Thursday, February 12, 2009

Forensic Photoshop works for casinos too!

Today's casinos have thousands of cameras looking at anything and everything that comes onto the casino property. Camera and recorder manufacturers salivate at the thought of getting a big casino contract. Once the cameras are in, maintenance is time consuming and costly. Each one of those cameras need to be serviced on a regular basis. Often times, colours drift - as does focus (be it ever so slightly).

Image courtesy of IQinVision

Casinos are now replacing their analogue cameras with multi-megapixel IP cameras. As technology marches along, many of the issues remain the same. Colour casts are still present. Focus issues are there as well.

Within the Forensic Photoshop workflow, we look at focus in the opening steps of our work. Previously, we've looked at Smart Sharpen and the Optipix plug-in. Let's look at another - FocusFixer V2 from FixerLabs (part of the FixerBundle).

Click on Filter>FixerLabs Filters V2>FocusFixer V2 to activate the filter's dialog box. You have the ability to manually adjust the image using the Deblur and Threshold sliders. The Threshold slider can be used to suppress noise in high-ISO settings and/or low light conditions, but is best left at 0 for our indoor shot. The preview gives you the ability to dial in the adjustment and keep the scene from getting too "crispy."

But wait ... there's more. It also has the ability to work with your image's EXIF data and model your camera's behaviour and optics using their LensFit feature. How cool is that?

So with our focus fixed, we went on to remove the image's colour cast and dealt with a few local colour issues. When it came time to deal with the noise in the image, along comes FixerLabs again with their NoiseFixer V2 (again ... part of the FixerBundle).

It's an easy to use plug-in that's deceptively powerful. I like the fact that I can work separately on chroma and luminance noise (Color / Grey in the plug-in). I also like the fact that there is very little loss of sharpness when using this tool.

Along with FocusFixer and NoiseFixer you also get ShadowFixer and TrueBlur (topics for a later date) as part of the FixerBundle V2 - all for less than $100. And, there's now a Mac version. What could be better? Needless to say, I recommend the FixerBundle for its value, ease of use, and versatility.

Looking at where we started and where we finished, we can see what's been done. We've removed the green cast from the indoor lighting as well as increased the focus and removed the noise. The difference is amazing.

Here's the final image on its own. See the bright, vibrant colours and all that wonderful detail just pop off the screen. Modern multi-mega pixel IP cams can capture more pixels than ever before. But, they still need to be processed. Casinos spend millions watching their bottom lines with these systems. In just a few more steps, they can have accurate images for their files - insurance, cheats, etc. The Forensic Photoshop workflow, enabled by a systematic approach and the proper tools can definitely help.

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