SVC - A Better H.264 Coming For Video Surveillance

By: IPVM, Published on Oct 01, 2008

SVC will solve a key problem of H.264: While H.264 generates a fixed quality and sized video stream, video surveillance users can benefit greatly from the dynamic re-sizing that SVC allows. The two main benefits of this are improved remote viewing and more efficient storage utilitzation.

This report provides an overview of the key elements and benefits. For greater depth, read a more in-depth and technical tutorial on SVC.

Using H.264 provides benefits but this may not be enough to meet video surveillance user's needs. H.264 is sufficient for small numbers of cameras to attempt to share the bandwidth of a corporate network, but it is not good enough to reach out over DSL to remote locations.  With megapixel cameras becoming increasingly common, even the bandwidth consumption of corporate networks is becoming an issue.

The compression efficiency of H.264 requires significant processing power in both the compression and decompression engines.  This raises the cost of encoding subsystems in cameras and DVRs, and makes decoding the stream on portable devices in the field prohibitively expensive.  To make the streams more accessible, the surveillance community has attempted to leverage the techniques of the past and either simulcasts or trans-rates multiple frame rate and resolution versions of the same stream.  Each version is targeted towards the specific compute and bandwidth characteristics of a particular client or application.  In doing so, the costs of encode and decode are incurred multiple times.  With the increasing diversity of video enabled portable devices in the field and the desire to view the exploding number of available feeds from remote locations, this problem is set to get geometrically worse.  Enter the Scalable Video Codec (SVC) extension to the H.264 standard.

SVC replaces the “all or nothing” approach to video compression (shard by MPEG4 and conventional H.264) with a layered, scalable approach.  In an SVC encoder, a low frame rate and low resolution version of the source video stream is first processed.  This forms a baseline layer of encoded video.  A second layer of information is then encoded from a higher frame rate or higher resolution version of the video stream using this baseline layer to guide the encode process.  A third layer of increased resolution or frame rate is then encoded using the second layer as a starting point.  This process continues on each successive layer.  This technique of using previously encoded information to guide subsequent encodes reduces the overhead that would otherwise be incurred in a multi-encode system.  At the end of the encode process, all layers are assembled into a single stream and transmitted.

The advantage of this approach is that a client device can decode the received stream, starting with the baseline layer, and then decode incremental information from subsequent layers until the desired frame rate and resolution is achieved.  A device having a lower resolution display or less compute power available for decode might elect to terminate the decode process after the first few layers.  A higher powered or high definition client device might decode all of the layers as they arrive, thus obtaining the video at full resolution and frame rate.  In this way, a single stream can be used to service any client device simply by allowing the client to decide how much to decode.  This characteristic of SVC streams will facilitate the adoption of high definition cameras whose streams would otherwise need to be re-encoded for legacy devices.

Another advantage to this approach is that a multi-layered stream can simply be truncated to yield a decodable stream with lower resolution and frame rate.  This can be done within the network itself, with the stream being truncated as it passes from a high bandwidth link to a lower bandwidth link.  In this way, the stream is sized to match network bandwidth and yield video with reduced resolution or frame rate without having to decode the stream.  This is a major improvement over the alternative, which requires a server in the network to decode the stream, scale the decoded video, and then re-encode the video as it is forwarded. 

This same decimation process might occur after the video is captured and stored.  Parsing a stored file to remove some of the higher order layers would quickly and easily recover disk space in a DVR, while having the effect of reducing the video’s resolution or frame rate.  Using the scalability of an SVC encoded stream, a surveillance operator could gracefully degrade video over time to manage storage consumption.  In this way, video could be archived for longer using less storage than would be consumed by a conventionally encoded stream.

SVC is set to revolutionize the way video is moved, consumed, and stored.  The flexibility afforded by the scalable stream will allow video to be accessed by a more diverse and increased number of consuming devices over myriad network bandwidths and technologies.  Operators will be able to cost effectively size encoded video and manage it over time with greater flexibility than ever before.

