Exporting Video Surveillance Tutorial

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Oct 05, 2017

Exporting video surveillance is important when incidents or crimes occur.

However, there are multiple ways to export video which have their pros and cons. In this note, we examine those ways and share feedback from integrators on their preferences and why they do what they do.

Exporting Options

At a high level, there are three general options for exporting:

  • Recording Screen With Cell Phone
  • Native/Embedded VMS Players
  • Standard Codec Formats

********* ***** ************ ** important **** ********* ** crimes *****.

*******, ***** *** ******** ways ** ****** ***** which **** ***** **** and ****. ** **** note, ** ******* ***** ways *** ***** ******** from *********** ** ***** preferences *** *** **** do **** **** **.

Exporting *******

** * **** *****, there *** ***** ******* options *** *********:

  • ********* ****** **** **** Phone
  • ******/******** *** *******
  • ******** ***** *******

[***************]

Using * **** *****

**** ** *** * legitimate ** *********** *** to ****** ***** *** we ******* ** ******* it ** ** ************ common *** ** ** so. *** ***** ** played **** ***** * person **** ***** ***** to ****** **** ** shown ** *** ******'* monitor. ** ***** **** in *** **** ********* (*** Easiest) *** ** ****** Surveillance *****.

Native/Embedded ******

**** *****/********* ***** ********* video ** ***** *** proprietary ******. ****** ******** of **** *******: ******* to **** **** ******** streams ** ***** **************, ability ** ****** *** video ******** *** *** been ********, ******** ******** such ** ********* *********, re-export **** ******** *******, changeable *******, ***. ************, users *** ***** ******** protect ******* ***** *********** players, *** ******** **** using ******** *******.

*** **** ******** ** embedded ******* ** **** many ***** *** ****** not ** **** ** run ****. *** *******, many ****** *********** ** not ***** ************ .*** files ** ***, ** corporate ** ****** ********* them, ********* ******** ** be ******** ** ******** formats. ************, *********** ****** players *** ***** ******* only, **** ** ****** for *** ** ***** users.

Standard ******* (***, ***, ***)

*******, ***** *** ********* be ******** ** ******** formats **** ** ***, MP4, ***, ***, *** others, ***** ** ********* preferred ** *** ****** ** not ******* *********** *******, and ********* **** ** operating ****** ******** ************, such ** ******* ***** Player ** *********. ******** ******* are **** ******** **** when ************* **** ** guaranteed, ** ******** ** law *********** **** * playable *** ** ********.

*******, ***** ******* *** ******* to * ****** ******, so ************** ******** ** multiple ******* ** ** event ** ******* *** possible. *** ******* ***** shows *** ***** ****** playing **** * ******** .mp4 ****.

**** ***** ******* ****** of * *****-***** ***** showing ******** *******, *** this ** *** * common ******* *** ********* scales ******* ** * lower **********.

VMS/Recorder *******

******* *** ****** ******* is *** *********. *** all ***** *** ********* include ****** ****** ******, especially ***** **** ******** options. *******, *** ***** standard ******* ******* ****, with *** **** ****** by ***.

***** ***** ********* ********* which ***** ****** *******, features **** ******. **** players ****** ***** ******** of * ****** ******, while ****** ***** *****-****** synchronized ********, ******* *********, and ****. 

***** ****** *********** ***** options * ***** ******** supports ** ******** ***** will ** * *** concern ** ***** ******.

Beware ******** ****** ******

**** ****** "********" ***** such ** *** *** MP4 *** ******** ** **** on ****** ***** *******, playback ****** *** *** uncommon, *** ** ******* codecs ** ****** *********** in ********. ***** *** manually ****** *** ******* missing ******, *** ** recommend ***** ********* ******* back ******** ***** ** multiple ******* (**** ** law *********** ** ********* investigations) ****** ******, ** ** **** found ** ***** **** the **** ******** ** export ******* ******* ***** (AVI, ***, ***, ***, MKV, *** ******). 

Export Preference **********

*********** **** ******* ***** ******* native ****** ******* *** standard *******, **** *** responses ** *** ********* question

**** ****** ** *** typically ****** ***** **? Why? **** ****** ******?

** ****** ***** ********* in ****** *****.

Native/Standalone ******* ******** ***** *********

**** ********, *********** **** they **** *** ********'*/***'* native ****** ******, **** the **** ****** ****** being **** **** *** so *** ************/***** ** custody ********, ** ********* standard ******* **** *** been ******* ** **** more *********.

