Setting The Standard For Image And Video Forensics In The US With Amped Software

Si: Welcome friends and enemies to the Forensic Focus Podcast. I’m here today with Blake Sawyer, from Amped and it’s a pleasure to have you back on. I was just saying to you before we started recording that, I’ve been hands-on with Amped FIVE for the last week in LEVA, but it’s always a pleasure to talk with Amped. Your products are wonderful and I’m a huge fan. So, can you fill us in on what’s going on your side of the pond?

Blake: Yeah, so how are things going over here in the US? So I think it’s a growing field. It’s gotten really big over the last, I would say, 10 years or so. It’s starting to pick up. We don’t have as many cameras, obviously, as you guys do in the UK, but we also have really terrible cameras because the cameras that people buy, they buy it at retail stores or they buy just to have something up which gives a good security, but doesn’t give good footage whenever something actually happens.

Teah, so it’s been a challenge. It’s been an educational challenge a little bit on the law enforcement side which is why we participate in things like SWGDE and the OSAC over here, Scientific Working Group on Digital Evidence, just so that we can use what we have and the experience we have either as practitioners or as examiners to help the rest of the field as it grows.

Si: Cool. So, I mean, Britain has the dubious honor of being one of the most surveilled countries in the world, second only, I think, to China and some other seriously totalitarian states. I mean, obviously we have the same thing of cheap CCTV being put into places, but if they’re being put in now, are you finding that they are cheap new equipment? So they’re digital, or are they cheap old equipment and they’re analog?

Blake: You know, a lot of them these days are Wi-Fi-enabled. So, they’re new equipment, but in order to maximize either space or limit bandwidth, you end up getting a 4K video that has a really slow bandwidth, so there are just no details when anything happens.

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Si: Yeah, so compress the heck and frame rate of nothing. So, I mean, Amped has been around for a while, and, again, having spent some time with it, is this sort of presenting any challenges to you in terms of interpreting and pulling in evidence, or are you finding there are some systems you’re struggling to process, but there are more of a challenge than others?

Blake: Yeah, that’s a good question. So, we’ve been around since 2008 over here in the States. I think it was first presented over here in 2014, so it took a while to make its way across the pond. But since then, I would say having used it every day, first at my police department and now here at Amped, obviously the results vary based on that quality. We do have a paper that should be coming out soon on the image generation model, which is what we teach in terms of how artifacts get added to video, and if you can reverse that process, you can clean it up pretty well.

So that should be coming out in the next few months, which I think will help kind of raise the level of just thinking through the process a little bit better. But if you follow that process, I would say results in terms of clarification are probably better than 50%, at least in terms of license plates to get a partial license plate.

Si: Yea, Okay. So it’s a problem, but it’s a problem that you’re able to manage.

Blake: Yeah, for sure.

Si: I mean, you say you’re relatively new in the US market. I mean, you said 2014 so that is 10 years ago. How are you finding uptake of Amped and all your competitors in the market? Is it a growing field? Is there awareness to support selling this into or providing this into law enforcement, or is it a stagnant field where people aren’t really appreciating its necessity yet?

Blake: So we’ve been growing quite a bit over here in the US. So, I came on in 2019 and we’ve maybe tripled in terms of what we’ve done over here in the last year over year since I started five years ago. Five years ago.

Si: Okay, so that’s significant growth, then.

Blake: Yeah, yeah, and I think the benefit is as more cases involve video because it’s more prevalent, people just need something so that they can go, well, now that I have this, how do I get it to play back? How do I get it cleaned up so that I can see the best detail possible? And one of the things that we’ve done a good job, I think, is making that all in one tool so that you don’t need to go out and find three or four different tools to convert video, to play it back, to do the analysis, to do the presentation pieces. You can just do it all in one.

Si: Yeah, it’s a complete toolbox and behind the scenes it’s drawing on other thing, but sensibly and understandably in order to build a good workflow. So, yeah, I can see that consolidated interface is definitely an advantage Amped  has over not having one.

