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Welcome to the Forensic Multimedia Analysis blog (formerly the Forensic Photoshop blog). With the latest developments in the analysis of m...

Friday, December 31, 2010

Electronic Discovery Just Keeps Getting More Complex

From Ex Forensis' Larry Daniel: "I have this application that I use and it is awesome. DropBox. DropBox is a cloud based (Internet) application that allows me and my team to share documents and access them virtually from anywhere. I can review and edit these documents on my desktop, my laptop, my iPad, and review them on my Android phone. Talk about convenience.

What is so cool about the application is that it also provides automatic online backup of the documents and keeps a revision history so you can “go back” to a previous version of a document. It even keeps deleted documents, just in case you didn’t really mean to delete that oh so important Word document.

So why write about this on a digital forensics blog? Applications like Dropbox are the future of distributed file sharing. There are quite a few applications that serve the same or similar purpose such as Google Docs, Windows Live Skydrive and Apple’s Mobile Me.

What’s interesting about these applications is the potential to hold discoverable electronic evidence.

The basic approach to ESI (Electronically Stored Information) cases is to follow the who, what, where and how of potential evidence.

Who are you trying to find out information about, or who owned, modified, deleted or created a document or email.

What are you looking for? This part is pretty well defined; Email, Documents, Spreadsheets and so forth.

Where might this evidence be stored? This is what is getting more complicated with more storage options gaining ground in the marketplace.

How do you get the evidence? In the old days, that was the simplest of questions; either from the computer hard drive or a floppy disk. You would get access to the computer in question and do the evidence collection.

These days, the interrogatories for building a discovery motion needs to include the possibility of cloud storage applications like these.

Companies should also bear in mind that since these applications sync file to multiple devices, and an employee now has a copy of the files and can access them from their home computer as well as their office computer or company laptop.

When you look at obtaining electronic discovery, one of the approaches now must be: Does the custodian of interest have access to or participate in on-line shared storage options beyond SharePoint server or a company file share. If the company is using an on-line backup service in the cloud, will documents be available there that are not on the local computers and servers?

The beauty of applications like Dropbox is the audit trail that is automatically created when documents are modified or deleted from Dropbox ..."

Click here to finish reading this valuable article.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

PercepTool2 - price drop

Upon further consideration, a price drop and HDR for free: "Atlantic Light Works and Reindeer Graphics announce the release of PercepTool 2TM a Photoshop add-on suite that performs High Dynamic Range (HDR), Tone Mapping and Perceptual Effect operations on digital photographs. Compatible with both Windows and Mac platforms in 32- and 64-bit processing, it operates in Photoshop CS4 and CS5 (Photoshop Extended required for 32-bits/channel). PercepTool 2TM works with both B&W and Color images in 8-bits, 16-bits and 32-bits.

Completely revised and updated, PercepTool 2TM includes a new interface for the Perceptual Effect routine that now includes Exposure and Contrast adjustments instead of using Photoshop tools. The Perceptual Effect adjustment has been redesigned to operate faster and to protect the highlights. In addition, PercepTool 2TM now includes EqualizerTM, a superior multi-contrast Tone Mapping interface, and FreeHDRTM, a High Dynamic Range operator that combines images without ‘grunge’ effects. Included is a Histogram with both Levels and Ansel Adams Zone System scales. LiveViewTM, the ability to work on the main image itself and not a preview, is unique to PercepTool 2TM.

Photographers will find the new HDR and Tone Mapping abilities of PercepTool 2TM especially exciting. FreeHDRTM finds an optimal alignment for images to be blended (with multiple quality settings) that does not suffer from the flaws in Photoshop’s alignment. The blending of the images occurs with accurate color rendition, reduced noise, and attention to the realistic nature of the photograph itself, rather than an interpretation.

PercepTool 2TM may be downloaded only from http://www.georgedewolfe.com/perceptool.html. For those who have purchased the original PercepToolTMthe upgrade cost is $75. The full version is $95."


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

HDR for free?

It just keeps getting better. This just in: "Atlantic Light Works and Reindeer Graphics announce the release of FreeHDRTM a free Photoshop add-on that performs High Dynamic Range (HDR) alignment and blending on digital photographs. Compatible with both Windows and Mac platforms in 32- and 64-bit processing, it operates in Photoshop CS4 and CS5 (Photoshop Extended required for 32-bits/channel images). FreeHDRTM works with both B&W and Color images in 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit modes.

FreeHDRTM, a High Dynamic Range operator, combines images without ‘grunge’ effects. FreeHDRTM finds an optimal alignment for images to be blended (with multiple quality settings) that does not suffer from the flaws in Photoshop’s alignment. The blending of the images occurs with accurate color rendition, minimal noise, reduced ghosting, and attention to the realistic nature of the photograph itself, rather than an interpretation.

Compare the color rendering, alignment and blending of FreeHDRTM with Photomatix® and other HDR programs. We think you’ll agree that the results are a notch above the rest…at a price that can’t be beat.

FreeHDRTM may be downloaded FREE by clicking here."


Raising the bar a little higher

Hany Farid vs. Photoshop
The Dartmouth computer scientist and forensic imaging specialist has come up with a way to tell whether a digital photograph is authentic
From Businessweek.com

"A warning to anyone trying to pass off faked photos as real: Hany Farid is on to you. The Dartmouth College computer scientist is developing digital forensics software that can instantly tell whether an image has been manipulated, and what make and model of camera captured it. It's "exactly like gun ballistics," says Farid, 44. "If Photoshop touches that image, we will know about it."

Much as a rifle barrel imprints a unique pattern of grooves on bullets, digital cameras have electronic signatures—minute variations of resolution and image compression in the images they produce. Farid and his students received permission from photo-sharing site Flickr to download millions of images and build a signature database of every one of the 10,000-plus digital camera models ever made. To verify a picture, Farid's system checks it against that database to identify the equipment used. It then looks for any variations in the signature, which would indicate fakery. If the system finds traces of Adobe Photoshop (ADBE), which also leaves a signature (and is the most common image manipulation program), that's a sure sign of picture alteration.

Farid plans to sell his software, though he hasn't decided whether to start his own company or partner with Adobe, which is helping to develop the technology. The program may be useful to law enforcement agencies that need unaltered photographs for court evidence, says Stephen A. Saltzburg, a law professor at George Washington University. Newspapers might use it to determine the authenticity of freelance photos. People will inevitably try to outsmart the program, "but we're going to make it pretty hard for them," says Farid. "You're going to have to work. And right now, you don't have to work ..."

Click here to continue reading the story.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

PercepTool2 vs. Photoshop HDR

I received a question from a reader asking why PercepTool2 is better than Photoshop's built in HDR functionality. Since better is rather subjective, I'll try to answer the question by quoting the creators.

"We produced the first practical HDR plugin for Photoshop, Optipix, when the digital revolution was beginning at the turn of the century. HDR Align and BlendTM is a vast improvement on that algorithm and includes a multi-align routine that fixes Photoshop’s inability to align the same thing the same way twice.

The alignment routine can run as many as 11 alignments per layer. The default is Normal (6 alignments). The HDR blending routine is proprietary and gives the best “natural” blend of any HDR software available. 2 to 100 images can be added in Layers, aligned and blended. This blend can, of course, be adjusted with the tone mapping EqualizerTM."

"PercepTool 2TM, EqualizerTM, and HDR Align and BlendTM are all dedicated to reproducing a perceptual and emotional image that you first saw and felt in your eye and camera. These tools rely on research from the perceptual processing of the human eye and brain, from Lightness science, from research into the great masters of painting, and from the practice of photography."

In my own experience, the HDR functionality in Photoshop is great for creating what I call "modern art masterpieces." The results tend to be "hyper-real." The results from the 3 plug-ins that make up the PerceptTool2 package, properly employed, create realistic views that really do accurately depict the scene (the full tonal range) as viewed at the time - as I perceive it.

