Basic Media Analysis – Part 3 (Text & Metadata)


“a set of data that describes and gives information about other data.”

Basic Media Analysis – Part 2 (visual)

This is a basic introduction which will be followed-up in latter posts.

Essentially, the analysis of video is for the most part, very similar to the analysis of images, as video is a stream of images.

The first element of analysing images / video, is that the files themselves contain an array of metadata in the file as part of the file creation process (depending on how its done).  The ‘metadata’ contained within images can include;

  • Time/Date it was taken
  • Where it was taken (IE: GPS coordinates)
  • Information about the device it was taken with
  • Copyright information / information about who took the image
  • other embedded image metadata.

These elements of data doesn’t rely upon the image or video being of good quality.  It’s simply data created as part of creating the file in the first place.  MetaPicz is an online example of an online application/service that provides an example of this information.   The next process is to analyse the content depicted in the image itself…

The first issue with analysing vision is ensuring the quality of the images is of sufficient quality as to identify, analyse and process the informatics available in the imagery.  Where its required, correcting the vision is a useful first step.  Beyond the usual processes, adjusting contrast, brightness and other standardised image processing methods; increasingly ‘super-resolution‘ processes are becoming available.

One process when using multiple still images is detailed here;

or alternatively, this guide on petapixel. Once these processes are done; others, involving the use of AI related processes, include those detailed here.

The time-consuming ‘trick’ is, to go through a multitude of processes with an appropriate ‘treatment methodology’, involving the use of ‘master’ and derivative content stacks; that in-turn requires tooling, inclusive of appropriate equipment, to do so effectively.

Once the source-material has been processes as to get the best possible visual quality; the means to produce ‘entity graphs’, or further additional ‘structured data’ converting objects the vision to a structured dataset.

One of the basic differences between video and still images is a timecode.  Ideally, storage of metadata/structured data in relation to video content, includes time-code information.

One of the seminal presentations with respect to the works in entity recognition in vision is the TedTalk presentation about ImageNet

In an attempt to make things easier, i’ll try to break down modern image analysis into a couple of different categories.

  • Identification of ‘Things’
  • Identification of ‘Persons’ or ‘Faces’
  • Identification of ‘Emotions’ or ‘gestures’
  • Biometrics – The identification of a unique living organism

There’s an ’emerging’ array of services available to the public that have an array of similar capabilities, to which ends, this post will not explore, other than highlighting this emergent field of ‘knowledge banking’, which is producing a significant mass of information leveraging scale of organisations, as to enhance AI / classification and intepretation technologies.  This is in-turn producing a core-asset for these organisations by way of providing API access, most-often on a fee-for-service basis, to users, as to enhance the services capability for enhanced analytics capabilities, SOME OF WHICH, they provide public access to by way of their online services.

To produce tooling that is truely ‘enhanced’ beyond traditional knowhow, it’s essential to DIY (“Do It Yourself”).

The easy way to outline services (in a simple way) is dot-points;

Once the data has been retrieved, database the informatics provided by the tools (inclusive of time-code if video) ideally in an RDF format. The usefulness of RDF provides for enabling the metadata / structured data, discovered in media, to be part of the broader database that is the web.

Basic Media Analysis – Part 1 (Audio)

When collecting materials, media files are long and often disused.  The process of turning voice from audio files into something useful, such as a transcript, once required a person to manuallytranscribe the audio (a service that is still available) rather than their being an accessible and accurate method, to do so.

Media, tells a story that incorporates different information to what can otherwise be found solely via text or other forms of metadata.   Whilst emotional intonations and other relevent capacities of audio analysis to machine readable formats is a constituent of what can be done, this guide will provide some basic examples of how to process Audio as to transcribe to text as to provide text based information that can be used for further analysis that will be covered in a different post.


After a short amount of time searching for basic tools; three have been easily identified alongside the means in which to use YouTube to perform this action.


By uploading media to YouTube, YouTube can transcribe the audio automatically.   Searching google using terms like “Automatically transcribe audio using youTube” will easily pick it up.

A number of online services exist to provide automatic Audio to Text.  Many of them provide a free trial.  A few examples include;

Sonix: Sonic (invite link) provides 30 minutes free.

Trint also provides 30 minutes free.

SpokenOnline  also provides 30 minutes free.

Local Desktop Alternatives include products provided by Nuance who has a long-history in the field, producing solutions for multiple sectors.


