Displaying Real Time Stream Info on IP Cameras

By: John Honovich, Published on Dec 14, 2011

When troubleshooting or testing IP cameras, it is very useful to have clear and immediate visual feedback on key statistics of the camera such as real time bandwidth consumption and frame rate. In this note, we look at one way to display this, how to enable it and what benefits this can have.

The genesis of this is a practical example where we were trying to determine the impact of multi-streaming. Transmitting multiple streams increases the risk of reduced frame rate or reduced video quality as the camera can become overloaded. However, it is often difficult to clearly to see if a problem has arisen and how bad the problem is.

The most common way to display stream settings or status is to check within a VMS clients. Typically, VMS clients have ways to view what the current bitrate of each stream is and the video's real time frame rate. However, where this is located and how cumbersome this can be varies. Also, some VMS systems do not offer this or only offer partial real time information.

In our experience, cameras rarely display such real time information in any easy to access means. However, two notable exceptions are Axis and Mobotix [Update: Sony too, with examples at end]. The image below provides an example of an Axis camera with the bitrate and framerate displayed in the lower left hand corner.

Immediately above, you can easily read both bit rate and frame rate. This makes it easy to compare the real time information with the video quality. If the bitrate or frame rate is too high or low relative to expectations, it makes it easier to determine if a problem is occurring.

Here's another image sample from the same camera but with visual noise being generated from a DJ laser:

The information immediately above shows that the bitrate has increased 600% while the frame rate has dropped modestly. Having the bitrate update in real time makes it clear how bandwidth is being impacted by scene complexity changes.

Finally, below is an example in a dark condition where we have set the maximum shutter speed to 1/6s compared to only 1/30s in the first two sample.

The information above makes it clear that the frame rate has dropped in half - a major change. It would be hard to detect this without the frame rate information being displayed. Even though the camera is set for unlimited frame rate and the camera's maximum frame rate is 30 (15 in this stream profile), the camera drops the frame rate much lower because of the slow shutter speed set - a hidden consequence and a good example of why displaying such information is helpful.

This can be set up in the video stream configuration page under the 'Overlay Settings' section and 'include text' line item. Within that, you enter what Axis calls modifiers such as "#B" for Bandwidth. 

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Axis supports a handful of modifiers that can be found in the Axis help page listing modifiers available.

Limitations in modifiers exist. For instance, we think it would be useful if Axis displayed real time shutter speed, gain control and CPU usage.

  • Shutter speed would help to diagnose and understand motion blur.
  • Gain control would help to understand how aggressive the gain level is at any point.
  • CPU usage would help inform how limited the camera's resources were for additional tasks (like more streams or motion detection).

Even as is, with bandwidth and frame rate, these display options can be quite useful to better understanding what the camera is doing and what problems you might be facing.

Addendum - Sony

Sony provides a text overlay option for bandwidth and frame rate. Below is an example:

The main difference about Sony is that seems to only blink/flash. It does not permanently display. Secondly, it does not seem to support metacharacters, just a fixed number of the most common options.

Below is a screenshot of the areas to configure to enable this in a Sony camera:

The codec field in Sony is what displays bandwidth and frame rate.

If you know of other camera manufacturers who display such real time information overlayed on the image, please share in the comments.

1 report cite this report:

Avigilon Real Time Exposure And Gain on Feb 24, 2015
Knowing how exposure and gain impact image quality, bandwidth, and camera performance can useful in installation and troubleshooting. Very few...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Bosch Budget 3000i Cameras Tested on Dec 05, 2019
Bosch has long had a hole in its lineup for, as it describes, "competitively-priced cameras". Now, Bosch has released its 3000i series cameras...
AVTech ~$70 IP Cameras Tested Vs Dahua and Hikvision on Dec 04, 2019
Taiwanese manufacturer Avtech is taking direct aim at low cost leaders Dahua and Hikvision with ~$70 starlight and white light illuminator...
Vunetrix Health Monitoring Company Profile on Nov 26, 2019
Vunetrix boasts that they make the integrators the 'HERO' by using Vunetrix's monitoring. We spoke to Vunetrix to better understand their...
Top 2020 Trend - AI Analytics on Nov 22, 2019
170+ Integrators answered: What do you think will be the top industry trend in 2020? Why? For the 4th year in a row, AI/video analytics was...
Axis "Best Of The Best" 4K Camera Tested (Q1798-LE) on Nov 21, 2019
Axis has released their "best of the best" Q1798-LE bullet camera, touting "4K without compromise" with a large Micro 4/3" image sensor, custom...
Avigilon H4 Intercom Tested on Nov 20, 2019
Avigilon is well-known for video surveillance and access, but how well does the company's intercom work? We purchased and tested Avigilon's H4...
Open vs End-to-End Systems: Integrator Statistics 2019 on Nov 11, 2019
Preference for open systems is on the decline, according to new IPVM statistics. We asked integrators: For video surveillance systems, do you...
Rhombus Cameras, VMS and Analytics Tested on Nov 06, 2019
Rhombus boasts they have created "the new standard in Enterprise, cloud-managed video security" and told IPVM in January 2019 they offer twice the...
100+ Companies Profile Directory on Nov 06, 2019
While IPVM covers the largest companies in the industry regularly (like Axis, Dahua, Hikvision, etc.), IPVM strives to do a profile post on each...
Aiphone Video Intercom Tested (IX Series 2) on Nov 05, 2019
Aiphone was one of integrator's favorite intercom manufacturers but how well do their products work? The company's newest offering, the IX Series 2...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Disruptor Wyze Releases Undisruptive Smartlock on Dec 06, 2019
While Wyze has disrupted the consumer IP camera market with ~$20 cameras, its entrance into smart locks is entirely undisruptive. We have...
Bosch Budget 3000i Cameras Tested on Dec 05, 2019
Bosch has long had a hole in its lineup for, as it describes, "competitively-priced cameras". Now, Bosch has released its 3000i series cameras...
Anixter Resisting Takeover From Competitor on Dec 05, 2019
Mega distributor Anixter is going to be acquired but by whom? Initially, Anixter planned to go private, being bought by a private equity firm....
Security Sales Course 2020 - Last Chance Save $50 on Dec 05, 2019
This sales course is customized for the current needs and challenges specific to professionals selling video surveillance and access control...
Ireland National Children's Hospital Chooses Hikvision End-to-End With Facial Recognition on Dec 05, 2019
The world's most expensive hospital project ever, the New Children's Hospital in Ireland, has chosen an all-Hikvision surveillance system including...
AVTech ~$70 IP Cameras Tested Vs Dahua and Hikvision on Dec 04, 2019
Taiwanese manufacturer Avtech is taking direct aim at low cost leaders Dahua and Hikvision with ~$70 starlight and white light illuminator...
Ultinous European Analytics Startup Company Profile on Dec 04, 2019
European analytics-startup Ultinous pitches customers to "Have your own video analysis service!" We spoke to Ultinous to better understand their...
Access Startup Multi-Mount Aims To Streamline Reader Installs on Dec 03, 2019
Startup Multi-Mount claims it makes installing access readers 'Fast', 'Secure,' and fit 'any size frame.' The company states its bracket 'fits most...
Resideo CEO To Step Down on Dec 03, 2019
Resideo's CEO, Mike Nefkins, is stepping down, just 18 months after being brought in to lead the now plagued spin-out. Inside this note, we...
Arcules CEO Retracts False GDPR Claim + Dahua and Milestone Claims Examined on Dec 03, 2019
Arcules CEO has retracted a false claim about his organization being a "fully compliant GDPR company" after IPVM reporting (Arcules CEO Threatens...