Mobile Surveillance Video Recovery: How to Recover Video

There are two sections to this blog post. The first section provides information about mobile surveillance video recovery. The second part a guide ‘How To Recover Mobile Surveillance Video.’ We have created a Four Step Process of how to recover video from mobile devices.

This how-to guide will help you understand the process of scientifically recovering video recordings from mobile devices. There are areas of concern and protocols to follow. We hope to help you understand the best methods to follow when recovering video recordings from mobile devices.

Recovery of mobile surveillance video is a scientific process. Mobile surveillance videos can be recorded on a smartphone, CCTV system, or other digital video recorders. This process also includes establishing a chain of custody. Documenting the integrity of the recording for use in court. This documenting of the chain of custody is the beginning step for forensic video authentication and analysis.

During the recovery process, the qualified video forensic expert may also perform hard drive cloning. Hard drive cloning is a process that creates an exact bit for bit clone image of the mobile surveillance DVR’s hard drive. This is almost always performed during the mobile surveillance video recovery process and requires additional time.

Video in the Courtroom

hard drive cloning

Mobile digital video recording technologies can be difficult and challenging for playback, especially in court. Many systems have proprietary software and require a proprietary video player to view the video. Playback of these video recordings in court is straightforward, provided the video is played using the original equipment that created the video recording. Otherwise, a qualified video forensic expert can create an open-source video file which is much easier to play using various players like VLC and Media Player Classic

Proprietary V.S. Open Source

To further explain, many attorneys and police officers are not aware that there are two types of video recordings that can be recovered. Most fixed and mobile DVR-based surveillance systems employ proprietary systems and record digital video to proprietary formats. Proprietary video recovery has minimal degradation of picture quality during the process of recovering. However, they can be difficult to operate in a courtroom setting. This is why they are converted to open source. Converting a video file created on a mobile device is often complicated for law enforcement agencies as well as video forensic experts.

There are a wide variety of surveillance system and smartphone manufacturers and a larger number of different models of DVRs. This complicates the on-site retrieval of video recordings a difficult process. This often requires access to the technical manual of the DVR or device that created and stored the video recording.

Primeau Forensics Mobile Surveillance Video Recovery

Primeau Forensics experts and technicians perform mobile surveillance video recovery assignments and investigations on many different types of equipment. We have learned that simple cloning of the equipment hard drive would be a mistake.

First, the cloned drive may not mount on our computers, which run Windows and Apple operating systems. Second, proprietary files are often invisible files outside their native operating system. They cannot be detected or read by any operating system but the embedded OS running on the dedicated device. Third, video files may be encoded using a non-standard codec and/or formatted within a non-standard wrapper.

For example, the format of the mobile video recordings frequently used in surveillance systems comes in a multitude of formats. Each format has its own structural and descriptive metadata. Some of the files included, such as the control files and system files may not work on general-purpose computers.

Recovery Preparation

Successful mobile surveillance video recovery always requires preparation and research beforehand. We have outlined a four-step process for mobile surveillance video recovery outlined below that will help you understand the legalities and science involved.

At trial, verdicts may be determined on the outcome of our analysis of a video that was forensically recovered. We suggest that a qualified video forensic expert recover the video recording to establish a clean chain of custody. A forensic expert will also prevent accidental loss of files and preserve the video quality. This is accomplished through recovery and transcoding to an open format.

How To Recover Mobile Surveillance Video

We recommend the following 4-step process for retrieval of video from DVRs:

1)A s previously mentioned, research the design, inputs/outputs, and operation of the DVR you are examining. Obtain the special software, codecs, and technical manuals necessary to examine the unit properly.

2) Photograph the digital video recorder before you begin the inspection. Take note of any markings or signs of tampering.

3) Connect the DVR or mobile digital video recorder to the power source that will power the unit best. Sometimes, mobile digital video recorders require an AC/DC cable system to power the unit in an office environment. The location where the mobile video recorder was originally installed may have had custom power connections. These connections may not be available if the unit is removed for inspection.

4) Connect the data transfer cable supplied with the recorder equipment to your Windows laptop for examination. In some cases, this will be a standard USB or FireWire cable.

Mobile video recorders, in particular, frequently require a proprietary cable. Install the DVR software provided by the manufacturer of the system and you are ready to recover mobile surveillance video. Read the equipment manual to help retrieve the highest quality video recording possible.

If you need professional assistance recovering video evidence from a digital video recorder, please call us today! Call 800-647-4281 for a free consultation.

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