Thursday, July 2, 2015

Spready joins Amped Software

Amped Software just announced that David Spreadborough, aka Spready, has joined their team.

Awesome news. Congrats to Spready and to Amped Software.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Discovery issues with certain kinds of images

An intersting question came in regarding a problem often encountered by LE folks processing / redacting CP images for court. Obviously, you don't want to process them one at a time when there are hundreds of images to redact. The question was tossed around and here's a simple way to do it in FIVE courtesy of our friends at Amped Software.

  • Open a sequence of images (Load>Sequence Loader)
  • Redact by blackening the whole image (Presentation>Hide Selection), then choose blacken at 100%, then change the shape from round to square, then on the “selection” tab, click and then choose “whole image” from the dropdown.
  • Export the redacted images as another sequence (Write>Sequence Writer). Change the file name / location to be what you need it to be.
  • Generate your report (Project>Generate Report.
I know not many folks work with CP. I hope this helps.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Quality issues with body worn cameras

Amped Software's latest blog post features an article on the various quality issues associated with body worn camera recordings, and how their software can be used to fix them all.

Check it out here.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Saved footage from Freddie Gray arrest and unrest limiting city's camera capacity

This just in from the Baltimore Sun: "A decision to save surveillance video of Freddie Gray's arrest and the subsequent unrest in the city has significantly reduced the storage capacity of some cameras on Baltimore's closed-circuit system — shrinking the window during which police may flag footage to help with criminal investigations.

Capacity on some of the city's 700 CitiWatch cameras has been reduced from 28 days to three, meaning footage of any illegal activity is wiped clean after 72 hours unless a police officer shows up to save it, city officials said. The capacity of other cameras has been reduced to a lesser degree.

City attorneys made the decision to save the footage because it could prove critical in future litigation related to Gray's death or the crimes committed during the unrest, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.

Spokesman Kevin Harris said the intention was "to make sure that all records pertaining to the entirety of the Freddie Gray incident are preserved."

Harris said officials examined all options to avoid interfering with CCTV surveillance or violating regulatory requirements and decided that cutting the capacity on some cameras was the best choice.

Other options, such as copying the information onto external hard drives or saving to a cloud-based storage system, were not feasible, he said, in part because they would involve temporarily stopping the cameras from recording, "potentially leaving a blind spot in the crime fight."

Harris said the city plans to spend $140,000 on new hardware for long-term storage. The city does not know when the new hardware will be in place, he said, but Rawlings-Blake "has ordered that all red tape be cut to expedite the process as quickly as possible."

But, as Grant Fredericks points out, "it's important to save footage from incidents such as Gray's arrest and the riots.

"That now becomes critical data," Fredericks said. "All of it is evidence, and the authorities should secure all of that information.

"If anyone is charged in the future and that evidence is allowed to be erased, then the defendant can argue that exculpatory evidence was lost. And if that is lost, because the managers of the system or the government that is maintaining the system failed to retain the evidence, then the defendant can argue that the prosecution is prejudicial because they allowed the evidence to be erased."

"Fredericks said retaining even several thousand hours of footage should not disrupt the capacity of a modern city's CCTV system. Storage — on external hard drives or otherwise — has become cheap, he said, and should be in place before the need becomes critical.

City Councilman Brandon Scott, vice chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said questions about storage capacity have come up during the debate over body cameras for police. He said the CCTV storage shortage shows a need to modernize Baltimore's digital capabilities.

"We don't want to have an incident where we need the data but we don't have it because we had nowhere to store it," he said. "That creates an emergency situation."

Read more on this article by clicking here.

ed. note: As regards footage from DVRs in general, the courts have ruled that it doesn't harm the defense if there's exculpatory footage out there and the police fail to seize it. They only get dinged when they have it and lose it. As Grant points out, these are police owned DVRs, thus they have a duty to protect and preserve this potentially exculpatory evidence.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Rolling Shutter Effect

"Rolling shutter is a method of image capture in which a still picture (in a still camera) or each frame of a video (in a video camera) is captured not by taking a snapshot of the entire scene at single instant in time but rather by scanning across the scene rapidly, either vertically or horizontally. In other words, not all parts of the image of the scene are recorded at exactly the same instant. (Though, during playback, the entire image of the scene is displayed at once, as if it represents a single instant in time.) This produces predictable distortions of fast-moving objects or rapid flashes of light. This is in contrast with "global shutter" in which the entire frame is captured at the same instant.

The "Rolling Shutter" can be either mechanical or electronic. The advantage of this method is that the image sensor can continue to gather photons during the acquisition process, thus effectively increasing sensitivity. It is found on many digital still and video cameras using CMOS sensors. The effect is most noticeable when imaging extreme conditions of motion or the fast flashing of light. While some CMOS sensors use a global shutter, the majority found in the consumer market utilize a rolling shutter.

CCDs (charge-coupled devices) are alternatives to CMOS sensors, which are generally more sensitive and more expensive. CCD-based cameras often use global shutters, which take a snapshot representing a single instant in time and therefore do not suffer from the motion artifacts caused by rolling shutters."