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Friday, December 30, 2011

Ill. Supreme Court: Police must preserve video evidence even in misdemeanor cases

From the Chicago Tribune: "The Illinois Supreme Court says video has become so common in law enforcement that police must preserve it as evidence even in misdemeanor cases.

The court upheld sanctions Friday in a case where police erased video of a drunken driving arrest. The defendant told prosecutors she intended to fight the charges and wanted the video, but police still followed their policy of destroying videos after 30 days.

As punishment, the trial judge barred the arresting officer from testifying about anything that took place when his squad-car camera was running.

Cook County prosecutors appealed, saying that would cripple their case.

But the Supreme Court says the video should have been saved and the judge was within his rights to limit testimony when that didn't happen."


Thursday, December 29, 2011

JPEG Snoop

I posted this to ImpulseAdventure's site to ask a question about JPEGSnoop: "Take a photo with your camera. Upload it to Facebook. Download it from Facebook. Run the downloaded image through JPEGSnoop.

The software will show it as edited. Essentially, Facebook recompresses the image on your computer before it uploads it to their servers. Gone are the markers from your camera.

Other than the recompress - there's no actual "editing" as most people use the term. Nothing added or deleted to the photo.

What are your thoughts on this? Is it possible to refine the terms? Something like this could be listed as double quantization - resaved? How about a DCT histogram to point to the integrity of the image in spite of the double quantization?

Here's their response:
"You're absolutely right Jim... The term "edited" is used very loosely. Really, all that is meant is "not-original". As it is incredibly hard to differentiate simple resaving (recompression) from an edit+resaving, I haven't made any efforts to report "double quantization". I'm definitely open to ideas on suitable terminology. Of course most people are interested in determining if an image has been altered in the more general sense of the word (ie. modified to misrepresent reality), rather than simple resaving, resizing, etc. Regarding the DCT histogram, what type of data were you thinking could be interesting from a histogram perspective? Thanks!"

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

From North Korea, an Altered Procession

Here's an interesting piece of photo editing from North Korea courtesy of the NY Times.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone for their support over the years.

Here's to you. Happy Holidays!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stanley Cup riot suspects await first day in court Wednesday Read it on Global News: Stanley Cup riot suspects await first day in court Wednesday

This just in from GlobalBC: "...Looters stole $424,000 worth of merchandise from the store once the heavy-duty glass and security gate was smashed by the mob. Damage to the store was $225,000 and Powell said they are still working with the company’s insurers to see what will be covered under their policies.

He said they have passed on their state-of-the-art security video footage to police, who took over 5,000 hours of riot footage to a special lab in Indianapolis, and will have the company’s security experts ready to appear in court if needed.

Powell said they have clear video of the first looters coming in to the store after the doors and windows were destroyed.

“They had a shopping list,” Powell said, adding they hope to recover some of the stolen items. “They were stealing specific products, specific brands. It was like a boxing day sale with no cash register.”

Powell said London Drugs has been careful to provide footage they believe will stand up to any defence lawyers’ challenges.

“Our track record is over 90 per cent conviction rate once we show the video,” he said past shoplifting cases. “I have great faith in the justice system.”

Click here to read the rest of the story.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The murder of Police Officer Peter Figoski

Here are a few stories about the senseless murder of Police Officer Peter Figoski:

Why was he freed to kill? - NY Post editorial.

Fallen Finest - NY Post.


Post launches fund for hero cop’s daughters - NY Post

Please keep the Figoski family in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, December 12, 2011

New School Puts Modern Forensics at Afghan Police Fingertips

From DVIDS Spc. Ken Scar: "Afghanistan took another big step toward autonomy Nov. 29 with the opening of the Afghan Criminal Techniques Academy and Laboratory.

The ACTA will train Afghan law enforcement officers in the forensic disciplines, which to this point have not been widely practiced in the Afghan justice system.

Figure 1: Afghan National Police member Mohammad Shafiq (right), an instructor-in-training at the new Afghan Criminal Techniques Academy and Laboratory on Bagram Air Field, shows fellow policemen and students Eqeban (left), and Habiburahman how to gauge a bullet casing with digital calipers in one of their brand-new classrooms.

The ACTA will teach essential techniques like fingerprinting, forensic photography, and firearms/tool marking and will eventually include instruction in the most modern technological and chemical evidence testing such as DNA processing.

“We will be able to find criminals and bring them to justice [with this forensic capability],” said Mohammad Shafiq, a member of the Afghan National Police who will be an instructor at the ACTA. “It will also help [Afghan citizens] be more confident in their police system.”

Initially, the academy’s instructors will be from the U.S., but over time Afghan law enforcement professionals will work as assistant instructors.

To make that transition as trouble-free as possible, the 10-week program at the ACTA will be supplemented by American experts embedded in Afghan National Police offices in each region of the country, guiding ACTA graduates through their first year of work.

“We’ll mentor these guys and make sure there aren’t any mistakes being made and that the product going out is accurate,” said Jon Eizinger, a U.S. civilian forensic specialist who will train instructors for the ACTA. “It’s a safety net that’s built in to make sure this goes smoothly and that these guys develop until they are able to be self-sufficient.”

The technology and knowledge provided by the new academy will greatly improve the credibility of Afghanistan’s criminal justice system, said Afghan National Army Col. Said Rahmatullah Quraishi, who is the ANP Assistant Director of Criminal Technique.

“In the old system the judges projected their opinion on cases because we didn’t have [forensic] technology,” said Quaraishi. “With this new ability [to present hard evidence] they will not be able to do that.”

The ACTA will play a pivotal part in Afghanistan’s transition from a judicial system where the burden of proof lies on the accused to one where a person is considered innocent until proven guilty.

Many Afghan citizens have been skeptical of their new government’s justice system, said Shafiq, but the new abilities to present evidence at trials, provided by ACTA schooling, will go a long way toward turning the tide of opinion.

“Now the people can have a lot more trust in us,” he said."


Monday, December 5, 2011

Subjecting forensic analysts to cross-examination is good policy.

From the NY Times: "ON Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Williams v. Illinois, the latest in a string of cases addressing whether the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause — which gives the accused in a criminal case the right “to be confronted with the witnesses against him” — applies to forensic analysts who produce reports for law enforcement. In other words, should an analyst responsible for, say, a fingerprint report have to show up at trial to face questions about the report?

A logical application of the law produces an easy answer: Yes. The court has defined a “witness against” a defendant as a person who provides information to law enforcement to aid a criminal investigation. That is exactly what forensic analysts do.

Subjecting forensic analysts to cross-examination is also good policy. According to a recent National Academy of Sciences study, forensic science is not nearly as reliable as it is perceived to be. DNA specimens, for instance, are sometimes contaminated; fingerprint, ballistics and even run-of-the-mill drug and alcohol analyses depend on human interpretation and thus are subject to error. Worse, investigations over the past decade have revealed outright incompetence and fraud in many crime labs. So it makes sense to subject the authors of lab reports to cross-examination — a procedure the court has called “the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.”

Despite all this, the Supreme Court has been sharply divided on the issue. In similar cases in 2009 and earlier this year, in which I represented the defendants, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Stephen G. Breyer and Samuel A. Alito Jr. accepted claims by state governments that, simply put, confrontation in this context costs too much. It is far more efficient, these justices contend, to let analysts simply mail their reports to court. Having to appear at trials pulls them away from their labs, and only occasionally proves more revealing than their written testimony. Hence, these justices maintain, “scarce state resources” are better committed elsewhere.

Given that several states have long required forensic analysts to come to court, one might think that this financial argument would not have gained much traction. Justice Antonin Scalia, in fact, called the argument a “bogeyman.” But the four dissenting justices not only accepted it but deemed it powerful enough to trump the commands of constitutional text and precedent.

The same battle lines are being drawn again in the case to be heard next week (for which I have signed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the defendant). In Williams v. Illinois, the defendant contends that he should have been given the right to confront an analyst in the lab that generated a DNA profile from the crime scene. Yet the State of Illinois argues that the extra cost of bringing that witness into court was unnecessary, because the defendant had an opportunity to question a different analyst who compared that profile to the defendant’s and concluded that it was a match.

A friend-of-the-court brief by the Manhattan district attorney’s office pushes the state’s argument one step further, warning that a ruling in the defendant’s favor would prove so costly that it would “force prosecutors to forgo forensic DNA analysis” in future cases. Consequently, the brief continues, defendants in rape and murder cases “might well be prosecuted solely on the basis of eyewitness testimony,” which is notoriously unreliable and could lead to convictions of many “innocent individuals.”

