Smart Codec Guide

By: IPVM Team, Published on Feb 01, 2018

"Smart Codec" was once seemingly a marketing buzzword, but in 2020, nearly all new camera models include this tehcnology.

These marketing names vary, including 'Zipstream', 'Smart Coding', 'H.264+', 'Smart Stream II', and others, and critically, these implementations and bandwidth savings vary dramatically.

In this Guide, we explain what smart codecs attempt to do and the most common implementations, covering:

  • Historic static compression, I-frame interval, and FPS techniques
  • Smart codec basic
  • Dynamic compression
  • Dynamic I-frame interval/GOP
  • Dynamic FPS
  • Static compression regions
  • Intelligent DNR
  • VMS/NVR compatibility
  • Manufacturer support
  • IPVM test recommendations
  • Bandwidth risks
  • Smart codec outlook

To understand this, you must have a good understanding of codecs, compression and bandwidth variations. Please first review our:

'Normal' codecs, like 'regular' H.264, set one compression level, one I frame interval, and one frame rate. 'Smart' codecs change one, two, or all of those, reviewed inside.

"***** *****" *** **** seemingly * ********* ********, but ** ****, ****** all *** ****** ****** include **** **********.

***** ********* ***** ****, including '*********', '***** ******', 'H.264+', '***** ****** **', and ******, *** **********, these *************** *** ********* savings **** ************.

** **** *****, ** explain **** ***** ****** attempt ** ** *** the **** ****** ***************, covering:

  • ******** ****** ***********, *-***** interval, *** *** **********
  • ***** ***** *****
  • ******* ***********
  • ******* *-***** ********/***
  • ******* ***
  • ****** *********** *******
  • *********** ***
  • ***/*** *************
  • ************ *******
  • **** **** ***************
  • ********* *****
  • ***** ***** *******

** ********** ****, *** must **** * **** understanding ** ******, *********** and ********* **********. ****** first ****** ***:

'******' ******, **** '*******' H.264, *** *** *********** level, *** * ***** interval, *** *** ***** rate. '*****' ****** ****** one, ***, ** *** of *****, ******** ******.

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

"Normal" ***** ******

** ****** ******, ***** key ********** *** ********* set ** ***** ******:

  • *********** ***** (********* ****** quality ** ************)
  • * ***** ******** (********* called *** ** ***)
  • ***** **** (***)

**** ** *** *** not ***** ** *****, they ***** **** ************* making ***** *** ********* on *** ******** (*.*., see** ****** ************ *********** Comparison).

Fixed *********** *******

'******' ****** *** * single *********** ***** *** the ****** *****, ********** of **** ** ***** displayed. *** *******, ** we **** ** * scene ** * *******, both *** ****** ******* as **** ** *** static *****, *****, ****, and ***** ********** ***** will ** ********** ** the **** ***** ** each *****:

Fixed *-***** ******** *******

*** **** *********** ********** between *****'* ****** (*.***/*.***) and ******* ****** **** MJPEG ** **** **** do *** **** *** 'same' ***** **** *** over *****. *******, * single **** ***** ** sent (****** ** '*-*****'), followed ** **** ***** updates ** *** ***** of *** ***** ***** have *******, ****** '*-******.' In ******** ******, *** I-frame ******** ** *****. This ***** **** *** camera **** ****** ******** an * ***** ************, most ******** * ******. In **** ********, ** the ****** ** ** FPS, ** **** **** 1 *-***** ******** ** 29 *-****** *** **** repeat.

*** ******** ** * fixed *-***** ******** ** that *** ******** ** the ***** *** ****. Sometimes * ******* *** be ***** *** ** hour. ****** *** '*****' time, ******* ** * frame **** *** ****** is ********. ******** **** I ****** ******* *** more ********* **** * frames, ***** ** *** order ** *** ****.

*** **** *** ***** of ****** **** *******, I ***** ******** ****** be ********* ** ****** artifacts *** ***** ****** (see****: *.*** * ** P ***** ******).

Smart ***** **********:

****** ******* ******, ***** codecs *********** ****** ***** parameters, ***** * *********** of ***** **********:

  • ******* ***********:******* *********** ** ******* areas ** *** ***** instead ** *** ****** frame.
  • ******* *-***** ********:******* *-***** ******** ********* on ****** ** *** scene.
  • ******* *********:******* *** ********* ** motion ** *** *****.

