Motion Detection Performance Tested

Author: Benros Emata, Published on Sep 05, 2011

Motion detection is an important element of many, if not, most surveillance systems. It plays a central role in both storage search time reduction. Storage is routinely reduced by 30% - 80% by using motion based rather than continuous recording. Likewise, an investigator can often much faster find a relevant event by simply scanning through areas of motion rather than watching through all video.

At the same time there are a number of challenges associated with using motion detection:

  • Scene Conditions: The accuracy of motion detection and the amount of times motion is detected can vary depending on what's in the scene - people, cars, trees, leaves, etc. - and the time of day - night time with lots of noise, sunrise and sunset with direct sunlight into a camera, etc.
  • Performance of Detector: Motion detetion is built into many surveillance products - from DVRs to VMS systems and now IP cameras. As such, how well each one works can vary significantly.

Our Test

In this report, we share our results from a series of tests we performed to better understand motion detection performance.

We did a series of tests in different locations:

  • Indoor well light scene to simulate the simplest scene possible
  • Indoor dark scene (<1 lux) to examine what problems low light caused
  • Outdoor parking lot to see how a complex scene with trees, cars and people would perform
  • Roadway to see how a moderately complex scene with periodic cars would perform

Three IP cameras were used with their motion detection enabled to see differences in performance:

With these tests, we answered the following questions:

  • How can one estimate motion percentage accurately?
  • Does motion estimation vary significantly by scene?
  • How accurate was motion detection in each scene?
  • Did certain cameras exhibit greater false motion detection than others? What scenes or conditions drove those problems?

Key Findings and Recommendations

Here are the key findings:

  • In simple scenes (e.g. good lighting and narrow FoV), estimating percentage of motion is relatively straightforward and has a low margin for error.
  • In complex scenes (e.g. outdoor, wide FoV, difficult lighting, and vegetation) estimating perentage of motion is difficult and can vary greatly.
  • Variance in performance across cameras increases significantly as the complexity of the scene increases.
  • All three cameras performed ideally (no false positives/negatives) in the very simple daytime indoor test
  • In the parking lot test all three cameras tended to record on motion in near continous fashion, due to vegetation and lighting effects
  • The Arecont Vision camera had significant false positives in low-light/nighttime scenes likely due to noise/gain as well as when sun is setting into the camera's FoV. This resulted in near continuous recording.

In light of these findings the following is recommended:

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

  • Unless the scene is very simple, motion detection settings (e.g. masking, sensitivity, and object size) will likely need to be optimized in order to achieve worthwhile benefits
  • For low-light scenes, consider reducing maximum gain. Also, experiment with different camera makes/models as performance can vary considerably in low-light/nighttime scenarios
  • Be careful about estimating motion in complex scenes as one's estimates can be way off

Daytime Indoor (Artificial Motion)

In this scenario, motion detection is configured via the VMS interface on all cameras. The cameras are left to motion record for a period of ten minutes. A subject enters the scene to introduce motion at three evenly spaced intervals during the ten minute span. A snapshot from the motion recorded video and playback timeline is featured below. Note that on the timeline 'blue' represents motion recorded video and 'gray' indicates no video recording.

Observing the timeline reveals that all cameras reliably detected motion during each of the three subject entries into the scene. Also, just as importantly, no false positives were triggered during times when the subject was out of the scene. The findings are not surprising given the simplicity of the environment (narrow FoV, strong and consistent lighting, no vegetation, and large subject/object).

Nighttime Indoor (Artificial Motion)

In this scenario, motion detection is configured via the VMS interface on all cameras. The cameras are left to motion record for a period of ten minutes. A subject enters the scene to introduce motion at three evenly spaced intervals during the ten minute span. A snapshot from the motion recorded video and playback timeline is featured below. Note that on the timeline 'blue' represents motion recorded video and 'gray' indicates no video recording.

In this low-light environment, motion detection/record behavior now varies distinctly across the three cameras. The Arecont due to noise and lighting effects continually 'believes' motion is occuring and as such effectively records in continuous fashion (high false positive rate). In direct contrast the Panasonic never 'believes' there is motion present throughout the ten minute scenario and as a result has produced no recording at all (high false negative rate). The Axis performs the same as it had in the daytime indoor situation, sensing motion/non-motion appropriately.