Blake: I guess you could go out and you could try to open source it all, or you could try to mishmash it together with a combination of playback filters, you could use MATLAB, I guess, you could use, I don’t know, like a Photoshop or something like that. But then at the end of the day, you’ve used all these different tools that you’ve had to validate, and then you’ve got to go to testify in court. And that’s not something I want to do is say, here’s the 18 different things I did.

Si: Yeah, it’s one thing when you’re doing one case every so often. It’s another thing when you’re doing 40 cases a week and trying to then go and give evidence and present it. So, yeah. And again, I’ll do Amped’s sales job for them. one of the greatest features about Amped that I’ve come across and in comparison to all other forensic tools that I’ve used, and to be fair, they’re mostly digital forensics, is that you when you generate a report, it cites all of the academic papers that have been used for the filters so that there is such a deep understanding of what it is that you have done in order to achieve your result. I think that is one of the coolest features of any software products I’ve ever used.

Blake: Yeah, because you don’t want to have that I put it in and I hit the enhance button like they do on, do you have the movie Super Troopers over there?

Si: Oh yes, that and CSI and, I mean, evenBlade Runner does it, don’t they? Pan, zoom. Yeah, and without that fundamental knowledge of what’s going on, it’s definitely a challenge. And again, doing Amped’s sales job for them, the training that you guys do. I’m going to get fired from this podcast for not being strict enough on you lot. But the training I found to be very good because we did two, we did the speed estimation and video import. But the way that training is structured is such that you really understand the principles behind it.

Blake: Yeah, cause it doesn’t help to go to a class and learn where the buttons are and then not remember why you click the button to start.

Si: Yeah, exactly that. So you said earlier that you were working with Amped. You pronounce this slightly differently, I’m not sure how you’re supposed to pronounce it. Swig-de-e sweegee swee. The working group, anyway. I mean, this is an interesting one. And, I mean, I came to forensics from a background in information security and I used to work for the government here doing information security work. And we used to pull over a whole bunch of stuff from NIST because you guys are good and you do good work. And it’s interesting that at the moment there’s very little material in this country on video on quite a lot of this technical stuff and SWGDE have a lot of that and we’re importing it.

So, I mean, what are the sort of current best practices the US are developing, and how are you guys involved in developing that? And I, mean, how does that feed back into the Amped life-cycle, the development process? Because obviously, the majority of the developers, actually, I’m not sure that’s true anymore, but a lot of the developers used to be based in Italy. I think that you’ve got a development department in the US now?

Blake: We don’t do development here in the US, no. It’s all support and training for the most part. I guess sales, too.

Si: Okay. So obviously you’re taking American standards, passing them several time zones away to guys in Italy in a different language. But how is that relationship working out and how’s Amped sort of taking this and building on it?

Blake: Yeah. So I was part of SWGDE, people pronounce it all sorts of different ways, but I pronounce it SWGDE since I was in law enforcement, so starting in 2016. And so I was there for three years beforehand. And really and truly, it’s a good place for consensus documents to come out. It does a good job of getting the right groups of people together.

It often feels like with some organizations, there’s kind of an agenda behind why documents go out the way they do. But with SWGDE because it’s got state, it’s got local, it’s got private, it’s got, obviously, vendors and educational people that are all in the room together saying, “Hey, these are the things that come up that we’re seeing in the market. These are common issues that we have.”

It allows people to, to get together and say, “Well, how do, how would we pursue that? From an educational standpoint, how would we teach that? From a law enforcement standpoint, what’s permissible? And then from a private standpoint, how can we do that in a way that doesn’t affect bias?”

And so, in fact, the chair of the video committee right now is a private examiner from Michigan. So that’s been nice.

Si: Cool. So, I mean, is all of the input into it from the US or are there any international collaborators into it?

Blake: It was funded through the federal government and now it’s got, I think some private stuff, but the way it’s set up is primarily it’s US. There have been the odd Canadians, which are odd for several reasons that have come over, but there have been some international people that have come, it’s just because all of the meetings are in the US, sometimes it’s a little hard to work that travel out.

