As experienced and trained video forensic experts, we perform video enhancement in our lab on a regular basis. In the following post, we will share with you some common challenges with forensic video enhancement process. We will also share some ‘How To’s’ so you better understand the forensic video enhancement process.
Video Enhancement Preliminary Analysis
Client attorneys submit video recordings to us for preliminary analysis. During this phase, we spend one hour of lab time to review the statistics of the video recording. We examine the compression, pixels, format and aspect ratio to name a few. During the preliminary analysis, we communicate to our client whether or not forensic video enhancement is possible. Nobody should pay high forensic laboratory rates until a forensic expert believes a video recording can be enhanced.
The main reason we are called many times every day here at Primeau Forensics for video enhancement is that our clients want to better see the events as they occurred. This is mostly because they want the truth about an event, crime, or altercation.
Purpose and Goals for Video Enhancement
One of the goals of forensic video enhancement, in some cases, is to be able to see person’s faces better than they are when viewing the video without video enhancement. In this case, a comparative analysis is performed after video enhancement in an attempt to determine the identity of a person in a video recording.
Other reasons for forensic video enhancement is to enlarge and clarify a video in order to identify, for instance, the license plate on a car. This is more difficult, especially if the car is in motion and the camera is not near the license plate. When the car is not moving and the license plate is in close proximity to the camera, a video forensic expert can use frame averaging to combine the best pixel quality for successful video enhancement.
Audio Enhancement for Video Recordings
Audio portions of video recordings can also be enhanced to help an investigation. On occasion, audio portions of video recordings fail or are not clear. In the laboratory, we can remove the audio portion of a video recording and forensically enhance the audio to better hear the events as they originally occurred.
With forensic video enhancement, we can only enhance what is possible to enhance. Hollywood has distorted the public perception of what can be enhanced forensically and what is impossible to forensically enhance.
In some cases, the video is of too poor quality for forensic video enhancement. Some reasons for low video quality include; the video recording was not exported properly and the camera lens is dirty (keep your outdoor cameras clean).
Frame rate is set low in the digital video recorder will also lower the potential for successful video enhancement. If the video recording size (aspect ratio) is small, we have a lower chance for successful video enhancement. We can not zoom and clarify the objects of interest. These objects become blurry and distorted. Even while using the best forensic video enhancement tools and software programs available, a successful enhancement isn’t always possible.
We Ask Questions About Your Video Recording
When we initially speak to a client-attorney, government agency, or private individual, we ask a lot of questions about the video recording. Is the video recording still stored on the system that created it? This is always the best practice when a video recording has captured a crime. That way, a video forensic expert can be brought in to examine the recording system and video quality to make sure we have the highest quality of video recording for video enhancement. We have learned to ask a lot of questions before our clients spend any money that may be wasted. We always make sure we have the best quality export from the system or device that created the video recording when performing forensic video enhancement.
At Primeau Forensics, we have a team of trained forensic experts, forensic technicians, and investigators that work on a daily bases with all kinds of video recordings.
How to Enhance a Video Recording
This section is designed to better help you understand the forensic video enhancement process. One tip that we can present to you, as previously mentioned, is to make sure you always have the highest possible quality export from the equipment that created the video recording. Types of equipment that create video include a CCTV surveillance system, mobile video surveillance device, police dash camera, police body camera, and smartphone to name a few. Another tip is to keep the video recording stored on the device that created the video recording.
There are methods for recovering video recordings for forensic video enhancement. A more desirable method is exporting the highest quality video recording. Another is to play the video recording while simultaneously recording the video onto another device. Here is another tip, do not use your smartphone to record the playback screen of a video surveillance system and expect a successful video enhancement.
Police departments often send us video recordings created on a surveillance system that were not exported through the equipment that created it but rather recorded out of the equipment onto another device. Once the device plays the recording while another device simultaneously recordings the playback signal. An output like ‘VGA’ is used which records the same quality that can be viewed on the systems video monitor. This is much better than recording the screen with your smartphone. Some of the time this is the only way to get a video recording exported from the system that created it.
There are several companies that manufacture turnkey evidence retrieval systems.
In some cases, a simultaneous video recording is better than what the system that created the recording is capable of exporting. When in doubt, it is best to perform both processes and send us both versions. Screen capture or VGA as well as an export from the system. To further explain, an export is a process that can be verified in the operator’s manual of the system.
Call the manufacturer of the surveillance system tech department if you need help. Do not wait too long and risk the important video recording to be erased or overwritten. Put the export on a thumb drive and make back up copies. Do not change the file format or any other settings when making copies.
If you have any questions about video enhancement, forensic video enhancement, or forensic video recovery, call our experts at 800.647.4281.