This is an outrageous assertion. Nothing in the outcome of the Williams case, which deals only with the admissibility of evidence, will preclude prosecutors from using DNA testing to determine whether they have the right guy. Presumably, prosecutors concerned about whether they imprison (or, in some states, execute) innocent people will continue to do such testing whenever possible, no matter how much it will cost to enter the results as evidence.

But the assertion in the Manhattan district attorney’s brief reflects — in a particularly dramatic way — some prosecutors’ belief that they can bully the court into refusing to enforce a constitutional guarantee simply by arguing that such enforcement would be an administrative and financial burden.

There’s nothing new here. In the 1963 case of Gideon v. Wainwright, Alabama and several other states filed a brief urging the court to refrain from interpreting the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of the “assistance of counsel” to require states to provide lawyers to poor defendants accused of felonies. The brief said such a rule would impose on states “an unbearably onerous financial burden to pay the fees of attorneys.”

The court, of course, was not moved. States have adapted. And the Gideon case has become a cornerstone of American jurisprudence. It’s almost impossible now to imagine how a trial could be considered fair without that basic procedural guarantee.

The court should follow this lesson in Williams and refuse to be cowed by prosecutorial bogeymen. It unquestionably costs money to deliver the fundamental demands of justice. But the price is not nearly so high as the states usually claim. And the price of failing to enforce basic procedural rights is, in the long run, much higher ..."

Click here to read the whole article at the New York Times.


Friday, December 2, 2011


I was recently testifying about my work in downloading the contents of a cell phone's memory card. In these types of cases, the investigator will request certain actions be performed and (usually) a search warrant will grant me the authority to search ... as well as to define the parameters of the search. As the investigator is usually responsible for the warrant, (usually) the request terms and the warrant terms are one and the same. Usually.

Many times, these downloads take place before an attorney is assigned to the case ... or even before there's a case. It may be a witnesses' device, or the suspect may be questioned and released. Once we give the phone back ...

As an analyst, I'm limited in searching a device by the terms of the warrant or consent letter. As I'm not the investigator, I can only advise, then do what I am ordered to do by the court or investigator.

So ... back on the stand, I'm asked if I did an analysis, looked for certain items, etc. Answer ... no. The request was only for a download of the contents. No time (or request) was given for analysis.

Part of teamwork is anticipating what each member of the team will want/need. Part of that is communication. "Just dump the contents and we'll worry about the rest later ..." works great when later actually happens. But, when I'm subpoenaed 2 years later, with no further communication happening, there's not much I can do to help ... other than state and affirm that I did perform a download, using write blockers, etc.

Part of the solution to this problem is coming soon. I'm working on "boiler plate" warrant language for a variety of scenarios and jurisdictions. I'm also working on some forms that can be modified for use at your agency. We may only get one shot at the evidence. I'll do what I can to help you get the most out of that one shot. When it's done, it'll be up on the book's web site. Stay tuned for more on this.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Busy Busy Busy

It's the busy season. School's wrapping up for the year, investigations are being finalized, and there's so much to do. On my to-do list for the month is a thorough testing of Kinesense, along with a review. I'm also working on a new set of give-aways for owners of my book. More on that later.

In the mean time, enjoy the winter season.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Avid Media Composer 6 - wait for a bit

For those considering updating Media Composer to version 6, wait for a bit and make sure that your system can handle the upgrade. MC6 is a 64-bit app. If your hardware is not 64-bit, stay with MC5.5 for now.

Another thing to consider is that the Ocean Systems plug-ins for Avid Media Composer are 32-bit, and thus won't work with MC6.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Digital evidence becoming central in criminal cases

This just in from MSNBC: "... Drew Findling, an Atlanta attorney and chairman of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Forensic Disciplines Committee, notes that e-evidence might just as easily create an unshakable alibi, which is why he routinely hires experts to examine equipment and data.

“You want to have the equipment examined to determine the reliability, both from a chronological and content standpoint,” he said. “And there are times when that evidence is of an exculpatory nature, so you want to make sure that you gain access to it – whether it’s a computer or an iPhone or whatever – and that you preserve that evidence immediately.”

Courts already are wrestling with the challenges presented in general by electronic evidence, which has become almost ubiquitous in both civil and criminal cases.

“Electronic evidence is admitted in almost every trial in America, whether it’s a phone bill or electric bill or a document that’s created, stored or transmitted electronically,” said Mark D. Rasch, director of cybersecurity and privacy consulting at the technology services company CSC and former head of the Justice Department’s computer crime unit. “… When you think about it, even a crime scene photograph is electronic evidence now ...”

They go on to say ..."Experts have different views of those to-and-fro battles.

Rasch, the former Justice Department official, said that courts often impose higher requirements on digital evidence than they do with physical documents, such as letters.

“We demand a (greater) degree of certitude for certain kinds of electronic evidence than is demanded in the physical world. … A lot of it has to do with the general unease we have with electronic evidence. We’re not sure it’s reliable, that it hasn’t been tampered with.”

But others worry that current laws – and the judges who enforce them – have failed to adequately consider that electronic evidence is “inherently malleable or ephemeral.”

Among them is Steven Teppler, a partner in the Chicago law firm Edelson McGuire and co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Digital Evidence Committee. He is part of what he describes as a growing movement within the legal profession to have digital evidence deemed “hearsay,” and thus generally inadmissible in legal proceedings unless its reliability can be demonstrated.

“Unless we change the rules of evidence to require a higher level of reliability, you have this built in problem where people say, ‘It comes out of the computer, therefore it must be reliable,’” he said.

But that doesn’t account for the fact that programmers create the software that instructs those machines to generate data, Teppler said ..." Read the whole story by clicking here.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Best Practices - Quality Control Survey

I putting together some stats for my PhD work. One of the issues that I'm addressing is quality control. In attempting to gather qualitative data, it's essential to get to the point quickly and to have specific questions that will yield specific results.

One of the questions regarding quality control focusses on the qualifications of the person conducting the process. In other words, does the QC person know enough to know when a work product is wrong/bad?

Case in point, if your SOPs say that you should always get the native or proprietary data (whenever possible), and the technician returns with a DVD movie that was captured via the analogue output (and the system does offer a digital output option) ... would your QC person know to flag it for further enquiry? Put another way, does simply making sure that the video "plays" on the QC person's PC suffice?

If you'd like to participate in this survey, please let me know.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Helpful shortcuts 3

Often, it's desirable to group your layers in order to keep them better organized. Here's the quick and easy shortcut. Select the layers that you would like to group together (Cmd + click). Then, to group those selected layers, type Cmd + G.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Helpful shortcuts 2

Zooming in and out is a necessity when working on a large image. Here are the keyboard shortcuts from zooming in and out.

Zoom in: Cmd + =
Zoom out: Cmd + -


Friday, November 4, 2011

Helpful shortcuts 1

As you move through the workflow, adding layers to your image is essential. As it’s likely that you'll add many layers, here's a helpful tip that can save you a number of clicks (and thus save a ton of time).

New layer with dialog box: Cmd + Shift + N
New layer without dialog box: Cmd + Shift + Alt + N


Thursday, November 3, 2011

MultiMedia Forensics Innocence Project?

Months ago, Larry E. Daniel posted a call for a Digital Forensics Innocence Project. Referencing another article's comment, ""What we need is a Computers Forensics version of the Innocence Project. We need experts who believe in the presumption of innocence and are willing to spend the time it takes to dig through logs, registry entries and hard drives to find exculpatory material when present. Prosecutors who look for – and presume – guilt do selective searches for data supporting guilt; those accused rarely have the resources to counter such selective evidence," Larry goes on a slightly more moderate tone to say, "I agree with him in principal, considering that there are people who are charged with crimes who do not have the resources to hire experts. And in cases where the client cannot meet the standard to be declared indigent and receive funding for an expert, I believe that we as experts in the field should be willing to take on a reasonable number of pro bono cases."

One of the things presented in the NAS report is the strangle hold that police crime labs have on the forensic science process. Finding an expert that you can afford, who is not part of a police crime lab, can be difficult. The problem is ... we have to get there. There are a few labs out there. Price is driven by a combination of supply/demand, the cost to operate, and the price set by the courts (when they're paying the bill).

I'd love to see some version of the Innocence Project that includes digital multimedia forensics. If it ever comes ... sign me up.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Perry v. New Hampshire looks at eyewitness testimony

This just in from USA Today: "Supreme Court justices on Wednesday challenged the notion that testimony from arguably unreliable eyewitnesses should be specially scrutinized at trial because of how it can lead to wrongful convictions.

"Why is unreliable eyewitness identification any different from unreliable anything else" introduced at trial, Justice Antonin Scalia asked during arguments in a New Hampshire case. "Eyewitness identification evidence is unique," responded lawyer Richard Guerriero. He represents a man whose theft conviction was based partly on the report of a woman who said she watched him out her apartment window. Guerriero called mistaken IDs "the leading cause of miscarriages of justice."