Si: Fair enough. So, in terms of the actual sort of best practice that’s being put forward, how is that sort of evolving over time and how is that being addressed in Amped? I mean, you talked about the model just now. I mean, is that sort of part of the best practice? Or is that something that will become part of the best practice?

Blake: You know,  it probably is not currently part of a best practice just because there was no research or documentation out there. There’s a college here in the US that does a lot of grad student work: University of Colorado in Denver. So they have a master’s program in forensics. So a lot of times what they’re doing research in, if it’s something that is a common problem, then those research papers will start to find their way into those documents. But really and truly it’s been, I don’t know, I try really hard not to drive things to say this is what Amped thinks you should do, because I don’t want it to come across as me being biased or trying to steer the group in a direction.

So, a lot of times we put out a document and it’s been updated a few times on FFmpeg, for example. And there are commands in there that say here’s how you do some analysis work inside of FFmpeg. Some of those commands and some of that structure is laid into FIVE, but we do it slightly differently in the background. So, even though it’s there, you could maybe get a similar result by using that document. I didn’t want to go in and say, here’s the best way and the only way that you should do that, because whatever you do needs to be reliable, repeatable, and reproducible, kind of the three R’s, and that should be true regardless of what you’re using.

Si: Yeah. I mean, that is it, isn’t it? Is that you should be able to take any given piece of evidence, apply the same chain of techniques to it in whatever you’re doing and get the same result. That’s one of the base concepts of forensics in whichever arena you’re in.

Blake: Yeah, it’s like with computer forensics, I could go in and I could find the magic numbers to find every Word document that exists in a fat 32 formatted drive, but it’s a lot faster if I can have a tool that goes in and finds those for mem right. Yeah.

Si: Yeah, exactly that. So, I mean, obviously, you’re working with US law enforcement, and I know in this country we’re seeing an increase in prevalence. In fact, not only in law enforcement, rather interestingly, I’ve seen my local supermarket now has body-worn cameras on stuff. Much to my surprise when I went in, but yeah, I do not live in a high crime area, I’m going to make this very clear. This is one of the nicest parts of the country. It’s a little rural town, but it seems to be becoming a standard that there are some body-worn cameras being rolled out to supermarket staff. but obviously in law enforcement, body worn cameras are a norm. So how’s that sort of panning out with Amped?

Blake: Yeah, I think body-worn cameras are helpful because they give you a perspective. What I’ve run into is sometimes it doesn’t give the entire picture, and so that’s where having either multiple body-worn cameras that you can sync up. So in FIVE, for example, you can sync multiple cameras to be able to show the different perspectives or even sync it with a CCTV if you wanted to, just to say, here’s what all the perspective was.

And also, yeah, a lot of times it’s what the camera doesn’t see or being able to explain why you can’t see specific pieces in a body-worn camera has been something I’ve run into a lot. A good example is when I worked at our police department we had a body-worn camera video from a shooting, one of our officer-involved shootings, and the question that came up was, well, did the officer fire first or did the suspect fire first, right?

And so, the camera was actually shot in this instance, so the last frame of video that we had had the officer’s finger outside the trigger guard. And so that was a good indicator that he didn’t have the ability to shoot because his finger was outside of that. But going through the recovery process, going through the analysis process to show here’s what we see was really helpful in that.

Si: Now, this is purely a technical question: how is it to just to recover video footage from something that’s got a bullet that’s gone through it?

Blake: Yeah, so in that case we had to work with the manufacturer of the camera to help us do kind of a chip-off so that they could recover it directly from the internal storage, which was helpful, but the audio was set at a different sample rate than I guess the standard. So then the audio didn’t sync up until you resampled it at the right sample rate. And it was interesting for sure.

Si: No, I mean, it sounds like an interesting technical challenge to reconstruct. Yeah, certainly taking chip-off forensics to get to video is a relatively novel thing for most people, I would imagine. So, the opportunity to do that is certainly something that you’d want a chance to get your hands dirty with. I would anyway.

