Video Enhancement: What is and is Not Possible

1196094_53229389-300x225 Video Enhancement: What is and is Not PossibleAs a video forensic expert I am asked, on a regular basis, to enhance images that have been recorded. One of the goals of video enhancement, in some cases, is to be able to see persons faces better than they are when viewing the video under normal circumstances. Other times I am asked to enlarge and clarify a video in order to identify, for instance, the license plate on a car that is driving by that is alleged to be involved in criminal activity.

With video enhancement, as a forensic expert, I can only do so much with what has been given me. In a lot of cases, the video that has been exported from the surveillance system is small and when I enlarge it, or zoom in on the objects of interest they become very blurry and distorted. Even with some of the best software programs available today a full enhancement isn’t always possible. So, when receiving calls from attorneys or government agencies, as well as private individuals who are involved in litigation that has video evidence, what I’ve learned to do is to ask to see the video first on a pro bono basis before being retained as an expert. Because that way I can determine what is and is not possible before taking money from a potential client.

I feel this is important not only from an ethical standpoint but also from a practical one. Meeting any client’s expectations in any business is extremely important. Taking money from someone that you can’t help is not good business practice. At Primeau Forensics, I am assisted by a team of investigators that can load the video and perform some processes that I’ve trained them to do to prepare the video for a pro bono viewing and at that time I can look, make some suggestions, and determine whether or not I feel I can help the person enquiring about the video enhancement.

One tip that I can present to you, reading this blog, is to make sure you always have the highest possible quality export from the surveillance system. Police departments often send me video from a surveillance system that was not exported through the system but rather recorded from the VGA ‘out’ or video monitor output to a portable digital video recorder. There are several companies that manufacture this type of turnkey evidence retrieval system. And, in some cases, that video is better than what the system is capable of exporting. And, when in doubt, send the video forensic expert both files: the screen capture VGA out or video out from the system, as well as an export from the system. And by ‘export’ I mean, the process used from a CCTV surveillance system to officially export video from the system to a thumb drive or DVD.  And if you have the option to choose a thumb drive or DVD, oftentimes the digital file onto the thumb drive is better than the DVD. And when in doubt, send all three: the screen capture, the thumb drive and the DVD, because then we know up front what is and is not possible for video enhancement.

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Video Forensic Expert Edward J Primeau Curriculum Vitae


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