If our goal is to provide the trier of fact with a true representation of the scene, an accurate representation of pieces of evidence, and so forth, then the PercepTool2 package of plug-ins is one to have in your tool box.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Forensic Photoshop Configurator Panel Updated

Good news. The Forensic Photoshop Configurator Panel has been updated to support Configurator 2 / Photoshop CS5. You can download it from the book's resources page (secure area for book owners only). Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

PercepTool2 - first looks

I had some spare time this morning, being the holiday and all, so my able assistant and I went around the ranch looking for tyre and boot marks. We found a few likely candidates and set up our shoot - Fujifilm IS-1, tripod, Whibal card, and etc. After shooting from 2 stops under - 2 stops over (each scenario) I loaded the files into Bridge - then into Photoshop CS5 as Layers.

Using both the HDR/Align and Equalizer functions in PercepTool2 ... and be prepared to wait a while, this is very CPU intensive stuff (my Mac's almost 3 years old now) ... I was quite satisfied with the initial results.

Right out of the camera, the RAW file is flat and uninteresting. Using PercepTool2, I was able to really bring out the details of the tread whilst adding a bit of punch. The included instructions are very easy to understand and follow (RTFM). The presets in Equalizer make perfect sense.

My initial impressions of this inexpensive plug-in are that evidence and forensic photographers are going to want a copy.

To be continued ...


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

HDR in forensic imaging

I wanted to pass along a quote from a noted image scientist on HDR's role in forensic imaging.

"HDR is a big deal. Too many people think it is an "exotic" kind of imaging, but in reality what we're trying to do is suppress large dynamic range while emphasizing details in a believable manner. With forensics, the limitation on believability isn't quite as important (we need to show that something is there, not necessarily that it looks nice, too.)"

I recognise that HDR is a big deal. That's why I'm excited about PerceptTool2, both conceptually and in practice. I think it will push forensic photographers and analysts towards thinking of mastery - towards getting as much detail out of a scene as possible and presenting it in such a way that it will positively effect the telling of the story.


Depth Boundaries - latent print and shoe mark image development

I'm excited about using PercepTool2 on latent prints and shoe marks.

In any experiment, you start with a null hypothesis and an alternative hypothesis. In this case, the null would be that PercepTool2 will not dramatically clarify a latent print and/or shoe mark image. The alternative will thus be that PercepTool2 will dramatically clarify a latent print and/or shoe mark image.

I think we'll find that PercepTool2's work on edge enhancements, framework, and tonal articulation will be amazing. Am I biassed? No - just excited.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The science of lightness perception - part 6

In continuing to set the stage for my review of the new PercepTool2, and realising that many don't yet have George DeWolfe's Book, B&W Printing, here I'll finish presenting some of George's glossary terms.

Remember, George notes that many of the words that he uses have additional meanings in other contexts, but are used here as they relate to the science of lightness perception. I'll present the basic information. Readers are encouraged to get George's book in order to dive into the details.

Scale normalization rule: the perceived range of grays within a framework shifts to a 30:1 range (in brightness) from highlight to shadow relative to the actual physical range given the framework.

Size: the greater the size of a local framework, the more important it is in the image.

Value: refers to where a black, white, or gray tone lies along a light to dark continuum.

Visual perception: the process of acquiring, interpreting, selecting, and organizing what we see.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Help LAPD put names to faces of the more than 100 images recovered in possession of the Grim Sleeper

To view poster, click here.
To view all photos, click here.
If you can identify any of these photos, please call 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (1-877-527-3247)

Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may call Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may contact Crimestoppers by texting the number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on "webtips" and follow the prompts.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The science of lightness perception - part 5

In continuing to set the stage for my review of the new PercepTool2, and realising that many don't yet have George DeWolfe's Book, B&W Printing, I'm going to present some of George's glossary terms in this and the next few posts.

George notes that many of the words that he uses have additional meanings in other contexts, but are used here as they relate to the science of lightness perception. I'll present the basic information. Readers are encouraged to get George's book in order to dive into the details.

Presence: the quality of good brightness constancy and high articulation of black/white values in an image.

Proximal stimulus: the image received by the retina in the human eye.

Reflectance: a measure of the percentage of incident light reflected from a surface.

Reflectance edge: an actual edge in an image that is revealed by a change in reflectance.

To be continued ...


Saturday, December 18, 2010

It begs the question ...

A story that popped up on Government Video's web site begs an important question: "The installation of a mid-sized internet-protocol (IP) video surveillance system now costs less than installing a corresponding analog system, says report by a Swedish university research group.

The independent study, conducted by Lusax, a research group at Lund University in Sweden, compiled data comparing the costs of installing analog video surveillance systems with the costs of installing IP video surveillance systems.

Lusax compared the cost of installing analog systems with IP systems by surveying integrators who were actively selling and installing both analog and IP-based systems. The integrators were asked to provide bids on installing both types of systems at a retail store with 14, 25 and 40 cameras, and for all three scenarios the IP-based system returned a lower total cost than the analog system.

Thomas Kalling, a professor and leader of Lusax, said he was not surprised by the results because “The market for IP security products has developed rapidly and is much more mature than only a few years ago.”

Both integrators and installers have learned to benefit from using standard, off-the-shelf products for recording and storage, which has a positive effect on the total system cost, Kalling said.

A similar study conducted in 2007 showed that an IP-based surveillance system was more cost-efficient in installations, but only when the number of cameras exceeded 32.

“We are continuing to see the increasing benefits that modern IP technology brings to its customers, including scalability, quality and total cost of ownership,” Fredrik Nilsson, Axis Communications Inc.’s general manager, said in a written statement. “As IP adoption grows, cost-effectiveness needs to grow as well. This study validates the efforts Axis has made to deliver products that support that belief. We expect to see this cost advantage increase in the future as IP innovation continues, especially with the rise of hosted solutions,” said Nilsson, whose company paid for at least part of the study ..."

Did you see it? My question is, why is quality not factored in the equation? How about not driving the market based on cost entirely. Why not focus on the purpose of CCTV, then fit the installation to that purpose. Usually, if you get a $400 DVR - it's worth less than that when the images it produces are worthless in court. The same goes for IP based systems. I've been less than impressed with the quality that comes out of them.

Photoshop 12.0.3 update for CS5 Windows now available

From Adobe's John Nack: "In addition to containing the fixes that were part of the recent 12.0.2 update, the 12.0.3 update for Photoshop CS5 for Windows fixes a tooltip problem that was introduced by 12.0.2, as well as a security vulnerability. Photoshop CS5 for Mac doesn’t have these problems, so there’s no equivalent update for Mac."


Friday, December 17, 2010

The science of lightness perception - part 4

In continuing to set the stage for my review of the new PercepTool2, and realising that many don't yet have George DeWolfe's Book, B&W Printing, I'm going to present some of George's glossary terms in this and the next few posts.

George notes that many of the words that he uses have additional meanings in other contexts, but are used here as they relate to the science of lightness perception. I'll present the basic information. Readers are encouraged to get George's book in order to dive into the details.

Illuminance: also called illumination, illuminance is the total perceived amount of light falling on a surface (incident light).

Illuminance edge: an actual edge in an image that is revealed by a change in illumination.

Intrinsic image: reflectance images and illuminance images - together these two types make up the luminance image seen by the retina of the eye and the camera sensor.

Lightness: perceived reflectance.

Luminance: also called intensity - luminance is the combined emission of illuminance (incident light) and reflectance (reflected light) from diffuse surfaces.

Luminosity: also called brightness, luminosity is the subjective quality of luminance as processed and perceived by the visual cortex of the brain.

Percept: an individual's visual experience of something external to themselves.

To be continued ...


Thursday, December 16, 2010

The science of lightness perception - part 3

In continuing to set the stage for my review of the new PercepTool2, and realising that many don't yet have George DeWolfe's Book, B&W Printing, I'm going to present some of George's glossary terms in this and the next few posts.

George notes that many of the words that he uses have additional meanings in other contexts, but are used here as they relate to the science of lightness perception. I'll present the basic information. Readers are encouraged to get George's book in order to dive into the details.

Fundamental error: the fundamental error in lightness perception is that objects on dark backgrounds appear lighter and objects on light backgrounds appear darker.

Gamut compression: a perceptual compression of the grayscale that occurs when the range of luminance values is greater than a 1:30 highlight to shadow ratio.