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

Dynamic ***********

*** ***** ********* **** is ******* ***********, ***** adjusts ************ ***** *** different ***** ** *** scene ***** ** ********. For *******, ******* ** setting *********** ** '******' for *** ***** *****, as ***** ** *** hallway ***** *****, *** camera ******* *********** ** the ****** ******* ** low (****** *******), ** maximize ******* *******, *** increases *********** ** ****** background *****.

** ********* *********** ****** for ***** ** *** scene, ** ** ******** to **** ****** ******* bandwidth ******** *** ********* quality ** ***** ***** matter ** **** ************* assigning *********** ****** ** relevant ***** ** *** scene.

Dynamic *-***** ********

******, ***** ****** *** adjust *-***** ******** ***** on ******** ** ******** in * *****. ** long ** *** ***** has ****** ** ******, the ****** *** **** an *-***** ************ (*.*., every * ** ** or ** *******), *** as **** ** *********** activity ** ********, ** I-frame ** *********, **** the ******** **** ***** as **** ** ******** continues.

*** ***** ***** ***** analysis ** * ******** H.264 ****** ****** *** using ******* *-***** ******** (GOP). ***** *** ******** codec ******* ***** ** an ******** ** **, the ******* *** ******, increasing ** **** ** when ***** ** ** motion ** *** *****. Note **** **** ******* shown ***** **** ** FPS.

***** ******* *-***** ******** will *** ******* *******, quality ****** ****** *********** the ****, ***** ************* reducing *********. ** *** tests, ******* *** ** the ******* ****** ** bandwidth ******* ** ***** codecs.

Dynamic ***

****** **** *****/**** **** included ******* ***, ****** '****** ***** *********' *** ******* *****, its ************ ** ** cameras ** **** ******. Like *-***** ********, ******* FPS ******* ******* ** simply ******* ***** ****** when ***** ** ** activity ** *** *****.

***** **** *** *********** reduce ******* (********* ***** 10 **/* *** ******** in *** *****), ***** should ****** ** ******** frame **** ** **** moving ******* *** ** missed ** **** *****, such ** ******** ** highway *****, ******* ******** in ***** *****, ***. Additionally, ** **** ***** regulations *** ******** **** frame **** *********.

Not-So-Smart: ****** *********** *******

**** ******* ***** ***** to *** ***** ***** as ********** *** **********. This *** ****** ******* in **** ***** *** introduces ********** ***** ******** to ***** ******:

  • ************* **** ***********:** ******* *** *** carefully *** ***** ** actual *** ** *** area ***** ********, ****** objects *** **** **** higher *********** "**********" *****, potentially ****** ****** *******.
  • ******** ******** ** ********** change:** *** ***** *******, users **** ******** ****** their ****** ******* ** properly ******* *** ** the *****. ** ********** is ******** **** ***** smart ******.

Related ***** **********: ***** *********

****** ****** **** ******* with ******* *****, ****** in *** ***** ******. This ***** '*****' ****** the ****** *** ********* tricks ******** **** ******** it ** **** ********. Because *** ****** ******** it ** ********, ** takes **** ********* (***** a *** **** *********). See**** / *** *** Video ************ *****

************ ******* *** ****** intelligence ** *********** ******* real ******** (* ****** walking, * *** *******, etc.) *** ******* ***** which *** ****** ********* significantly. *** ****, *** our****** *** (******* ***** Reduction) *****.

Works **** ******** *****/****

******* ***** ****** **** within *** ******** ********* of *.***/*.***, ********** ******* is ********* *** ******** by ***** *** ****, in ******** ** **** specialized ****** ***** ***** to ****** ********* (**** as******* ************** ********' *******) *** ******* ****** integration.

**** ***** *** ********** issues **** ***** ******** or ******* *** *******, but **** *** ********** have ******** ******* ***** smart ******' ************ *** removed ***** ******.

Manufacturer ****** *******

******* *********, **** ******* a ****** ****** *** dynamic *********** ******, **** not **** ** ******* that ** ****** *** smart *-***** ********* ** dynamic ***. **** ******* only ******* *** ** the ***** (**** ******** dynamic ***********), ***** ****** support *** *****.

*** ***** ***** ******* which ************* ******* ***** smart ***** ********:

Manufacturer *********** ******

**** *** ****** * number ** ***** *************** including:

**** *****, ** **** found * *** *** points:

  • ***** * ***** ******** had *** ******* ******, with **%+ ******* ******, simply ******* **** ************ scenes *** ****** *** long **** *******, ******** great ******* **** **** I ******.
  • ******* ***** *********** *** the **** ******* ******, though ** **** ***** bandwidth *******.
  • ***** ***** *********** *** the ***** ******, ***** at **** **-**% *******, because ** ****** ** what ***** ** ******.