I’m going to say, staying with law enforcement and again, you know, one of the things that we did on the leaver course, was to spend some time tracking number plates around, either on Dale or MT’s car, depending upon where we were actually looking at. Or, you know, trying to enhance them from footage or whatever. I know Amped has recently put out Deep Plate, and we’ve had a conversation about it in a different podcast, but how are you finding that being taken up in the US?

Blake: Yeah, of the different countries that it’s available in, the US is the biggest user of it. It’s going pretty well. I think the caution inside of it that it’s good for investigative use I think is helpful, because people didn’t say, okay, so I need to still go through the work of cleaning this up to see the face or the license plate. But can I get something to start with? Can I put this into a system that will go through and say, here’s the make and model, here’s a couple of suggested license plates. And what’s nice about Deep Plate is it gives you the probability of each character. Which is helpful to say we’re 80% sure that that’s a G, but it could also be a six, depending on, yep.

Si: Yeah. And again, we had a bit of a conversation about this before the recording started, but the idea of introducing error margins into things that are generated or assessed via an AI is incredibly important. And I mean, again, Amped should just send me a blank check, frankly, for what I’m about to say. But when we did the speed estimation, there was always quite a good margin of error calculated as part of the software and it’s something I think that, I find very frustrating in my general line of work of digital forensics, where somebody is like, “This is absolutely what happened.” And you’re like, “Well, okay, no, first of all, you don’t know that. There’s a whole range of other possibilities.”

But to say, I think this is what happened and there is a high likelihood of this having been what has happened, it doesn’t take much to change it, but it is a huge difference in what the actual reality of it is. And when we come to the AI tools, whether they are being used for assessment or detecting what we think to have been an AI-generated image or whatever, we’re not always as certain as we would like to be, but it’s very important that we call that out and make it clear that we’re not as certain as we would like to be.

So I think that that sort of percentage indicator is really important. Apart from anything else, in a proper investigative scenario, you don’t want to be shutting down potential avenues of investigation. If it’s a serious crime, to go, “Oh, that’s definitely a G” and it turns out that it was a six and you’ve just excluded every number plate that has a six in it. So, so, you know, you’ve got to watch this one.

But I think it’s interesting and I think we’ll see further things come from that as time goes on. So, Deep Plate’s only available in a couple of jurisdictions: the UK, the US.

Blake: Yeah. So we trained a dataset based on the expected formats, which is tough here in the US because you can have a custom license plate in Texas, which is where I live, for example; I think you can have 150 different types of license plates

Si: Just in one state? Wow.

Blake: Yeah, yeah. And we don’t cover all 150, I think we cover three of the most common ones. So if you’ve put your college logo off to the side, then you’ve got to go through the blind search instead of the state-specific search.

Si: Yeah, so, I mean, again, there are quite a few strict laws about what’s supposed to happen on number plates in the UK, and then there’s what actually happens on number plates in the UK. But it’s not quite as freeform as it is in the US. It seems to me that occasionally you’re actually able to choose whatever text you want; as long as nobody else has it, it’s a valid index.

Blake: I thought it was, you had to have the same number of letters or characters, but I saw a license plate on the street the other day that just had three letters on it.

Si: Wow. So yeah. We’re a bit stricter here, but there have been a few variations and iterations of what a legal format is over time, so people have gotten very creative. The only one that disappoints me is that, and I’m sure it’s the same in the US is that they won’t allow you to use rude words. So, anything that comes up as mildly interesting gets excluded by what we call the DVLA, which is the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Authority. They just remove those at the beginning,

Blake: Yeah, I think they’ve done that here, too. So, you mentioned the speed class that we took together?

Si: Yeah.

Blake: So, a lot of the math and the research behind that came through the SWGDE. So, for example one of the guys that I went to SWGDE with, he did a case where he used FIVE for his speed estimation, he used the frame timing information from the video, he did a reverse projection and then he mapped all that out.

And then we put together a paper inside of SWGDE, when I was still in law enforcement that said, “Here’s the steps that you should go through for this process” and then afterwards me and this guy were talking and we said, “What would be a way to automate that process?” And so we mapped it out and said, “Here’s what a filter could look like that does all of those different pieces.” And then I sent it to the engineers and they are way better at math than I am, and so then they said, “Well, you don’t want just the speed, you want the distance, you want the time.2 And so they put all of those different pieces into it as well.