  • "******** ** *********** ** the *** ************. ** usually **** ***** ****** or ***** ************ ********** of **** **** *** use ** ********."
  • "****** ***** ** * requirement *** ************ ******* recordings ** *** ** (for ********** ********). ** a ***** ** ****** is ********. ****, *** etc *** *** ** manipulated ** **** ****** integrity."
  • "** ******* ***** **** the *****-****** ******** **** the ******** ******. **** way ** ***** *** evidence *** *** ******** doesn't **** ** ***** about ****** *** ****** media ****** ** ***** PC. ** ****** **** of *** ***** *******, but **** **** ******* the ******** ******."
  • "** ****** ********* **** they ****** ** ****** format **** *** ***'* player. **** *** ** can ** **** ** court *** ***** *** evidence ************ *** ***** of *******."
  • "*********** ***** ****** ** what * ****** *********. Security **** ******** ***** is ********* *** ***** a ******** ****** (***, etc.) ** *** ****** and *** ***********. * prefer *** ******* ** password ******* *** ******* tamdpering."

Standard ******* *** **********

*** **** ****** ****** for ********* ** ******** file ******* *** **********, as ***** ***** ****** play ** ******** ******* already ********* ** *** OS. *** *** ** far *** **** ****** standard ****** ************ *****, followed ** *** *** ASF.

  • "*** *** ***** ******** it ** *********** *** easiest ** ******."
  • "*** ******* ** ** native ** *******."
  • "*** ** *** **** common, *** ** *** ease ** ******** ** almost *** ********."
  • "******* ****** ** ***. The *** **** **** for ** **** ****** footage ** *** *********** and *-******* **** ** interested *****. *** ***** very **** ****** **** devices."
  • "***- ***** ** ****** much **********. ** ****** can't **** ** ****, we ********* *** ******."
  • "*** ******* ** *** be ****** ** ****** any ******."

Standard ******* *** *** ***********/********

*******, ******* **** ******** *********** use ** * *** for ****** *******, **** using ******** ******* ******** that **** ******** ** AVI *** *** ***********, as ******** ********* ** instead ** *********** ******* which **** ***** ****** open. ************, ***** ******* are ***** ****** ** DVD *** ******** ** court, ****** ******** ******* simpler ** ***.

  • "*** ** *** **** accepted ****** **** * have **** **** *********. Even ****** ** *** be ********, *** **** that *** *** ****** and *** *********** *** not ******* ******** ** their **'* (** .***'*) to *** ****** ***** video ** *********** ****** formats. **** ********** **** proof **** *** ******* a *****. ****** ********* that **** ** ******* to ********."
  • "**** *** ******** *********, AVI. *** ****** ** I **** *** **** conversations **** *** *********** and **** ***'* **** ANY ***** ******* **** video. **** ***'* **** to ******* ***** *** they **** ** **** it ** * ***** room **** *** ****** and ***** ****. ** that ** **** * do. **** ********, * provide *** ***. **'* easy ****** ** ****** and ***** **** ** whats *********. * *** an ****** ***** **** is ******** **** ******** by ********* * ******* plate ******* *** ***** window **** * ***** Samsung **** ******. **** was ******** ******* * caught ** ***** *** fact *** *** ******** had *** ****** ** yet. *** ***** *** valid *** *** ** three *******."
  • "** ***** ***** *** video ** ***** ********* as ********, ** *** is **** ****** ** be **** ******* ** the ******** ****** *** the **** **** ** can ** ****** **** the ***** ******* ******."
  • ".***, .***, .***, ** the ****** *** **** it ******* *** ****** software."
  • "*** ******, ****** *** police ** ** ****** back ** ****** **. Never ** ***** ********."

Comments (10)

I have also seen standard formats struggle with video exported in corridor view mode. It plays but is just a black image. 

I export to the police a lot, and prefer to export to native. It will usually keep the video stream unchanged. It will also keep time reliably in sync. With standard video formats you either get the time burnt in, or get it as subtext. Some vms'es don't even give you that. All you get is the time in the filename, or the time from the camera, if that was kept in sync. Native format is way easier to work with, as long as the player is more than just a rebranded media player. And in my country, the police get sad if we don't include the playback software. I think they have special workstations for "iffy" software like vms playback software. Some old systems are not compatible with modern operating systems. For that we have wine and linux:)

If native format is unavailable, I prefer .mkv or .mp4, because of their ability to keep the original h264 stream from the camera unchanged in the container. But even with that choice, the stupid vms client sometimes re-encodes the video stream, potentially destroying information. Stuff like avi or asf are least favourable options, because it usually means the video stream will be re-encoded. I think I remember seeing h264 in an avi or asf file container, but I would think they were unplayable in regular players.

I will also say, that exporting and exported material, seems to be the least prioritized part of most vms systems. The big players often have the best solutions, but even they often feel unpolished. On cheap systems, I often find the export function to be at best a bad file copier, and at worst unworkable. I have come across systems that were so limited that putting a video camera in front of the screen would be the only practical option.

And a last note. If you want encrypted files, 7zip and stuff like that will do a nice job. Encrypted native file types just saves you some time and hassle.

"Standard Formats For Law Enforcement/Evidence" is completely wrong. It may be easier to play, but you are considering the video only for what regards corse visual information, and not as digital evidence as it is supposed to be. Would you do a ballistic analysis on a photo of a bullet rather than the bullet itself? This is exactly the same thing.

What is normally recommended for evidentiary use is to export to native AND standard.

What are the issues of the standard formats?

First of all, most of the players do a transcoding and not a simple rewrap. So a video (which may be already of bad quality) will lose the little detail left that could be fundamental for an investigation.

Second, using the standard format export as first step essentially breask the chain of custody needed for digital evidence. You *may* use it, but only if you have the ability to reproduce it starting from its native version.

Third, with the converted version normally you loose a lot of metadata, essential timing information and details on the encoding of the original. If you have access to the original file, you can analyze the type of macroblocks of every frame and then understand which data is reliable or not. This may help to understand if a specific detail of a license plate is a reliable digit or an aritifact of the compression.

In my company products Amped FIVE and Amped DVRConv, we provide a way to convert many of the DVR formats on the market without the need for the producer player. In most of the cases we are able to convert them essentially rewrapping, and thus avoid the transcoding which would cause the issues above.

We always recommend in critical cases to compare the results with the official player. It must be noted, however, that often even the official player is displaying incorrectly the actual data, for example using the wrong aspect ratio or image size.

Unfortunately surveillance companies give very little attention to the export format and the player and this is causing huge issues in the forensic video analysis community. At the end, sooner or later, footage from every system may be used for evidence.

Let's not even start on filming the monitor, this is the worse it can happen. Screen capturing the player, on the other side may be used only as last resort, where any other option available fails.

I export footage for our PD.  We have a municipal VMS and any export/archive is always native format 1st.  If an attorney wants to view it in a easy to read format, we can make a copy from the native format. 

I also have to visit a lot of businesses and pull footage from their NVRs because the owners don't know how.  A lot of the off brand, low end systems are plain terrible. 

I agree with Martino 100%, companies give very little attention to the export.

Seems like there is a lot of time and effort put into the cameras, live viewing and storage but disregard for the end result...exporting and handling the evidence.  It goes much deeper than getting it to play on another machine.

The whole process needs to be taken into account, from camera to courtroom.

What's your view on digital watermarking?

At the VMS, at the camera, or unnecessary?

 We watermark at the VMS.

Is it required by the Court to prove evidentiary chain of possession?

 Considering this is basically a 50/50 tie between native and other formats begs the question: if 50% of video evidence submitted is not native, does this mean that 50% of the cases are thrown out for chain of custody issues? I'm thinking not, or else it would be a know issue.

Tony, in general what we have seen is that video is accepted in whatever format it is given in, even cell phone hand held recordings.

The risk, from what we have seen, is whether the defense decides to challenge (and has the resources to do so). Generally, they do not but if they do, risks rise as the informality of the evidence handling increases. I think this is why some people are very adamant about chain of custody and watermarking, especially if they work with larger systems where more serious crimes occur.

We always teach customers to export in the native VMS format as with Avigilon you can export from the AVE again if you need a AVI or JPEG.  

That being said we have met with many different law enforcement agencies locally and they are more concerned about sharing the video and it being able to play in a courtroom then having the video watermarked to prove no one tampered with the video.  

Login to read this IPVM report.

