Average Frame Rate Video Surveillance 2011

By John Honovich, Published Nov 03, 2011, 12:00am EDT

UPDATE: NEW VERSION - Average Frame Rate Video Surveillance 2016

People are used to watching TV at about 30 frames per second, often called 'full' frame rate. In the video surveillance world, full frame rate IP cameras are becoming more and more common. Indeed, today, most professional IP cameras are designed to stream up to 30 frames per second.

However, what frame rate is actually being used in the field today? In this note, we share the responses from over 80 integrators who deploy 1000s of systems around the world. This shows what really is chosen and why it is.

Let's start with a table that breaks down integrator responses:

What stands out right away is how low the average frame rate used for video surveillance recording is. Nearly 70% record at 10fps or less, a level that is about 70% less than 'full' frame rate.

To better understand why integrators choose what they did, we asked them to explain their choices.

Integrators using an average of less than 5fps cited:

  • "storage and network requirements"
  • "enhance the time stored on hard drives"
  • "cost of storage"
  • "Most clients want to record at higher frame rate until you tell them how much storage they will need. At that point, we tell them how much storage their budget will allow and then we back into the frame rate."
  • "Storage may be cheaper but not so cheap to justify more than 5FPS that often"

Not surprisingly, this group is motivated mostly by the cost of storage.

Let's compare to integrators using an average of 6 - 10 fps who represented the majority of respondents:

  • "Quality pics and small storage requirements -- a happy medium."
  • "I don't find any need to go higher than 10 FPS unless they have a LOT of additional storage that they don't require."
  • "A balance between storage and seeing all the event"
  • "This is all the operator needs to get a very good image"
  • "We keep it at 8fps to get fluid video on playback"
  • " 6 to 10 fps is fast enough to provide adequate detail in a fast action event (e.g. a running suspect, or an assault/battery type of incident) and this is even more true if the LIGHTING IS ADEQUATE AND PROPER. I'd rather have the customer spend money on good lighting and have medium frame rate video rather than a faster frame rate with crappy lighting."

The 6 - 10fps respondents are the 'balanced' group - use a high enough frame rate for an acceptablely smooth video display but save on storage costs.

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Now let's compare to the 11 - 19 fps respondents:

  • "Customer requirement"
  • "Detail and clear info required"
  • "Getting play video close to real time is a big key. Sometimes you might miss an event if you are doing anything less than 10 fps. (i.e. someone stealing a can of beans)"
  • "Less than 11 FPS might yield erratic motion, but more than 15 FPS consumes too much bandwidth/storage."
  • "Depending on the cameras location for more important areas or tight shots we run at 15fps. PTZs 15FPS. Large areas or less important areas 5FPS or less"

The 11 - 19 fps group is more demanding and often drive by customer requirements. Equally important, this group is strongly correlated with larger camera count deployments (we cross referenced this to average camera count deployed per integrator).

Finally, let's look at the smallest group - those choosing 20fps or greater on average:

  • "Casino and cash counting require"
  • "Unfortunately, although much less fps are enough to capture all required information, it doesn't look "sexy" for most of our customers. They want to be able to retrieve full motion video."
  • "Client defined"

The few votes and comments we received are consistent with niche demands of specific applications or customers.

Is Megapixel Impacting Frame Rates?

Integrators who use more SD cameras than MP use a modestly higher average frame rate than integrators overall. For instance, while 70% of all integrators use less than 10fps, only 50% of integrators using primarily SD cameras record an average of 10fps or less. Definitely, using MP cameras plays a role in limiting frame rate but it is partial role.  While the mid point for all integrators for frame rate selection looks to be about 7-8fps, even for those who use mostly SD, the midpoint is only modestly higher at 10fps.

Conclusion

6 - 10 fps is the average frame rate used for surveillance recording. It makes a lot of sense because it provides a fairly smooth playback while minimizing storage costs which are still a real factor for the overwhelming number of deployments.

To learn more and see examples of different frame rates in action, see our Frame Rate Training report and the 30 vs 60 FPS shootout.

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