Gamut expansion: a perceptual broadening of the grayscale that occurs when the range of luminance values within a framework is greater than a 1:30 highlight to shadow ratio.

Gestalt principles of visual organization: proximity, similarity, closure, continuation, and belongingness.

Grouping: refers to the grouping of certain visual attributes such as tonal values, edges, depth boundaries, corners, and the Gestalt principles of visual organization in a local framework.

To be continued ...


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The science of lightness perception - part 2

In continuing to set the stage for my review of the new PercepTool2, and realising that many don't yet have George DeWolfe's Book, B&W Printing, I'm going to present some of George's glossary terms in this and the next few posts.

George notes that many of the words that he uses have additional meanings in other contexts, but are used here as they relate to the science of lightness perception. I'll present the basic information. Readers are encouraged to get George's book in order to dive into the details.

Constancy: refers to brightness constancy.

Depth cues: edge patterns used by the brain to detect depth.

Distal stimulus: the physical environment or object photographed.

Framework: a basic structure used to define and group visual elements such as highlights, shadows, midtones, depth indicators, and edges.

To be continued ...


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The science of lightness perception

In setting the stage for my review of the new PercepTool2, and realising that many don't yet have George DeWolfe's Book, B&W Printing, I'm going to present some of George's glossary terms in this and the next few posts.

George notes that many of the words that he uses have additional meanings in other contexts, but are used here as they relate to the science of lightness perception. I'll present the basic information. Readers are encouraged to get George's book in order to dive into the details.

Anchoring: anchoring takes the highest relative luminance in a framework and maps it to white.

Articulation: refers to the number of tonal values within a framework.

Brightness: also called luminosity, brightness refers to perceived luminance.

Contrast: is defined in lightness perception science as a luminance ratio.

To be continued ...


Monday, December 13, 2010

The First Steps: Toward Understanding the Nature of Footwear Impression Evidence

From Evidence Magazine: "Since the very beginning, criminals have left their footmarks at the scene of the crime. It is an undeniable law of gravity that even the most intelligent criminal mind cannot circumvent. Criminals may easily don latex gloves but nary a one will commit their crimes wearing shoe covers. These impressions are an unclaimed bounty waiting to be discovered, and all that stands in our way is the proper tools and the knowledge of their application.

Footwear impressions represent the ultimate enigma in forensic science. They are among the most prevalent types of evidence to be found at crime scenes, but they are simultaneously the least sought-after clues. Over the years, a number of myths regarding footwear evidence have permeated our lexicon and drained our institutional knowledge of effective processing techniques. Police officers and criminalists alike are disadvantaged by this condition, resulting in valuable evidence going unnoticed.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution and the learning curve is slight. By understanding the nature of footwear impressions, we can better understand the best practices for recovering them.

Footwear impressions can tell us about both the criminal and the crime. We may be able to determine the make and style of shoe, and even the identity of the shoe to the exclusion of all others in the world. We can even use these impressions to rule out certain shoes and narrow the suspect pool.

Equally important is our ability to use footwear to tell us how the criminals moved through the scene. Did they climb through a window or boot open a locked door? Did they walk away from the scene or run? Did they enter a particular room or leave it untouched? All of these questions may be answered—but only if we discover the impressions ..."

Click here to continue reading this story.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Techno Forensics Conference Expands to Encompass Crime Scene and Photography/Video Sessions

DFI News Digital Forensic Investigator® and TheTrainingCo.,LLC announced today that in conjunction with partnering to produce the 7th annual “Techno Forensics Conference,” the 2011 conference will debut a track specifically devoted to Forensics industry professionals with highlighted focus on photo/video forensics and crime scene investigation and evidence collection. Joining together the Digital Forensic and Forensic communities reflects the crossover apparent today within a wide range of forensic and digital disciplines. This annual event brings together key stakeholders from industry, academia and government in an effort to strengthen this important technology, research, and communication bridge.

For more information and to register: www.technoforensicsconference.com

“The conference will provide critical cross-industry learning and valuable new business partnership and networking opportunities. This is where to find knowledge, contacts and business.” said Patrick Murphy, CEO Vicon Publishing, a New Hampshire-based global leader in business-to-business media publications including DFI News Digital Forensic Investigator® and Forensic Magazine®. “Attendees include international leaders from public and private sectors in over 40 countries worldwide as well as luminaries bringing critical new intelligence including the National Institute of Justice.”

“Emerging technologies and applications are affecting the way industry experts interact with one another and the inter-dependencies loom large” said Donald Withers, CEO, TheTrainingCo. “This conference provides a perfect opportunity to present useful information and techniques designed to assist digital investigative and forensic professionals in day-to-day practice.”

The “Techno Forensics Conference” will be held on October 31 and November 1, 2011 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center located at 2101 North Oak Street, Myrtle Beach, SC.

The conference will highlight a series of track presentations, live demonstrations, and industry experts.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Setting the stage for the review of PercepTool 2.0.2

I'm diving into PercepTool and the theory behind it - loving what I'm finding. In setting the stage for the forthcoming full tour and review, I want to pass along some of the philosophy behind the tool. This snippet comes from George DeWolfe's book on black and white printing,

"Behind all the inventions, techniques, and movements in painting and photography lies a fundamental truth about the inherent degree of visual perception involved in each: What the painter represents on canvas is a representation of what is visually perceived, while what the photographer represents in an unaltered image is only what is actually seen, not what it visually perceived. What is seen by the retina of your eye or the sensor of your digital camera represents a quantity of light as it falls on a subject or scene. This quantity of light is known as luminance. Luminance combines both the surface reflective nature of the scene being photographed as well as the illumination falling on the scene. What is visually perceived (and painted by a painter) is a many faceted neural operation that separates reflection and illumination and combines them with edge definition, depth, form, and wholeness—a process that, for the artist, is inherently more “real” than what we take for realism in a photograph."

Some interesting food for thought ...


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

This just in ...

Normally, I don't do press releases. This, however, will be a rare exception. I'm a fan of the people involved and look forward to taking this new tool for a spin. As usual, I'll do a review of it when I'm finished punishing it.

Here' goes ...

Atlantic Light Works and Reindeer Graphics announce the release of PercepTool 2.0.2TM, a Photoshop add-on suite that performs High Dynamic Range (HDR), Tone Mapping and Perceptual Effect operations on digital photographs. Compatible with both Windows and Mac platforms in 32- and 64-bit processing, it operates in Photoshop CS4 and CS5 (Photoshop Extended required for 32-bits/channel). PercepTool 2.0.2TM works with both B&W and Color images in 8-bits, 16-bits and 32-bits.

Completely revised and updated, PercepTool 2.0.2TM includes a new interface for the Perceptual Effect routine that now includes Exposure and Contrast adjustments instead of using Photoshop tools. The Perceptual Effect adjustment has been redesigned to operate faster and to protect the highlights. In addition, PercepTool 2.0.2TM now includes EqualizerTM, a superior multi-contrast Tone Mapping interface, and HDR Align and BlendTM, a High Dynamic Range operator that combines images without “grunge” effects. Included is a Histogram with both Levels and Ansel Adams Zone System scales. LiveViewTM, the ability to work on the image itself and not a preview, is unique to PercepTool 2.0.2TM.

Photographers will find the new HDR and Tone Mapping abilities of PercepTool 2.0.2TM especially exciting. HDR Align and BlendTM finds an optimal alignment for images to be blended (with multiple quality settings) that does not suffer from the flaws in Photoshop’s alignment. The blending of the images occurs with accurate color rendition, reduced noise, and attention to the realistic nature of the photograph itself, rather than an interpretation.

PercepTool 2.0.2TM may be downloaded only by clicking here. For those who have purchased the original PercepToolTM the upgrade cost is $75. The full version is $150.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cryptographers crack system for verifying digital images

From the UK Register: "Cryptographers have cracked software used to verify that images taken with Canon cameras haven't been altered.

Russian password-cracking company ElcomSoft said on Tuesday that it's able to extract the original signing key from the Canon Original Data Security Kit and use it to validate fake photos. Canon has billed the service as a way to verify the originality of an image and to confirm that global positioning coordinates, data, time, and other metadata hasn't been changed.

