Monday, 6 October 2014

London Met fail to play CCTV 118,000 times a year

In 2013 the London Metropolitan Police collected CCTV video files in 118,000 criminal cases and were unable to play the video. For robberies, they were only able to play the video collected 13% of the time.

Most police forces don't keep statistics on this - but I am certain the numbers are similar around the world. The real-life result of the chaos in CCTV video file formats, and the lack of standards is a lot of failed convictions.

London Evening Standard: Met failed to check CCTV footage on 118,000 crimes"Met failed to check CCTV footage on 118,000 crimes", 11/12/2013

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

CCTV Formats - The Mystery Filetypes

Our Online Vid-ID Tool has been running now for over 2 years and has been used thousands of times by police around the world. Every now and again, someone enters a file type that the system doesn't have data on. When this happens, I get an email and usually a few minutes googling or checking forums like DME Resources or the FVA mailing lists can uncover information - I then add this to the Vid-ID database. Sometimes though I draw a blank. Here are some of the filetypes I have been unable to identify:

Unknown DVR video file extensions:

If you can help identify anything about these video file formats (DVR manufacturer, make/model, player software, or any other clues), you'll be helping the whole law enforcement community. Please email TechSupport @ or leave a comment below.

Friday, 21 February 2014

H264 Player - what a pain!

This is a very annoying player. Just called "H264 Player", there doesn't seem to be an about box (probably the manufacturer is too embarrassed to claim it). It looks like this:

If you right click on the H264Player.exe file and click properties, you get this:

Not a lot to go on really. The player plays files with ".264". The odd part, is it only plays on some machines; on others it shows a blank black window (as in the image above). It took me a very long time to understand why, but here is the fix: This player can't deal with dual monitors. To solve the issue, you can disconnect your second monitor (physically unplug it as turning it off wont help) or you can use the windows settings to "Duplicate these displays".

1. Right click on your desktop and click the "Screen Resolution" option.

 2. Under the "Multiple Displays" dropdown, pick "Duplicate these Displays". Click "Apply" and accept changes. (Note, to undo this, change back to "Extend these Displays"

3. Restart the H264 Player.

Alternatively, you can try converting the .264 files to AVI using ffmpeg, but I found this doesn't always work for these files. Out of 20 files I tried, at least 3 didn't convert correctly.

This is a command you can try which re-wraps the .264 files without re-encoding them. (More details can be found here:

ffmpeg -f h264 -i originalfile.264 -f avi -r 25 -vcodec copy -vsync drop -debug_ts -loglevel verbose -report originalfile-rewrap.avi

The problem I found is that in several files, the resulting avi doesn't play correctly in either VLC or Windows Media player. The issue is that after about 15 minutes of playback, the image breaks up and the screen goes gray. I suspect this is due to some non-standard encoding or dropped frames in the .264 file. For this reason, screen capture from the H264 Player is the best option for converting these files.