Data Recovery: Laptop & Computers

Data Recovery on Computers and Laptops can be a complex tasks, and in most cases quite time-consuming.   In cases where physical hardware damage is the case of data-loss, the likelihood of getting the data back – goes down…

In past experience, even the same type of drive produced via a different batch; the parts won’t work on the old drive.   This is something to take into consideration if you or your organisation is storing important data.  When purchasing the storage devices (ie: IDE/SATA based drives that are not Solid state) it might well be worth purchasing a spare or two, or ensuring a spare is available; to strip the daughter-board off the drive, with the same manufacture codes; as to retrieve lost data in the case the daughter-board dies…

Furthermore; It is not advisable to create a stripped array over a multitude of disks, if you at all value the data you intend to store of that storage device.

If you’re just looking for an ultra-quick cache for content / data you have stored elsewhere; then, yeah.  just don’t trust it for long-term storage.


For non-technical people who don’t know the difference between the storage device and the ‘computer’; most computers have a storage device part that is able to be removed from a computer, even when the computer doesn’t work.

More common examples of where this happens; is where the drive is a little faulty, and kinda works, sometimes.  Or where the power-supply or some other part in the computer stopped working, and the data is ‘trapped’.

Other examples is where something bad has happened. You know there should be a record of it in the computer; but it’s not obvious, and, you want to check it out.


If you can’t remove the storage device, you’re not going to be having much joy.  Some newer computers have their storage devices fixed into the circuitry of the device and well; if it don’t work, you’re going to be in trouble.

for the majority of computers over the past 20+ years; they can be removed.

What you don’t want to be doing, is writing anything to that disk. that means, you don’t want to be turning it on or using it, until you’ve tried to get the data you want back.

If it’s simply a case of the computer dying, and you need to move the data to your new computer; that’s easier.

In any-case; find some screwdrivers that are suitable and disassemble the computer to find the hard-drive.  If you don’t know what your looking for,

a. search google for ‘hard drive’ images

b. get someone else to help you.

STEP 2: Plug the HDD into a new computer

The local computer shop has an array of cables and cradles that can help you plug your old hard-drive into a new computer.  Another option is to get an ‘external case’ for your old hard-drive; if you want to keep it about.

STEP 3: Download data

If you’re simply going to copy the data from ‘your old computer’ to ‘your new computer’, then that’s relatively straight forward.  Browse the directories on the hard-drive and copy them across to your new computers hard drive.

Job done.

If; you’ve lost data, the drive isn’t working so well or some other issue;  it becomes useful to get another drive with the same amount of space on it, as the one you’re intending to get the data-from, to use as a ‘working drive’ to copy all your files across to.


So, the first thing is; do not use the hard-drive you want to get data-from, as the disk you use to turn on the computer, etc.

If you want to get data-back, use a different hdd and plug-in the drive you want to recover data from.  It’s also useful to have a second drive, to put the data onto from the drive your recovering data from.

Goto google; search “data recovery software” to find something that will work on the computer you’re using.

Run the program, target the drive you want to recover from; and store the retrieved data on the disk you’ve got to back it up onto.


Data Recovery & Collection: Mobile Devices

Have you got a bunch of important messages on your phone and you’re wondering how you can store this data for safe-keeping.  Have you experienced an incident that has made you feel unsafe, and your wondering how to make a record of it to report it to your employer, school or police.

if you type into google ‘templates incident report’ you’ll find a bunch of example documents that you can use to make something that suits your purposes.

However; one of the problems might be that if you’re simply writing things out, perhaps the matter won’t be taken seriously…  not what anyone wants.

For this reason, and many others, below is an outline of how to get data out of your phone.   We’ll also cover the process just in-case you’ve ‘accidentally’ deleted important data on your phone already.  whilst the method is not 100% successful, it’s a process worth trying out, just in case it makes your life easier.

We’ll just focus on Android and iOS. Whilst there’s a few other options out there; the majority of the case, it’ll be one or the other.

Data collection off most “smart phones“, is most-often handled by some-app that’s connected to it; whether that be facebook, gmail, twitter or several photo apps, etc.  these systems all store the data within their apps and so, its alot more complicated to think about how to retrieve anything that may have been deleted within those apps; and indeed, the data is stored on the ‘cloud service’, in which case – its’ better to figure out how to download a copy.

However; Things like SMS’s & Call Logs are a little different.  these are generally not stored as part of a cloud-service and need to be retrieved from the phone.

PART 1: Lets start with a situation where the data you want has been deleted;


Try not to use it and do not download anything to the phone in an attempt to get that data.

when a user tells the operating system managing the device to delete something, it’s generally not deleted.  it’s just ‘marked’ for deletion and is no-longer available through the graphical user-interface of the computer, making it ‘deleted’ as far as most people would know.  The space is then ‘freed-up’ which means the operating system knows that the area of the storage device used previously to store that data; can now be over-written with something else.