“The entire image verification system is proved useless,” ElcomSoft CEO Vladimir Katalov said in a statement. “If one company was able to produce fake images indistinguishable from originals, how do we know that others haven't been doing this for years?”

The Russian company mocked the system by posting doctored photos authenticated by the system purporting to show Russian cosmonauts landing on the moon ahead of US astronauts and Joseph Stalin brandishing an iPhone.

According to ElcomSoft, the verification kit embeds cryptographic data into every image taken with a compatible Canon camera that's supposed to verify the picture's authenticity and originality. The kit's demise joins a long list of other cracks by ElcomSoft that extract everything from iPhone 4 passwords to Wi-Fi encryption keys."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Context - at the center of the storm

From the Toronto Star: "Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair is lashing out at the Special Investigations Unit for saying excessive force was probably used by officers in two cases during G20 protests.

The two cases are among six investigated by the police watchdog, which then decided not to pursue charges because the officers in question could not be identified.

At the centre of Blair’s grievances, a YouTube video the SIU used as corroborating evidence of excessive force against a civilian.

Blair said the video had been “tampered with.” He said the tape had been “forensically examined” over the weekend and that it was edited in a way that offered no explanation for why force was used ..."

"Blair questioned the validity of the video.

“We have no way of knowing what has been removed,” Blair said in a statement Monday. “It is very likely that what has been removed sheds light on why the man was arrested, and why force was used.”

“We’re asking why the SIU would use a video posted on YouTube without checking it independently?” said police spokesman Mark Pugash.

“I think it’s well known that you have to take everything you see on YouTube not only with a grain of salt, but with a huge amount of salt ...”

Click here to read the whole story.


Monday, November 29, 2010

The evolution of the slide show presentation

From Adobe.com. "And [courtroom presentations] will never be the same. With Acrobat X Suite made available earlier this month, [LE] professionals can now begin to bring their ideas to life and deliver breakthrough communications.

What’s in Acrobat X Suite? Only five of the most powerful communications tools available today: Acrobat X Pro, Photoshop CS5, Captivate 7, Presenter 7 and LiveCycle Designer ES. With these tools you can create rich interactive media, edit and improve digital images, and deliver polished PDF communications.

Here are just a few things you can do with Acrobat X Suite that will amp up your otherwise mundane presentations.

Create presentations that talk. You can transform static PowerPoint slides into compelling, self-running presentations with Adobe Presenter 7. With just a few clicks, you can add narration, videos, and interactivity to make your business presentations look — and sound — better than ever.

" "PDF Portfolio assembly. We all know how effective PDF Portfolios are. Now it’s easier than ever to quickly assemble a wide range of file types — including audio, video, and rich media content — in a polished, organized PDF Portfolio in just three simple steps using the new PDF Portfolio Wizard.

That’s just the beginning. Easy video insertion and screen recording, content aware fill, enhanced HDR imaging, PDF Portfolio customization, security are just a few more of the Suite’s features. So check out the free trial here and see how you can have your [jury] on the edge of their seats at your next [trial]. And you’ll see that life is indeed suite."


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Using CS Review to connect with remote clients

I can see this helping small agencies connect with remote outposts or attorneys in their capital cities. Check out CS Review:

"More and more, editors are working in studios that may be far away from their clients. Be it cross town or half way around the world, we’ve all had a need for remote approval of our finished video sequences.

Remote approval has always been a pretty painful process of uploading and downloading compressed files with a lot of e-mails flying back and forth. Not very efficient, is it? I can tell you from personal experience, it isn’t.

Recently, a killer new feature sneaked into Premiere Pro CS5 (5.0.2) called CS Review. CS Review in Premiere Pro is the perfect solution for the problem I’ve just described, remote approval of your work. CS Review is one of a number “services” in the CS Live feature that are integrated into certain Adobe CS5 applications. This blog post aims to get you up and running with CS Review in Premiere Pro quickly and give you tips and resources on how to use this cool new feature.

How Does it Work?
CS Review has two major components: the online Web Client (located at acrobat.com) and the Review Panel in Premiere Pro. After you’ve finished editing your sequence, you’ll create your Review using the Review Panel. You’ll encode your movie with Adobe Media Encoder and then send a link to the Review for your client.

On the web client will be a web page with a movie file is embedded into it and a side panel for comments. Your client opens the link, views the footage and then makes comments in different places in the movie. After your client completes making comments, they send an approval message back to you.

Back in Premiere Pro, you’ll be able to see the results right in the Review Panel with comments showing each place in the movie that needs a change. Click on a comment and the CTI snaps to the exact location of your comment, ready for you to make that change. Pretty dang nifty.

Click here to continue reading.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Adobe Reader protected mode explained

Here is a series of links to an outstanding explanation of how sandboxing works in Adobe Reader.

Inside Adobe Reader Protected Mode – Part 1 – Design
Inside Adobe Reader Protected Mode – Part 2 – The Sandbox Process
Inside Adobe Reader Protected Mode – Part 3 – Broker Process, Policies, and Inter-Process Communication
Inside Adobe Reader Protected Mode – Part 4 – The Challenge of Sandboxing


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sandboxing and Adobe Reader X

From Adobe: "Since we first announced the development of a sandbox for Adobe Reader on July 20, 2010, there has been a tremendous level of interest in the sandboxing topic — and an equal level of anticipation for Adobe Reader X. Over the last few months, the Adobe Reader engineering team together with the Adobe Secure Software Engineering Team, partners in the software development community such as the Microsoft Office security team and the Chrome team at Google, as well as customers, third-party consultancies in the security community, and other external stakeholders were hard at work to help ensure the sandbox implementation was as robust as possible.

Today, all of the hard work has come to fruition, and we are happy to announce that Adobe Reader X (with Protected Mode, aka sandboxing, on Windows) is now available! To download the new version of Adobe Reader, visit www.adobe.com/reader.

Adobe’s product security initiatives are focused on reducing both the frequency and the impact of security vulnerabilities. Adobe Reader Protected Mode represents an exciting new advancement in mitigating the impact of attempted attacks. While sandboxing is not a security silver bullet, it provides a strong additional level of defense against attacks. Even if exploitable security vulnerabilities are found by an attacker, Adobe Reader Protected Mode will help prevent the attacker from writing files or installing malware on potential victims’ computers."


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A cool, free Photoshop book comes to iPad

From Adobe's John Nack: "Photographer Dan Marcolina has used InDesign’s new tablet-publishing tools to create the very cool The World Without Photoshop, “A unique interactive iPad book featuring a dozen Photoshop Masters.”

See for yourself what some of the best digital artists’ work looks like without the software. Then with the touch of your finger The World Without Photoshop is transformed and you can see and hear the imaginations of these artists come to life in their work. Pinch and zoom into over 48 works by artists, illustrators, designers, and photographers and get their insights into how twenty years of Photoshop innovation have changed their world.

Bonus content includes an interactive timeline of 20 years of Photoshop features, Russell Preston Brown’s Photoshop ODDyssey presentation, more."


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

‘Lame Duck’ Session Likely to Include Bills on Video, Recording

From Government Video: "Capitol Hill staffers of Democratic members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are hopeful that Congress will act on two bills affecting government broadcasts and recording in a “lame duck” session after the November elections.

The latest bills were introduced in late September, and were immediately referred to committees, with at least one Senate proposal receiving swift action.

On Sept. 28, 2010, the proposed “Government Performance and Results Modernization Act” (S. 3853) was introduced into the Senate by Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del.; Mark Warner, D-Va.; and Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii. The proposed requires federal agencies to post performance data on a single public website on a quarterly, rather than a yearly, schedule. S. 3853 was referred to the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee, and on Sept. 29, the committee approved the proposed legislation and offered it as an amendment to a House version of the bill, HR 2141, which proves Congress can get work accomplished when it wants to. The fast track is not over for this bill, staffers close to Carper are confident Congress will act on it during a lame duck session, and that bill is not alone.

