Emiliano, congratulations on your new role! Your journey to Amped Software has been colorful — what first interested you about multimedia engineering as a career?
Hi and thank you! My journey to Amped Software has been an eventful one for sure. I came to the UK in 1996 from Rome, Italy to study sound engineering. I was a young kid and into music back then and felt this career path would have been prohibitive in my native country so I kissed everyone goodbye and jumped on the jet plane at 20 years of age.
However, my multimedia course mainly covered Broadcast Television and non-linear video editing (which I totally fell in love with!), and before I got my degree I got offered a job as a technical operator at a multi-language TV broadcaster in London – speaking two languages definitely helped! Although I missed home, the opportunity to get experience in this industry was too good to pass up so that’s when I probably decided that I would stay in the UK for a bit longer.
In those years automation and digital were starting to take over in Television and Radio and my role was dynamic in that I was doing video, audio, remote interviews and video editing all at the same time. And in between commercial breaks I was troubleshooting faults with the equipment and the automated software.
Unfortunately, when the industry collapsed in 2008 due to the financial crisis I lost my job and found I could not get back in the industry, due to extremely high competition. That’s when I stumbled onto forensic video processing, a little bit by chance. And, I’ve never looked back, really!
You started in media production before moving into law enforcement. What made you want to use your skills in such a different setting? How did your media experience help you in law enforcement?
Working in broadcast gave me a chance to learn, amongst many other things, about digital video formats and all the benefits and the problems associated with them. At the same time, I learned how to put video material together to convey a clear message to the audience (the real beauty of video editing!). If you read this statement back but in the context of working with video in pursuit of justice, you may agree with me that there are many things in common between the two.
And this is why I strongly believe that someone with a background in media production would be more suited to our industry than, say, a graduate in traditional forensics and would probably be more likely to fall in love with the discipline, just like I did.
When I started working in law enforcement, my main responsibility was to put CCTV and other disparate video sources together to help the courts understand what happened before, during and after a serious incident and my previous experience in video editing was, in my opinion, a key factor in helping me succeed.
At the same time, I enjoyed dealing with technical problems associated with generally low quality of CCTV and video evidence and how to explain in plain and simple English how the limitations of an image or video clip can affect its interpretation. Again, my previous experience in Broadcast helped a great deal in this respect.
What about your career, what have you found most rewarding thus far?
In general, the satisfaction I get when I am told that my work has helped secure justice for a victim of crime, is the best reward I can dream of. I have seen some horrific images in my time and some of the projects I have been involved with have been time consuming and exhausting. But when it all comes together, it’s just a fantastic feeling and you really feel you are part of a team with the investigators and the prosecutors chasing a common and just cause.
On a more personal note, I relish going to court and providing expertise on video analysis from the witness box. I am an absolute nervous wreck every time but at the end of my testimony, when the judge thanks me and releases me from duty, it’s just the best feeling ever.
You’re qualified as an expert witness in Crown courts, as well as having led accreditation efforts around CCTV. How will the perspective from these two roles inform your work at Amped Software?
The main reason I joined Amped is because I firmly believe this company is committed 100% to ensuring science is the driving factor for all the products and services it supplies. Testifying in court and leading the way for accreditation in my previous Police force have helped me realize that you need to back up your actions and opinions with science that you can later explain and account for.
We are privileged at Amped to be working with customers around the world that are also passionate about this sentiment and I honestly can’t wait to be working with each and every one of them soon!
We are already working together with our customers to provide the validation and reporting tools they need and ensure the quality of their work is as best as it can be and I am fortunate enough to be familiar already, as a previous customer myself, with the requirements of accreditation in video forensics and how we, at Amped, can help.
In your experience, what are the biggest challenges facing multimedia forensics professionals?
There is a real and current risk in our industry that lack of training and experience may ultimately lead to miscarriages of justice. There have been cases in court recently when lack of understanding of the technical limitations of video evidence presented in the courtroom has been laid wide open for all to see; which never looks good on all of us working in the industry.
At Amped, we want to not only provide our customers with the tools they need to secure justice, but we want to make sure they are comfortable and confident in using them. This is why our training program is just as important to us as are our products and we will always work alongside our customers every step of the way.
In your first year with Amped, what are you hoping to accomplish?
I would like to establish from the early stages a direct relationship with customers needing immediate answers for ISO17025 accreditation of their video enhancement and conversion processes in the United Kingdom. I honestly believe we have simple and safe answers to what many consider to be a horrendous headache.
No longer will our users need to deviate to another tool for their video processing and analysis needs. Everything, from the acquisition of video evidence to court presentation and analytical reporting, can be done by using one tool and there will be no further need for cross-validation and logistical nightmares.
On a more personal note, I am hoping to be traveling the world soon to provide face to face training to our customers, wherever they are!
Tell us a bit about your role: what do you expect a day in your professional life will look like?
My role at Amped is flexible and dynamic and so far, no two days have been the same! I find myself dealing with what I think is a simple issue and soon found it will require a lot of research and testing to solve, which I love!
Amped is committed to providing its customers with frequent software updates and the content of these updates is mainly driven by our user requests and wishes. My role consists mainly in liaising between our end users and the developers to ensure these are provided in a timely fashion.
I also provide direct technical support to our users and distributors and this can range from a simple question on how to use a filter or how to register to our Discord channel, for example, to more complex enquiries on incompatible formats and problematic video evidence.
Once I am comfortable with those, I will hopefully start training new users and providing video blogs and articles to help our customers make the best of our core products.
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I am a computer freak and I am also an amateur pilot and flight simulation enthusiast. I started training to become a private pilot a few years ago and unfortunately I had to stop due to personal reasons but I haven’t given up yet!
I also play tennis and enjoy competing in my club and with other tennis clubs in my region.
Finally, I am a passionate guitar player currently without a band to practice with, so if you need one and are in my area, give me a shout 🙂