Justice Elena Kagan said jailhouse informants could also create an especially "unreliable" category. "I understand you have very good empirical evidence which should lead us all to wonder about the reliability of eyewitness testimony," she said. "I'm just suggesting that eyewitness testimony is not the only kind of testimony which people can do studies on and find that it's more unreliable than you think."

Longstanding national concerns about the trustworthiness of eyewitness accounts formed the backdrop of Wednesday's dispute. The American Psychological Association, which has entered the case on the defendant's side, says, "Controlled experiments as well as studies of actual identifications have consistently found that the rate of incorrect identifications is approximately 33 percent."

Supreme Court cases dating to the 1960s have similarly stressed that eyewitness identifications are particularly untrustworthy and can lead to tainted jury verdicts and injustice. The question Wednesday is what safeguards for due process of law and fairness are necessary.

New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney, urging the court to uphold the theft conviction, said identification evidence should be specially reviewed by a judge only when police obtained the ID through an unnecessarily suggestive police method — for example, in photos shown to a witness. The federal government and 29 states are siding with New Hampshire, urging the high court to leave the question of eyewitness reliability generally to a jury ..."

Click here to read the rest of the story.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Early PS CS6 beta leaked

Here's a link to commentary on leaked beta info for Photoshop CS6.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Leahy Bill? Don't hold your breath

I normally don't wade into the turbulent world of politics, but I am going to today ... sort of. I attended a presentation recently, and (reading between the lines) I think that those who believe that the Leahy Bill (Criminal Justice and Forensic Science Reform Act) is dead in the water and nothing is going to happen are going to be in for a big surprise.

Meet The Executive Office of the President of the United States' Subcommittee on Forensic Science (SoFS).

According to their web site, "The purpose of the Subcommittee on Forensic Science (SoFS) is to advise and assist the Committee on Science (COS), the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), and other coordination bodies of the Executive Office of the President on policies, procedures and plans related to forensic science in the national security, criminal justice, and medical examiner/coroner systems at the local, state and federal levels."

Ok. So what do they want to do with their office space? Good question. Here's what they say are their goals and objectives, "This Subcommittee was created to assess the practical challenges of implementing recommendations in the 2009 National Research Council (NRC) report entitled Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward, and to advise the White House on how best to achieve the goals outlined in that report. The SoFS is charged with developing practical and timely approaches to enhancing the validity and reliability of the federal government’s forensic science activities. This includes ensuring that regional, state and local entities adopt best practices in forensic sciences, and facilitating a strong coordinated effort across federal agencies to identify and address important federal policy, program and budget matters."

With me so far. No opinion yet ... just straight reporting from their web site.

Begin opinion: Look at the purpose statement. Their purpose is to advise on forensic science as it relates to criminal justice (among other things) at the federal, state, and local levels. Their goals include advising the White House on how best to implement the recommendations contained in the NAS report. Now read this statement again, "This includes ensuring that regional, state and local entities adopt best practices in forensic sciences, and facilitating a strong coordinated effort across federal agencies to identify and address important federal policy, program and budget matters." How does the federal government assure compliance in other areas of policy? With money. Again, my opinion and my observations are thus - soon enough you'll be faced with a choice; implement the recommendations or face the loss of federal funds. No need for Congress to act. No need for the Leahy Bill. This will come by way of regulation, enforced with a simple tool (money). Don't believe me? How was "education reform" accomplished? By attaching funding strings to education bills like NCLB. Remember, in a general sense, what the federal government funds, it controls.

Please don't get me wrong. Best Practices are necessary. Consensus standards are a good thing. Everyone in our business should be working from an SOP. Things like quality assurance/control, peer-review, training, and so on are great. How many police labs accredit their DME forensic functions? Not many. How many would be ready to accredit them soon? Not many. How many agencies could withstand the loss of some/all federal funds if their DME forensic functions were not under their main accreditation umbrella? Not many.

In doing my part to help things go right, I'm working with LEVA to create an accreditation program for DME labs. It will serve as an alternative for those agencies who are not ASCLD/LAB accredited and are performing DME forensics. More on this later.

Again, while my commentary may be a bit political in tone, it's more of a "here's the way I see it based on my recent experiences." I'd be interested to hear how you see this working, or how you see this affecting your agency.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Copy Move Forgery Detection

Here's the abstract from an interesting paper that a reader alerted me to: "Abstract—One of the principal problems in image forensics is determining if a particular image is authentic or not. This can be a crucial task when images are used as basic evidence to influence judgment like, for example, in a court of law. To carry out such forensic analysis, various technological instruments have been developed in the literature. In this paper the problem of detecting if an image has been forged is investigated; in particular, attention has been paid to the case in which an area of an image is copied and then pasted onto another zone to create a duplication or to cancel something that was awkward. Generally, to adapt the image patch to the new context a geometric transformation is needed. To detect such modifications, a novel methodology based on Scale Invariant Features Transform (SIFT) is proposed. Such a method allows both to understand if a copy-move attack has occurred and, furthermore, to recover the geometric transformation used to perform cloning. Extensive experimental results are presented to confirm that the technique is able to precisely individuate the altered area and, in addition, to estimate the geometric transformation parameters with high reliability. The method also deals with multiple cloning."

Before you run out and look for the program to buy to perform these functions, relax. There isn't one that lets you load a single CCTV still image and press the magic CSI button that runs the SIFT algorithms described in the paper. There may be one in the future, but there isn't one now. Many image scientists used programs like MATLAB to perform these types of experiments.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Can Your Digital Images Withstand A Court Challenge?

This just in from the Digital Forensic Investigator news service: "... What most agencies fail to realize is that the lack of SOPs and a sound workflow means images submitted for court purposes may not survive if challenged by a knowledgeable attorney. These digital complexities have not yet been realized, so images taken by photographers will likely fail one of three very basic criteria:

  • The date and time setting in the camera is incorrect. 
  • The wrong lens focal length was used, resulting in an inaccurate depiction of the scene. 
  • Embedded information may indicate the image has been modified.
“These points were not an issue with film, but we do NOT live in a film world anymore. We now live in a digital age, and it changes everything we once believed about how photographs are treated in law enforcement,” says D. Eric Johnson, CEP (Certified Evidence Photographer instructor and retired First Lieutenant, Michigan State Police). A strong advocate of digital image integrity, education, and certification, he feels it is crucial for all who work in law enforcement to understand the following: “A ‘true and accurate representation’ is no longer the only qualifier—and is a court challenge waiting to happen. The only question is when and where ...”

... he goes on ...

So Ask Yourself: Can Your Images Withstand a Court Challenge?
"It is time for those taking crime and accident scene photographs to take a hard look at their procedures and consider the following facts:

  • The majority of cameras in the field have an incorrect date and time—check yours! 
  • Compact point-and-shoot cameras default to a wide angle setting, which will misrepresent the accuracy of the image—and most officers don’t even realize it. 
  • Digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLR) come with zoom lenses. There is only one position on that lens that will accurately represent the image—and most officers don’t know it. 
  • When images are downloaded to a computer, the simple act of rotating an image in order to view it will indicate it was “modified.” Will your court accept a modified image? 
Any one of these issues will likely result in the images being disallowed if challenged—yet guaranteeing digital image integrity is not that difficult. Providing proper training, policies, and having at least one CEP in your agency is a small investment compared to losing just one important case in court."

Click here to read the whole article.


Source Range

Hey! Media Encoder is ignoring my ins/outs. What gives?

The little pull down menu called Source Range is defining what gets exported. Make sure that the setting matches what you want to do.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gamut mapping

The question came up during the conference as to differences in the size of the source and destination spaces. Here's an answer from Adobe's Jim King: "When the gamut of the source and destination colorspaces differ a "gamut mapping" needs to be performed. Those colors that cannot be represented in the destination need to be altered to colors that can be represented.

If one is working with a company logo or any other object where it is important to preserve the colors colorimetrically, then one will want to colorimetrically match source colors to matching colors in the destination. For those colors that have no match some "closest possible" match should be found. This type of gamut mapping is called "colorimetric".

Experience has shown that colorimetric gamut mapping of pictures can be improved upon and so a "perceptual" method of gamut mapping is preferred for pictures. Usually these mappings make changes even to the colors that can be matched. The human visual system is more sensitive to relative color differences than it is to absolute differences so changing the mapping to preserve those differences yields better looking results.

When producing a business graphic or other schematic material, it may be more important to have the best solid saturated colors that a device can produce than to have an accurate color that the device produces in a poorly rendered way. So for these kinds of objects one uses a "saturated" gamut mapping.

There is a correspondence between gamut mapping methods and what has come to be called "rendering intents". More about rendering intents a little later.

The ICC has agreed to a basic set of four of rendering intents shown here. For the perceptual and saturated intents considerable latitude is allowed in the interpretation and implementation since no one has demonstrated a single best method to do the gamut mapping."


Monday, October 24, 2011

AES 46th Conference on Audio Forensics

Dates: June 14-16, 2012 Location: Denver, CO, USA Chair: Jeff M. Smith If you wish to be contacted with conference updates please click here. Authors, the Call for Papers is now available.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Stanley Cup riot video analysis a tiresome task

This just in from the Vancouver Sun: "The young woman with light brown hair sports a delirious grin as she uses a hockey stick wrapped in a Canucks flag to smash the rest of a 15-foot store window, after game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in June.

More than four months later, her image now sits on the desk of Special Const. Jevon Vaessen as he begins identifying her amid riot video footage which, if screened continuously, would last 208 days.

“It’s lot like searching in, say, a Microsoft document or something,” said Vaessen, one of the Integrated Riot Investigation Team’s four full-time forensic video analysts. “You’re looking for the key words.”

In the search fields of his computer program, he types in his “target’s” upper clothing colour and length (blue and short), lower clothing colour and length (dark and long).

About 20 clips show up with people in frames matching those descriptions.

Vaessen then inputs another search field with the woman’s hair colour (light and long). Ten clips show up.

“It’s like a Google search, you start searching and say, ‘Is this what I need?’” said Vaessen, who is on loan to the VPD from Port Moody police department.

Vaessen will screen each clip until he can obtain an image of the woman from which an investigator can get an identification. Within one frame, analysts could target as many as 10 rioters, identified by red dots.

“There are some clips with so many targets,” Vaessen said. “You’ll see red dots side-by-side-by-side.”

To date, 91 suspects have turned themselves in or been positively identified.

The video searching is made possible by the meta-tags that a team of 60 international forensic video experts at the University of Indianapolis applied to the riot clips over a two-week period in September.

The university’s lab was established in 2007 and houses FBI training courses, but this was the first time an active investigation used the lab. The analysts working on the riot case were paid by their individual law enforcement agencies, but IRIT footed the bill for their room and board.

The analysts amalgamate footage shot from video cameras, smartphones and digital cameras that was in dozens of different formats into a single file type.

Then Vaessen, his fellow IRIT analysts and their American and British counterparts went through each frame and flagged them with meta-tags denoting location and describing the people and events.

These 15,000 different tags include multiple camera angles of the same suspects committing the same crimes.

Some critics say digging for this amount of evidence is overkill and bogging down the riot probe, but lead investigator Insp. Les Yeo said IRIT is legally required to collect all possible evidence before charges are laid.

“We have to follow that procedure,” Yeo said. “If we don’t follow that procedure we’re going to get bad case law, acquittals, not guilty or no charges.

“It’s actually something that is forensic evidence, just like a fingerprint,” Yeo said of the evidence produced from the video analysis. “And, just like DNA, we have to forensically get it in as evidence to the court.”

Yeo said he understands the public’s frustration with the pace of the investigation.

“I totally get it. I, too, am not happy with the fact that it takes this long to get the charges forwarded [to Crown prosecutors],” Yeo said. “However, working within the system and with having worked within the system for 30 years I do know what is required ...”

Continue reading the article by clicking here.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cloud computing and criminal justice not compatible?

This just in from Govtech.com: "... Levin said there is one issue outstanding that must be resolved for Google Apps to be fully compliant with the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) requirements for data storage and security. She didn’t divulge publicly what the unresolved problem is.

“The real issue here is the fact that the policies related to a lot of different areas in the government are not matching the technologies that are coming out,” Levin said. “That is the core issue: The criminal justice requirements were never written with cloud computing in mind.”

It’s taken a long time and some interpretation, she said, for all those involved — the city, Google, the FBI and federal government — to figure out how to make Google Apps compliant with the federal government’s security requirements.

In a press statement, CSC said it’s continuing to work with Los Angeles to meet these e-mail requirements. A statement from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s press secretary said the city and Google continue to work together to resolve issues related to new Department of Justice e-mail requirements. “Discussions between the city and Google over specific requirements are ongoing and it would be inappropriate to issue further comment at this time," Villaraigosa’s office said.

Levin added that Google Apps isn’t the only product of its kind that hasn’t yet achieved full CJIS compliance. For example, Microsoft’s Office 365 hosted e-mail solution also fails to meet CJIS requirements, she claimed.

This week’s developments represent the latest curveball in the two-year-old story that has made Levin and the Los Angeles Information Technology Agency a battleground for cloud computing providers that are trying to stake claim to the public-sector market.

In 2009, Google hailed Los Angeles as a trailblazer when officials agreed to move the e-mail and productivity applications of all city employees — including the LAPD — onto Google Apps. Some observers thought the move was bold because it meant that public data would be stored off-site in Google’s data centers. Levin admitted in a later interview with Government Technology that the city didn’t intend to become the first large U.S. city to attempt an enterprise rollout of Google Apps. The city, she said, had misinterpreted the extent of Washington, D.C. government’s earlier implementation of the solution.

Migration of the LAPD’s e-mail system proved problematic from the beginning, as officials from the police department told Levin and the L.A. City Council two years ago that there was concern about storing and securing data with a private company. Levin thought she had assuaged the outcry after receiving assurances that Google Apps would be fully compliant with the FBI and Department of Justice regulations. But progress has been slower than anticipated.

In a press statement Tuesday, Consumer Watchdog said the outcome of L.A.’s contract with Google has “serious implications” outside of Los Angeles for other government agencies that have adopted Google Apps. In a letter of its own addressed to Villaraigosa, the group asked the city to “disclose immediately the extent to which Google has failed to comply” with its contractual obligations. The deal has amounted to “broken promises and missed deadlines,” the group claimed ..."

Read the whole article by clicking here.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Links of note

For the students in the Intermediate Forensic Photoshop class, here's a few helpful links.

  • Stairstep Interpolation - Fred Miranda's SI Pro plug-in can be found here.
  • PercepTool 2 can be found here. You can also find George's book there too.
  • My book, Forensic Photoshop, can be found here.
Remember, your workflow is your reliable and repeatable pattern of activity. Make sure to document it and stick with it. If you need to change it, make a note of why it changed and when.

Of course, if you need some help, feel free to contact me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The future of deblur

From the Photoshop blog: "We added Smart Sharpen in CS2, but deblur technology wasn’t mature enough yet for Photoshop and it’s been nagging me ever since. Given the nature of the heavy computation needed, the technology is really dependent on the evolution of the hardware, which provides a more powerful CPU and GPU for us to leverage.”

Challenges with Deblur

However, there is still quite a bit of development left to do before this feature is ready for prime time. Although some of these early demos will wow audiences, there is a lot more to blur than meets the eye. For instance, there are algorithms that estimate where blurs occur in an image and determine what type they are, and others that then reconstruct the image.

The before image [above] has a blur caused by camera shake. The after image shows the type of magic that can occur when the right algorithm is applied using Jue’s new prototype.

The tricky part is when an image has more than one kind of blur, which occurs in most images. Current deblur technology can’t solve for different blur types occurring in different parts of a single image, or on top of one another. For example, if you photograph a person running and also shake the camera when you press the shutter, the runner will be blurry because he is moving and the whole image might have some blur due to the camera shake. If an image has other issues like the noise you often get from camera phones, or if it was taken in low light, the algorithms might identify the wrong parts of an image as blurry, and thus add artifacts in the deblur process that actually make it look worse.

Strong edges in an image help the technology estimate the type of blur. The image below shows the same algorithm run on the image above without the benefit of strong edges. You see that it fails in this case ..."

Click here to read the whole story.


Monday, October 17, 2011

LEVA 2011 Conference in Coeur d'Alene

I will be teaching the Intermediate Forensic Photoshop classes this week in Coeur d'Alene, Id at the 2011 LEVA conference. The dates are the 18th and 20th. I look forward to seeing y'all there.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gamut compression

Here's a nice explanation of what happens when you use an old printer in a modern workflow, from Adobe's Jim King: "Since the most notorious color gamut compressions involve reducing the total number of colors that can be represented going back to the original values is usually impossible. What has been lost is lost.

So it is best to delay any steps where gamut compression can occur to avoid reducing the gamut of the data we have. It must be done for output to gamut reduced devices but it is best to reduce your data in this way only in the last step."

In other words, work your workflow. Save your file for discovery. Then target for your old printer and print your exhibits.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Tool for Police, the Video Camera, and New Legal Issues to Go With It

From the NY Times: "When a man was fatally shot by a police officer on a street in Oakland, Calif., late last month, the shooting was captured by a video camera.