On Sept. 29, 2010, the proposed “Effective Law Enforcement Through Transparent Interrogations Act” (HR 6245) was introduced in the House by Rep. Henry Johnson, D-Ga., and the bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. That particular bill seeks to require all federal police agencies record every suspect interrogation or forfeit the statements a suspect said during questioning.

Click here to continue reading.


Monday, November 15, 2010

New York City Police Photograph Irises of Suspects

From the NY Times: The New York Police Department has begun photographing the irises of people who are arrested in an effort to prevent escapes as suspects move through the court system, a police official said Monday.

The program was instituted after two embarrassing episodes early this year in which prisoners arrested on serious charges tricked the authorities into freeing them by posing at arraignment as suspects facing minor cases. The occurrences exposed weaknesses in the city’s handling of suspects as they move from police custody into the maze of court systems in the five boroughs.

With the new system, the authorities are using a hand-held scanning device that can check a prisoner’s identity in seconds when the suspect is presented in court, said Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman.

Officials began photographing the irises of suspects arrested for any reason on Monday at Manhattan Central Booking and expect to expand the program to all five boroughs by early December, Mr. Browne said.

The department has been working on the program for months, Mr. Browne said. But the effort caught many in the city’s legal circles by surprise as news of it began trickling out late last week. It is raising concerns among civil libertarians and privacy advocates, who say the authorities’ cataloging of the new data could put innocent people under permanent suspicion.

“It’s really distressing that the Police Department is once again undertaking a new regime of personal data collection without any public discourse,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, “and we don’t know the reason for it, whether this is a necessary program, whether it’s effective to address the concerns that it’s designed to address, and whether in this day and age it’s even cost-effective, not to mention whether there are any protections in place against the misuse of the data that’s collected.”

Steven Banks, attorney in chief of the Legal Aid Society, said his office learned about the program on Friday in a phone call from the mayor’s criminal justice coordinator.

“This is an unnecessary process,” Mr. Banks said. “It’s unauthorized by the statutes and of questionable legality at best. The statutes specifically authorize collecting fingerprints. There has been great legislative debate about the extent to which DNA evidence can be collected, and it is limited to certain types of cases. So the idea that the Police Department can forge ahead and use a totally new technology without any statutory authorization is certainly suspect.”

Mr. Browne said a legal review by the department had concluded that legislative authorization was not necessary.

Click here to continue reading the story.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

LEVA Conference

I know that the posts have been a bit slow in coming. The demands of doubling up on classes in an already accelerated PhD program often keep me from blogging. I'll be putting a bunch of stuff up that I've been saving soon.

In the meantime, for those that are going to the LEVA Conference this week, I'll see you there.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Specialized Studies Program in Forensic Photography - UC Davis Extension Program

Learn the art of producing accurate documentation of a crime scene, accident or other types of investigations with this online program in forensic photography. The field of forensic photography is expanding as the need for professionals with the technical ability to provide precise documentation to courts and other agencies grows.

Forensic photography has become an integral part of not only crime scenes but accidents, disasters, engineering failures, product liability and child protection—virtually all events and situations requiring documentation.

Gain practical knowledge that matters

Learn from a nationally recognized expert in the field of forensic photography. Gain insight into the principles of digital photography.

This online program is designed for law enforcement officers, investigators, medical personnel, government officials involved in disaster investigations and documentation, private detectives, legal and paralegal personnel, engineers and technicians, and anyone interested in gathering and/or documenting data for legal and/or scientific purposes.

Click here for more information.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

BOLO Alert

Riverside, Ca., police have released a photo of the man suspected of fatally shooting an officer.

Officer Ryan Bonaminio, 27, was killed Sunday night by an unidentified man who was driving a stolen big-rig cab who was believed to be involved in an earlier hit-and-run accident.

The gunman, who remains at large, is described as a black male in his mid-30s to 40s, 6-1 or 6-2, with a slender build and possible facial hair, wearing dark clothing and a light-colored baseball cap.

He is armed with a handgun, police said.

“We’re putting out the photo in hopes that somebody would see the suspect and do the right thing,” said Police Chief Sergio Diaz.

The incident began when police received a call about a hit-and-run accident at the 60 Freeway and Market Street about 9:45 p.m., Brennan said.

Bonaminio was on routine patrol when he tried to stop the truck to question the driver about the incident, police said.

The trucker failed to stop despite the patrol car's flashing lights and siren, police said. The trucker eventually pulled over in front of nearby Fairmount Park. He got out of the vehicle and ran, with Bonaminio running after him, police said.

When other officers arrived at the scene, they found Bonaminio on the ground with a gunshot injury, police said. He was taken to Riverside Hospital, where he died of his injuries.

The photo of the man was taken by a video camera inside the officer’s car, said Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz. The picture was taken after the man shot the officer and as he was getting back into the cab to return the vehicle to the rental yard where it was stolen, Diaz said.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Adobe Audition for Mac - Public Beta!

Adobe announced that Adobe Audition for the Mac is now available for public beta (you can see the press release here). "We encourage you to give it a try and provide us with feedback.

Audition will be shipped on both Windows and Mac OS when the time comes, but given that Mac OS is a new platform for Audition it is important we gather as much feedback and testing as possible in order to make this is a great product for all users. Visit the Adobe Audition Labs page for download information and more details: http://www.adobe.com/go/audition_labs."


Adobe Audition for Mac - Public Beta!

Adobe announced that Adobe Audition for the Mac is now available for public beta (you can see the press release here). We encourage you to give it a try and provide us with feedback. Audition will be shipped on both Windows and Mac OS when the time comes, but given that Mac OS is a new platform for Audition it is important we gather as much feedback and testing as possible in order to make this is a great product for all users. Visit the Adobe Audition Labs page for download information and more details: http://www.adobe.com/go/audition_labs.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

“On CCTV 300 times a day.” Rubbish. And here’s why.

From Lambert & Associates: "I was prompted to write this today owing to a TV news report that stated each of us is likely “caught” on camera “330 times a day”. What?!

First, a subsidiary point in this outrage is that when we’re viewed by a CCTV camera we shouldn’t feel “caught”. Why the negative wording, eh, Mr. TV Reporter? Are you “caught” when a bobby-on-the-beat sees you walking along in accordance with the law of the land? No. So why say that about CCTV? Sensationalist agenda from the mass media? Hmm. Anyway, on to the main point of this blog post.

I couldn’t help but notice the ubiquitous urban myth that each of us is view by 300 CCTV cameras per day in the UK has been inflated in this tv report to 330. Where did the additional 30 times a day spring from? I imagine someone decided that the figure must have gone up since it was originally ‘calculated’ and that 10% seems like a reasonable wild stab in the dark to a journalist looking to advance their career with breaking news, eh what? Tosh.

So where did the 300 figure come from in the first place? Can it be relied upon as the truth of the matter? The media certainly trot it out as ‘fact’ at every opportunity, and we know how trustworthy they are This was addressed recently in respected magazine Wired in ‘A Sharp Focus on CCTV’ by Heather Brooke. She wrote that Simon Davies of Privacy International walked London from Blackfriars to Bond Street in the earlier 1990′s and counted cameras before multiplying this up. How on earth can that represent the whole of the UK? It’s laughable, so let’s dismiss that ..."

Click here to read the rest of the story.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Annoying Aspects of CCTV

From Lambert & Associates: "A photograph in a recent issue of that fine CCTV Image magazine, the organ of the CCTV User Group, showed a spanking new CCTV control room. The proud owners had invested in a bank of monitors often known as a video wall. Nothing unusual there, you might say to yourself. Indeed. (My thoughts on how to save money, power consumption and cooling costs in your control room by avoiding the need for a video wall will wait for another day.)

In CCTV where, disappointingly, end-users’ technical advice can come from an ex-policemen who doesn’t really know a pixel from a pixie or from a salesman who thinks “codecs” is spelled “codex” (because he once read The Da Vinci Code), we often see regular CCTV images being inappropriately stretched across widescreen monitors. Please, no.

Look at it, then think about it. Take the normal 4:3 CCTV picture and stretch it over a typical 16:9 LCD and you end up with a sideways distortion of 33%. That’s a whole 1/3!"

