Monday, September 16, 2013

Say goodbye to your NLE

The job of a video analyst has evolved. I mentioned in previous posts that the game has changed. Here's another bombshell. In the future, you won't need an NLE. And, guess what ... the future is now. Say good bye to your NLE.

Many of the folks that first started working with video and images in law enforcement came from a production background. They were well versed in broadcast video technology. At the time, it made sense to structure a workflow around products from companies like Avid, Adobe, and Apple. After all, what else was there? Over time, new features were added to your favourite NLE that could be used to assist with case management and courtroom presentation. But in the end, NLEs were expensive and offered a steep learning curve for folks in law enforcement without a background in media/production.

For me, I like to have it all. But, that being said, I work for clients and court systems that don't have everything that I have. I have to be mindful of discovery / repeatability issues when I begin casework. If I use Avid software, and the opposing expert doesn't, how will they be able to view my bin and verify my work. Adobe products have free trial versions,  but the same issues will hold true. The additional wrinkle for me ... Photoshop is a verb. Traditional production oriented tools like Avid's MC and the Adobe CC line are generally not used in my workflow anymore. So, how might I go about creating my demonstratives for court and sharing them with my clients.

Meet GP SIFT. If you haven't heard of them, you might start by reading this white paper or watching this video. SIFT Technologies offer solutions to a number of my current problems, from live capture of interview room and pole cam feeds (Milestone based), to evidence management, to their FlexView product - digital evidence viewer and presentation creation.

The Key Features of their FlexView product:
• Open format platform handles virtually any digital evidence
• Does not require an expensive server
• Does not alter the original digital evidence unless directed by user
• Creates and converts video and picture evidence to multiple industry standard formats
• Video trimmer to easily distribute clips of video evidence
• No Single Point of Failure with real-time automated backup

When I first heard of this company and their product, I knew what a stir they/it would create. It runs on just about any Windows PC. It's reasonably priced. It offers tons of annotation/telestration features. You can trim audio/video files whilst protecting the integrity of the original (works on a proxy). Can be easily shared and protected.

Whilst they were a vendor at the recent LEVA conference, I'm not sure if folks knew what they were seeing. I did, immediately. SIFT offers an alternative to recurring payments and expensive service contracts. It offers a purpose built software for our unique needs. It offers a ton of flexibility. And, as a Milestone partner, it offers a way to work with all the native Milestone video that I get (facility and pole cams).

So, if your agency has Axis based pole cams, if your stations have a Milestone based CCTV system, if your corporate clients are standardized on Milestone (about 70% of the large scale facility market), or if you're looking for a cost effective alternative to the production oriented NLE, give SIFT a look. I know that you'll be impressed.


Anonymous said...

Should someone who is testifying as an expert witness have industry standard tools for validating anothers work? If so, seems like Avid is an industry accepted tool for FVA work and therefore, quite appropriate for courtrooms. Final Cut and Premier seem to be accepted as well.

Jim Hoerricks said...

Ok. But ... the industry is changing. How does Avid, FCP, or Premere Pro deal with native / proprietary files? They don't. You have transcode them in some way to get them on the time line. The new tools let you work with the native files as such. The times, they are a changing.

Jim Hoerricks said...

A quick point of clarification - the native / proprietary files I referenced in the above comment come from DVRs - NOT from DSLRs or other hand held cameras.

Anonymous said...

So from what I have read on the companies website and this post/comments the system works well for the native/proprietary Milestone based files but what about the 100+ over proprietary files from DVR's won't they still have to be transcoded to get them into the system?

Jim Hoerricks said...

Not really.
You can either put them in the package with their player, or convert the container in FIVE for use in GP SIFT. FIVE and GP SIFT work complimentarily.