How to Become a Forensic Video Analyst in 2023

The desk of a computer forensic analyst

If you’ve ever found yourself immersed in crime scene investigation shows on television, you may already have some familiarity with the role of a Forensic Video Analysis expert.

While these shows often dramatize the work for entertainment purposes, forensic video analysis is an essential and growing field that plays a significant role in solving crimes today.

The widespread use of smartphones and the increasing number of security cameras mean that more incidents are being captured on video than ever before, presenting opportunities and challenges for law enforcement agencies.

The sheer volume of video evidence can overwhelm law enforcement, as they must efficiently store, process, and review vast amounts of footage to uncover crucial information.

Moreover, digital video is more complex than it appears at first glance. Without proper forensic analysis, the public, law enforcement, and the courts should not accept video evidence at face value, as numerous factors can influence its interpretation.

From recording methods to color calibration of monitors, these factors can significantly impact what people see and how they interpret the video, potentially leading to erroneous conclusions about the events captured.

If you have a passion for uncovering the truth and assisting others through video analysis, a career in forensic video analysis could be a perfect fit for you. Read on to learn more.

What is Forensic Video Analysis?

According to “Forensic Video Analysis is the scientific examination, comparison and/or evaluation of video in legal matters.”

For a video or audio recording to be used in legal proceedings, it must first be authenticated and verified to ensure that the evidence is genuine and suitable for court purposes.

A forensic video analyst must also determine which facts or pieces of evidence are relevant to the case while possessing a deep understanding of evidence handling and technical expertise.

In this field, critical thinking skills are just as essential as technical knowledge. Forensic video professionals may hold various job titles, with Forensic Video Analyst (FVA) and Forensic Video Technician (FVT) being the most common.

The camera cannot lie, but it can be an accessory to the untruth”

Why is Forensic Video Analysis Important?

Have you ever heard the expression, “The camera cannot lie”?

The truth is, the way video and images are captured can dramatically impact how people interpret what they see, often leading to incorrect conclusions.

Forensic video analysts are essential when any videos or images are submitted as evidence during a trial.

Today’s market offers a vast array of camera makes and models, including dedicated digital photography cameras, action cameras (e.g., GoPro), smartphones, and security system cameras.

File formats and settings for recording video can vary, such as frames per second (fps) or video resolution.

All these factors can influence how and what video information is stored. A forensic video analyst must understand these nuances to prevent misinterpretation of what a video appears to show, such as color discrepancies or the speed at which events unfold in the video. In a criminal case, where a video could be crucial in proving someone’s innocence or guilt, these factors can be of utmost importance.

Consider these examples:


Color Distortion

One of the most famous examples of how images can be deceptive is the viral photo of “the dress” in 2015. What was unique about this image was that people were strongly divided on whether the dress was “white and gold” or “black and blue.”

This phenomenon is generally not the norm, as a camera may affect how the image appears, but most people still agree they see the same colors.

Nevertheless, this instance serves as a useful reminder of the importance of carefully assessing and examining an image before trusting it.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) – Generated Content and Deepfakes

With advancements in AI, the creation of manipulated or entirely generated content, such as deepfakes, has become increasingly prevalent.

Deepfakes are videos or images that have been convincingly altered using AI algorithms to make it appear that someone said or did something they never actually did. These manipulated videos can be difficult to detect, posing challenges for forensic video analysts as they distinguish genuine evidence from falsified content.

Analysts must now stay updated with the latest AI-generated content detection techniques and tools to ensure the authenticity of the evidence they examine.

The continued development of AI also offers new possibilities for enhancing video analysis, such as automating the process of identifying and tracking objects or people within a video.

We’ll explore this exciting topic in more detail in a later article.

Frame Rates

One crucial aspect of video is the frame rate, which is measured in frames per second (FPS). Standard frame rates include 30 or 60 FPS. However, the FPS may not always remain consistent and can fluctuate throughout the duration of video footage.

When the FPS dips, our brains subconsciously fill in the blanks, and we are unlikely to notice the change. Fortunately, with 30 FPS or higher, a dropped frame doesn’t make a significant difference. However, with low frame rates found in many CCTV recorders that may use only a few FPS, a lost frame can lead to faulty conclusions about what we observe.

For instance, if a video has an FPS of 5, and the recording dips for a second or two to 1 FPS, our brains will attempt to fill in the blanks, causing the action to appear to increase in speed.