Click here to finish reading part 1. Click here for part 2. Click here for part 3.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Forensic Photoshop hands-on

We've just announced another date for the Basic Forensic Photoshop class in the LA area. December 10, 2010 will be the next classroom session at LA CLEAR. Click here for more details.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Encoding settings for multiple screens using Adobe Media Encoder CS5

From Adobe.com: "Today at Adobe MAX, we announced new encoding profiles for Adobe Media Encoder CS5 (part of the Adobe Creative Suite 5) to help publishers deliver a consistent experience across multiple screens with full adaptive bitrate.

There is no single general encoding setting that fits all business cases, so we have provided 7 settings that will get you started. These settings will cover screen sizes ranging from mobile phones, tablets, desktops and televisions. If you produce your video using Adobe Production Premium CS5 you now have a simple workflow that will make your video look great across many screens.

Once installed, you will have these encoding settings available to you directly in the Adobe Media Encoder CS5 interface.

We divided the 7 encoding profiles into 3 categories and optimized for sreen-size, encoding and bitrate."

Click here to download the new settings. Click here to continue reading the story.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Some details about scaling in Premiere Pro CS5

From Adobe.com: "A lot of people are talking about CUDA and the GPU in the context of Premiere Pro CS5. But the talk is almost always about speed, speed, and more speed. Yeah, using CUDA on the GPU to process a lot of effects does speed things up (a lot!) in many cases, but that’s not the whole story.

Moving a lot of processing to the GPU can also make things better, not just faster.

A good example is scaling. There are lots of different scaling algorithms, and they each have their pros and cons. Some are better for scaling things up, some are better for scaling things down; some are better for sharp graphics, and some are better for gradual changes in color across an image. The real tradeoff, though, is that the high-quality algorithms are also—in general—the slow algorithms.

However, these higher-quality algorithms are only really slow if you are forced to execute them serially, but they are relatively fast when you can run them in parallel. One of the huge advantages of GPU processing is that GPUs are massively parallel, with hundreds of parallel processing units. There are a lot of pixel operations that are very amenable to parallel processing, since you don’t need to know the result of the operation on one pixel to do the same operation on its neighbor in the same image. Scaling is just such an operation. When you move scaling operations to the GPU, you get to take advantage of scaling algorithms that were just plain unfeasible on the CPU.

Click here to continue reading this story.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Video evidence in the news

Here's a couple of interesting cases involving video as evidence:

Video key in nailing Oak Harbor man for assault. Click here for the story.

Mullins v. Commonwealth of Kentucky. Click here for the ruling.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

New and changed features in Adobe Media Encoder CS5

From Adobe.com: "In a recent forum thread, someone said that they hadn’t seen much about what’s new and changed in Adobe Media Encoder (AME) CS5. So, let’s fix that.

64-bit application
Adobe Media Encoder CS5 now comes in a 32-bit version and a 64-bit version. The version that works with Premiere Pro and After Effects is the 64-bit version. (You don’t need to manually choose which one to use. This is taken care of automatically.) A 64-bit application can address more memory, which gives it the ability to work with larger frames and tends to make the application more stable.

export settings that automatically match sequence settings in Premiere Pro
Choose Match Sequence Settings when exporting from Premiere Pro. See “Workflow and overview for exporting”.

Similarly, when you choose a format, AME CS5 will in many cases automatically select the most appropriate encoding preset for that format based on characteristics of the source item. See “Encoding presets”.

much better controls for cropping and trimming before encoding
You can crop and trim the portion of the item to be encoded much more easily. One such improvement is the ability to select the work area (as defined in Premiere Pro or After Effects) as the area to be encoded and exported. See “Crop and trim source before encoding”.

Click here to continue reading the story.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

DCCTV Flipbook now available as a PDF

The Best Practices for the Retrieval of Video Evidence from Digital CCTV Systems is now available in electronic form and can be found by clicking here.

Hard copies may still be purchased from TSWG.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

DI Magazine for iPad on the iTunes App Store

DI magazine is the new interactive publication for all Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Lightroom users. Built from the ground up specifically for the iPad, the magazine provides essential step-by-step techniques, not-to-be-missed insights into the inner workings of your editing software and inspirational folios and is designed for image makers of all skill levels and interests. The publication is brought to you by renowned photography specialist Philip Andrews and Dark Glass Media in association with Better Photoshop Techniques print magazine. This iPad only magazine combines the multi-touch abilities of the device with internationally respected photographic content in a new compelling format that will fast track the way that you learn about your favorite imaging programs. And for a limited time, your first issue is free.

Click here to learn more.


Monday, October 18, 2010

House Bill Requires Federal Law Enforcement to Record Interrogations

From Government Video.com: "A House bill requiring federal police agencies to record all suspect interrogations or forfeit the statements a suspect said during all questioning, will protect both law enforcement officials and suspects, says a Capitol Hill staffer who works for the House member who introduced the bill.

Rep. Henry Johnson (D-Ga.) introduced the proposed “Effective Law Enforcement Through Transparent Interrogations Act” (HR 6245) in the House on Sept. 29, and the bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee. However, action on the bill by the committee is not expected until the Congress reconvenes in a “lame duck” session after the November elections, according to Andy Phelan, who works for Johnson.

The bill says “a statement by an individual during a custodial interrogation that is not electronically recorded, and all statements made thereafter by such individual during such interrogation, including statements that are electronically recorded, are inadmissible against such individual in a prosecution for a federal felony.” Under that provision, all questioning of a suspect accused of a federal crime would have to be recorded, or none of the information acquired from a suspect could be used to prosecute the suspect, except in circumstances outlined in the bill.

That exception is “if the court determines an imminent threat of bodily injury or other exigent circumstance made the electronic recording of a custodial interrogation impracticable.”

Other provisions of the bill require the attorney general to provide a copy of the recording to the individual who was subject to the interrogation. In addition, the attorney general would be responsible for maintaining the recording for “all appeals, post-conviction, habeas corpus proceedings, and all other orders and judgments” until the suspect has exhausted all judicial avenues; or by “the deadline by which such individual must file such proceedings,” or once the deadline has expired; or until “the statute of limitations” of the federal felony, or any related offenses, for which an individual was subjected to an interrogation has expired.

The law enforcement community, suspects who are being questioned, and the general public, will all benefit from HR 6245, said Phelan. By recording interrogations, the law enforcement community is protected from false claims of abuse or coercion, he said, adding electronic recordings will also help the law enforcement for the recordings may contain admissions that will strengthen the prosecution’s case. Recordings can be reviewed later to observe the suspect’s responses and to detect inconsistencies, and they can be useful in training officers how to properly conduct interrogations.

In addition, suspects who might actually be innocent will benefit from the bill because the recording of custodial interrogations might help prevent wrongful convictions stemming from false confessions, Phelan said. Such a recording might provide the courts with information necessary to accurately assess whether a defendant’s statement is reliable and voluntary, he said. Fewer wrongful convictions stemming from false confessions will help increase public confidence in the judicial system, and electronic recording could also contain exculpatory statements that are favorable to the defense, he added.

Most importantly, recording helps develop the strongest evidence possible to convict the guilty and ultimately protect the public, Phelan said. Ensuring that the criminal justice system convicts the right person for a crime will keep the public safe, and the public does not benefit when an innocent person is convicted, and the guilty culprit remains on the streets to commit more crimes."


If your agency is looking at digital recording systems for your interview / interrogation suites and you need help sorting out fact from fiction, feel free to contact me. I've looked at the different recorders out there and have found what works and what doesn't.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Stack Modes for Noise Reduction

Not 24 hours have gone by and I've received an e-mail from Texas asking about the Stack Mode process that we demonstrated in Dallas. So ... here it is.

Starting with a series of very noisy security camera images such as the one shown above, open Bridge CS5 and select all of the images to be used in this process.

Then, from Bridge, select Tools>Photoshop>Load Files into Photoshop Layers.

This command will take the selected files into Photoshop CS5 and put them into a single document as layers.

Next, select all of the layers and choose Convert to Smart Object from the Layers flyout menu.

Notice that the layers are gone, replaced by the single Smart Object icon.

All that's left to do is to head over to the Layers menu and select Layers>Smart Objects>Stack Mode>Mean.

You'll be left with an image that looks much better that the original.

In this case, I had to blur out the license plate to protect the innocent - it was that clear.

Here's the before and after. Notice the remarkable difference.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Acrobat X tutorials

We're at the Adobe LE road show today in Dallas, Tx. This time next week, we'll be in Miami, Fl. Whilst were busy at the front of the room, feel free to check out these Acrobat X tutorials.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The what & why behind the Acrobat X UI changes

AcrobatUsers.com talked with Chris French, a senior product manager for Acrobat at Adobe Systems, about the changes -- and the thinking behind the decisions -- in the simplified and streamlined user interface (UI) of Acrobat X.

Click here to read the interview.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Acrobat X: How to work with the new interface

From Acrobat Users' Donna Baker: "Were you surprised the first time you opened Acrobat X (that's Acrobat Ten, not Acrobat X)? Did you feel a bit disoriented? I know I definitely did. The toolbars are nearly empty, there's lots of missing menus, and what's with the labels at the right? In this article, I'll give you a quick overview of what's where, and how to work with the new interface.

Adobe Acrobat has been around for many years. Each new version brought new tools, features and capabilities, requiring more toolbars and menu commands, like those in Acrobat 9 ..."

Click here to continue reading.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Public Safety and Law Enforcement Solutions Seminars

Today, public safety entities — from first responders to law enforcement personnel — are facing a new set of external and internal technology-based challenges. Externally, criminals are using smarter technologies to commit crimes, and natural disasters and fires are still a very real threat, while internally the technologies and applications for dealing with these issues lag behind. Shrinking budgets compound these challenges.

To meet these challenges, public safety agencies need to start by leveraging existing tools, employing the latest relevant technology, and using external resources to help them think outside the box to ensure public safety and justice.

Join me and the Adobe team for a complimentary seminar dedicated to Adobe's Public Safety and Law Enforcement Solutions, designed to help your agency meet the unique challenges you face today. I'll be joining the Adobe team at their Dallas and Miami tour stops. The Dallas stop is this Thursday, October 14, and the Miami stop is the following Thursday, October 21.

Click here to register.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Shooting and editing HD video from DSLR cameras with Premiere Pro CS5

From Adobe.com: "Jason Levine has a series of video tutorials on Adobe TV that show how to shoot and edit HD video from DSLR cameras using Premiere Pro CS5 and other applications in Creative Suite 5 Production Premium. These videos are aimed at photographers and other folks who are somewhat new to video editing, so this series serves as a pretty good overview of Premiere Pro CS5 in general.

These videos are collected on this page, which will accumulate more videos as Jason and others create new videos in this series.

(You can find even more information about DSLR/HDSLR video workflows using Premiere Pro CS5 using this Premiere Pro Community Help search.)

Jason’s videos are a whirlwind tour, covering a lot of material very quickly. I figured that some viewers might need links to additional information to fully understand everything that Jason was trying to communicate.

Click here to continue reading this story.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Media Forensics for the disadvantaged?

Everyone is, by now, used to hearing the Miranda warning read to suspects. ... you have the right to an attorney. If you can't afford one, one will be appointed for you ... But what about all the other bells and whistles? If a suspect (who is innocent until proven guilty in the US) can't afford an attorney, how can he/she afford to run DNA, finger prints, and so forth? What if there is video evidence? How can the suspect afford to retain a video forensics expert?

When arrested, the Detectives dump the suspect's cell phone, take prints, maybe a DNA swab, grab video from the area surrounding the crime scene, and so forth. The Detective relies on a team of forensic specialists that can number in the dozens. If the suspect can't afford an attorney, what kind of forensic team does the suspect have?

I think that questions such as these are part of what's driving the NAS report's comments about separating the forensic labs from police agencies. While I don't necessarily support this move, I think that there is a happy medium. There are court qualified experts in private practice - they're just pricey. How do we get the price of competent forensic services down to where they are affordable to someone who can't afford an attorney?

A few of us in the field have begun exploring this issue. It seems to us that there is a need for services. One of the avenues that we've begun exploring is a charitable foundation where media forensics professionals in private practice could register as service providers in their respective geographical areas - and match these folks with donors and other support. In this way, everyone wins. Public Defenders have access to a media forensic talent pool, media forensics professionals have access to case work, and donors find a charity and a cause worthy of their support.

The ideas are just in their infancy. Stay tuned for more info.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Presenting: Adobe Presenter

I received an e-mail about Adobe Presenter - what is it, how can I get it, and what can I really do with it? Is it worth the added expense of upgrading to Acrobat 9 Pro Extended?

Well, there's a lot to the question. In lieu of a direct answer, I'll turn you over to the good folks at AcrobatUser.com. Here's their tutorial on Adobe Presenter.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Camera Raw Presets - product review

Here's a fun one for you.

I've recently spent a lot of time on the other side of cases from wedding photographers / videographers who decided to add forensic image and video analysis to their portfolio of services. While they tend to not do so well on the legal and technical aspects of the forensic side of our work, somehow they think that their knowledge of imaging and video will carry them through. It rarely works out OK for them and their clients.

With that in mind, and as they seem to be fishing in our pool, I thought it was about time some of us started fishing in theirs. Here's the set up ... we are all good with cameras and Photoshop, on the technical side. We can choose lenses and lights, and we can work the forensic workflow with the software. What tends to be missing for forensic folks is the artistic eye. Here's where the product review starts ...

Gavin Phillips has canned that artistic flavour into a ton of presets that can be loaded into Adobe Camera Raw (CS3/CS4/CS5 - MAC/PC). Now we can shoot weddings, birthdays, glamour shots, and the like ... in our spare time ... and save a ton vs. what a professional photographer would charge. (remember, they're fishing in our pool, it's time we fished in theirs)

Once loaded in the appropriate folder, the Presets can be applied from Bridge or ACR. Once applied, they can be tweaked in infinite ways in ACR.

Right-click on the image in Bridge, and scroll down to Develop Settings. 
You'll see the Presets fly out. You can make a quick choice here.

You can also choose a Preset from the Presets menu in ACR.

You can choose Apply Preset from the fly-out menu in the Presets panel 
to find your new Presets.

I think that you'll find these Presets to be a fun diversion. It'll also help you learn how ACR can be used to maximum effect. (the cost includes a complimentary set for Lightroom, but you didn't hear that from me) If you factor in the cost savings vs. having to hire a photographer for your next big event, these bad boys will pay for themselves on the first go.

Click here to find out more.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cell phone forensics training and resources

We've just inked a deal to package training on FinalData's cell phone forensics products, as well as to write the training books for the basic and advanced users classes that we'll be offering. We'll offer the classes first in Southern California, then take them on the road.

If you've been looking for some serious hands-on, here's your chance. We'll be hosting the first set of classes in the 1st quarter of 2010 in Pasadena.

We've had some amazing successes getting data from CDMA phones with FinalData. We liked the product so much, we approached the company with a proposition - we'll create a training program and training materials, package the software with a laptop, and offer training classes. It's a true win-win. When it comes to CDMA phones, the other products out there profess to get the data ... FinalData actually does it.

When the dates are finalised, I'll post them on the blog.


Choosing the right lens and settings

For those that have trouble choosing the right lens and settings to capture motion, like in surveillance photography, check out Scott Kelby's blogpost on shooting a recent college football game. I've found that (aside from lighting) shooting fast action sports is a good place to get the kinks worked out of your surveillance photography kit - without the risk.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Premiere Pro & Photoshop CS5 Extended for DSLR video shooting

You are invited to attend an Adobe Connect session on using Premiere Pro and Photoshop CS5 Extended with your DSLR footage this Friday, October 1 from 10-11am. Guests will be let into the session 10-15 minutes early. Click here to join the session. You can also find the event listing on Facebook.


Monday, September 27, 2010

The Interdependence of Science and Law

Today's topic comes from recent events in the court. The title comes from an article by Assoc. US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

A local attorney enquired recently as to efforts underway to mitigate the Beckley decision here in California. It sparked an interesting discussion. I got to thinking ...