Bandwidth ***** ** **** ****** ******

****** ***** ****** *** greatly ****** ********** *******, ***** ****** ****** **** calculating ********* ***** ** high ****** ****** *** see ****** ** ** savings **** ***** ******** codecs. *** *******, ** a **** ****** ******* scene, ******** ** ****, Panasonic, *** ********* ******* were **** ***** **** with ***** ****** ******** during ******* ** **** motion, *.*., ***** *******:

*******, ** *******, ********** for **** ***** ******* and **** ******* ******* across ******* *******, ******* were ***** ** **% on *** *******.

******* ***** ****** *** have ****** ****** ** high ****** *******, ********* needs **** ** ********** for ***** **** ********,*** *******, ******** ***** ***** savings. ******* ** ** so ***** ************ *** drop ******** ** ***** links ** ******** *******.

Smart ***** *******

** ****, ****** *** major ************* ******* ***** codecs ** ** ***** some ** ***** *******, with **** ************ **** in *** ******** ** their ****. ***** ******* them, ** ***** ***** techniques ** ****** ********* (such ** ********* *** or ******** ***** *****) will ** ** * significant ************ ****** *******.

******* ** **** **** availability, ********** ***** *** surged. ** *** *******, integrators ********* **** **%+ of *** ******* *** smart ******:

*** *** *********** ***** ***** ********** 2019*** *******.

Comments (19)

What’s the impact of new smart CODECs on existing surveillance systems? Is the enhanced compression transparent to existing VMSs?

We have not seen any issues integrating with VMSes to date. The changes are primarily on the encoding / camera side with decoding remaining the same for the VMS.

Panasonic is now announcing 'smart coding technology'. Here is how they describe it:

"Smart Coding Technology that modifies the encoding compression algorithm in standard H.264 video streams, yielding up to 70 percent improvement in bandwidth reduction to reduce bandwidth has been released.
Available as a free firmware upgrade to all new Panasonic 3, 5 and 6 Series Models, the technology offers significant decreased overall bandwidth usage to effectively lessen the amount of storage needed for recorded images.
Smart Coding technology encoding deploys Group of Picture (GOP) Control; Frequency Divided Filter (FDF); and 3-D Multi-Process Noise Reduction (3D-MNR) to achieve a lower bit rate for recorded images without degrading the captured and transmitted video stream. Combined, these features can effectively provide a substantial bit rate reduction (the number of bits per second that can be transmitted along a digital network) in the recorded video."

We expect to see more and more manufacturers to do similar as the bandwidth benefits are obvious and significant.

Undiclosed Manufactuter brings up an interesting point here about switching between streams with a high GOP ratio:

To decode the current frame, the Client UI would have to decode the previous I-frame and all the subsequent p/b frames, and if the gap between I-frames is 5 to 8 seconds, this could be between 50 to 200 frames depending on the frame rate. I doubt the VMS would send these previous frames to reduce the delay, and will just expect the client to wait. Keep in mind that traditionally, I-frames are every second or two so the wait is not normally that long. Again, smart codecs can cause the delay to be much longer in some cases - it is the price you pay for increased storage...

When using a VMS to switch between streams have you noticed any unusually long delays? If UM is right, one might be waiting 20 seconds before seeing a live picture, which might be considered unacceptable by many.

Some Cameras & VMS allow for I-Frame insertion request to be sent to demand an I-Frame immediately. This can mitigate waiting 200+ frames for the next regularly scheduled I-Frame.

Is this an out-of-band request that operates on an existing RTSP stream, or is this made when creating a new socket?

We had a site where we installed a brand new Q6000 + Q60 PTZ and decided to try Dynamic GOP on the VMS. We leaned the hard way that VMD does not work when your I-frame interval is too high, we had an incident and no video because there where not enough frames to compare for VMD to kick off recording.

 

Dynamic GOP is great for continuous recording but be very careful on motion based recording.

That's a terrible side effect! What VMS were you using? Server side or camera side VMD?

its one of the Top 5 VMS's, Cam side VMD.

If its Cam side VMD then it's not the VMSes fault, right?

It's hard to say. Because the cam is doing the detection but the VMS is getting the metadata to tell it to records. It still needs to get enough frames to compare. 

 

The more it's discussed the more questions arise on the technicalities. 

I am trying bench test a similar cam but have. It had a chance to do so. 

Its hard to say. Because the cam is doing the detection but the VMS is getting the metadata to tell it to records. It still needs to get enough frames to compare.

so maybe the I-frame associated with the P-frames that have motion in them has already been discarded by the VMS when the meta-data comes in?  What was the pre-record amount set to?