Learn more about frame rates at


Digital video technology is vastly different from how video was stored on film. When digital video is recorded, techniques are employed to reduce the size of the video file created – this process is referred to as compression.

One method to compress video is the use of reference frames. For example, a video might take one reference frame for every 30 frames. This reference frame captures everything the camera lens sees. Then, for the next 29 frames, the software only captures data where it detects a change from the reference frame.

For instance, if a person is walking in the top corner of the video, only the portion where change is detected in the following 29 frames is stored, while the rest of the image for each frame is sourced from the reference frame.

Of course, software is not perfect, and if the camera software does not detect the person’s movement, those frames will give the effect that the person never moved.

These are just a few examples of the complexities surrounding video.

Forensic Video Analysts are therefore vital in analyzing video and ensuring that individuals receive a fair trial when video evidence is used.

Forensic Video Clarification

Video clarification might be people’s most common idea when they think of video forensics.

In TV shows, video forensics is often depicted as identifying an impossible-to-see license plate on a car or the face of someone reflected off an object.

While Forensic Video Analysts and Technicians can achieve impressive results, it’s crucial to remember that some of what is shown on TV is mere “TV Magic” and not reality.

Thankfully, there are numerous excellent software products available to remove unwanted sound or noise and enhance the desired sound or video footage vital to a trial.

Additionally, forensic video analysis isn’t solely about video. Often, photos are needed, whether for court or for creating bulletins to be sent out to law enforcement members or the public.

One example is obtaining a still image (a single frame) of an unknown suspect captured in a surveillance video. This image (or images) can then be distributed to the police or public to request help identifying the individual.

It’s vital to remember that any forensic video analysis must be documented appropriately.

After verifying video evidence and enhancing elements for greater clarity, and documenting all your work, the most critical task still awaits:

Testifying in court!

Testifying & Preparing Reports

As a Forensic Video Analysis Expert one of the most valuable services a forensic video professional can offer is testifying in court.

Although testifying may not always be necessary, it’s not uncommon for attorneys to question the validity of the video evidence.

You must be prepared and ready to speak about your actions when handling or editing the video. 

This might include:

  1. Steps in the Chain of Custody of Evidence
  2. Software used in analyzing video
  3. Any modifications (enhancements) you made to the video
  4. Possibly providing an “expert” opinion on video evidence

Testifying can indeed seem like a daunting task, and it’s likely that the first few times it will be.

The key is not only to be knowledgeable but also to be able to express that knowledge in terms that the judge and jury can understand.

However, it’s worth noting that in many cases, both criminal and civil, cases are often settled before reaching the point where you would have to take the stand.


However, for your cases to reach a successful conclusion without your testimony, it will often rely on you to prepare accurate and comprehensible reports.

Learning to present the facts in a way that’s easy for everyone to understand requires critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Developing a method for writing reports is crucial to your evidence being used accurately in court.

How do you prepare to be a Forensic Video Analyst?

Education and Experience

It’s never going to hurt to have post-secondary education.

While we aren’t currently aware of any bachelor’s degree dedicated solely to the field of forensic video analysis, there are several more general forensic programs available, some of which offer specific forensic video courses.

When it comes to acquiring specific skills, many public sector employers (such as law enforcement) will provide the specialized training required to become a forensic video analyst.

Therefore, the value of a post-secondary education lies more in gaining exposure to critical thinking and writing skills, which will be required and beneficial for truly succeeding in this field.

Securing a forensic video analyst or technician position, like most jobs today, is competitive. Lacking post-secondary education could put you at a disadvantage.

As a significant number of jobs in this field are with law enforcement, one of the most important approaches is to become familiar with law enforcement agencies themselves.

The best education for this is “on-the-job training.” Volunteering or even applying to other positions within the organization can be crucial for gaining knowledge and experience about working in a law enforcement environment.

This also contributes to networking, which we discuss later in the article.

Keep in mind that if you hope to be employed with a law enforcement agency, your integrity and behavior in your personal life will likely be reviewed.

Past academic misconduct (cheating/plagiarism) may prevent you from getting a job.

In this sense, how you obtain your education is as important as what you get your education in.

If you want to pursue education and training related to Forensic Video Analysis, here are some options for 2023.

