IP Video 101 Training

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jun 05, 2012

This free, online course allows you to learn the basics of IP video in under 2 hours by watching a series of 6 videos and take a 14 question quiz.

It is for security technicians and security managers that want to use IP cameras but want to improve their skills with IP networks.

The videos go through each of the practical steps and key challenges you might face trying to get an IP camera online.

Want more? We have ongoing IP camera certification courses.

PART 1 - BASICS

Getting started with IP cameras can be daunting for those without experience in computer networks. Fortunately, it is not that hard. In this part, we train networking novices on how get started using IP cameras, featuring a 9 minute video screencast and a series of screenshots showing the key elements.

Here is the full video walking you through the entire process:

Now we will review key areas covered inside the video.

Discovering IP Cameras

Discovering the IP address of your IP camera is the first step. To do so, use the IP camera manufacturer's discovery / finder tool. Examples include ACTi Utility Suite, Axis Camera Management, Arecont AV100, IQFinder, Pelco Device Utility, etc. You can also try using tools built into VMS systems but the manufacturer's own tool is likely to work the best.

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Pinging IP Cameras

Once you discover the IP address of the camera (e.g. 192.168.2.144), you can then try to ping it from your PC. Pinging tests whether one computer (e.g., your PC) can reach another computer (e.g., your IP camera).

Below is an example of where pinging fails. This often happens when you first try to connect:

Being on the Same Network

The IP camera and the PC need to be on the same network. Typically, this means that the first 3 segments (called octets) need to be the same.

  • Good: IP Camera address is 192.168.2.4 and PC address is 192.168.2.10 - The first three are the same (192.168.2) so they should be on the same network
  • Bad: IP camera address is 192.168.2.4 and PC address is 192.168.1.10 - The first three are NOT the same so they are likely not on the same network.

Exceptions do exist in advanced configurations but this rule of thumb (first three being the same) will work in most situations.

Checking Network Configuration

Often the IP address of the camera and your PC are different. To find out your PC's IP address, you use a command called, ipconfig, showed below:

Changing IP Addresses

To connect to an IP camera and do initial setup you might need to change your IP address to be on the same network as the camera. Here's the Windows interface to do so:

Verifying Connections

Once the IP camera and your PC are on the same network, you can ping again to verify that you can reach the IP camera. Here's what it looks like when pinging is successful:

Once you can ping the IP camera, you can then connect to it via a web interface (using the camera's IP address) or add it into a VMS.

PART 2 - Setting Up Your PC

Over and over, The most common and fundamental problem techs have getting started with IP cameras is setting up their PC.

Here's a recent example shared by a manufacturer:

"We just went through a series of IP training courses with a major distributor (we met with 100 dealers in our trainings) and 90% of dealers had no idea how to change their laptops from DHCP to fixed IP to be able to connect an IP camera."

The video below teaches new techs how to successfully handle this, setting up their PC and connecting to an IP camera:

PART 3 - IP Camera Setup

Once you have your PC setup and connect to an IP camera, you need to set it up so that the camera can integrate with a VMS or NVR. In this part, we show you how to do it and what issues to avoid.

The most fundamental step in setting up IP cameras is assigning an IP address to the camera. In the video below, we explain:

  • Choosing between dynamic and static IP addresses
  • How to get the right IP address
  • When and why to use DNS information

Watch the 6 minute video to see this in action:

The next step is to verify that the correct firmware / software is loaded on both the IP camera and VMS side. This is very easy to overlook and is one of the most common problems in using IP video surveillance. While it is not particularly hard to resolve, often users are just not aware of these element.

Watch the 4 minute video below for an explanation on the importance and impact of firmware:

PART 4 - Bandwidth Basics

Finally, understanding bandwidth is critical to using IP cameras. In this new part, we show how to measure bandwidth and how significantly bandwidth can change in different scenes and with different settings:

For more on bandwidth, we have extensive advanced training and test reports, including:

One of the most painful and common problems in dealing with bandwidth is misunderstanding the difference between bits and bytes. The video below explains the differences and how it impacts using IP cameras:

QUIZ YOURSELF NOW

How much do you know about IP Video 101?

What's Next

By now, you should have enough knowledge to try connecting to your own IP camera. If you do not have one, you can buy one online for less than $100. Just make sure you buy an IP/network camera and NOT a USB camera. While USB cameras are fine for personal use, they do not scale well in surveillance systems.

With your own camera, try connecting to it, changing the camera's IP address, connecting it to a VMS system, etc. Go ahead and measure the bandwidth of the camera, try changing some video settings on the camera (frame rate, resolution, CODEC) and see what happens.

Once you get these fundamentals down, it should get easier and easier to expand your knowledge.

If you have questions or hit problems, let us know in the comments and we will provide advice and feedback to help you overcome them.

Want More?

Want more? We have ongoing IP camera certification courses.

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