Daytime Outdoor (Natural Motion)

In this scenario, motion detection is configured via the VMS interface on all cameras. The cameras are left to motion record for a period of 30 minutes. All motion is organic and representative of a real world surveillance scenario. A snapshot from the motion recorded video and playback timeline is featured below. Note that on the timeline 'blue' represents motion recorded video and 'gray' indicates no video recording.

The frequency of motion detection/recording as seen on the timeline is inordinately high for all three cameras (~80 - 90% motion). The more complex environment (e.g., trees, shadows and other lighting effects) causes quite a number of false positives across the board. Note that the Panasonic nearly continously recorded throughout the 30 minute test, and that the Axis was just slightly less hyper sensitive. The Arecont was the least sensitive among the three but still considerably over sensitive when considering just conventionally relevant or important motion (e.g. human and vehicle subjects).

24 Hour Roadway (Natural Motion)

The following is a sequence of four timeline snapshots of two cameras (AV1315DN and P1344) configured to motion record throughout a 24 hour period. The cameras view the same roadway scene with the same FoV/lens angle. Their comparison provides some insights into differences in motion detection/recording sensitivities across different camera makes/models. Note that the VMS is used to initialize the motion detection settings from the camera and are left at the VMS prescribed defaults.

Late Afternoon (3:30pm - 5:30pm)

During the ~2 hours of daylight depicted on the timeline the Arecont camera exhibits considerably greater sensitivity than the Axis camera despite near identical FoVs and default (VMS prescribed) motion settings. As a result, the Arecont produced considerable false positives, whereas the Axis is characterized by quite a number of false negatives.

Evening (6:00pm - 8:00pm)

The playback is queued up on an Axis false negative, as evidenced by the presence of a vehicle entering the FoV captured by the overly sensitive Arecont camera. Also note how the Arecont begins to nearly continuously record after sunset around 7:15pm (red arrow), while the Axis tends to maintain the same frequency of motion detection/recording.

The high false positive rate (near continuous record) exhibited by the Arecont after sunset is somewhat predictable given that the Arecont produced similar results in the Nighttime Indoor test.

Nighttime (8:00pm - 10:00pm)

Here we see the trend of the Arecont's hyper sensitivity and near continuous recording continue during the nighttime/low-light hours. The playback is queued up on an incident where both the Arecont and Axis detected motion.

Early Morning (5:00am - 7:00am)

In this timeline snapshot, the Arecont begins to revert back to a less sensitive detection behavior at sunrise (red line). However, it is still clearly over sensitive and still produces considerable false positives and a fairly heavy duty cycle of recording to non-recording (~1:1 or 50%). In contrast the Axis continues to motion record at roughly the same frequency as in previous time periods.

Other Natural Motion Scenarios

The following timeline snapshot depicts the motion detection/recording behavior of two scenes: (1) small parking lot, and (2) indoor office. Motion was organic/natural to get a sense of the expected recording percentages of some typical surveillance scenes.

Small Parking Lot & Indoor Living Room/Office Space (3:30pm - 5:30pm)

The parking lot motion detection/recording frequency as depicted on the timeline was generally reliable and performed as expected. Most incidents were of legitimate human and vehicle traffic. Note that the FoV is of only moderate width and is well constrained to the overall area of interest.

In the indoor office scene, the majority of the incidents were due to legitimate human activity/motion.

