Anyone Have Experience With Smart Codecs?

There's been discussion in the IPVM forum about smart CODEC as promoted by manufacturers and vendors, but I'm wondering whether anybody in this forum has actual experience with smart CODEC cameras with measurable reductions in bit rate and storage usage. A comparison between manufacturers and camera models would be ideal.

David, we have tested 3 manufacturer's smart codecs and they work very well to reduce bandwidth / storage. We highly recommend them.


Smart codecs still have limited overall availability and knowledge of smart codecs remains low in the industry, but we'd encourage you to use them.

Thanks very much, John. We'll focus on these models for applicability in our environment.

I have been using Panasonic's smart codecs for about a month now I havent had any issues other than compatibility with mobile apps which they should be fixing here shortly.

its really useful if you have 4K or 30-60fps environments

Thanks for the feedback, Eddie. IPVM review was pretty positive, as well. We're looking seriously at them.


Just started using smart codec for Panasonic WV-SFV481 replacing a Sony SNC DH140

substantial savings on storage Sony camera used 100 GB for 14 days Panasonic used

22 GB for 14 days.

All the more impressive since the Sony is 720p and the Panasonic is 4K, no?

John, can you provide any info on your settings for that cam? FPS, motion, etc.?


John IMHO, that 22GB for 14 days number seems implausibly low. Is the camera record on motion only, maybe?

For instance, even

  • 1 Mb/second * 3,600 seconds =
  • 3600 Mb/hour * 24 hours =
  • 86,400 Mb/day * 14 days =
  • 1,209,600 Mb / 8 bits =
  • 151,200 MB / 1000 =
  • 151 GB

it does seem low but depends on the settings

looks like he running less than 5 FPS at 1080p? if i had to shoot in the dark ?

so far i have had these results with Panasonic

720p 30FPS smart codec 270kbits with no motion , motion ~2Mbs

1080p 30FPS smart codec 700-800kbits no motion, motion ~ 3.8-4Mbs

4K (SFV481) 15FPS (max setting) smart codec no motion 1.5Mbs, motion ~ 8-12Mbs

i haven't got my hands on a 7 series yet that run full steam at 30 FPS probably wont for a while since they are about $2K and fugly.

when the camera has motion it ramps up so it only advantageous if you record 24/7 or view live over a small bandwidth connection

I am currently testing SamWha TechNet smart codec for their wisenet lite series if i can remember I will post those some where

Looking at the zipstream review John posted above

Testing Axis Zipstream

it looks like Axis enables the possibility to have the a Zipstream camera dynamically alter the GOP, with a default maximum GOP of 1200. At 10 fps this could be an I-frame every 2 minutes. So I am wondering how much strain dynamic GOP could place on certain features in a VMS (in the worst case).

An example is playing footage in reverse, or step-back. For instance, when stepping back, the VMS software has to go back to the previous I-frame and decode every subsequent P or B frame just to get the previous image. In the worst case, this implies that the result of clicking a step-back button will mean decoding 1 I-frame and then 1198 P or B frames, which I guess would work, but could be annoyingly slow, especially for high resolution video. I have similar concerns with thumbnail/scrub searches that only display I-frames.

Anyone encountered any problems along these lines?

In our tests, it wasn't a problem. I expected it to be, but it wasn't. I believe this is because most VMSes, or at least the four we tested it with (Avigilon, Exacq, Genetec, Milestone), buffer video for playback. So they load the previous I-frame and frames after it, regardless of whether it's 1 second back or 2 minutes back.

You can see this in Exacq because it highlights the playback timeline when video is "downloaded", as they call it. I have a bookmark from a test, for example, and if I click the beginning of the bookmark to play it back, and hit play, the timeline will fill in as darker green before the beginning of the bookmark. I'll try to grab an image showing that.

Does this add a delay in watching video? A little bit. You may be looking at an additional second or two for video to load, depending on how far back the I-frame is. I would think that 50-90% bitrate reductions in a lot of scenes are worth that delay, but I could see where it could get annoying if you're a heavy playback user.

Also, the theoretical I-frame interval might be two minutes, but in practice it's never been that long with Axis cameras. I believe the longest I've seen with any Smart CODEC actually was under 30 seconds, with Axis closer to 15 seconds at longest.

Thank you for your reply Ethan. I did see in your review that you tested this and found no problems. I know the VMS's buffer the frames on the client when playing back, but I assumed it would be buffered as encoded h264, and would still decode all those frames on the fly as they are being viewed, but maybe they are doing something more sophisticated than that.

In my mind a GOP of 30 seconds would be the upper limit of what would be practical for a VMS. I can see that a very high GOP stream could be useful as a viewing stream only, but I am still a bit suspicious when it comes to recording/playback. I will try and make some time this weekend and do my own tests, see if I can break a few things :-).


Camera Panasonic WV-SFV481

Recording using H.264 video stream 1
Image capture size Panarama/2560 x 1440
Transmission priority VBR
Frame rate * 15fps*
Max bit rate(per client)* Max 16384kbps* Min 3072kbps*
Image quality 1 Fine
Smart Coding mode On

Recording on motion
No audio being recorded

Firmware version 2.40

When accessing camera from browser in live mode for video stream 1

Accessing to the camera is unavailable since it is controlled by ONVIF now.

We are using Ocularis 5.1 Recorder with Type
Generic ONVIF Driver (Profile S devices)

Thanks for the info, John. This gives me a better understanding.