But the video was not taken by an alert pedestrian with an iPhone. It was recorded by a device clipped onto the police officer’s chest.

The Oakland Police Department is one of hundreds of law enforcement agencies that are trying out the body-mounted video cameras, using them to document arrests, traffic stops and even more significant encounters, like officer-involved shootings.

The cameras, legal experts say, are the latest addition in a world where everyone is increasingly watching everyone else.

The police already record illegal left turns and ignored stop signs using cameras mounted on the dashboards of cruisers — evidence displayed vividly on video screens in courtrooms, sometimes to the chagrin of drivers who have just insisted they did no such thing.

Surveillance cameras watch for shoplifters and potential terrorists. And ever since a bystander recorded Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King in 1991, video has been used by witnesses or suspects to record what they believe to be misconduct or inappropriate behavior by the police — a practice that has proliferated with the advent of smart phones.

The ubiquity of video in police encounters — some of it promptly uploaded onto YouTube — is creating new frontiers for judges and lawmakers, who must sort out the issues raised by the new technologies.

Courts in several states are considering cases where citizens who videotaped the police have been charged with violating wiretapping or eavesdropping statutes, prosecution that civil rights lawyers say violates First Amendment rights ..."

Continue reading this article by clicking here.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Diving into NVIDIA GPU’s and what they mean for Premiere Pro

From Adobe's Dennis Radeke: "Trying to quantify the GPU in a Premiere Pro for the editing and pro community, it is a big deal. It is something that I’ve wanted to do for some time, but I had no idea how complicated and time consuming this would be!

I went into this endeavor thinking that I would clearly delineate between different Quadro level cards and along the way understand what each one offered in the way of performance. I was methodical in setting up my system and in trying to create real-world tests that would emphasize what the GPU brought to the table.

While I did learn a lot (which I will pass on to you in due course), the experience and tests in some cases were not always as clear-cut as I had expected ..."

Click here to keep reading this article.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Remembering Steve Jobs

Via John Nack, the Photoshop Team remembers Steve Jobs.

For me, I remember the gift that Woz and Steve gave me and my college crew. The move from the IBM XT to the Mac Classic brought new opportunities and allowed us to graphically realize the products of our imagination ... not to mention earning extra bucks by making party flyers ... Aside from the brief detour that was the G3 (yes, I cursed them for making me learn NT), I've been a Mac guy ever since.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Another battle of the experts leads to a new trial for Wisconsin man

From the State Bar of Wisconsin's Joe Forward: "Brian Avery, convicted on armed robbery charges in the 1990s and sentenced to 30 years in prison, will get a new trial thanks to digital imaging technology not available at the time of his trial, a Wisconsin appeals court has ruled.

In 2007, Avery filed a motion for post-conviction relief based on newly discovered evidence. The new evidence was derived from a new method of digitally enhancing video surveillance, known as Video Image Stabilization and Registration, developed by NASA. It allows examiners to ascertain the height of individuals in surveillance videos, among other things.

A jury saw “grainy” video surveillance tapes of the robberies and pinned Avery on two separate armed robberies, weighing other evidence at trial.

But a digital enhancement, known as a photogrammetric analysis, using the new technology showed the robbery suspect was actually several inches shorter than Avery.

Two experts testified, one for the state and one for the defense, about the precise height of the individual (thought to be Avery) captured on video during one of the robberies. The defense expert testified the suspect could not be six feet, three inches (6’3”) tall, Avery’s height.

The state’s expert testified the suspect appeared shorter, between 5’11” and 6’1 ½", but noted that other variables made it possible the suspect was 6’3”. The circuit court denied Avery’s motion for a new trial after weighing the expert testimony.

A new trial is warranted, Avery argued, because this new evidence, along with other evidence, could place a reasonable doubt in the jury’s mind about his involvement in the robberies. In State v. Avery, 2010AP1952 (Oct. 4, 2011), the District I Court of Appeals agreed.

“By concluding that [the defense expert’s] opinions were ‘not reliable enough’ to entitle Avery to a new trial, the trial court gave one opinion from a credible witness greater weight than a competing opinion from a different credible witness” wrote Judge Joan Kessler. “A trial court applies an incorrect test when it weighs competing credible evidence.”

The trial court should have determined whether there was a reasonable probability that new evidence would create doubt about the defendant’s guilt, the appeals court explained.

“Simply put, if the jury believes the new evidence from Avery’s expert, then it would conclude that Avery could not be the man in the video,” Judge Kessler wrote.

The appeals court also ruled that Avery was entitled to a new trial under Wis. Stat. section 752.35, which gives a court of appeals discretionary reversal authority if the real controversy has not been fully tried. The real controversy, Avery’s involvement, was not fully tried, the court explained, because the jury did not hear the photogrammetric evidence.

The circuit court had ruled that new evidence would not destroy the state’s case against Avery. But the appeals court noted that “[n]o Wisconsin case interpreting [section 752.35] requires that the defendant’s new evidence” totally destroy the prosecutions theory ..."

Click here to read the story on the Wisconsin State Bar's web site. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hurray for the Chief

You've got to give it up for the Chief of Vancouver's PD. He gets it ...

"The urge to rush to justice is basic and visceral and it is easy to see why many people want speedy arrests for the Vancouver rioters. Despite these external pressures, the Vancouver Police Department-led Integrated Riot Investigation Team will not cut corners and rush cases to court in order to appease those who want fast “justice.”

Many have expressed frustration with the Canadian justice system especially in light of the swift prosecution of the British rioters. But Canadian police and Crown attorneys operate under our laws, not foreign laws. The Integrated Riot Investigation Team (IRIT) and our prosecutors have set out to do the best possible under the current Canadian laws and court precedents. We work within the system as it stands.

The main hurdle we have been dealing with during our investigation is the unprecedented quantity of multi-format video evidence. We received more than 1,600 hours of such video. It would take years to process using conventional methods. We have taken this huge volume of digital evidence to a special lab at the University of Indianapolis, the world’s leader in processing digital evidence. Video experts from around the world will create a single-format video stream. We will be able to catalogue each riot participant and locate each case of vandalism and looting that the person committed. And then we’ll present that evidence to the court ..."

Continue reading this excellent piece by clicking here.

As it turns out, there were more than 5000 hours of video in this complex case. Reflecting back on my role in the IRIT, I was yet again the "Adobe guy." It seems that no one who was present in the opening days of work was proficient in performing batch rename functions on large volumes of data. Being the "Adobe guy," I knew that this task was easy using Adobe Bridge.

There are certainly other tools that could perform the function, but Adobe Bridge makes the job fast and easy. Using Adobe Bridge, I was able to append case and evidence ID information to the file names of the volumes of evidence we received for processing in an afternoon. In this way, those tasked with further processing did not have to perform this task manually, which often leads to mistakes.

I am very grateful to the VPD Chief for his sending a formal commendation and certificate to my chain of command for my work on the IRIT. 


Monday, October 3, 2011

TWAIN is dead ... long live WIA Support

TWAIN's been dead for a while now. Some folks, just upgrading machines or Photoshop, are finding that the venerable TWAIN interface is gone. What to do?

File>Import>WIA Support is the new TWAIN (well, it's old ... but let's not get that technical).

Here's the scoop from Microsoft:
"Windows Image Acquisition (WIA) enables imaging programs, such as Microsoft Picture It! 2000, Kodak Imaging, or Adobe Photoshop, to communicate with imaging devices such as digital cameras and scanners. WIA supports digital still cameras and both low-end and high-end scanners; it also enables you to retrieve still images from IEEE 1394-based digital video (DV) camcorders and Universal Serial Bus (USB) Web cameras."


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Can You Identify Any of These Suspects?

Wow ... a week in Indianapolis and I need a vacation. What a week it's been. I'm amazed ut and humbled at the talent that LEVA assembled to assist the IRIT and Vancouver's PD. I'm tired ... but I'm so glad that I was a part of it. Many thanks to VPD for their hospitality and to the IRIT for their generosity. Eddie, my row-mate, did some amazing things capturing the un-capturable video. Steve proved that even Newf's can learn to use the text/tagging feature in Avid (though you don't have to like it). U Indy's cafeteria proved that you can have chicken and chips every day for lunch (the gluten free menu).

From the front of the room, to the back, and on both shifts, there was just an absolute display of talent. At the front of the room was the inimitable Grant, conducting the symphony. I don't think that we'd have done it any other way. I'm tired ... but I loved every minute of it. BTW Scott, I got a guy too ...


Friday, September 30, 2011

A look inside the special forensics lab designed to bring Stanley Cup rioters to justice.

News Hour - Special forensics, part two. John Daly continues an exclusive look inside the special forensics lab designed to bring Stanley Cup rioters to justice.

Read it on Global News: Special forensics, part two - News Hour - Videos | Global BC


What's at stake in surveillance-law wrangle

From the NZHerald: "The Government's bill to legalise covert state video surveillance is more than just the balancing act between civil liberties and police powers to investigate crime.

It is also about police reputation, good constitutional practice and the law-making powers of Parliament and the Supreme Court.

In a decision known as Hamed, the Supreme Court on September 2 found that covert video surveillance on private property was illegal, even under a search warrant.

Crown Law advice is that all trespassory video surveillance is illegal, and "over the fence" surveillance (filming from a public place, or from private land with the owner's consent) is likely to be illegal too.

Police immediately turned off the video cameras in 13 current operations, and have held off starting 15 operations.

Forty-seven pending trials involving 229 suspects involve evidence gathered by hidden cameras, and these have all been put on hold.

The Security Intelligence Service, Customs and Fisheries are also affected ..."

To continue reading the story, click here.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

An exclusive look at forensics lab tasked with bringing Vancouver rioters to justice

From Global TV BC: "Most of the students at the University of Indianapolis have no idea that investigators from across world have gathered in the basement of the University library to eventually bring Vancouver’s rioting hooligans to justice.

The 1600 hours of riot footage is divided amongst teams of trained forensic analysts who identify suspects and tag their identifying features, so the computer can track them from one crime scene to another.

It is a vast amount of data gathered during the Game 7 riot, and there is only one place in the world that can handle it all.

Global got an exclusive look inside the unique lab, where they say the magnitude of the VPD investigation is unparalleled.

The lab consists of forty of the best analysts from Great Britain, Florida, Chicago, and L.A. [ed. note, I can't confirm/deny that the analyst from Los Angeles was me.] as well as Vancouver, trying to identify rioters so they can be charged and convicted.

“It is a challenge. It is also an incredible learning experience for us,” says Michael Plaxton with Durham Ontario Regional Police who is working on the project. “There is a lot of information that we can take back with us to our own departments, so if we have to do the same thing that Vancouver has to deal with, we’d be prepared.”

The LEVA, or law enforcement video analysis lab, is a prized asset for the university.

“We donated the space, and of course they have all of this high tech, incredible equipment and I understand that this is the only place like it in the world, which is wonderful for us,” says Patricia A. Jefferson, Associate Provost at the University of Indianapolis.

The lab was set up a few years ago to deal with big events like terrorist bombings that typically generate large amounts of video ..."

Read it on Global News: An exclusive look at forensics lab tasked with bringing Vancouver rioters to justice.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Warrants being issued to get more riot evidence from media

From News1130.com: "Think you got away with some the damage and destruction caused during the riot in June? Think again!

That's the message from Vancouver Police, who say forensic analysts are in Indianapolis right now processing over 1,600 hours worth of video evidence with a ton of images of rioters that have yet to be identified.

The VPD are just now getting court orders for raw media footage of the riot. Inspector Les Yeo says it's important to get the raw, unedited accounts.

As for why this wasn't done in the first week or two after the riot he says, "Any kind of a judicial process is extremely complicated. This warrant is over 100 pages long. It's very complicated to write. We must ensure it withstands any kind of scrutiny from the courts."

Yeo says police are still on track to recommend 40 charges by the end of next month. They eventually hope to see hundreds of participants charged ...

Click here to read the story.


Monday, September 26, 2011

VIDEO: NHL riot footage examined in U.S.

More than 1,500 hours of video from the June Vancouver riot are being analyzed in the U.S. to link faces to crimes, the CBC's Kirk Williams reports.

Now I can't confirm or deny any involvement, but someone who fits my description can be seen at 1:11 of the video ...


Friday, September 23, 2011

California bill would ban warrantless cell phone searches

This just in from CNN: "If you get arrested in California, the photos, e-mails and other personal data on your cell phone soon could be a bit safer from prying police eyes soon. A bill passed by the state legislature would require law-enforcement officers to obtain a warrant before searching the cell phone of a person placed under arrest.

If signed by the governor, the bill would override a January ruling by the California Supreme Court. According to California Sen. Mark Leno, who sponsored the legislation, this ruling had "legalized the warrantless search of cell phones during an arrest, regardless of whether the information on the phone is relevant to the arrest or if criminal charges are ever filed."

The new California law unanimously passed in the state Assembly. Gov. Jerry Brown has until October 9 to sign it into law, according to a spokesman from the governor's office.

Under this legislation, California law enforcement officers would have to first obtain a search warrant when there is probable cause to believe a suspect's portable electronic device contains evidence of a crime.

The Peace Officers Research Association of California, which opposed the bill, argued: "Restricting the authority of a peace officer to search an arrestee unduly restricts their ability to apply the law, fight crime, discover evidence valuable to an investigation and protect the citizens of California."

The California legislature disagreed, finding that "once in the exclusive control of the police, cellular telephones do not ordinarily pose a threat to officer safety." Furthermore, lawmakers found that existing practices -- including confiscating the phone (without searching it) or promptly applying to a judge for a search warrant -- alleviate concerns about destruction of evidence ..."

Click here to read the whole article.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Adobe Elements family

A few days ago, Adobe announced an update to their Elements family of products. They're at version 10 with Elements (Premiere and Photoshop).

During these trying economic times, I'm sure that agencies will be tempted to short-change themselves and buy the Elements versions over their more expensive cousins. I'd hope that cooler heads will prevail and folks will look long term.

Part of validating a tool is to see what others in the industry are doing. Is the tool generally accepted in the field? Do a good amount of your peers use the product? Unfortunately for the Elements family, the answers are no and no. Do you really want to risk your case by using something that wasn't meant for our industry?

Elements is good for folks new to photo and video editing. It's handy links to social networking sites are perfect for your family photos and the kids' softball games. Unfortunately for our budgets, it's not a law enforcement product.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Webinar: Decoding Digital Evidence: What Every Law Enforcement Officer Must Know

Information relayed on behalf of LEVA which supports this FBI RCFL training opportunity:

As part of its Continuing Education Series, the FBI's Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory (RCFL) Program is offering a free Webinar to members of law enforcement and government agencies. During this two-hour live event, participants will hear from the FBI's top experts about-

  • Current trends in digital forensics including the types of investigations RCFL personnel most frequently support, including crimes against children. 
  • Utilizing the power of social media during criminal investigations to generate leads, with a special focus on crimes against children. 
  • Best practices for handling smartphones, tablets, e.g. iPads, audio/video surveillance, and more.
  • Major legal considerations surrounding digital evidence 
Participants may request certificates of completion after the event. This free webinar is for Law Enforcement, Government Personnel and Infragard Members ONLY. Register for the event by clicking here.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ToughTech Duo review

At DSI-Vegas, I introduced a new piece of gear to the folks in my Premiere Pro class, the ToughTech Duo. Many were curious as to how I was processing a live camera feed into OnLocation, as well as processing video in Premiere Pro CS5.5 for the class (on a laptop) ... all without missing a beat (or dropping a frame).

Sitting next to my MacBook Pro was small silver box, the ToughTech Duo from CRU-DataPort. This small RAID box was connected to my MacBook Pro via the Firewire 800 port.

CRU-DataPort sent the unit out for me to look at. I was impressed with the design; compact, clean, with an easy to understand LCD menu screen. Add to this the quad connectivity options of FireWire 800, FireWire 400, USB 2.0, and eSATA. It will do RAID 0 or 1. For the class, I wanted performance. I chose to set it up for RAID 0.

Powering the drives is easy. Most FireWire ports have adequate power to operate ToughTech Duo, maximizing portability. The ToughTech Duo can also supply power over a FireWire cable whilst allowing a data connection over the faster eSATA port. An AC power supply is also included, along with plugs for US, European, UK, and Australian wall connections.

As much time as I spend in the field, it's nice to know that there's a product out there that can meet my demanding expectations. Now, I can bring along the ToughTech Duo. At only 4lbs, I hardly notice that it's in my kit. OnLocation records at about 13GB/hour. With the 1.5TB model, I can record for days on end - which is great for both forensic video applications as well as surveillance operations.

I like the ToughTech Duo a lot. I can't recommend it highly enough. I think that you will like it too. At around $750 for the 1.5TB model, you really can't go wrong.


Monday, September 19, 2011

What happened to Clip Notes?

I received a note the other day asking about what happened to the Clip Notes feature in Premiere Pro CS5.

The Clip Notes feature is not included in After Effects CS5 or Adobe Premiere Pro CS5. However, you can use CS Review in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 to create reviews of movies made in After Effects or Adobe Premiere Pro.

