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FORENSIC SCIENCE REVEALED
Staying on the Cutting Edge of Analog

07/19/06

Inside a typical Video Cassette Recorder

If you have a keen interest in criminal forensics—or just want a glimpse into the complexity of crime-fighting—take a read of the latest issue of Forensic Science Communications recently posted on this website.

The technical article—Video and Audio Characteristics in VHS Overrecordings—tells you everything you'd want to know (and then some) about how to test and examine VHS cassettes to see if they've been recorded over.

It was written by three experts in the field—all former FBI employees.

Why does law enforcement need this kind of expertise in an age of digitization? Because criminals and terrorists still use analog devices like VCRs and VHS tapes to commit and cover up their crimes—whether it’s conducting surveillance…taping their training and actions….making propaganda films…or recording over all or parts of surveillance camera tapes that contain evidence against them. So we in law enforcement have to know our stuff—be real geeks, in fact—even when it comes to older technologies.

As you’ll see, the level of complexity in just this one small facet of forensic science is quite high. In the article you’ll come across terms like ferrofluid, helical-scan lines, full-amplitude positive pulses, flying erase head, and azimuth angles. And this sequence: U ÷ O or (O U + O P + O) ÷ E ÷ U NP ÷ U N ÷ U (for a translation, see "Longer Overrecordings—Video Characteristics").

If this article—and forensic science in general—appeals to you, you might want go a step further and consider a career with the FBI Lab.

For more information, please visit our FBI Jobs website where you can find details about the education and skills you'll need to work in the FBI Lab...and all our job openings.

Resources: The July 2006 issue of Forensic Science Communications