Background - Police Interviews

The original Melview Units were developed in 1993 for the New Zealand Police for electronic interviewing of suspects. Mitsubishi HiFi VHS video recorders were connected to camera and microphone inputs via a sophisticated custom-built microprocessor controller, with identical video and audio of the interview recorded along with time and date information. One tape could be produced as evidence in court with the other(s) retained by the police. Copies could also be made within the Melview Unit for legal counsel and other interested parties. The Melview Interview systems have evolved over the years with customised options produced for several agencies around the world. In 2006 we produced our first generation DVD unit using the multipurpose Melview Series 105 controller. This allowed customers a simple migration path from VHS Hifi recorders.

Late 2009 we released our Black Diamond Series 106 that had 3 base models and later a dedicated recorder component to cost effectively upgrade the previous Series 105 models. The S106 using a full body camera for suspect interviews, B106 covert child/Witness unit and a P106 portable unit that weighed only 4.2KGs.

In 2016, after years of research and development, we released our latest Series 107 models. They use less power than previous models and are smaller and lighter with a larger digital 7” inbuilt colour monitor. Series 107 is designed to support our customers current MPEG2 SD based DVD recording while with a software upgrade become a fully compliant HD MPEG4 recorder with video streaming and network storage capability. This future proofs our customer’s investment.

At the 2016 release we changed the brand name for the New Zealand market to “Black Diamond” while keeping the Melview brand for export models. For many decades BDT has promoted many high quality AV products under the “Black Diamond” brand and our interview system will continue that legacy.

The Series 107 incorporates a broadcast quality video processor that has 3 separate HD video coprocessors enabling us to encode into both MPEG2 and MPEG4 live video stream in real time simultaneously if required. This unique hardware design enables us to support current DVD and future network storage. The series 107 systems have both analogue and Digital stereo boundary microphone inputs and very advanced audio processing capability including audio DSP technology.

The system also has dedicated input for IP cameras but for normal interviewing HDMI cameras are preferred, as there is almost no delay displaying the recorded image on the internal monitor. Research conducted by the NZ police identified that for suspect interviews if the suspect see themselves being recorded they were more compelled to tell the truth and therefore the inbuilt monitor is a key part of our overt suspect recording equipment. However if there is a significant picture delay on the internal monitor it becomes an undesirable distraction.

The Black Diamond system has been designed to be easy to use, robust, reliable, tamper-proof and portable. The heart of the system is the hardware computer controller that monitors the recorders and ensures identical signals are sent to all recorders. The controller is the skilled operator that controls the front-panel buttons through dedicated logic circuits, making it suitable for a wide range of staff. The Black Diamond Series 107 has been designed so that interviews cannot be interrupted due to faulty DVD media. With DVDs there is a 2 minute overlap between DVDs with each DVD recording a maximum 122 minutes.

The suspect systems in particular need to be of robust construction, to handle the abuse from violent criminals. For Metafile data entry we supply soft flexible keyboards that cannot be used as weapons against the interviewing officer.

The Black Diamond systems use the best quality components to ensure the best possible picture and sound is recorded with the specially designed Black Diamond Stereo boundary microphones. The interview units can be remotely monitored for health checks.

Black Diamond interview systems have been developed and manufactured to be reliable and future proofed. Because BDT has developed both the hardware and software we have the unique ability to tailor our recorders to meet our customer’s special requirements. For example adding a USB document scanner and including Meta data files of the documents presented in the interviews recorded to the DVDs.

Our systems have always kept up with advancements in technology starting with HiFi to DVD then HDD storage and DVD burning incorporated in our designs since 2009. We now hold the past 99 interviews internally as a backup in case of recordings being lost or damaged. Network transfer of interviews can be delayed until network systems have spare capacity.

Although designed for a service life of 7 years some of our original VHS systems were still in service after 17 years of operation and DVD systems sold in 2006 are still operational today, which is a testament to the quality of the components and design. Although recording technology is evolving much faster these days our Series 107 systems are designed so that they can be upgraded for future use.

History of Melview