Maybe you can set that to a large enough value to cover the GOP length.

We believe that is precisely what happened. GOP  length was get to ~300.

I think pre/Post was set to 15 Seconds

Good write-up.

A great write-up.

Good to know about the CODEC guide.

The Surveillance Codec Guide link mentioned above in this page doesn't work.

Sorry, but the page you were trying to view does not exist.

It looks like this was the result of either:

  • a mistyped address
  • an out-of-date link

Thanks for the heads up Juan.  The link to the Surveillance Codec Guide is now working.

I highly enjoyed the Smart Codec Guide material presented here.

Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Related Reports

Video Surveillance Cameras 101 on Feb 25, 2020
Cameras come in many shapes, sizes and specifications. This 101 examines the basics of cameras and features used in 2020. In this report, we...
Glossary / Acronyms for Video Surveillance on Feb 10, 2020
This directory provides definitions and explanations for over 70 common video surveillance industry terms, including links to related IPVM...
Bandwidth Fundamentals For Video Surveillance on Jan 13, 2020
Bandwidth is the most fundamental element of computer networking for video surveillance systems. Because video surveillance can consume an immense...
IPVM Opens 12,000 Sqft Testing Facility on Dec 16, 2019
IPVM is proud to announce the opening of the world's first video surveillance testing facility that will allow us to significantly expand our...
Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) Guide on Oct 01, 2019
Understanding wide dynamic range (WDR) is critical to capturing high quality images in demanding conditions. However, with no real standards, any...
False Verkada 'Unrivaled' Low Light Performance Claim Removed on Jun 12, 2019
Verkada falsely claimed that it delivered 'UNRIVALED LOW LIGHT PERFORMANCE' until IPVM questioned. In fact, Verkada's low light performance is...
Smart CODEC Usage Statistics 2019 on Jun 03, 2019
Smart codecs are now nearly a standard feature in IP cameras, but our statistics show integrator adoption has not increased at the same rate. In...
Verkada Video Quality Problems Tested on May 23, 2019
Verkada suffers from numerous video quality problems, not found in commercial IP cameras, new IPVM testing of Verkada vs Axis and Hikvision...
Average Frame Rate Video Surveillance 2019 on May 23, 2019
What is the average frame rated used in video surveillance systems? In IPVM's 2011 statistics, the average was 6-8fps increasing to ~10fps in...
H.265 Usage Statistics on Apr 19, 2019
H.265 has been available in IP cameras for more than 5 years and, in the past few years, the number of manufacturers supporting this codec has...

Most Recent Industry Reports

USA's Feevr Thermal Temperature System Examined on Mar 31, 2020
This US company has burst on to the scene, brashly naming itself 'feevr' and branding itself as a "COVID 19 - AI BASED NON CONTACT THERMAL...
JCI Coronavirus Cuts on Mar 31, 2020
JCI has made coronavirus cuts, the company told employees in an email that IPVM has reviewed. Inside this note, we examine the cuts made, the...
Add Door Operators To Fight Coronavirus on Mar 31, 2020
IPVM recommends that integrators advocate and end-users consider adding door operators to fight the spread of coronavirus. This delivers...
Video Surveillance Business 101 on Mar 30, 2020
This report explains the fundamental elements of the video surveillance business for those new to the industry. This is part of our Video...
FDA Gives Guidance on 'Coronavirus' Thermal Fever Detection Systems on Mar 30, 2020
The US FDA has given IPVM guidance on the use of thermal fever detection systems being marketed for coronavirus, as an explosion of such devices...
Worsen: Integrators Hit Even Harder By Coronavirus on Mar 30, 2020
Integrator's problems have worsened over the past 2 weeks, according to new IPVM survey results. Inside this report, we share statistics and...
Pivot3 Mass Layoffs on Mar 27, 2020
Pivot3 has conducted mass layoffs, the culmination of grand hopes, a quarter of a billion dollars in VC funding, and multiple failures to gain...
Athena CEO Criticizes 'Deplorable' 'Nitpicking', IPVM Refutes on Mar 27, 2020
UPDATE: NBC News Report Cites IPVM On Coronavirus 'Fever Detection' Cameras Athena Security's CEO Lisa Falzone has strongly objected to IPVM's...
Hikvision Admits Sanctions Harming Its Financial Performance on Mar 27, 2020
While Hikvision initially downplayed being sanctioned for human rights abuses, the company is now admitting a significant impact in a new PRC...