Whilst the process of writing to the storage device does not necessarily write over that specific part, its not really very controllable.  Sometimes data can remain for years; in other cases, it can be overwritten very, very quickly.

data recovery’ applications that seek the user to download something to the same disk; aren’t the types of tools you want to use.


Find an application that works on a Laptop or Desktop Computer. A simple example of how to do this is to type into google ‘iPhone Data Recovery’ or ‘Android data recovery’.

Features you may want to look for;

– What types of data application supports retrieving.

– What formats the application outputs the records.

The benefit of obtaining data in a format such as CSV is that the data is thereafter more easily consumed by analytics tools to have a better look into what’s been going on; or how to present that, to others seeking evidence.


Plug your mobile device into your computer & download the data.


Make a copy of the data for back-up purposes, and do what you want with the working copy of the recovered data.

PART 2: Data that is still on the phone, and you don’t need to worry about any deleted records.

So, if the data is already on the phone and the whole ‘recovery’ process is unnecessary, then you’ll find a bunch of apps online that will work with your phone, on your phone, to collect and upload your data to a nominated location.

Importantly; if, you need to make a point about something – an issue you might want to consider is that the ‘metadata’ stored in the files is more easily manipulated when you take that data off the phone.  Whilst data-records like call-logs remain on the phone; it’s far, far more difficult to manipulate these records.  Therefore; in-terms of ‘evidence collection’, you might find taking a ‘screenshot’ of the data on the phone – to be an important part of your data-collection process.

Similar to the above examples – search google for ‘snapshot android’ or ‘snapshot iOS’ and the method to do so can easily be found.

PART 3: I’ve got voice-mail messages; and, the provider won’t give them to me.

The method i’ve found to obtain a copy; has been to use an audio recorder app, put the phone onto speakerphone, and whilst the audio-recorder is working; call the voicemail service and record the messages, including the information about when they were created, etc.

Once you have obtained these messages; use a audio editing application on a desktop or laptop computer and be sure to add the information about when the recording was made, etc.

Concluding remarks.

once you have the data you need, you might find it helpful to log the records chronologically; and have a look at any available metadata that might be available to you, to further illustrate a clearer picture to those who need to know.  Obviously, undertaking these sorts of tasks on innocent, unsuspecting 3rd parties without their knowledge is most likely, illegal, but moreover a gross breach of privacy and indeed trust.  In some cases, it may be that someone needs help to do these sorts of tasks; in which case, it’s recommended that any would-be ‘good samaritan’ goes about doing it, on the data-owners equipment as to ensure, no lazy copies end-up floating about unnecessarily.

Introduction to Maltego

What is Maltego?

Maltego is a tool that’s available on dual licensing enabling commercial use or freely, providing a tool that’s used to investigate relationships using data, then map, store and print reports from those investigative views that makes it far more difficult for others to ignore.

I first stumbled across it when reviewing the information provided by Facebook to professional users, such as app providers, and the means in which that data subsequently allows them to facilitate advanced behavioural analysis as an international commercial entity

(it’s generally rather difficult for a person to participate in society without social media accounts; the above video gives some insight into what that costs).

The commercial version of Maltego offers more features and plugins that are otherwise not available in the community edition.  One example is the Social Links framework that provides enhancements for social-network analysis than is otherwise provided ‘out of the box’ by the Maltego community edition.  Whilst SocialLinks is only one example, their videos can be found here.


Google Tracking Data (geolocation)

Have you ever got a traffic infringement and couldn’t figure out what it was about?  Have you wanted to look back at what you did some day in the past, and wished you had a record of some form?

Well, if you’re not too sensitive about tracking systems data; you might find google maps timeline feature really very useful.

Whilst you need to turn it on, the means to have the data about where you were at a particular time in the past; might be more helpful in the future than you might otherwise know.

The google maps system uses your Geolocation information from your phone that is otherwise tracked by telecommunications companies and apps on your phone. Google Maps timeline is a way you can have access to that same data.

Better yet; it’s downloadable.

It’s important you don’t use this functionality on an account that is not yours and that you have no right / permission, to use or obtain.  Whilst considerations about privacy and surveillance is different in different jurisdictions, it’s generally not a good thing to do to another person unless they’ve explicitly asked you to do so.

Downloading My Data from Social Networks

Almost anyone on the web today has accounts on social-network websites.  These websites offer a rich source of data for users, but it’s often difficult to get unless you know how.


Facebook has a help link that can be found in google.  the current information about how to download your data can be found here.


Twitter is very similar to Facebook.  The current link via google can be found here


Same as above.  see link

Every other social-network site i am aware of has a similar means in which it makes it easy to download your data into an archive format of some sort.   Once you have the data, you then need to figure out how to make it available in a useable format.  We’ll cover that in a seperate post.