Si: Oh, so you are the man who’s responsible for the speed estimation piece of Amped FIVE. Congratulations.

Blake: For better or worse, I’m at least the one that wrote it up.

Si: So I guess, while we’re on training, I know Amped has just relatively recently kicked off their certification. So how’s that going in the US?

Blake: Certification’s going well. it’s taking off. We’ve had lots of people take the test. We tried to balance that so that it’s not just, when you finish the training, you should be able to pass the tests. We’re not trying to just give out a certificate. So, there’s a lot of theory that goes into it which is in the training class, but then the other side of it is a practical portion. So we give you a handful of cases that are bad video or bad images and we ask, can you clean it up to give us either the text above a building or the license plate or whatever is available inside of the image?

And that way we can kind of have some objectivity to that process and not just create a test that we want everyone to pass. Obviously we want most people to pass, but we want to make sure that you’re actually knowing how to use the software and not just guessing.

Si: So, where do you see that sitting alongside things like the LEVA certification? He says carefully, having just got one. Would you see it as a replacement? Would you see it as an enhancement? Would you see it as something different?

Blake: Yeah. I think it’s a different thing, for sure. So, obviously I have the LEVA certification and the IAI certification. So I think those have good value because they are an independent body that go in and say, “You know how to use video, you know how to do the examination process.” And what we’re saying is, do you know the theory behind the filters you’re using? And do you know the practical use and application of those filters? So it’s a different idea, I think.

It’d be like, man, what was it? So, in my old life, I was a sound engineer and we had a tool called the S6000, which is like a surround sound emulator so that you can create things that work in surround sound. And before you could use it on productions or on sets, you need to be certified in it. And so just to show I’ve gone to training, I know how to use it and I can use it appropriately. And I think that’s the same principle.

Si: So, I mean, as a former sound engineer, how have you found the transition to video?

Blake: I really like learning, and so when I came into the video side of things it was not so much from a production standpoint, as much as it was I knew a little bit about video, I knew a little bit about bit streams already and how the digital process worked, but LEVA was the one that I learned a lot about the law enforcement side of.

And so they were the ones that said, “Here’s how you take that knowledge that you have and form it into something that would help in court.” And so that was, that was helpful. We, yeah. And because I worked at a smallish agency, I was the only person that did video, and so there was a lot to learn and I felt like I had some time to learn it which was helpful. And the support of our chain of command to let me go in and learn those different pieces was really nice until we had a girl that went missing. And then it didn’t matter how much I wanted to learn, I just had to do it. And so a lot of it came from collecting a terabyte worth of video and processing it to see where she went and to see who she was with at different points in time and then putting that all together.

Si: Yeah, I mean, at times when you don’t have the opportunity to learn that often you learn the most. Nothing is quite as motivating as having no opportunity to say no. But I mean, other than that particular one, have you got any examples of how Amped FIVE is playing a significant role in sort of a particular case or in law enforcement?

Blake: Yeah, so, I mean, we get reports from people all the time. I know because we do support for the US and Canada over here. So we get constant requests where people have tried to clarify a video and they got to a certain point and they just don’t know what to do next. So we’ll kind of talk them through that process. And usually about half the time we can help them get to a pretty good result that will help with cases.

Trying just to speak from my own cases. So we had, was it Paramount+ has a documentary out right now called, was it the Pillowcase Murders? And so that was a case that I worked where we had to go out and collect tons of video from all of these different locations where this guy who ended up being a serial killer was going around killing old women and taking their jewelry and taking their things.

And so taking all of those pieces and being able to say, here’s how I get a playable format was crucial because when you’re dealing with coffee shops and ponds, pawn shops and cell phone shops and retirement homes and traffic cameras and all these different sources that all have different players and all have different frame rates, being able to take all of that, narrow it down to say, here are the parts that we care about and then putting them together in a way that makes sense that we could say, here’s a comparison of, for example, he would sometimes dress as a nurse or a medical aide. So here he is at the retirement home, and then here he is at the gold pawn shop selling the jewelry to be melted down, still wearing the scrubs.

