VideoFOCUS 7.0 Now Available

Having completed the initial beta testing period, both VideoFOCUS Pro and VFSource Version 7.0 are now in general release and are available for download and installation under all licenses having a current maintenance contract*.

In addition to numerous improvements to the user interface and support for some additional DVR formats, the new features of VideoFOCUS Pro include:

  • Automatic Reporting, which produces a PDF report detailing the properties of each item being reported, all steps required to reproduce, hashes (both SHA1 and SHA-256) for all imported and exported media items, plus user-editable text fields under Case Properties and Session Properties that provide notes for the overall case and each item along with the agency name, examiner name, case number, and case title;
  • Macro Function, enabling any set of actions taken on one piece of media to be quickly applied to other similar media, without the user having to repeat the same actions in the user interface;
  • Unified Export Window, supporting the simultaneous export of multiple images, video, and audio, with separate tabs allowing independent format selection for each type and a detailed PDF report being automatically produced and saved along with the items (if enabled);
  • Improved Item Labeling and Tooltips, providing a more consistent methodology for the labeling of items created by filters, modifications, edits, etc.;
  • Independent Time Zone Setting for Each Case under the new File->Case Properties menu item, a helpful function for examiners who work on cases originating from across multiple time zones, and;
  • Cases Now Described Through a Standardized Text File, not a version-specific binary file as in previous versions, enabling new cases created in versions 7.0 onward to be opened with later versions.

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.

* Under Upgrade Amnesty, any previously-purchased VideoFOCUS license is now eligible to gain entitlement to all new versions for one future year with the purchase of a 1YR maintenance contract. To request a quotation to renew maintenance on your VideoFOCUS license, please complete and submit the online form and either we or your in-country dealer will respond as soon as possible.

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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Upgrade Amnesty for Old VideoFOCUS Licenses

Effective 1 January 2017, all Perpetual licenses to VideoFOCUS may be brought current to the latest version and gain entitlement to all new versions for one future year simply by purchasing a one-year maintenance renewal.

Under this upgrade amnesty, all retroactive “upgrade” and “back maintenance” charges are waived entirely, providing an excellent opportunity especially for those who may have bought an early version of VideoFOCUS from the old Salient Stills company to get current again and take advantage of the expanded capabilities of versions 6.0 and beyond.

To find out if your old VideoFOCUS license qualifies for upgrade amnesty, please complete and submit the online form and we or your in-country dealer will respond as soon as possible.

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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 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.

Expanded DVR Format Support in VideoFOCUS

Starting with the release of Version 5.1 in 2015, in addition to supporting virtually all standard multimedia file formats, all three VideoFOCUS products (VideoFOCUS Pro, VFSource, and VFCapture) have also supported direct import of many proprietary DVR formats that previously could only be brought into VideoFOCUS through the real-time screen capture functionality.

Direct DVR file import is quickly and easily accomplished by the Import Media function in VideoFOCUS, through a combination of:

  1. Native parsing (via FFmpeg, licensed under LGPL), which opens perhaps 50% of these formats through a forced extraction of any video, audio, and images that are identified in the file, which largely ignores other metadata such as camera names, etc., plus;
  2. An integrated software component called DVRConverter, which additionally recognizes and interprets the metadata of many popular DVR formats and enables VideoFOCUS to correctly open these specific file types, achieving perhaps another 20% beyond what native parsing can achieve alone.

DVRConverter was first developed for VideoFOCUS under a commercial licensing arrangement with DME Forensics, Inc., and is based upon technology contained in its DVR Examiner product. DVRConverter continues to be improved on a regular basis by DME Forensics, with additional supported formats becoming available to all VideoFOCUS users having current software maintenance as new builds are released.

A complete list of the DVR file formats that are currently supported in VideoFOCUS by DVRConverter can be found here. For any questions related to importing and exporting specific file formats in VideoFOCUS, please contact technical support by e-mail at support@salientsciences.com, or by phone at +1 (919) 572-6767, option 2.

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Typical retrieval of multiple proprietary DVR files, as imported and synchronized by VFPro 6.0

DVR Examiner Now Supports VideoFOCUS!

With DVR Examiner Version 1.26.0, DME Forensics has added VideoFOCUS to its “Preview With” menu, allowing any video from DVR Examiner to be opened directly into any installed VideoFOCUS software version 6.0.5 or higher.

All VideoFOCUS users on current software maintenance may download and install the latest software at any time from our VideoFOCUS Downloads site.

For further details on this new feature in DVR Examiner, please visit the DME Forensics blog.

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