open the 24 doors of our Authenticate Advent Calendar. The countdown starts now!

#AuthenticateChristmas

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google PlusYouTube

You can also visit our website daily as we open the doors of our Advent Calendar here.

The Sparse Selector

With over 100 filters and tools in Amped FIVE, it’s easy to lose track of which filter does what. A lot of folks pass right by the Sparse Selector, not knowing what it does or how to use it. The simple explanation of the Sparse Selector’s function is that it is a list of frames that are defined by the user. Another way of explaining its use: the Sparse Selector tool outputs multiple frames taken from random user selected positions of an input video.

How would that be helpful, you ask? Oh, it’s plenty helpful. Let me just say, it’s one of my favorite tools in FIVE. Here’s why.

#1. – Setting up a Frame Average

You want to resolve a license plate. You’ve identified 6 frames of interest where the location within the frame has original information that you’re going to frame average to attempt to accomplish your goal. Unfortunately, the frames are not sequentially located within the file. How do you select (easily / fast) only frames 125, 176, 222, 278 314, and 355? The Sparse Selector, that’s how.

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Proving a negative

I have a dear old friend who is a brilliant photographer and artist. Years ago, when he was teaching at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, he would occasionally ask me to substitute for him in class as he travelled the world to take photos. He would introduce me to the class as the person at the LAPD who authenticates digital media – the guy who inspects images for evidence of Photoshopping. Then, he’d say something to the effect that I would be judging their composites, so they’d better be good enough to fool me.

Last year, I wrote a bit about my experiences authenticating files for the City / County of Los Angeles. Today, I want to address a common misconception about authentication – proving a negative.

So many requests for authentication begin with the statement, “tell me if it’s been Photoshopped.” This request for a “blind authentication” asks the analyst to prove a negative. It’s a very tough request to fulfill.

In general, this could be obtained with a certain degree of certainty if the image is verified to be an original from a certain device, with no signs of recapture and, possibly verifying the consistency on the sensor noise pattern (PRNU).

However, it is very common nowadays to work on images that are not originals but have been shared on the web or through social media, usually multiple consecutive times. This implies that metadata and other information about the format are gone, and usually the traces of tampering – if any – have been covered by multiple steps of compression and resizing. So you know easily that the picture is not an original, but it’s very difficult to rely on pixel statistics to evaluate possible tampering at the visual level.

Here’s what the US evidence codes say about authentication (there are variations in other countries, but the basic concept holds):

  • It starts with the person submitting the item. They (attorney, witness, etc.) swear / affirm that the image accurately depicts what it’s supposed to depict – that it’s a contextually accurate representation of what’s at issue.
  • This process of swearing / affirming comes with a bit of jeopardy. One swears “under penalty of perjury.” Thus, the burden is on the person submitting the item to be absolutely sure the item is contextually accurate and not “Photoshopped” to change the context. If they’re proven to have committed perjury, there’s fines / fees and potentially jail time involved.
  • The person submits the file to support a claim. They swear / affirm, under penalty of perjury, that the file is authentic and accurately depicts the context of the claim.

Then, someone else cries foul. Someone else claims that the file has been altered in a specific way – item(s) deleted / added – scene cropped – etc.

It’s this specific allegation of forgery that is needed to test the claims. If there is no specific claim, then one is engaged in a “blind” authentication (attempting to prove a negative). Continue reading