Displaying Real Time Stream Info on IP Cameras

Author: 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 Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

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

IBM / Genetec Surveillance System Investigated Over Philippines Human Rights Abuses on Mar 22, 2019
A lengthy investigation into an IBM video surveillance project in the Philippines, raising concerns IBM helped local police conduct a bloody...
Eagle Eye Favorability Results 2019 on Mar 21, 2019
Eagle Eye has been the biggest spender in the cloud VMS market including (via their owner) acquiring Brivo for $50 million and CameraManager from...
Large Hospital Security End User Interview on Mar 21, 2019
This large single-state healthcare system consists of many hospitals, and hundreds of health parks, private practices, urgent care facilities, and...
Silicon Valley Cybersecurity Insurance Startup Coalition Profile on Mar 20, 2019
Many industry people believe cybersecurity insurance is not worth it, as the voting and debate in our Cybersecurity Insurance For Security...
Covert IP Camera Shootout - Axis, Hanwha, Hikvision, March, Vivotek on Mar 20, 2019
Covert cameras were one of the last holdout areas for analog cameras. However, in the past few years, IP / HD covert cameras have become...
Genetec Security Center 5.8 Tested on Mar 19, 2019
Genetec has released Version 5.8. This comes after a wait of more than a year that caused frustrations for many Genetec partners. Our previous...
Large US University End-User Video Surveillance Interview on Mar 18, 2019
Schools have become targets in modern days of active shooters and terrorist fears. The need for video and access security is high. Universities...
Hikvision Favorability Results 2019 on Mar 18, 2019
Hikvision favorability results declined significantly in IPVM's 2019 study of 200+ integrators. While in 2017 Hikvision's favorability was...
ONVIF Favorability Results 2019 on Mar 15, 2019
In the past decade, ONVIF has grown from a reaction to the outside Cisco-lead PSIA challenge, to being the de facto video surveillance standard...
Installation Course - Last Chance on Mar 14, 2019
This is the last chance to register for the March Installation course. This is a unique installation course in a market where little practical...

Most Recent Industry Reports

IBM / Genetec Surveillance System Investigated Over Philippines Human Rights Abuses on Mar 22, 2019
A lengthy investigation into an IBM video surveillance project in the Philippines, raising concerns IBM helped local police conduct a bloody...
Eagle Eye Favorability Results 2019 on Mar 21, 2019
Eagle Eye has been the biggest spender in the cloud VMS market including (via their owner) acquiring Brivo for $50 million and CameraManager from...
Large Hospital Security End User Interview on Mar 21, 2019
This large single-state healthcare system consists of many hospitals, and hundreds of health parks, private practices, urgent care facilities, and...
Silicon Valley Cybersecurity Insurance Startup Coalition Profile on Mar 20, 2019
Many industry people believe cybersecurity insurance is not worth it, as the voting and debate in our Cybersecurity Insurance For Security...
Covert IP Camera Shootout - Axis, Hanwha, Hikvision, March, Vivotek on Mar 20, 2019
Covert cameras were one of the last holdout areas for analog cameras. However, in the past few years, IP / HD covert cameras have become...
Top Metrics For Ensuring Integrator Profitability - Statistics on Mar 20, 2019
How do integrators ensure the profitability of their projects? As part of our profitability study, 100+ integrators answered the following...
Avigilon Launches 'Renewed Products Program' on Mar 19, 2019
There are lots of 'pre-owned' cars but pre-owned IP cameras? While such programs are common in other industries, in video surveillance, they are...
Genetec Security Center 5.8 Tested on Mar 19, 2019
Genetec has released Version 5.8. This comes after a wait of more than a year that caused frustrations for many Genetec partners. Our previous...
Retired Mercury President Returns As Open Options President on Mar 18, 2019
Open Options experienced major changes in 2018, including being acquired by ACRE and losing its President and General Manager, John Berman who...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact