Camera Video Display Problems Tested

By Ethan Ace, Published on Mar 18, 2016

In the old days, displaying video was simple. Both cameras are monitors were generally the same aspect ratio, so it was fairly simple to display video without any problems.

Now, though, with various aspect ratios (16:9 monitors, 4:3 cameras, 16:9 cameras, fisheye streams, multi-imagers, etc.), this is becoming much more difficult.

Indeed, many VMS clients are now defaulting to cropping or warping video by default.

In this report, we look at this problem and share examples of how Axis, Dahua and Hikvision do this.

Cropping *******

***** *** *** *** problems ****, ******** *** stretching.

******* *** *** ****** below, ****** *** **** it '*****' *** ****, the *** *** ****** are *******:

**** ********* ***** ***** it ** ******.

Stretching *******

******* *** *** ****** below, *** ******** *** is * **:* ****** ratio ****** *** *** VMS ******** ** ***** / *********:

** *** ********** *****, you *** *** *** the *** ** **********:

*********

********* *** ****** ****** for ****** ****** *****. By *******, ********* *******, DVRs/NVRs, *******-**** ****** ******* ***** ** the ******, ********** ** aspect *****. *** ****** image ** ******* (****** Axis, *****, ***** ***** parts ** *** *****), but ********* ** **** cases.

**** *** ** ******* to ******* ****** *****, but *** ****** ** buried ** ******** (**** > ****** ************* > Image > **** ***** > ******** **********). *** image ***** ***** *** same ******* ** *****, all **:*, ** ***** proper ******.

Axis ****** *******

** ******* ****** ******* * test, ******* *** *** to "****" *** **** by *******. **** *********** means **** *** ********** width ** *** ***** is *** ** *** width ** *** ******* pane. *******, ***** ** the *** *** ****** of *** *** *** cut ***.

**** *** ** ******* in ************* ** *** the **** ***** ** the ****, ***** ******** the **** ***, *** results ** ******* ****** of ***** ***** ** either ****, **** *****. However, ***** **** ******, at ***** *** **** FOV ** ******* *** aspect ***** ** *********.

*****

** ***** *** **********, aspect ***** ** *** respected, ******** ****** ******** defaults ** "******** ****** ratio", **** ******* ** stretch ** ****. **** can ****** ** ******* stretching ********* ** *** window ****** ***** *** size.

*** *******, *** ********** below *** ***** **** the *** ********* ** a***** ** *****. ********** ** *** window ******, ***** ** still ********* ** **** the ***** ** *******, resulting ** ******** ** stretched *****. ***** *** controls ** **** ***** in *** ******** ******, but **** *** *** well ******* *** *** users *** *** ******* they *** **** *****.

The ********

****** ***** **** ****** be ********* ******, *** two *******:

  1. Monitors *** **:*, *** **** ******* *** ***: Though many would like to proclaim HD and 16:9 formats as the way to go, 4:3 models are still commonly used (and arguably provide more useful images), including 3 MP, 5 MP, and now 12 MP resolutions. It will be years before 4:3 is no longer available.
  2. UI ******** **** ** *****: Toolbars, Windows and Mac task bars, event lists, and other UI elements take up screen space, meaning even if the VMS client is run full screen on a 16:9 monitor with 16:9 cameras in a split view, these controls may take up space and skew the aspect ratio of viewing windows.

****** ***, *** ******** is ** **** ********** camera ****** *****. ****** some *** ******** **** viewing ******* "********", **** ultimately ******* **** ****** usability *** ** *** issues *****. ***** ***** between ***** ** * better ******** **** ******* distorted *****.

Comments (7)

Though some may consider full viewing windows "prettier", they ultimately detract from system usability due to the issues above. Blank space between panes is a better solution than viewing distorted video.

I would disagree.

First, I don't consider stretched windows prettier, just the opposite, wide faces, bodies etc.

Second, this is not Avatar in 3D. The primary goal is not photographic realism, it's effective information transfer.

For me, stretching the screen to fit the size makes it easier to see movement when not looking directly at the pane.

In any event it does not mislead me in any way, since I know the true aspect ratio.

On the other hand, the difference/distortion of the color pallete by even cameras of the same mfr/model, is something that could materially affect an investigation. Do you agree about color distortion?

Maybe a poll?

"Do you prefer stretch to fit windows over letterboxing?"

I can understand the advantage you described of filling all the pixels. I do think the correct aspect ratio does improve identification to some degree. The ability to discern someone's "build", is easier if the aspect ratio is correct.

I hate it when windows are stretched and distorted. It's difficult to evaluate things like focus and other criteria. It is one of my pet peaves with Dahua's web interface for IP cams in the live view tab. The first thing I click is the "Original" instead of "Adaptive" aspect ratio.

It's difficult to evaluate things like focus...

Absolutely. But is this an installer concern more than a user concern?

For instance given a 1080p 50" that is part of a video wall, which can you discern important details better from across the room with?

This:

or

Things like "is someone at the end of the hall?" are easier to make out because there are more pixels displaying them. The fact that the chairs are really taller than they appear is unimportant IMHO.

And what is the downside to the user exactly?

Unintended scene cropping, on the other hand is an abomination, and deserving of criticism.

I have a difficult time understanding how stretching the video feed to fit the window size has any impact on security monitoring (or is even worth writing about really). If someone is watching the video feed in realtime (all the time), their brain will adjust what they see. If they aren't watching realtime (all the time), then post incident analysis is the only situation you can assume. In a post incident analysis situation, manipulating the aspect ratio is reasonable if in fact it really bothers the investigator.

In any case, cropping is obviously the worse of the two. Destroying information is worse than transforming information (there is no loss of information when you distort the image to fit the window - you can transform it back).