Si: Yeah, cool. So, I mean, do you think that things like this documentary, and I know that true crime documentary seems to be a very popular genre at the moment and possibly always. I mean, I think human beings like the macabre until they actually have to deal with it themselves. I’m not that much of a big fan of true crime still.

Blake: Yeah, I haven’t watched the documentary, so I don’t actually know how it goes.

Si: But do you think that there’s an issue with the expectations for this set by media with regard to things like video forensics? I mean, we’ve sort of mentioned earlier, either before this recording or during this recording, I can’t remember which bit now, but when we were saying, you know, let’s see, it’s like zoom enhance or, you know, just click the enhance button and all of a sudden that four pixels becomes the clearest 4K television shot you’ve ever seen. Is there an issue with law enforcement when you’re trying to sell them something and they’re expecting that, and the reality is amazing.

In fact, what we can do to reorient a number plate that you can imagine what’s in it or enhance something or use frame-averaging to get a better picture or stabilization or whatever, it’s amazing stuff. But reality and film still don’t don’t align. Is there an issue with that? Do you struggle to sell into that?

Blake: You know, I think it’s kind of the opposite, really. Because law enforcement is so used to knowing and being skeptical of what you see on CSI. So trying to talk to somebody and say, “Hey, you really can’t clean up that face and license plate.” And they’ll be like, “I don’t think that you can” because it’s not like what you do on CSI. And so then having to go through the process and educate users, it’s a twofold approach.

So, one is video evidence gets treated really commonly with less care than physical evidence a lot of times, because it’s a video and I can watch it on YouTube. I’ve watched videos all my life. I know how VLC works or I know how Windows Media Player works. And so I can watch the video and understand everything I need to know about it from that. And that’s common among some law enforcement. And then the other side of it is, but because I understand video and I know that CSI is fake, therefore there’s no good results that I’m ever going to get from an image or video.

And so teaching them that there’s a lot more going on in the background with video so that I can help them understand why things look like a Benny Hinn show, for example, where everything’s just moving way too fast. Or, be able to say, “Look, you can’t actually see that license plate, but it’s going to take a couple of different frames and we’re going to need to align them. And here’s the math that goes into that.”

And a lot of times in law enforcement, we didn’t go to law enforcement to be good at math, we went to law enforcement to help with crime.

Si: Yeah, yeah. Suddenly somebody comes along and shows you an equation about some sort of career transform and people just glaze over. It’s the same in digital forensics, trust me. You start talking to people about binary and they don’t wanna allow anymore. So, yeah, definitely. So, I mean,I think we’re sort of heading towards the top of the hour now. Is there anything that’s coming to market soon or coming new into the US or something that you’re excited about coming forward with Amped or with SWGDE?

Blake: Yeah, so SWGDE, yeah, I can kind of do a little bit of all of those. So, in SWGDE, one of the documents that we’ve been working on that I don’t think will be out, hopefully by the end of the year we can get it out, is kind of a good primer on H.265 and how that works. We did one on H. 264 just to help people understand the construction of H. 264, how it works, how to find like now unit headers, which are the starts for video frames, and how then if you had unlimited amounts of time, you could go in and parse your own video from a chunk of data.

So we did that for H. 264. We’re working on something similar for H. 265, which I think should be coming out soon. We’ve updated a couple of documents, we had a case a couple of years ago in the US where resize was kind of an important aspect. Somebody tried to zoom and enhance on an iPad in court. So we had to say, “Well, what actually is happening? What’s acceptable? How do you present evidence in court when you need to resize it?” And so that was a document that has gotten some good traction over the last year or so. Yeah, so that’s the SWGDE side.

On the Amped side of things there’s a cool new feature that just came out in Replay which is a motion detection, but it does it with a heat map so that you can say, “Here I want to draw a box and I want to do a heat map of when something crosses that box or how much data passes through there.” So we already have motion detection in FIVE, but the improved version where you can now see visually, not just jump to the next frame where there was motion and jump to the next frame, it’s pretty cool.

