Former FBI Analyst on Retrieving Surveillance Video

By IPVM Team, Published Feb 26, 2014, 12:00am EST (Info+)

"When a robbery would happen police used to be able to show up, hit eject on the VCR, break the write protect tab on the tape and bag it. Now an officer shows up on the scene and may not have had any training on a DVR and then if they do have training on a specific model, it doesn’t mean they will be able to recover video from every system in their jurisdiction."

Former FBI forensic analyst Jimmy Schroering [link no longer available] left government work to co-found DME Forensics, a company to train law enforcement in video forensic analysis directly and through LEVA. We talked with Schroering about the key problems in retrieving surveillance video.

Patrol ******** ****** ** ******* ** **** *****Detectives and forensics teams usually have more experience pulling video, but Schroering feels that it’s important that rank and file police officers learn to export video from a variety of systems.

********** ****** ******** ** * ******* of *******, *** ** **** **'* their *********** **** ** *** **** important. ******** ****** ** ****** **** kinds ** ****** **** ****** ** looking ***, *** ******** *******.

“** *** ***** **** * ******** system, ***’** *** ****** **** *** troubleshooting ****** ** **** **** * system **** *****’* **** ******* **,” he ****. “**** **** ** **** what **** **** ** ******** *** the ******* ********* ** ***** *** want ** ** *******."

Seizing * ****** ****** ** * **** ******The problem with law enforcement who haven’t had any kind of video recovery training, Schroering says, is that they default to the old school way of doing things.

“*** ******** *** *** *** ******* the **** ** ** ******** ** taking *** **** *****. ** **** can’t ****** *** *** ** **** the ***** ******, **** ***** ****’* ***** **** bet ... ** *** **** * hard ***** *** ** ***** **** the ****** ** **** *** ***** off,” ** ****.

******** ****** ** ****** ** **** are ***** ** ***** *** **** drive, **** ** **** ***** *** whole ******, ** ****.

End ***** **** ** **** **** ******** ***** ******** ***** ****“There are a lot of installers our there who are selling them a dream ... They test the system and show a live view from the DVR, but until you actually try to view recorded footage or download that footage, you don’t know for sure if what is being captured is going to be the final product,” he said. End users should have at least a basic knowledge of how different settings are going to impact the exported video. For example, if a person wants to make sure a system can see a license plate, they need to export the footage to see if they can see a license plate.

“******** **** **** *** ***** ***** system ** ******* ** ***** ** incident,” ** ****. **’* ****** ** know **** ***’** ******* **** ****** an ******** *******.

Forensics **** **** **** ******* *****, *** ***** **** ** **** ** *****The more they can get from an end user, the more they have to work with, so it’s understandable that forensics guys want people to record at a higher quality.

“* ***** **** ****** **** ****** quality ***** **** **** *********. *** it ******* ** *** ***** *** review ****** ... ** *** **** that *** ***’* ** ** ***** enough **** ***** *** ***'* **** shorter ********* *****. **’* ****** * tradeoff,” ** ****.

**’* ****** *** *** ***** ** notice * ********** ** *********** **-******, but **’* **** *** ** ****** in ***** ** ****, ***** ** why *** ***** ***** **** **** compression.

Hold ** ** ********* *** *********These can be extremely helpful for police when trying to figure out how to take footage.

“*** ******* ***’* ****** **** ** advertised, *** **** **** ****** ***** are ****** *** *** ****** ***,” he ****. ***** *********** *** ***** should **** ***** ** *** ******* information *** *** ****** ** ********** who ********* *** ******. ******** **** can **** *** ****** *** *** footage ******.

“**** *** ***** ***** **** **** to **** **** **** ******** ** the **** ********, ***** ***** **********,” he ****.

The ****** *** ******* **** ******* **** ***Schroering says the number one problem they see with DVRs is that fans don’t work or don’t work well.

“***** ****** *** ** **/* **** of *** ****. *** **** *** kind ** *******. ** *** **** it ****** ** * ****** [**** poor *** ***********] **** *** *** the **** ** ** **** *****,” he ****.

********** **** *** ***** ****** *** and ******** ***** ******** ********* **** they ***** *********.

“***’** *** ***** ** ***** * computer ** *** *******. *** ******* systems *** **** ****** ** **** in ***** *************,” ** ****.

Comments (6)

In reference to our ADT DVR footage which ultimately helped solve a spate of local burglaries, our Sheriff advised that we seek friendlier solutions if possible (this is the G-rated translation of his suggestion). We had already experienced the challenges of exporting footage and, rather than suffer again, just handed the entire unit, along with ADT's law enforcement support phone # and all passwords, to the poor gentleman. His experience was no happier than ours, although ultimately (after a fully invested day for each of us) we both succeeded.

Training the End User is a challenge, especially when they can't spend the time at the end of the install to learn their new system. Often their business day is interrupted with the install, so they want us out of their hair as soon as they can verify the system is up and running.

We offer a short training on the day of install and follow up after the end user has time to play with the system. We always leave a step-by-step screen shot to walk them through burning a video. Its like anything else: if you don't use it every day, you will forget quickly.

Carlton, why do you suppose that no vms vendor has risen to the occasion and created a streamlined method just for LE requests? One where to get video for a given day/camera one could simply go to the file system hierchary and copy just one directory. Included in the directory could be a simple vendor specific playback utility tailored for LE needs. No laborious transcoding and scrubbing. Or have some mfrs done this already?

Playback and evidence-sharing is one of the reasons that I have always favored the Video Insight approach. The cameras are listed by name in the left navigation panel, with folders under each listing 'today', 'yesterday', etc. When you open a clip, there is a 'save a clip from file' button. This grabs the whole clip or whatever portion you bracket with sliders on the payback line. The file is saved in the .avi format, which is replayable by any Win or Mac computer. Or, you can open the Sychronized Player in the Tools pulldown, and export a synchronized file of up to 9 cameras, playing in a grid.

Sir, can you give a rough estimate of how long the 'grab' and 'save' actions take? Say for a 1 hour clip or 10 hour clip, single or synchro, whatever you can remember of the top of your head. I have not usec Video Insight to export footage, but others can be painfully slow.

I was thinking it would be nice if you could copy a hour or days worth of video directly ftom the filesystem without processing for minimal business disruption and minimal LE training.

I am a consultant working in Malaysia and sometimes a lack of understanding can arrise through language. I have been called in on many occasions by clients who have been mislead by contractors claims over the quality of DVR video quality and acheiving say 30 days of recording I have found that a simple test will usually hi-light problems that a non industry client can understand. Select a camera with a fixed FOV with little activity and display it on a monitor whilst recording the same image on the DVR then replay the recorded image on a second monitor side by side with the live feed any reduction in resolution is immediatly obvious to the client. A second common set up trick besides reducing resolution to achieve 30 days is to reduce the frame rate so while carrying out this test get a member of staff to walk across the FOV and repeat the process, reduced frame rates will once again be obvious to the client. I know this is common sense but frequently I find clients who don't understand what they are paying for can easierly see the faults and are more willing to take your advice rather than just giving them a technical answer they may not understand.

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