Post-Secondary Institutions


Marshal University
Offers a graduate certificate designed to provide knowledge and skills for the identification, collection, preservation, and examination of various types of digital evidence. This includes topics from digital forensic analysis policy, and procedure, forensic analysis tools and techniques, as well as quality assurance, legal, and ethical considerations.  The program does not require the applicant have any experience in the field of digital forensics.

Learn more about: The Graduate Certificate in Digital Forensics


The University of Colorado Denver (National Center for Media Forensics)
Offers perhaps one of the specific and directly related to forensic video  programs available. Presented in a hybrid format combining mostly online learning with a small portion of concentrated in-person classes within a two-year cohort curriculum. This format allows for students to work full-time while pursuing the degree.

Learn more about: Master of Science in Recording Arts emphasis in Media Forensics


NU (National University)
Though they do not offer a specific forensic video program, NU offers a graduate certificate that can be completed relatively quickly online or on campus.

Learn more about: Graduate Certificate in Forensic and Crime Scene Investigations


BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology)
There are several part-time Bachelor of Technology (BTech) and Advanced Certificate program options to choose from as well as a wide range of professional development workshops offered throughout the year. Two options that offer forensic video courses are:

Training (Highly Recommended)

Jonathan W. Hak, Q.C. (Expert Instructor)
World-renowned instructor for:
Courtroom Testimony for Expert Witnesses & Forensic Video Legal Analysis

Jonathan is a distinguished barrister, solicitor, and law lecturer with over 30 years of experience. He actively engages in research and writing about the law concerning the use of video evidence in criminal prosecutions and in the training of forensic video analysts from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other countries. Moreover, he provides training to lawyers on the subject of forensic video analysis law.

Since 2000, Jonathan has been the principal legal instructor for the Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Video Association International Inc. (LEVA), where he has presented at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia (2000-2004), and at various other locations in North America and the United Kingdom.

Jonathan has also developed a dynamic and highly practical course on Courtroom Testimony for Expert Witnesses in any field of expertise. Since 2006, this course has been presented online across the United States, Canada, and globally.

To learn more about Jonathan W. Hak and the excellent training he provides, visit:

To see current course offerings:

Jonathan Hak Q.C.
Instructor on Expert Witness Testimony

Read the Interview
Robert Merriott (founder of Forensic Notes), had the opportunity to interview Jonathan and delve into the importance of note-taking for Expert Witnesses.

Read it at: Expert Witness Testimony Interview with Jonathan W. Hak.

Rob Profile
Rob Merriott
Founder of
Forensic Notes
Jonathan Hak Q.C.
Instructor on Expert Witness Testimony
Rob Profile
Rob Merriott
Founder of
Forensic Notes

Read the Interview
Robert Merriott (founder of Forensic Notes), had the opportunity to interview Jonathan and delve into the importance of note-taking for Expert Witnesses.

Read it at: Expert Witness Testimony Interview with Jonathan W. Hak.


There are also a number of non-profit groups and vendors that offer certification and specific training on their products.

LEVA (Law Enforcement & Emergency Services Video Association)
Established in 1989, LEVA is nonprofit corporation committed to provide advanced training and certification in the science of forensic video analysis. LEVA serves as a key resource providing opportunities for professional development through quality training and informational exchange.
LEVA offer two certifications: Certified Forensic Video Analyst (CFVA)  &  Certified Forensic Technician (CFVT).

It is important to note, that many Forensic Video Analyst (FVA) and Forensic Video Technician (FVT) positions in North America specifically require LEVA certification.

Learn more at:

IAI (International Association of Identification)
According to the IAI the oldest and largest forensic association in the world. The forensic association represents a diverse, knowledgeable and experienced membership that are assembled to educate, share, critique and publish methods, techniques and research in the physical forensic science disciplines.
As a member, you can apply to become a Certified Forensic Video Examiner.

Learn more at:

NATIA (National Technical Investigators Association)
Offers the option to become a Certified Technical Investigator (CTI). A CTI has demonstrated a basic knowledge of audio, video, electronics, tracking, and telephony.
It should be noted that Membership in NATIA is restricted to full-time employees of law enforcement and military agencies who are actively engaged in technical surveillance, communications, and specialized support of the agencies by which they are employed.

