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How To Use Annotations In Amped Replay

Some of you may be aware of Amped Replay, but for those who are not, Replay can be considered the VLC (and much more!) for investigators. It was designed to make the life of investigators easier by providing them with an easy, forensically sound tool to deal with CCTV and video. It takes all the key basic tasks needed to view video and simplifies them into an easy interface. 

Many people may already be Amped FIVE users, and may be wondering what the difference is with Replay. I like saying that FIVE is Replay’s big brother and has everything an analyst needs to investigate CCTV, video and images. Replay, however, has a carefully selected handful of those functions, built in a way that ensures investigators can get to grips with it in only a few minutes, but are still protected with the forensic architecture required in today’s legal world.

Amped Replay not only makes the investigator’s job easier, but it takes away many of the unnecessary basic tasks often given to FVA units. Freeing up time in the FVA units means experts can concentrate on the cases that need advanced skills and to analyze the video with Amped FIVE. 

Let’s take a deeper look at Replay. 

At the top of Replay’s interface is the workflow:

You will notice that it moves from left to right, in a logical flow: from any recent work, to the import of new media, through playing and bookmarking, basic enhancement, annotation, and finally exporting for release or court. 

This article will look at the Annotate section and how investigators can quickly create professional presentations with full documented forensic processing.

For annotation, a user has the choice of 8 tools.

From top left to right: 

  • Shape
  • Arrow and Line
  • Freehand Pen
  • Text
  • Image
  • Hide/Redact
  • Magnify
  • Spotlight

There is also an Info tool that allows you to quickly navigate through the various annotations you have applied.

Let us take a look at each of these tools, their options and how to control their visibility using this small video of 5 suspects that are about to commit a robbery*.

At the top, you will see that we are in the Annotate tab, giving us access to the tools on the right. 

I have a shape selected, and you will see the parameters available to me under the toolbox. 

You will also see at the bottom, above the playback controls, that there is the timeline. On that timeline, there are 5 vertical lines. They are bookmarks. I used them to quickly mark the areas of the video I needed to annotate. 

Across those bookmarks are horizontal lines: a colored one and a white one. Each colored line represents an annotation and the color is that of the annotation used. 

So, Mr. Orange, who has an orange shape around him, has an orange line! The white line is another annotation: the text box. We will look more at that in a moment. 

The length of each line represents the range that the annotation is shown for. You will notice that the orange line has bounding markers. This is because the orange shape annotation is active. Duration can be controlled by right clicking the object and the controls are available for all the annotations. 

Very quickly, I have marked the frames I want, drawn on 5 different colored shapes, and added associated text to each one. I could have used single frames, and just exported those, but for the first example here I wanted to place the static annotations across several duplicate frames.  

    

The reason for this is that I cannot only export all of my bookmarks, but I can also export a video showing exactly where my images have come from. 

Below are my 5 images ready to be used in my case.

I could have used Arrows to highlight the suspects, it’s really quick to drag on different arrows and then just go through and change the colors (but try not to get too carried away though!).

Again, remember that each annotation has full options for when it is shown and these can be selected manually using the right-click options or by simply having the object active (the pink arrow above), and then navigating through the frames. 

The Pencil tool is also very simple to use, allowing you to draw freehand over a video or image.

If our 5 suspects had taken a specific route through Indianapolis then we could draw that over a map.

The parameters available to you in the Text tool, allow you to quickly add on all kinds of information and we have already seen how we can title specific shapes.

The Text tool also allows you to add on relevant file information using the macro list at the bottom. 

Now let’s look at how to add an image. How about your force or company logo? 

As all the annotations can be different on different frames or groups of frames, you could also use different images on different frames. 

Let us have a look now at Hiding and Spotlighting where simplicity and speed ensure you can hide a witness or undercover officer, and spotlight a specific suspect. 

For a video, it would be no good if the subject walked outside of the hidden area. One of the most useful features in Annotate is the manual tracking. 

It is easy to slow the video down using the frame rate slider at the bottom, and then as your person is moving around, you just keep holding the left mouse down and move the location of the object to match its path. 

So quick and so easy. 

Last, we have the Magnify tool. 

This is a great little tool that helps you zoom into a specific area and even create boxouts of the zoomed area. 

You will notice that as I have gone outside of my video area here, the canvas has extended automatically to allow for this. The controls for this are under the General button.

Now that all my images and video are done, I can head to the Export tab and create all my media.

 

I know this article was concentrating on the annotation functions within Amped Replay, but before I sign off, I just want to highlight a couple of things that, although mainly hidden, they make all the difference. 

First, let’s discuss the video engine. Amped Software’s proprietary video engine enables immediate playback of hundreds of CCTV files not supported in standard players. There is no need to install players and screen capture the footage. Finally, there is the reporting. This is a forensic tool, for non-forensic users. Dealing with images and video for use within any legal structure requires a forensic approach. Replay will document everything, and the report is built automatically. So, the user, the forensic labs, and the entire organization can be reassured that investigators are processing video correctly.

I hope you enjoyed this walkthrough of the Annotate functions in Amped Replay.  

*Images taken from the film ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and used for educational purposes ONLY under the fair use policy.

By David Spreadborough, Amped Software

If you would like to know more about Amped Replay or any other product from Amped Software please contact us at [email protected]

Amped Software solutions are used by the top law enforcement, military, and government agencies worldwide. The company focuses on developing global leading solutions for all image and video processing needs relating to forensics, investigations, public safety, and intelligence. With an emphasis on the transparency of the methodologies used, Amped solutions empower customers with the three main principles of the scientific method: accuracy, repeatability, and reproducibility.

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