Tom Owen (Owl Investigation) demonstrated STC software EdiTracker at 2006 AES/NY Picnic

How do you verify the voice of Osama Bin Laden, determine whether the Zapruder film was edited, and prove Julio Iglesias wrote a song before he heard someone’s demo? Tom Owen of OWL Investigations presented June’s Section meeting and answered these and other questions in an engrossing look at the world of forensics. Mr. Owen talked about forensics as a study, about voice identification, about testifying as an expert in court, and about new software tools to analyze audio. The forensic audio and video analysis includes a 12 step methodology from documenting the physical condition of the media, audio or video, listening to or viewing the program, careful examination of the program material for alteration, and either electronic or mechanical testing to uncover edits or alterations. Voice identification follows a similar, rigorous examination with final analysis provided by a spectrograph of the subject audio compared with a known sample. This method works despite popular pitch or formant-altering techniques. Expert court testimony is a skill and Mr. Owen attributed his early days playing in bands as an important influence in developing the ability to speak clearly and directly in court. The difference between defending an opinion to a colleague and against a defense attorney was vividly covered. The final segment was a demonstration of EdiTracker software from Speech Technology, a Russian software program for audio analysis. This sophisticated software included modules for detecting edits, speech pattern analysis, detecting changes in background, precise frequency analysis, and report generation. By David Prentice