And then on FIVE, there are some cool things, but I don’t know what all I’m supposed to say about that. So we’ll just leave those.

Si: Yes. This will go to the media team after we finish recording, but, you know, better not to save them now and save cutting them later.

Blake: Yeah. And then in Authenticate, which is the one kind of standalone tool. So Replay and FIVE kind of work really well together. You can give Replay to officers and then when they’re done, they can pass that over to the investigator and just transfer the work right over. Authenticate’s a totally different beast because it really is the investigator who needs to go in and say, “Has this been tampered with? Can I tie it back to a source?” So we just added some new obligatory response to the word deepfake, because this will help drive people to your podcast, if I say deepfake twice.

Si: Yeah, that’s perfect.

Blake: So we added a couple of filters there with GAN detection which is kind of generated faces as well as diffusion models, which are like what you see with Dall-E and Midjourney and those types of things to be able to see whether those things have been used. And we’re going to continue to add some work in the video world in terms of authentication, too.

Si: No,  that’s fantastic. And, you know, in terms of training, obviously you’re running training courses for all of the products pretty much constantly, so somebody will be able to jump on and learn about any of the above.

Blake: Yeah. We have online training that’s happening all the time. Right now in the US I’m teaching the Authenticate online training. So that’s been a fun experience. It’s a little challenging because I feel like Authenticate is better in person.

Si: Okay. That’s interesting. Why do you say that?

Blake: Because you get more discussion with people in person. In-person training, I feel like what gets lost in online training is that discussion. So you were at LEVA last week in person, and just the ability to have those discussions in the classroom, I feel like, one: helps raise everybody’s knowledge, but also helps them think through problems as they come up in a more real world situation. Whereas Authenticate, it’s a lot of math, it’s, not a lot of math, it’s a reasonable amount of math for what you’re trying to do. But because of that, and because you’re online, there’s a higher propensity to sit and listen and try to absorb instead of sit and listen and talk and process, which I think is helpful in in-person classes.

Si: Yeah, no, that’s fair. Certainly from an instructor standpoint I find the in-person class is easier. Apart from anything else, it’s easier to watch when somebody isn’t getting it because they look actively confused as opposed to sitting silently on the other end of the screen being actively confused. You can tell and you can figure that out. So I do sympathize.  But that’s interesting, that is interesting. I mean, like I said, the only two online trainings I’ve done with Amped have been, actually, we were chatting away quite happily, so I think it is a problem, and it’s not quite the same as a classroom, but actually I think it certainly you as an instructor have addressed it well and made it work well. So it’s probably not quite as bad as you imagine it is.

Blake: Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I miss being able to see people, but also I’ve made a bunch of terrible jokes for myself to say in the background. So whether or not anybody’s paying attention, at least I find it fun.

Si: Yeah. No, that’s important. You need to be able to enjoy it yourself. Definitely.

Blake: Yeah.

Si: Well, I mean, once again, thank you very much for taking the time to come and talk to us on the podcast. It’s always a pleasure.

Blake: It was great to see you.

Si: And you. And excited to see what’s coming up with Amped in the way of heatmaps. I think that will be a fun and certainly visually arresting feature in terms of being able to show it to someone else, if nothing else. And obviously always the ongoing incremental improvements that are coming forward. So, just to say, thank you once again to you and to Amped for being such good friends of the show.

You can find the, and this is the bit that I always get wrong, you can find the Forensic Focus Podcast on all places that you can find a good podcast, such as Apple whatever podcasts they are, Spotify, YouTube, obviously on the Forensic Focus website. And if Amped are good, they might even link to it on their website as well and put that in for the marketing people when they listen back to it and see what they can do.

Blake: Right, it’ll be determined by how well I did, probably.

Si: So, once again, thank you ever so much, and I look forward to speaking to you again sometime in the near future.

Blake: Yeah, sounds good. Thanks, Simon.

Si: All right, cheers, Blake.

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