By Kelly Watt, Director of Sales & Business Development
Law enforcement agencies are investing in 3D laser scanning technologies at unprecedented rates, driving the development of exciting new tools designed to improve the investigation experience, reduce production time, and dramatically increase 3D scene reliability. With the proliferation of body worn, in-car video recording systems as well as a host of public and private visual surveillance technology, 3D practitioners have struggled to merge the worlds of point clouds from laser scanners with the vast amounts of video evidence from crime or accident scenes. That struggle is now over.
OCCAM Video Solutions’ premier software iNPUT-ACE now includes a blazingly fast and accurate tool to produce precision photo-overlays onto the geometry of point clouds from 3D laser scanning. The overlay not only provides the ability to calculate positions, distances, and heights from recorded video evidence in 3D point clouds, but also produces stunning demonstrative exhibits for court.
Watch a short clip showing the overlay tool in action:
The new technique within iNPUT-ACE leverages Reverse Projection methodologies that have been accepted by courts from around the world. Grant Fredericks, a Certified Forensic Video Analyst, and the driving force behind the development of iNPUT-ACE has provided expert testimony in Reverse Projection methods related to criminal and civil cases for over thirty years. For the last sixteen years, Fredericks has been a contract instructor at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA. His evidence has passed the rigorous admissibility tests from both Daubert and Frye challenges in courts throughout the United States. Most recently, in the high-profile murder trial of former Balch Springs, TX Police Officer Roy Oliver, Fredericks provided powerful testimony showing Reverse Projection overlays demonstrating precise distance measurements from multiple body-worn video images as officers approached the victim’s vehicle.
Camera-matching and traditional overlays are both time consuming methodologies that don’t provide the ability of directly integrating video evidence into a point cloud, and as a result, miss the opportunity to provide powerful and clear demonstrative exhibits. The new Camera Match Overlay tool within iNPUT-ACE goes a step further by both calibrating and overlaying video images from any source onto accurate geometry of point cloud data. The process can be accomplished in minutes and brings 2-dimensional video evidence into the third dimension. Practitioners can now measure any position/object in the video and create seamless demonstrative exhibits that add significant value to their investigations and final work product.
In another high-profile case, which is the subject of an upcoming Netflix special “Exhibit A”, Grant Fredericks used Reverse Projection to determine the actual height of a robbery suspect. Another man is widely believed to have been wrongfully convicted of the crime more than ten years ago and remains in jail to this day. Using FARO laser scanner point cloud data, Fredericks was able to accurately overlay distorted historical digital video images of the robber to the contemporary scene-geometry of the interior of the store.
“…reverse projection, allowed him to juxtapose a 3-D laser scanned image of Powell with that of a store surveillance photo from the June 2008 robbery […which showed] Powell was about 6 or 7 inches taller than the man showed in the surveillance photo”
The Reverse Projection method showed that George Powell, the man convicted of the robbery, is actually many inches taller than the robbery suspect. Fredericks’ analysis has led to an appeal and his methods will be highlighted in the upcoming Netflix documentary.
During the appeal, Mr. Powell’s attorneys argued that his 2009 conviction was based heavily on the video evidence and the improper methodologies used by the prosecution’s expert, a traffic crash analyst. Fredericks explained during the appeal hearing that video evidence is often encoded in proprietary digital video file formats (with file extensions such as .dav, .irf, .h264, .exe, etc.) and properly using and interpreting this data can be challenging. iNPUT-ACE solves those problems by providing an intuitive interface to drag/drop/and play video in almost any format and offers powerful tools to help users measure timing in video, enhance video images, produce demonstrative exhibits, and much more.
With video evidence being considered in traffic crash cases, robbery investigations and in a variety of other law enforcement uses, what you initially see is not always accurate. This is especially true when attempting to extract accurate measurements from CCTV images that are often warped or distorted due to one or more factors, including:
- camera lens distortions
- variable refraction from protective dome coverings in front of the camera’s lens
- aspect ratio errors inherent in digital video compression
- environmental errors caused by moisture (rain/fog/snow) or debris
These factors often result in a propagation of image distortion errors that cannot be solved through traditional camera-match methods. iNPUT-ACE’s new Camera Match Overlay Tool solves each of these problems within a simple interface that can be learned in minutes.
iNPUT-ACE’s unique ability to view and play proprietary digital video from almost any source, and then to extract original images without altering the data, provides 3D practitioners with unparallel access and control of today’s most prolific source of evidence. The powerful iNPUT-ACE Overlay Tool allows the user to mark points within the video images and within the point cloud geometry in order for iNPUT-ACE to auto-calibrate the video images based on common visual characteristics. The Overlay Tool delivers accurate positioning, measurement, and other information critical to crash, crime scene, and other investigation needs. Using any 3D scanner software, the user can measure X, Y, Z locations to a high degree of accuracy within a point cloud and can automatically relate the location to a precise position within a video image or in a full motion video clip.
Reverse Projection has been used to determine vehicle speeds, suspect heights, and other measurement detail in several recent criminal and civil cases, including:
1. The George Powell case: https://inputace.wistia.com/medias/gs8onvgkik
2. Crash Scene: https://inputace.wistia.com/medias/lki9hbdq8e
Register for the webinar demonstrating the overlay tool on December 4th at 10 am PST/1 pm EST:Register Here
In addition to the new Overlay Tool, the iNPUT-ACE software is used by:
- DA & Prosecutor Offices to drag|drop|play hundreds of proprietary video formats.
- Robbery/Homicide/Assault Units to track suspects through multiple camera views and produce dynamic reports.
- Traffic Investigations Teams to calculate vehicle speeds and enhance video images.
- Video Units to analyze metadata and compression levels to pull the most out of video evidence.
- Use of Force Investigators to calculate variable timing to ensure police force interactions are properly interpreted.
- Identification Units to correct objects/clothing/vehicle shapes for comparison analysis.
- Insurance Claims Investigators to accurately interpret events within compressed video evidence.
- Digital Forensic Analysts to validate the quality and frame count of recovered video evidence.