Learn more at:

Vendor Certification / Training

iNPUT-ACE (maker of forensic video software)
Offering both live online and on-demand training; including a number of certification tracks.

Live Online Training options include:

iNPUT-ACE Operator Certification (IAOC)
2-Days of Entry-Level Instruction
Learn more at:

iNPUT-ACE Examiner Certification (IAEC)
2-Days of Advanced Instruction
Learn more at:

iNPUT-ACE Metrology Certification (IAMC)
2-Days of Specialized Instruction
Learn more at:

On-Demand Training:

Offering 10 different lessons from 10 different experts in the field of video investigations and is eligible for CEU credits. 

The first lesson is currently free and taught by Grant Fredericks,  a former police officer with over thirty years of experience leading video-centric criminal investigations. He is a Certified Forensic Video Analyst and a contract instructor at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA.

Learn more at:

Ocean Systems (maker of forensic video software)
Offering a number of courses as short as 4 hours (online) up to 5 days.

  • Forensic Video Analysis – FVA 101 (5 Day)
  • Fundamentals of Video Evidence Recovery & Processing (3 Day)
  • DVR Assessment & Video Recovery (2 Day)
  • Image Clarification & Processing w/ClearID – (4hrs, On-line)

Learn more at:

Know of a great Forensic Video Analysis Training or Products ?

Let us know and we will happily add it to this article.

Other Skills & Aptitude

Having a specific education is not enough to become a successful forensic video professional. You also need to develop a range of transferable skills, which you can build and improve while pursuing your education and other employment opportunities. Here are some of the key areas you should focus on to become a successful forensic video expert:
  1. Public speaking skills: You should be able to communicate your findings to supervisors or in a courtroom in a clear and concise manner.
  2. Note-taking and identifying key facts: You should have strong note-taking skills and be able to identify key facts that need to be included in your reports.
  3. Detailed observation skills: You should have strong attention to detail and be able to pay attention to details for extended periods.
  4. Writing concise scientific reports: You should be able to write clear, concise, and relevant scientific reports.
  5. Understanding and following scientific guidelines and processes: You should have a good understanding of scientific guidelines and be willing to follow them.
  6. Staying unbiased and composed in emotional circumstances: You should be able to remain composed in emotional circumstances and stay unbiased while performing your job.
  7. Personal integrity and a passion for finding the truth: You should have strong personal integrity and a passion for finding the truth.
  8. Critical-thinking and problem-solving skills: You should have strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills to help you solve complex problems in your work.
Forensic video professionals’ work is intended to be used in court, so it’s crucial to be accurate, methodical, detailed, and, above all, unbiased. Moreover, the ability to write clear, concise, and accurate reports and maintain detailed notes are essential to any forensic video expert’s job. While not every case will require testimony from a forensic video professional, you should always maintain the quality of your reports should you ever be called to testify. Poorly written reports will often lead to questions regarding the quality of the work, increasing the odds of having to defend your work in the courtroom.

Networking / Social Media / Personal Behavior

It’s also important to note that networking and building professional relationships can extend beyond in-person interactions. 

Utilizing social media platforms like LinkedIn can be a valuable tool for connecting with professionals in the field, joining relevant groups, and staying up-to-date with industry news and trends.

However, it’s crucial to maintain a professional online presence and avoid controversial or offensive posts, as these can reflect poorly on you and potentially damage your reputation in the industry.

Overall, building a positive reputation through networking and maintaining a professional and ethical behavior online and offline can greatly benefit your career in forensic video analysis.


It’s also worth noting that forensic video professionals can also work for private investigative firms, law firms, and insurance companies, providing expert analysis and testimony in civil cases.

Some professionals may choose to work as freelance consultants, offering their services to a range of clients.

Overall, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of each potential employer and job opportunity, taking into account factors such as compensation, job security, and the nature of the work itself.

Networking, building relationships with potential employers, and staying up-to-date on industry trends and developments can also increase your chances of finding a rewarding and fulfilling career in forensic video analysis.

It's Time!

We hope this article has provided you with valuable insights into the world of Forensic Video Analysis.

It is a challenging and rewarding field that requires a combination of skills, education, and experience. By developing your skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and attention to detail, you can set yourself up for success in this field.

Remember to network, stay up-to-date on industry trends, and maintain a professional online presence.

You can achieve a fulfilling career in Forensic Video Analysis with dedication and hard work.

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