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

October 2018 Camera Course on Sep 13, 2018
Today is the last day to save $50 on the October 2018 Camera Course, register now. This is the only independent surveillance camera course,...
VMS Export Shootout - Avigilon, Dahua, Exacq, Genetec, Hikvision, Milestone on Sep 13, 2018
When crimes, accidents or problems occur, exporting video from one's video surveillance system is critical to proving incidents. But who does it...
Dahua Low-Cost 4MP Camera Tested (N44CL52) on Sep 10, 2018
4MP use continues to increase, especially in low-cost models, according to integrators in our 2018 Resolution Usage Statistics. We bought Dahua's...
IP Camera Cable Termination Guide on Sep 06, 2018
Terminating cables properly is critical to network performance, but it can be a tricky task with multiple steps. Fortunately, this task is easy to...
Directory Of 110+ Video Management Software (VMS) Suppliers on Aug 30, 2018
This directory provides a list of Video Management Software providers to help you see and research what options are available. Listing...
IP Camera Cabling Installation Guide on Aug 29, 2018
IPVM is preparing the industry's first Video Surveillance Installation book and our upcoming Video Surveillance Installation Course. We have...
Inputs/Outputs For Video Surveillance Guide on Aug 24, 2018
While many cameras have Input/Output (I/O) ports, few are actually used and most designers do not even consider them. However, a good understanding...
Luxriot VMS Profile on Aug 23, 2018
Luxriot is more popular than Hikvision and Milestone products according to ASMAG which was probably even surprising to Luxriot. The company has...
Synology Surveillance Station VMS Tested on Aug 22, 2018
With so many low-cost NVRs and enterprise VMSes, is there any place in the market for NAS-based VMSes? Recently, IPVM bought a Synology NAS for...
SNMP / Network Monitoring For Surveillance 2018 on Aug 21, 2018
Surveillance systems typically rely on the the VMS to report issues, but this most often just means knowing a camera is "down" with no warning or...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Alexa Guard Expands Amazon's Security Offerings, Boosts ADT's Stock on Sep 21, 2018
Amazon is expanding their security offerings yet again, this time with Alexa Guard that delivers security audio analytics and a virtual "Fake...
UTC, Owner of Lenel, Acquires S2 on Sep 20, 2018
UTC now owns two of the biggest access control providers, one of integrator's most hated access control platforms, Lenel, and one of their...
BluePoint Aims To Bring Life-Safety Mind-Set To Police Pull Stations on Sep 20, 2018
Fire alarm pull stations are commonplace but police ones are not. A self-funded startup, BluePoint Alert Solutions is aiming to make police pull...
SIA Plays Dumb On OEMs And Hikua Ban on Sep 20, 2018
OEMs widely pretend to be 'manufacturers', deceiving their customers and putting them at risk for cybersecurity attacks and, soon, violation of US...
Axis Vs. Hikvision IR PTZ Shootout on Sep 20, 2018
Hikvision has their high-end dual-sensor DarkfighterX. Axis has their high-end concealed IR Q6125-LE. Which is better? We bought both and tested...
Avigilon Announces AI-Powered H5 Camera Development on Sep 19, 2018
Avigilon will be showcasing "next-generation AI" at next week's ASIS GSX. In an atypical move, the company is not actually releasing these...
Favorite Request-to-Exit (RTE) Manufacturers 2018 on Sep 19, 2018
Request To Exit devices like motion sensors and lock releasing push-buttons are a part of almost every access install, but who makes the equipment...
25% China Tariffs Finalized For 2019, 10% Start Now, Includes Select Video Surveillance on Sep 18, 2018
A surprise move: In July, when the most recent tariff round was first announced, the tariffs were only scheduled for 10%. However, now, the US...
Central Stations Face Off Against NFPA On Fire Monitoring on Sep 18, 2018
Central stations are facing off against the NFPA over what they call anti-competitive language in NFPA 72, the standard that covers fire alarms....
Hikvision USA Starts Layoffs on Sep 18, 2018
Hikvision USA has started layoffs, just weeks after the US government ban was passed into law. Inside this note, we examine: The important...

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