What's CS Review? According to Adobe, CS Review is an online service in that lets you share your design content on the web so that others can provide feedback. The CS Review panel lets you create reviews and upload content to the Acrobat.com server. The CS Review panel is available in the CS5 and CS5.5 versions of Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and Adobe Premiere Pro.

When you upload content, a snapshot image of your content is uploaded to a personal or shared workspace on the Acrobat.com server, where participants can add comments. (If you are working from Adobe Premiere Pro, you actually upload the entire video sequence for commenting.) You and others can view the comments in the web browser and in the CS Review panel of the Creative Suite application. You can continue to add and remove snapshots of your design content, making the review dynamic.

CS Review is part of the CS Live subscription service. A CS Live subscription is required for creating and managing reviews from Creative Suite applications. However, review participants are not required to have a CS Live subscription to view and comment on reviews. Reviewers need only a free Acrobat.com account. For more information on CS Live subscriptions, see www.adobe.com/go/cslive. As always, make sure that your agency or institution supports your use of these services. Not all agencies approve of "cloud based" services. Also, make sure that you understand how this service works with your discovery process.


Friday, September 16, 2011


We were having a discussion on the show floor at HTCIA recently. HTCIA is all about computer forensics and the things that are on the periphery of that discipline ... like cell phone forensics.

The topic of validation came up in relation to the various cell phone forensic tools that were being sold that week. How does one validate the cell phone forensic tools? How does one even choose which tools to buy? Can you believe the marketing hype from the vendors? The answer, as always ... it depends.

One of the people present gave the following example. They received a particular handset for examination in a criminal case. The court requested all text/sms messages be retrieved and made available for the court. The examiner took the phone off the network and browsed to the messages. The phone's display noted that there were 270 messages in the phone. The examiner had Secure View from DataPilot. Secure View is relatively inexpensive. It was the only tool that this examiner had as he was new to forensics and his small agency didn't have a lot of money. Problem? The handset wasn't supported by Secure View. Take a look at their site. More often than not, they don't support the retrieval of sms messages.

The problem is compounded by the fact that there isn't a single vendor that gets all phones. Most products are expensive in terms of buying the hardware and getting training on how to use it correctly. Cellebrite's UFED Physical Pro can run almost $10k. The Standard version is cheaper, and many people opt for it out of budgetary concerns. Cellebrite says that it gets so many thousand handsets, but do they really? They count in their list of supported handsets ones in which they only retrieve the phone book and call history.

If you are ordered by the court to retrieve all sms messages, what do you return? Just those visible? Visible and deleted? How do you interpret all sms messages? What if your tool doesn't support the handset? What if your tool doesn't support the retrieval of deleted files from that handset? What do you do? Are you ethically bound to recuse yourself do to the lack of appropriate tools?

Can you consider your tool valid if it only retrieves data from certain handsets? Is it therefore valid if it retrieves some things, but not everything? As an example, Secure View does not support the retrieval of sms messages from any HTC phone. It'll get other things from HTC phones, but not sms messages. Is it a valid tool for use with HTC phones?

Enter Crawford and Brady. You get an order to retrieve sms messages from a handset. Your tools don't support that particular handset. Does your attorney goes to trial not knowing what's in those messages? The other side employs an expert with tools that do support the retrieval of all sms messages from the handset. Are you and your attorney comfortable with this scenario? What about a scenario where your tool gets most, but not all messages. Your visual inspection shows 270 messages. Your tool retrieves 249 messages. Where'd the other messages go? Try as you might, you can't get to the other messages in your retrieval. What do you do? Is your process valid?

Crawford says that you get to be questioned. Brady says that the answers to those questions get to follow you around for the rest of your career. Given this, are you comfortable with your tools and your procedures? If you are not, do you have the institutional support to make necessary changes? What happens to you if you don't/can't? Will expediency rule, or will science win out? The answers from the HTCIA show floor might surprise you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


--- Begin editorial ---

I was recently contacted by someone who needed me to work on a case involving video based evidence. I examined the evidence briefly and told them that it would take about a week to set up the experiments, test/validate the results, and return a report. His answer, "can it be done quicker? I don't care about the other stuff. I just need to get something that I can use and get it out to the media."

My answer was simple. I turned down the job. I tried to explain to the customer that I'd either do it the right way, or not at all - that justice demands the process be followed and that expediency has no place in science.

Expediency? Expediency is a regard for what is politic or advantageous rather than for what is right or just. "I'm just trying to get this done ..." "Quick and dirty." "It's not for court, it's for the media ..."

If the multimedia evidence will be used to help identify a suspect, either through a BOLO flyer, a media alert, or bill boards and bus benches ... is it really "not for court?"

What if "quick and dirty" gets it wrong? What if, in "just trying to get something done," your freeware tools or shoddy processes ignore aspect, colour and light, drop frames, etc. In the process, you get the shape of the face wrong, the skin or clothing colour wrong ... and someone identifies the wrong person. What if your "quick and dirty" wastes time and resources as investigators look in the wrong direction?

What's our responsibility to the Trier of Fact to get it right, from start to finish? Is it possible to be both fast and accurate? I would argue that it is ... provided that the technician has the appropriate training and equipment.

Is it ethical to base your workflow or business processes on expediency? I've received a number of e-mails asking about speeding up processes because of mandatory filing deadlines. Essentially what's being said is that the analyst isn't being given the proper amount of time because a suspect is in custody and the investigator needs to get the case filed. Ouch.

What about expediency in terms of assignment of personnel? Is it ethical to place an employee into a position for which he/she does not have appropriate training and experience? These are all questions facing supervisors as budgets shrink. What's the appropriate response? Is the NAS report right in that lab functions should be privatized, separated from governmental agencies?

With the Crawford doctrine taking hold and defendants exercising their right to question everyone, attorneys are digging into the training and expertise of technicians who are involved in the prosecution's case. Given Brady, would a technician necessarily want to harm his/her career by being on the losing end of a thorough cross examination - being found unqualified to provide testimony? What role do managers play in preventing this from happening? In other words, if you know that your people are not as qualified as they should be, and you know attorneys are using Crawford (6th Ammendment) to call everyone related to the case, why would you entertain expediency? In "just getting things done," you may be ending the careers of your people and ultimately harming your case.

This is just an editorial on my part. Now that budgets are shrinking, I've been getting so many e-mails on the subject of "getting things done" that I had to say something. I'm not speaking about any one agency or firm - just collectively about the practice of expediency. Expediency has no place in the justice system, in my humble opinion.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Premiere Pro Training Curriculum

For the first time, Adobe is offering Adobe Premiere Pro Official Training Curriculum. The Official Training Curriculum offers students entering the industry or seasoned professionals the necessary skillset to use Adobe Premiere Pro for their editing needs. The goal of the Adobe Premiere Pro Official Training Curriculum is to ensure quality, consistency and accessibility of Adobe Premiere Pro training worldwide.

There are two types of courses that Adobe makes available to you:

An Introduction to Adobe Premiere Pro (101)
This entry-level course teaches students to perform essential editing techniques while becoming familiar with the Adobe Premiere Pro user interface. This class is designed for anyone looking to edit professional-quality video with Adobe Premiere Pro and uses hands-on and interactive instruction to best explore its functionality. The course is designed for new users who have no substantial editing experience.

Adobe Premiere Pro for Experienced Editors (250)
This course teaches experienced editors how to navigate Adobe Premiere Pro and helps give them insights on how to use Adobe Premiere Pro within the Creative Suite Production Premium workflow. This class is designed for students who are making the transition to Adobe Premiere Pro from another nonlinear editing platform.

If you wish to order this bundle as well as classroom materials, visit the Peachpit Press website to order: http://www.peachpit.com/premieretraining


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Working with Photoshop Layer Comps in Adobe Captivate

Captivate just keeps getting better. So much has changed with Adobe Captivate since I used it to create the videos for my book. Here's an exciting addition: "In Adobe Photoshop, you can work with different types of layers like adjustment layers, mask layers, and layer comps. Layer comps allow you to create, manage, and view multiple versions of a layout in a single Photoshop file. This feature comes in really handy when you are creating screen layouts for your eLearning courses. You can save all your course screens as different layer comps and then use it in your Adobe Captivate courses.

Let’s see in this demonstration how to create layer comps and import these layer comps in Adobe Captivate.

Click here to watch the video. Expert services for imaging, video, audio, and cell phone analysis can be found here.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Use one mouse/keyboard on multiple PCs

From ZDnet: "Do you work with multiple PC? Is your desktop cluttered with more than one keyboard and/or mouse? If this describes you then you need Mouse without Borders.

Mouse without Borders is a Microsoft Garage project that allows you to work with numerous PCs as though they were a single system.

