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Manual vs Automated Redaction Solutions: Which is better?

People in a line with one face redacted using manual redaction and the others being redacted using automated redaction from Sighthound Redactor
September 22, 2022
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Redaction is a crucial part of managing and sharing digital evidence files today. The technique enables us to hide confidential and private information from public view, such as PII (Personal Identifiable Information). 

With various solutions available on the market for this purpose, we've narrowed it down to two types of redaction processes: manual and automated.

In this article, we'll look at manual and automated redaction, each with its advantages and disadvantages, and decide which is the better redaction solution.

What is the Best Redaction Solution?

Manual Video Redaction

Manual redaction is achieved by the user creating a layer over a video and redacting parts contained inside by blurring, pixelating, or filling them with an opaque color using bounding boxes. 

This would be the process for the majority of video editing softwares: 

  1. Add a video to the scene
  2. Go to Video Effects, proceed to Filters and choose “Add Filter”. You’ll instantly get a blurred area in the video and a new tab on the timeline with the new filter – just as illustrated below.
  3. Click on the new filter object on the timeline and you’ll notice the contour of the blurred filter.
  4. Move or resize the filter using its corners or the center point.
  5. Repeat these steps for every frame containing PII. 
Manual Video Redaction

The results are relatively accurate because a human assesses each detail for redaction.

However, the procedure is prohibitively time-consuming and inapplicable to massive volumes of video footage.

“It took our digital evidence technician eight hours to manually redact, frame-by-frame, PII of innocent bystanders in the footage. And that was just a 10 minute video clip,” said Amanda O’Neill, Records Manager at Eureka Police Department in an interview with Business Wire.

Automated Redaction Using Sighthound

Sighthound Redactor is a video redaction solution that allows you to automatically redact faces, persons, automobiles, and license plates from photos and video. It also allows you to manually select, track, and redact items not included in the list above.

Sighthound’s Redactor’s software offers various deployment options that meet the needs of individuals, small teams and large organizations. Redactor is available as a subscription and accessible from the internet or can be downloaded to an individual machine or business server. 

Customers seeking automated redaction applications for ingested video or on demand through a third party solution can leverage the API solution or seek a custom integration. 

Sighthound Redactor solutions can help you incorporate redaction into your organization's workflow, allowing for rapid and accurate user-assisted or fully-automated redaction for:

  • Safe data usage: Increasing data interchange, video analytics, and cooperation across the organization.
  • Management of your reputation: Instilling trust in your customers, visitors, and employees about managing personal and other sensitive video data.

How Fast are Automated Video Redaction Solutions?

Original Video - 11 seconds

Redacted Video by Sighthound Redactor

Eleven second video containing 25 frames per second (275 frames) with 4 faces redacted in 23 seconds.

Side by Side Comparison between Manual Video Redaction and Sighthound’s Automated Video Redaction Solution


  • Manual 

Manual Video Redaction is extremely time-consuming, and an individual must go through each video frame by frame to redact all faces, license plates, objects and voices in a video.

  • Automated

Sighthound's AI-enabled redaction software is essentially like having a superhuman that can view videos at 5x the normal pace, detect all sensitive material, and blur it before a human could even watch the first minute of the video. Redactor can redact a 1 minute video containing 24 frames a second with 20 faces (2 moving and 18 relatively still) in less than 2 minutes (1 minute and 48 seconds to be exact). 


  • Manual

Manual Redaction requires a dedicated technician or team to redact videos efficiently and effectively. Due to the manual application of redaction, the amount of videos drives the number of hours needed by an individual to perform the redaction. People cost is the largest driver in the cost of redaction. 

If redaction is not performed accurately, there is potential additional cost of a fine if data privacy laws are not followed and exposed.

  • Automated

Sighthound Redactor software includes affordable purchase options that include a perpetual software license or the ability to leverage the Redactor cloud solution and pay a month to month subscription fee or an annual subscription. 

Outside of the cost of the software, there is significant cost savings from people's costs due to the reduced time it takes to perform the redaction. 


  • Manual 

Manual Redaction can lead to human error, which means that faces, objects and license plates can be missed. 

  • Automated

With the latest computer vision advancements, automated redaction software like Redactor can review each frame of a video and automatically detect faces, vehicles, license plates and other objects. Most automated redaction software also include manual editing capabilities.  With the time savings of the automatic redaction, humans are able to use additional time to increase accuracy by reviewing videos prior to finalizing the redaction.  While computer vision has come a long way, there is value in adopting both manual and automated redaction procedures when accuracy is a top priority. 


  • Manual

Manual redaction software, as with most video redaction tools, is resource intensive and requires powerful servers/computers to work correctly. 

Managing files for redaction across a team can be challenging due to the large file sizes.

  • Automated

Sighthound Redactor is available as a cloud solution. This means you do not need to upgrade your current computer to use this automated video redaction tool. 

Teams can also work from a shared workspace to perform redaction functions but also to review each other's work or pull redacted files as needed even if the individual didn’t perform the work.  Organizations with large redaction teams should consider a shared cloud subscription for collaboration or leverage an installation within their own environment to enable collaboration and accessibility needs.

Sighthound's Redaction Tool = The ULTIMATE Automated Redaction Solution

Sighthound is the most accurate, reliable, and user-friendly video redaction system on the market today, and it is used by over 1,300 organizations, agencies, and cities worldwide.

To utilize Sighthound Redactor, you don't need any previous expertise in redacting or editing videos. Its easy-to-use interface makes editing and collaboration a cinch.

Sighthound Redactor has a dedicated Computer Vision team that continues to advance models that improve performance and accuracy of finding and hiding objects in video. Users of automated video redaction software may easily use Sighthound Redactor to redact PII information such as faces and license plates from video recordings.

This will save you time, allowing you to concentrate your efforts and attention on more vital matters. We want to address the ever-changing need for redaction services with Sighthound Redactor by providing customers with the tools they need to do the task quickly and efficiently.

Want to see video redaction in action?  Check out our Free Trial.

Get Started with Redactor