Methodology

Here are the three (3) cameras used in the 'Motion Based Recording' study:

  • Arecont AV1315DN (online $460) - 1.3MP D/N; 1/2.7" CMOS; MPL4-10; 0.1/0 (Color/BW)
  • Axis P1344 (online $759) - 720p D/N; 1/4" CMOS; F1.2 Computar ; 0.05 Lux (BW)
  • Panasonic WV-SP306 (online $550) - 1.3MP D/N; 1/3" MOS; WV-LZA62/2 lens; 0.3/0.05 lux (Color/BW)

Here are the firmware versions for each of the cameras:

  • Arecont AV1315DN - fw 65197
  • Axis P1344 - fw 5.22.2
  • Panasonic WV-SP306 - fw 1.30
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on VMS

Worst Access Control 2018 on Apr 18, 2018
Three access control providers stood out as providing the most problems for integrators. In this report, we analyze the answers to: "In the...
Axis VMD4 Analytics Tested on Apr 17, 2018
Axis is now on its 4th generation of video motion detection (VMD), which Axis calls "a free video analytics application." In this generation, Axis...
Best and Worst ISC West 2018 on Apr 16, 2018
ISC West 2018 had strong attendance, modest overall new products, and a surge in Artificial Intelligence marketing. First, here are 20+...
Eocortex / Macroscop VMS Company Profile on Apr 09, 2018
Eocortex is the international brand of Russian VMS manufacturer Macroscop. Macroscop was founded in 2008, and the Eocortex name created in 2013. We...
Hanwha Mega ISC West Product Releases on Apr 05, 2018
While overall new product releases have been slowing over the past few years, Hanwha is releasing a slew of 6 new offerings for ISC West,...
VMS New Developments Spring 2018 (Avigilon, Exacqvision, Genetec, Hikvision, Milestone, Network Optix) on Apr 04, 2018
What's new with VMS software? In this report, we examine new features and releases for Spring 2018 to track different areas of potential...
Hikvision LPR Camera Tested on Mar 26, 2018
Hikvision has expanded into the LPR market, claiming up to 99% capture rates, 95% recognition rates at speeds up to 75mph  / 120kmh. We bought and...
Network Racks For Surveillance Guide on Mar 21, 2018
In this guide, we look at network rack infrastructure, one of the fundamentals of IP video surveillance. Inside, we cover: What is a rack unit...
Network Addressing for Video Surveillance Guide on Mar 14, 2018
The goal of this guide is to explain addressing devices on IP networks, focusing on how IP cameras and recorders are used in those networks. For...
Panasonic Selling Off Security Camera Factory on Mar 14, 2018
Panasonic is OEMing cameras from Dahua, as IPVM testing confirmed in 2017. Now, Panasonic is selling their security camera factory, according to...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Worst Access Control 2018 on Apr 18, 2018
Three access control providers stood out as providing the most problems for integrators. In this report, we analyze the answers to: "In the...
April 2018 IP Networking Course on Apr 17, 2018
Only 2 days left to register for our IP Networking course. Register now. NEW - 2 sessions per class, 'day' and 'night' to give you double the...
Axis VMD4 Analytics Tested on Apr 17, 2018
Axis is now on its 4th generation of video motion detection (VMD), which Axis calls "a free video analytics application." In this generation, Axis...
Arecont CEO And President Resign on Apr 17, 2018
This is good news for Arecont. Arecont's problems have been well known for years (e.g., most recently Worst Camera Manufacturers 2018 and starting...
Strong ISC West 2018, Says Manufacturers, GSX / ASIS Expected Weaker on Apr 17, 2018
Manufacturers say ISC West 2018 was strong, continuing the trend we have seen in 2017 results and 2016 results. However, those same 100...
Key Control For Access Control Tutorial on Apr 16, 2018
End users spend thousands on advanced systems to keep themselves secure, but regularly neglect one of the lest expensive yet most important aspects...
Best and Worst ISC West 2018 on Apr 16, 2018
ISC West 2018 had strong attendance, modest overall new products, and a surge in Artificial Intelligence marketing. First, here are 20+...
Alarm.com Business Market Expansion on Apr 13, 2018
Alarm.com has millions of subscribers, but the company has traditionally been mostly a residential/home focused offering.  ADC's new Smart Business...
GDPR For Video Surveillance Guide on Apr 12, 2018
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on May 25, but there is much confusion and no clear guidelines on...
Axis Launches Mini Concealed IR PTZ on Apr 11, 2018
Axis has been a laggard in releasing IR PTZs. While the company released a laser focus PTZ (the Q6155-E tested) until now Axis has had no PTZs with...

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