Related Reports

Dynamic vs Static IP Addresses Tutorial on Apr 16, 2020
While many cameras default to DHCP out of the box, that does not mean you...
Video Analytics 101 on Mar 16, 2020
This guide teaches the fundamentals of video surveillance...
The US Fight Over Facial Recognition Explained on Jul 08, 2020
The controversy around facial recognition has grown significantly in 2020,...
Surveillance Storage 101 on Mar 23, 2020
This guide teaches the fundamentals of video surveillance...
Uniview Deep Learning Camera Tested on Jul 14, 2020
Uniview's intrusion analytics have performed poorly in our shootouts. Now,...
Fever Camera Sales From Integrators Surveyed on Jun 01, 2020
Fever cameras are the hottest trend in video surveillance currently but how...
Use Access Control Logs To Constrain Coronavirus on Apr 09, 2020
Access control users have included capabilities that are not commonly used...
Don't Deceive. Lessons From Scott Schafer on Mar 20, 2020
Deception is bad. We can learn some important lessons from Scott Schafer, a...
Faked Convergint Fever Camera 'Expert' Marketing on Jun 16, 2020
Convergint touts they are "THERMAL CAMERA SOLUTION EXPERTS" while faking...
VMS 101 on Mar 03, 2020
This guide teaches the fundamentals about video management...
Facial Recognition: Weak Sales, Anti Regulation, No Favorite, Says Security Integrators on Jul 07, 2020
While facial recognition has gained greater prominence, a new IPVM study of...
Faked Coronavirus Fever Detection, Athena Used Hikvision; Responds - Selling NDAA Compliant Cameras, Pledging 50% Of Profits to Victims on Mar 24, 2020
US company, Athena Security, faked its coronavirus fever detection marketing,...
NetApp Presents Hybrid Cloud Video Archive on May 11, 2020
NetApp presented its hybrid S3 cloud video archive at the April 2020 IPVM New...
VSaaS 101 on Mar 25, 2020
Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS) is the common industry term for cloud...
Verkada Falsely Claims "First Native Cloud-based Access Control and Video Security Solution" on Jun 18, 2020
Verkada's false claims continue, this time to be the first native cloud-based...

Recent Reports

Genetec CEO Declares "We Don't Negotiate Payment With Patent Trolls" on Aug 11, 2020
Are patent trolls like terrorists? Genetec's CEO is coming out strongly...
Hanwha AI Analytics Camera Tested on Aug 11, 2020
Hanwha has released their Wisenet P AI camera, adding person and vehicle...
Alabama Schools Million Dollar Hikvision Fever Camera Deal on Aug 11, 2020
The Baldwin County, Alabama public schools purchased a $1 million, 144-camera...
Dahua Taunts Australian Government, Continues To Sell Illegal Fever Cameras on Aug 10, 2020
Dahua is effectively taunting the Australian government by continuing to sell...
HID Releases VertX Replacement Aero on Aug 10, 2020
HID is replacing two established and broadly supported types of access...
NDAA Compliant Video Surveillance Whitelist on Aug 10, 2020
This report aggregates video surveillance products that manufacturers have...
Telpo China Temperature Tablets Tested on Aug 10, 2020
The provider for overseas companies ranging from Canon Singapore to US'...
Dangerous Hikvision Fever Camera Showcased by Chilean City on Aug 07, 2020
Deploying a fever camera outdoors, in the rain, with no black body, is...
"Grand Slam" For Pelco's PE Firm, A Risk For Motorola on Aug 07, 2020
The word "Pelco" and "grand slam" have not been said together for many years....
FLIR Stock Falls, Admits 'Decelerating' Demand For Temperature Screening on Aug 07, 2020
Is the boom going to bust for temperature screening? FLIR disappointed...
VSaaS Will Hurt Integrators on Aug 06, 2020
VSaaS will hurt integrators, there is no question about that. How much...
Dogs For Coronavirus Screening Examined on Aug 06, 2020
While thermal temperature screening is the surveillance industry's most...
ADT Slides Back, Disappointing Results, Poor Commercial Performance on Aug 06, 2020
While ADT had an incredible start to the week, driven by the Google...
AHJ / Authority Having Jurisdiction Tutorial on Aug 06, 2020
One of the most powerful yet often underappreciated characters in all...
SIA Coaches Sellers on NDAA 889B Blacklist Workarounds on Aug 05, 2020
Last month SIA demanded that NDAA 899B "must be delayed". Now that they have...