Note: What is the Microsoft Garage? Here’s how Microsoft describes it:

“The Garage is both a physical space in Building 4 at our Redmond HQ, and a company wide program that encourages grass roots invention, tinkering, ideas and incubation of projects. In The Garage, employees get together after hours to build whatever they dream up and the results are often impressive. 99.9% of the Garage projects either ship as part of a Microsoft project or remain internal, but every once in a while there’s a project that doesn’t fit into any existing Microsoft product which will get a lot of request from employees who want to be able to share it with their friends and families. In exceptions like this, the Garage community will rally together to and publish it as a standalone public download.”

Using Mouse without Borders, you can control up to four PCs with a single keyboard and mouse with no extra hardware needed - it’s all done over the network. In addition to using the same keyboard and mouse on multiple PCs, you can also move files between PCs by dragging and dropping, copy and paste across systems, easily share screen captures and even log in or lock multiple PCs simultaneously.

Very neat.

Mouse without Borders has been developed by Truong Do who, by day, is a developer for Microsoft Dynamics.

Download here [1.1MB]."

Click here to read the whole article. Expert services for imaging, video, audio, and cell phone analysis can be found here.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Adobe acquires IRIDAS

Adobe announced at the IBC 2011 Conference and Exhibition that it has acquired certain assets of privately held IRIDAS, a leader in high-performance tools for digital color grading and enhancement of professional film and video content, including stereoscopic technology. Color grading is an essential component of finalizing professional film and television content and is becoming an increasingly important part of modern content creation with the advent and rapid growth of High Dynamic Range (HDR) video.

The addition of IRIDAS technology includes SpeedGrade, an award-winning toolset for Stereo 3D, RAW processing, color grading and finishing of digital content. IRIDAS offers the only non-destructive tools for primary and secondary color correction that are optimized for multi-core CPU and GPU performance, paralleling the industry-leading speed and efficiency of the Adobe Premiere® Pro and Adobe Mercury Playback Engine software.

Click here to read the whole press release.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Fingerprints and video evidence lead to the arrest

This just in from WANE.com: "Warsaw police said fingerprints and video evidence lead to the arrest in the June 2010 burglary of an AutoZone store on East Center Street.

According to the Warsaw Police Department, Keith J. Vuittonet, 35, was arrested for Burglary at a mobile home in the Whispering Pines Trailer Court, north of Warsaw Friday afternoon.

Police believe Vuittonet entered the business through the roof on June 10, 2010, based on fingerprint and video evidence at the scene.

Vuittonet is also charged with Residential Entry in the home burglary in the Pierceton area.

Police also said Vuittonet had traveled to Texas shortly after the incidents and recently returned to the area.

He was booked into the Kosciusko County Jail and held o a $20,000 bond."

Click here to read the whole article. Expert services for imaging, video, audio, and cell phone analysis can be found here.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Adobe Carousel

This just in from Adobe: "During the Photoshop World 2011 keynote, Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) announced Adobe® Carousel™ for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch and Mac OS. Adobe Carousel is designed for anyone who loves photographs, takes a lot of them, and needs a simple way to view, browse, adjust and share them without worrying about manual syncing or storage. Adobe Carousel uses the powerful photo-processing technology that is used in Adobe Photoshop® Lightroom®, so customers get the finest photo-editing results delivered consistently no matter what the device. Photos look great and are easy to share directly with family and friends.

Adobe Carousel is comprised of a set of client apps for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Mac OS desktops (versions for Windows and other devices are expected in the first half of 2012). When customers import their photo library into Adobe Carousel, or take new photos using Adobe Carousel on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, those photos are automatically accessible on any supported device through the cloud-based smart mesh technology incorporated in Adobe Carousel. Once imported, any edits, deletions or additions to the library made on one device are automatically updated across all devices linked with the account. With Adobe Carousel, manual syncing and device storage limitations are a thing of the past.

Setting up Adobe Carousel is easy. Customers will just download the apps, set up a subscription plan on their iPhone and iPad, and they are ready to go. Subscribers can import a virtually unlimited number of JPEG files, and install Adobe Carousel apps on as many of their compatible devices as they want.

“With Adobe Carousel we are extending the power of Adobe’s imaging expertise beyond the desktop and onto tablets and smartphones, delivering instant access to your complete photo library and the freedom to edit and share photos anywhere, any time,” said Winston Hendrickson, vice president of Digital Imaging Products, Adobe. “Thanks to Adobe Carousel, users never need to worry about wasting time syncing, remembering if a photo was saved to a particular device, or worrying about maxing out storage on their iPhone or iPad.”

Familiar multi-touch gestures provide a fun and interactive experience to explore tens of thousands of photos quickly and easily, and Adobe’s powerful photo-processing engine lets users adjust exposure, shadows, highlights, white balance, vibrance, clarity and contrast. There are also over a dozen “Looks” that allow customers to quickly experiment with the appearance of a photo. Adobe Carousel simplifies and enhances photo sharing by allowing subscribers to invite friends and family members to collaborate on a photo library free of charge – so anyone with a Carousel capable device can view existing photos and contribute new ones, apply adjustments and Looks to images, and easily grab and flag favorite photos. Users can also share photos by sending them directly to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr or via email.

Pricing and Availability
The Adobe Carousel apps will be available through the iTunes App Store and for Mac later this month. Through Jan. 31, 2012, Adobe plans to offer Adobe Carousel for a special introductory price of US$59.99/year or US$5.99/month. Anyone subscribing at that price will be able to renew at that same price for an additional two years. At the conclusion of the introductory offer, Adobe Carousel will be US$99.99/year or US$9.99/month. By subscribing, customers automatically receive any enhancements and updates to Adobe Carousel at no additional charge. Customers receive a complimentary subscription for up to 30 days and can purchase a monthly or yearly subscription at any time from their iPad or iPhone.

Customers can download and install the Adobe Carousel apps as many times and across as many devices as they want as a part of their subscription (no additional fees apply). For more information, including system requirements, visit www.photoshop.com/carousel

I'm thinking that this is more of a personal type app - and not necessarily for LE use ... at least that's how I'm planning on using it. On the other hand, it could help for court prep, depositions, and other cases where you might need instant access to your images.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

2011 HTCIA International Training Conference & Expo

I'll be at the HTCIA Conference next week in Indian Wells, Ca, talking about Cell Phones. My partner, Eric Wahlberg (scarry good at getting evidence out of cell phones), will be hosting a class on using FinalMobile to script evidence retrieval.

If you're planning on being there, stop by and say hello.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Changes to Rule 26

From the BullsEye Blog: "On Dec. 1, 2010, a major change took effect in the federal rule governing expert witness reports, giving draft reports the protection of the work-product doctrine and exempting them from mandatory disclosure. At the time, attorneys and experts hailed the change as a long-overdue step that would reduce both the cost and contentiousness of litigation.

Now, having had six months to live with the new rule, the assessment of many attorneys and experts remains favorable but somewhat muted. While there is general agreement that the change was for the better and has simplified the process to a degree, most attorneys and experts report that the actual impact on their practices has been negligible.

“It has simplified the report process and removed some of the archaic hurdles in the process,” says David Donoghue, a partner at Holland & Knight in Chicago. “But I do not think it has simplified expert discovery overall because many are still testing and litigating the boundaries of the new rule, particularly what information is in fact discoverable.”

The Dec. 1 revision of Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure changed what had been the practice ever since the rule’s last major revision in 1993. No longer does the rule require full discovery of draft expert reports and broad disclosure of any communications between an expert and trial counsel.

Instead, those communications now come under the protection of the work-product doctrine, prohibiting discovery of draft expert reports and limiting discovery of attorney-expert communications. Still allowed is full discovery of the expert’s opinions and of the facts or data used to support them ..."

Click here to read the whole article. Expert services for imaging, video, audio, and cell phone analysis can be found here.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Budget Cuts Slash Expert Funds

This just in from the BullsEye Blog: "Despite seeing the first signs of an improving economy, both the legal industry and governmental agencies are still experiencing a budget crunch. Changing fee structures at law firms and debates over the federal budget have left both groups with limited funds to locate and retain experts.

In the last few months most government agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, have been forced to defend their very expensive price tags. SEC Chairwoman, Mary Shapiro, told Senate Banking Committee members that budget cuts have caused reductions in personnel, technology and litigation expenses, including the amount spent on expert witnesses. Although funds may be limited, locating the best experts is still vital to a successful case. When equally qualified experts present opposing facts to the court, the most persuasive and best credentialed experts often carry the most weight with juries.

These experts not only look impressive on paper, but also have the intangible ability to communicate with judges and juries. Unfortunately, many of these experts appear at first to be unobtainable to those with lesser litigation budgets because of larger fee structures.

Click here to read the whole article. Expert services for imaging, video, audio, and cell phone analysis can be found here.