I think it depends on who is watching. A security professional wants to keep the true nature of the video and the aspect ratio.

A typical "end user" has been told that black bars are bad. That is why you had to go out and replace your CRT 4:3 TV with a new 16:9 expensive HDTV. They don't want to see "wasted space" on their VMS display. Even if the cameras are higher resolution - 3mp vs 2 mp, they will question it. I think that it takes educating the end user, and ultimately giving them the option in the settings, as long as the true video is still preserved as evidence...

Of course, now movies are in newer aspect ratios, and there are still black bars. And many TV shows are stretched in different amounts from the center out.

Interesting topic! I think perspectives about this vary a lot, so I guess there can be no clear winner. Personally, I don't like cropping at all, and I'm surprised Axis ACS does it. It is common in most Chinese cameras' Web interfaces, though... Do many of the major VMS' clients (Genetec, Milestone, Exacq...) crop too?

About VMS clients now warping by default, I expected the tendency to be the opposite, and anyhow, changes being uncommon since users will probably be used to what they have, so manufacturers will be reluctant to make big changes and disappoint them... Do you know of any important change in this aspect, from any of the main players?

Thanks for the article!

Read this IPVM report for free.

This article is part of IPVM's 6,590 reports, 889 tests and is only available to members. To get a one-time preview of our work, enter your work email to access the full article.

Already a member? Login here | Join now

Related Reports

Dedicated Vs Converged IP Video Networks Statistics 2020 on Sep 10, 2020
Running one's video system on a converged network with other devices can save...
Video Surveillance History on May 06, 2020
The video surveillance market has changed significantly since 2000, going...
Uniview H1 2020 Financials Examined on Sep 08, 2020
While Dahua and Hikvision, helped by fever camera sales, are recovering from...
Infinova, March Networks and Swann H1 2020 Financials Examined on Sep 02, 2020
While Dahua and Hikvision, helped by fever camera sales, are recovering from...
New Axis M30 Cameras Tested on Mar 26, 2020
Axis has released a new generation of, for them, relatively low cost M30...
Verkada 2020 Cameras Image Quality Test on Oct 06, 2020
Verkada's first-generation cameras suffered from numerous video quality...
Remote Network Access for Video Surveillance Guide on Jul 27, 2020
Remotely accessing surveillance systems is key in 2020, with more and more...
Quantum Dots Potential for Surveillance Cameras Explained on Sep 08, 2020
Quantum dots are starting to be used in TVs for better images, but how will...
AHJ / Authority Having Jurisdiction Tutorial on Aug 06, 2020
One of the most powerful yet often underappreciated characters in all...
Dahua Profits Surge Due To Fever Camera Sales on Aug 25, 2020
While Dahua's overall revenue is down, driven by challenges within China, the...
Video Surveillance Cameras 101 on Feb 25, 2020
Cameras come in many shapes, sizes and specifications. This 101 examines the...
NDAA Compliant Video Surveillance Whitelist on Aug 10, 2020
This report aggregates video surveillance products that manufacturers have...
Augmented Reality (AR) Cameras From Hikvision and Dahua Examined on Oct 19, 2020
Hikvision, Dahua, and other China companies are marketing augmented reality...
The Future of H.266 For Video Surveillance Examined on Aug 17, 2020
First H.264, now H.265, is H.266 next? H.266 was recently announced amid...
Temperature Tablet Shootout - Dahua, Hikvision, ZKTeco, TVT + 5 More on Sep 30, 2020
Temperature tablets, aka terminal or stations, have emerged as a 'low-cost...

Recent Reports

GDPR Impact On Temperature / Fever Screening Explained on Oct 22, 2020
What impact does GDPR have on temperature screening? Do you risk a GDPR fine...
Security And Safety Things (S&ST) Tested on Oct 22, 2020
S&ST, a Bosch spinout, is spending tens of millions of dollars aiming to...
Nokia Fever Screening Claims To "Advance Fight Against COVID-19" on Oct 22, 2020
First IBM, then briefly Clorox, and now Nokia becomes the latest Fortune 500...
Deceptive Meridian Temperature Tablets Endanger Public Safety on Oct 21, 2020
IPVM's testing of and investigation into Meridian Kiosk's temperature...
Honeywell 30 Series and Vivotek NVRs Tested on Oct 21, 2020
The NDAA ban has driven many users to look for low-cost NVRs not made by...
Avigilon Aggressive Trade-In Program Takes Aim At Competitors on Oct 20, 2020
Avigilon has launched one of the most aggressive trade-in programs the video...
Mexico Video Surveillance Market Overview 2020 on Oct 20, 2020
Despite being neighbors, there are key differences between the U.S. and...
Dahua Revenue Grows But Profits Down, Cause Unclear on Oct 20, 2020
While Dahua's overall revenue was up more than 12% in Q3 2020, a significant...
Illegal Hikvision Fever Screening Touted In Australia, Government Investigating, Temperature References Deleted on Oct 20, 2020
The Australian government told IPVM that they are investigating a Hikvision...
Panasonic Presents i-PRO Cameras and Video Analytics on Oct 19, 2020
Panasonic i-PRO presented its X-Series cameras and AI video analytics at the...
Augmented Reality (AR) Cameras From Hikvision and Dahua Examined on Oct 19, 2020
Hikvision, Dahua, and other China companies are marketing augmented reality...
18 TB Video Surveillance Drives (WD and Seagate) on Oct 19, 2020
Both Seagate and Western Digital recently announced 18TB hard drives...
Watrix Gait Recognition Profile on Oct 16, 2020
Watrix is the world's only gait recognition surveillance provider IPVM has...
Intel Presents Edge-to-Cloud Ecosystem for Video Analytics on Oct 16, 2020
Intel presented its processors and software toolkit for computer vision at...