Should Beckley be mitigated? Certainly the technology exists to authenticate images independent from the subject of the photo or the photographer. But there aren't enough people, outside of academia, to work on the volumes of cases being tried around the state. There's got to be a better way.

Here's an idea from Justice Breyer: "Judge Jack B. Weinstein of New York suggests that courts should sometimes “go beyond the experts proffered by the parties” and “appoint independent experts” as the Federal Rules of Evidence allow. Judge Gerald Rosen of Michigan appointed a University of Michigan Medical School professor to testify as an expert witness for the court, helping to determine the relevant facts in a case that challenged a Michigan law prohibiting partial-birth abortions. Judge Richard Stearns of Massachusetts, acting with the consent of the parties in a recent, highly technical genetic engineering patent case, appointed a Harvard Medical School professor to serve “as a sounding board for the court to think through the scientific significance of the evidence” and to “assist the court in determining the validity of any scientific evidence, hypothesis or theory on which the experts base their testimony.”

In other words, why not create a panel of experts who have the tools, training, and experience in independently authenticating images? Sure, the panel would be small ... but why not? California is not that big, is it? Those of us that follow Hany Farid's work (and have applied it to cases) could collectively pick up the slack whilst others got their training and tools together?

It's just a thought ...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fun with stats

From Walter Moore's blog: "You can read in the Los Angeles Times that crime rates are down, and there were "only" 208 murders so far this year. Groovy.

What they never tell you, however, is how very many crimes are committed in the City of Los Angeles. Nor do they ever tell you how much lower the crime rates in surrounding cities are.

So I will. When you look at those numbers, you realize that Villaraigosa's and Beck's self-congratulatory press releases about crime rates dropping are like a kid waving around his report card merely because he brought his "F-" grade up to a solid "F."

Let's start with the actual number of crimes committed in the City of Los Angeles so far this year:

The number of women raped so far this year: 541. You think they're pleased that the crime rate is supposedly down? By the way, do we still have a massive backlog of unprocessed rape kits? If City Hall had eliminated that backlog, you can bet we would have heard about it.

The number of people robbed in the first nine months of this year: 7,930. That's ROBBED, as in, "Give me your money or I'll shoot you, M.F." That's nearly as many robbery victims as we have police officers.

Aggravated assaults: 6,803. How much do you enjoy getting beaten up?

Then there's property crimes, including burglary, grand theft auto an so on: 62,481 victims so far this year.

Number of reports of shots fired: 2,146.

Here's one of my favorites. The number of shooting victims -- and the year isn't over -- is 1001 ..."

To keep reading this article, click here.

In terms of disclosure, Walter Moore ran for Mayor of LA last time around and came in second. I voted for him and supported his campaign. I'll do it again. We need this kind of discussion about real numbers - and real people. In the sick world of spin, we celebrate the fact that only 541 women were raped thus far in LA. Sure, the number's down. I doubt that any one of the 541 are cheering. The real sad thing is that you won't find any of the official leadership of the city talking like Walter Moore ... and that's really sad.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Police Salaries

From the Cliffview Pilot: "EDITORIAL: The suits at The Star-Ledger made a huge display of reporting last weekend that New Jersey police salaries are the highest in the land. To paraphrase a man who puts his life on the line every day to protect his community: Does a bullet feel any different if it's fired in, say, Lyndhurst, than it does in Paterson? Know how many cops have been killed in the line of duty in Lyndhurst? Four. In Paterson? The same.

Top of the heap in cop salaries, the newspaper said, is Bergen County -- coincidentally one of the wealthiest counties in the nation. In fact, the story began with a cop in Closter, where I've lived the past few months.

You know how often I've seen Closter police respond to accidents and other incidents? A lot. Sometimes they're dealing with dead people inside wrecked vehicles, other times with domestic disputes, and sometimes with weapons calls. At no time can they be 100 percent that a seemingly routine incident won't turn into a dangerous confrontation.

Ask police in hoity-toity Glen Rock, where a drunken man threatened to shoot three officers last night, then got into a fistfight with them.

Or try New Milford Police Chief Frank Papapietro:

After rushing to a report of a vehicle stuck in a ditch, two of his officers came up against a familiar face -- that of 59-year-old Daniel Cardinali, who just weeks earlier tangled with patrolmen sent to his house.

This time, Cardinali began swinging a club before he was subdued -- the eighth time this summer a police officer in tiny, working-class New Milford was attacked.

“When people complain about how much officers are paid, they should ask themselves if they could stand up to situations such as these and conduct themselves as professionally as did these officers,” Papapietro said. “They should ask themselves if they could even keep from running away."

I've been in journalism 30 years and I never saw a colleague do anything beyond ask questions, take notes or take photos. I had a knife put to my throat in a Perth Amboy housing project while on an assignment late one weekend night. How many other "journalists" can say the same? ..."

To continue reading this story, click here.

Here's a little perspective on my area: median household income for the city of Los Angeles in 2008 - $55,452. (source) The highest possible starting salary for an LAPD officer, $48,880. (source)

Median home prices vary by neighbourhood. In Chatsworth, where I used to hang my hat, the median price of a single family home is $474,000. A 30 fixed rate mortgage at 6%, with property tax impounds, would run about $2850/month. If you're bringing home just a little over $4k/month to start ... you won't qualify for a mortgage in Chatsworth. Still think cops are over paid? I couldn't afford to live there anymore, so I left LA. The median price of a home in my part of the mountains is around $150k. With that low monthly mortgage payment I get a 160mi round trip commute. Life's a series of trade-offs.

Most folks that work for the city live outside of the city and face long commutes. Not all cities allow for this. Some require residence - so the salary has to match with the economic realities of the city.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Help with Daubert

A reader wrote in to ask about the Daubert ruling and if it applies to his home state. The majority of states either apply Daubert directly or have created a sort of hybrid. California is one of (I think) 5 states that do not use Daubert.

Here's a link to an outstanding set of notes on Daubert, written in the aftermath of the decision.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

NCIS: Los Angeles - surveillance video

From TV Technology: "CBS primetime drama "NCIS: Los Angeles" is using JVC ProHD camcorders to produce the "surveillance video" monitored by undercover agents who are on a mission to thwart criminals that threaten national security.

The visual narrative of the series relies heavily on this surveillance footage which, according to the show's writers, is procured by a variety of sources ranging from security monitoring systems in banks and parking lots to "spycams" worn by the agents and installed in vehicles. The video is regularly displayed at the headquarters of their "Office of Special Projects," making it an element that has to be on set, ready for playback during the shoot.

A dedicated playback unit was created to provide the surveillance video to the set. Footage shot alongside the first unit on location is processed into clips with graphics, text, maps and photo montages during the first part of the shoot. It's quickly prepared for the portions of the episode shot inside the "NCIS:Los Angeles" headquarters, appearing on video monitors that include a large translucent screen, a touchvision screen and a wallsized main screen.


During the show's first season (2009-2010), Director of Photography Victor Hammer experimented with a variety of recording devices, including some consumer-grade security cameras, to create different "looks" for the surveillance footage. But—in the interest of efficiency, quick turnaround and budget concerns—the process had to be simplified.

The playback unit's "Plan B" opted for footage from four small JVC GYHM100U HD camcorders that serve as stand-ins for any kind of surveillance recording device. JVC footage was degraded and otherwise altered in post production as needed. These camcorders output to dual SDHC memory cards formatted in Native Final Cut Pro. The playback unit also had a file-based in-house processing network built around Apple's Final Cut Pro editing system ..."

To continue reading this article, click here.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Headphone mystery

A reader wrote in to ask a question about a piece of equipment he saw on a TV series. There's a new show on the USA network called Covert Affairs. There's a character in the show called Augie - a blind tech genius. He's often seen with a rather distinctive set of headphones. The reader wrote in to ask if I recognised them.

It turns out that I did. They're Grado RS1i headphones, part of the Grado Labs Reference series of headphones. From the spec sheet on them, they look awesome. Unfortunately, at $695 retail, they're a bit out of my price range. I'll have to stick with my ear buds for now.