VideoFOCUS 6.1 Preview

At the recent DAC School Training in Phoenix, AZ, Jeff Hunter introduced the new VideoFOCUS Pro Version 6.1 software that we are working to release hopefully sometime in the next few weeks. In addition to numerous improvements to the user interface and support for additional DVR formats, the new features include:

  1. Improved hierarchical visual organization of the sessions list;
  2. Ability to arrange views in the MultiView sessions in any desired arrangement, with independent zooming;
  3. Hashing (MD5, SHA1, and SHA2) for all imported and exported files;
  4. Explicit indication of key frames in all views;
  5. User-defined labeling of time regions across multiple videos within the same case;
  6. Better handling of footage gathered from across different time zones, and;
  7. New audio redaction function.

Please watch for our automated support messages informing of new releases, and also periodically check our support website for the newest versions of VideoFOCUS as they become available.

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Improved Subscription Licensing Now Available for VideoFOCUS!

Since the release of Version 4.0 in 2012, both Perpetual and Subscription licensing have been available for all VideoFOCUS software products. As of Version 6.0, Salient Sciences additionally offers USB Dongle Activation for Subscription licences, allowing these date-limited licenses to be shared across multiple machines and operated without an internet connection in the same way as dongle-based Perpetual licenses – an important consideration for workstations housing sensitive data.

When a Subscription license is purchased with USB Dongle Activation specified, a special RTC dongle having its own real-time clock (or “RTC”) on board will be supplied at no additional cost. This independent RTC enables VideoFOCUS to reliably manage the subscription term, even when an internet connection to a trusted time server (e.g. nist.gov) is not available. For Perpetual licenses, which are not date-limited, a non-RTC dongle will be supplied. Pictures of the two dongle types are provided below.

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RTC Dongle (Black) – Used for Subcription Licenses
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Non-RTC Dongle (Purple) – Used for Perpetual Licenses

Follows is a more detailed explanation of Perpetual vs. Subscription licensing:

With Perpetual licensing, the customer “owns and maintains” the software license. Analogous to buying a car, there is a significant initial investment to purchase the license, which includes an initial maintenance contract providing entitlement to all new versions that are released during that first year of ownership; thereafter, the customer can purchase a new maintenance contract each year to continue entitlement to the latest versions.

For most of our customers, Perpetual licensing is preferred, because they never have to worry about a critical forensics tool ceasing to work for them if budget is not immediately available to renew the maintenance. Even if the maintenance should expire at some point without renewal, the software continues to function indefinitely at the most recent version that was allowed under the last expired contract (also called the “last entitled version”).

But for smaller customer agencies who may find it prohibitive to absorb the larger initial cost for the Perpetual license, the “rent and maintain” model of the Subscription license may be more attractive. Like leasing a car, the initial cost is more modest – essentially, you pay for the first year’s maintenance contract and you can start using the software immediately with full entitlement to all updates while the contract remains active.

The main potential downside of Subscription licensing is that if the maintenance is ever allowed to expire without renewal, the software will simply stop working – possibly making for a bad day if the maintenance happens to expire in the middle of a critical case!

The other potential downside of Subscription licensing is the need for the software to have a trusted clock source to reliably enforce the subscription term. Traditionally, our Subscriptions have used Online Activation only, meaning that the computer had to have an internet connection or the software would not run – again, potentially a big problem for machines having sensitive data. However, this limitation is completely overcome in Version 6.0 with the USB Dongle Activation via the RTC dongle.

To minimize any disruptions of Subscription licenses, and also to ensure that Perpetual license customers continue their entitlement to all the latest versions of VideoFOCUS, Salient Sciences starts e-mailing maintenance renewal pro forma invoices within 3-6 months of the maintenance expiring, which hopefully allows time to purchase the renewal and avoid any issues. Where necessary and appropriate, temporary maintenance extensions can be quickly granted by Salient Sciences sales (just e-mail us at sales@salientsciences.com) to keep VideoFOCUS running at the latest versions while the maintenance renewal purchase is being processed.

New Website and Blog!

After several months of intensive design effort, we are pleased to finally announce the launch of the new Salient Sciences website, which is now fully live at www.salientsciences.com. This responsive site can be viewed by both desktop and mobile browsers, and provides efficient navigation to let you quickly access the exact information that you are looking for. Coupled with the website are the new blog and software support pages, which can be accessed either through the website or directly at blog.salientsciences.com and support.salientsciences.com. The website content is being continually updated with new software updates to our VideoFOCUS and CARDINAL MiniLab products, as well as useful application-related articles and other news, including upcoming trainings and conferences. Please check out the new site when you have a chance, and do let us know what you think!

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New ways to import files into VideoFOCUS

open-withVideoFOCUS 6.0.5 adds new ways that media files can be imported so it is a good time to review the options for import in VideoFOCUS. Files can be imported in the following ways:

  • The Import Media dialog;
  • Drag and drop;
  • The system “open with” (new);
  • Open from within DVR Examiner (new), and;
  • Drop on the VideoFOCUS app icon (new).

First I should mention that VideoFOCUS uses a number of stages when trying to import a file. These include examining the file to see if it is a supported proprietary DVR format, a standard audio or video file, a raw encoded video stream, an image sequence, or an individual image. No matter which way you choose to import, all of the appropriate stages are attempted to maximize the chances of a successful import.

To use “open with” to import a file, simply right click on the desired file’s icon wherever it appears and choose the open with action in the popup menu. If VideoFOCUS is not showing, select “choose another app”, then select VideoFOCUS from the list. VideoFOCUS does not automatically claim any file associations but the Windows OS may offer to make VideoFOCUS the default for the file type chosen, so be sure to adjust the checkbox setting as desired.

For those using the DME Forensics’ DVR Examiner product we are also pleased to announce that in their latest release, VideoFOCUS is now an option for opening media files directly from within DVR Examiner.

“Open with” support also brings the ability to drop a file onto the VideoFOCUS desktop shortcut and have it open in VideoFOCUS. Just like “open with” and open from DVR Examiner, if VideoFOCUS is already running, the file will be imported into the currently selected VideoFOCUS case. If VideoFOCUS is not already running, then it will be started and the file will be imported into whichever case was last selected.

Alternatively, if you have one or more files of a single type that you wish to import, drag and drop is often the quickest way to import. Open VideoFOCUS so that the main window is visible, select the files, and if they are audio or video simply drag them into the left hand sessions area. If they are images, dragging them into the sessions area will cause VideoFOCUS to prompt you for a frame rate, and then a video session will be created with that frame rate and the images organized in alphabetical order; if you wish for the images to be treated separately by VideoFOCUS, drag them to the stills area instead.

And finally, the Import Media dialog under the VideoFOCUS file menu can be used to try to import any media into VideoFOCUS and also offers the most control during the import process. The import dialog is also the way to import files that are a mixture of images and video and audio in one action. When there are multiple import options available for a selected file, the  Options button will be enabled; Options can be used to force a transcode or change the aspect ratio or interlace type prior to import. Remember to change the “Files of type” filter to “All Files” if you cannot see the file you are trying to open.

All of these capabilities are available in VideoFOCUS Pro, VFSource, and VFCapture version 6.0.5 or later.