Processing continuity between Amped Replay and Amped FIVE
ADVERTORIAL: By David Spreadborough, Forensic Video Analyst at Amped Software
The increasing availability of video recordings, combined with their invaluable impact on most types of investigations, is causing police units to face a challenge: on the one hand, they need to access information within the recordings as quickly and timely as possible, while on the other hand, they need to treat such potential evidence in a forensically sound manner, preserving the original exhibit. Until a few years ago, recordings were sent to centralized video units with dedicated tools (e.g., Amped FIVE) and training. Today, this strategy can only be implemented in some circumstances; otherwise, submissions would overwhelm central units. Many police forces are considering providing their front-line officers with basic training and simple tools to quickly but correctly acquire and inspect potential video evidence.
With these premises, it is not surprising that the last 12 months have seen a huge increase in the number of police organizations and investigative units using Amped Replay to assist in the initial investigation of CCTV and video evidence. Several large-scale deployments have now been completed to empower frontline officers, detectives, and investigators with a modern video player designed for them and their organization whilst all the time conforming to the increasing forensic oversight that we must work under.
Amped FIVE, strongly regarded as the most complete forensic image and video application, now has the ability to open a Replay project to ensure that a user’s work can be passed seamlessly onto a higher level for continuation or review.
Replay has a very specific toolset, designed to make things simple and quick in the early days of a video investigation. Those tools may often suffice, with no need for the video to go to a Forensic Video Unit. There are times, however, when perhaps a vehicle or a person is observed and further processing, restoration, and enhancement are required. With the new functionality, FIVE users can open up the Replay project and everything the user did in Replay will be replicated in FIVE.
Let’s start off in Replay. After importing a file into Replay (drag & drop works as well), it loads up into the Play tab.
At this point, the investigator has some options for entering some case information and perhaps a summary of their video review.
As you can see, the video looks a little ‘squished’. Proprietary video files originating from CCTV systems often do not display how they are actually recorded, and what you see here is exactly that. It is imperative that appropriate measures are taken to ensure the proper display and interpretation of CCTV footage.
It is worth bearing in mind that every process needs meticulous control. This is the forensic oversight that I mentioned earlier. Within the legal system, any alteration must be duly recorded.
Therefore we must head to the Enhance tab.
All the basic processing functions required can be found here and, to assist you, there are several auto options that will read the file data and perform the correct processing.
If Replay is being used within a large organization, the IT admin has the ability to control what filters are visible, to ensure full compliance with any regional operating procedures.
Now that the vehicle is displaying correctly, we can proceed toward the Annotate tab.
Various drawing and annotation options are available here, including shapes, arrows, text, magnification, and pixelating. If audio was present, then audio redaction options would be available too. In this particular scenario, it is important to write some text on the image prior to a media release. By moving to the Export tab, you will be able to save and export everything you need. This is where the process gets interesting!
In this case, it is essential to share an image with the media swiftly in an attempt to locate a vehicle of interest. However, there is other footage within the video that is of significance. There may be opportunities to use multi-frame integration techniques, enhancing the vehicle to provide further investigative leads.
By using the functionality of Export Project, we can save every process in a repeatable and reproducible project file. It can be accessed not only in Replay but also by analysts and technicians working with Amped FIVE. This feature enables the replication of previous procedures with precision, ensuring consistency across all operations.
Note: There is no need for a ‘save’ option in Replay. All actions performed are automatically saved, to ensure that nothing gets lost if you have to run out of the door to attend an incident.
If set, within Program Options, the PDF report will be created at the same time. This is handy if you need to attach that to any crime report.
Saving the project with the original files is so easy as the project file itself is only a couple of kilobytes (That’s really, really small in digital geek speak!)
Within any AV or Digital Lab, those staff with Amped FIVE now have several Replay import options. There is always drag & drop, but also links within the File menu and in the Quick Access Bar.
Whatever method is selected, all the procedures applied in Replay by the original investigating officer or first responder will open up in the common filter chain format within FIVE’s History window.
From here the analyst or technician can review everything completed, and then go on to complete all other further work required with the video.
The Project Properties will retain the original details entered within Replay and the author name can be updated if required by local protocols.
A very common scenario has been outlined, where further work may be required. However, there are two other situations where this new linking will help those organizations using both Amped products to support investigations.
Although many cases no longer need AV Unit support, because Replay is able to play and process hundreds of different CCTV formats, there are times when their assistance is required. Officers are now able to bookmark and make notes on various frames, and even different cameras if a multi-camera file is selected, and then send them as a project to the technical unit. The viewing, annotating, bookmarking, and notes are all retained to ensure there are no unnecessary delays caused by communication errors.
Lastly, if any work completed by a Replay user is questioned as to its integrity or video processing procedure, an analyst is able to assess all the work and complete a peer review if necessary.
The partnership between the products now allows for a seamless flow of information and processing between the initial investigation and the technical units. Ensuring full forensic rigor throughout the process is key to allowing more simple processing to be completed quickly and easily, relieving the burden on the technical units and speeding up investigations.
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