HOW TO EXTRACT CLEAR FACTS FROM BAD VIDEO
by Doug Carner
There are literally hundreds of programs claiming to improve video quality, but no one program can be the magic bullet to every situation. Limited time and budgets prevent the application of every software combination. A reasonable balance is to primarily rely upon well written open-source software. Most open-source resources are powerful and founded in solid science, while others are questionable at best. There can also be issues with hosting safety, poor documentation, and a steep learning curve.
To address this, industry experts have created two major open-source video enhancement solutions. The first is Forevid (http://Forevid.org) which includes a wide range of illumination and noise filters, but was last updated in 2012. The other offering is VideoCleaner (http://VideoCleaner.com) which delivers an extensive suite of features, but only for 32-bit Windows. A 64-bit version is being considered.
VideoCleaner can brighten poorly lit scenes, increase detail clarity, correct the viewing perspective, reverse lens distortion, repairs VHS recordings, remove electrical noise, improve color contrast, isolate channels, and so much more. VideoCleaner can make faint movements, distant traffic signal color changes, and small details obvious. You can also annotate on-screen with text and highlighting, correct playback speed, provide sweeping or adjacent before-after views, and extract stills.
At its core, VideoCleaner is the controlling interface between other open-source software (VirtualDub, AviSynth, AvsPmod and dozens of plug-ins), each with their own on-line discussion threads. What sets VideoCleaner apart is that it is script based, which makes it easy to customize and delve deep into the underlying science. The user can add toggles, sliders and a seemingly endless range of functionality. To aid in ease-of-use, usage tutorials are available online and during leading forensic conferences.
Open-source software offers unparalleled control, cost savings, and free support. This is not to say that open-source resources are superior to industry specific commercial software, but it does allow access to a wider range of configurations. A properly equipped forensic lab should rely on both commercial and open-source software.
These powerful tools deliver clear evidence and a greater understanding of how and why each process works. The user can optimize and automate nearly every step, thus reducing working time, eliminating judgment-based errors, and ensuring an accurate reproducible set of facts. That is what our industry is all about.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Doug Carner is President of Forensic Protection (http://ForensicProtection.com