5 reports cite this report:

New Surveillance Products Spring 2011 Final on Apr 06, 2011
In this report, we provide a single source listing new video surveillance products announced in Spring 2011 and in conjunction with ISC West.For...
Investments & Acquisitions Directory 2011 on Dec 26, 2010
This directory provides a single source of information on funding and acquisitions in the video surveillance market. It is part of our Video...
Stretch's Hybrid HD DVR Reference Design Examined on Nov 18, 2009
Chipmaker Stretch has announced a reference design for a hybrid High Definition DVR system. For background on Stretch see our examination of...
How Much Storage is Needed for Video Surveillance? on Aug 15, 2009
How much storage is needed for video surveillance is an important question for planning new system deployments and for determining total...
IP Camera 2009 Mid Year Review on Jul 26, 2009
Megapixel was the most dominant trend in IP cameras over the first half of 2009. So dominant was megapixel, that not only did most manufacturers...

Related Reports

Directory of 68 Video Surveillance Startups on Sep 18, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
Genetec Stratocast VSaaS Tested on Sep 05, 2019
The VSaaS market is rapidly expanding in 2019, with Verkada, Meraki, Eagle Eye, Avigilon and numerous startups growing their market share. When we...
Register Now - October 2019 IP Networking Course on Aug 28, 2019
Register now for the Fall 2019 IP Networking Course. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance...
UK Facewatch GDPR Compliance Questioned on Aug 27, 2019
Even as the GDPR strictly regulates biometrics, a UK company called Facewatch is selling anti-shoplifter facial recognition systems to hundreds of...
Dahua 4K Camera Shootout on Aug 20, 2019
Dahua's new Pro Series 4K N85CL5Z claims to "deliver superior images in all lighting and environmental conditions", but how does this compare to...
Proactive CCTV "Only Affordable Video Archiving Solution" Profile on Aug 12, 2019
Proactive CCTV is claiming to offer "the only affordable video archiving solution on the market", reducing the storage typically required for H.265...
Razberi Technologies Company Profile on Aug 06, 2019
Razberi says they have doubled their revenue in the first half of 2019, citing their proprietary camera hardening and cybersecurity capabilities...
Avigilon Blue VSaaS Tested on Aug 05, 2019
Avigilon says Blue is a "powerful integrator cloud service platform", easy to set up and configure, quickly scale business, by leveraging cloud...
Hikvision 4K Camera Shootout on Aug 02, 2019
With their latest Smart Series 5 cameras, Hikvision is claiming cameras "fully loaded" with "state-of-the-art technology for high performance and...
Avigilon ACC7 VMS Tested on Jul 22, 2019
Avigilon's Control Center 7 boldly claims it will "transform live video monitoring" with the new Focus of Attention "AI-enabled" interface. We...

Most Recent Industry Reports

ONVIF Suspends Huawei on Sep 20, 2019
Huawei has been 'suspended', and effectively expelled, from ONVIF so long as US sanctions remain on the mega Chinese manufacturer. Inside this...
Open Access Controller Guide (Axis, HID, Isonas, Mercury) on Sep 19, 2019
In the access control market, there are many software platforms, but only a few companies that make non-proprietary door controllers. Recently,...
Axis Perimeter Defender Improves, Yet Worse Than Dahua and Wyze on Sep 19, 2019
While Axis Perimeter Defender analytics improved from our 2018 testing, the market has improved much faster, with much less expensive offerings...
Directory of 68 Video Surveillance Startups on Sep 18, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
Uniview Prime Series 4K Camera Tested on Sep 18, 2019
Is the new Uniview 'Prime' better than the more expensive existing Uniview 'Pro'? In August, IPVM tested Uniview 4K 'Pro' but members advocated...
US Army Base To Buy Banned Honeywell Surveillance on Sep 17, 2019
The U.S. Army's Fort Gordon, home to their Cyber Center of Excellence, has issued a solicitation to purchase Honeywell products that are US...
Vivotek "Neural Network-Powered Detection Engine" Analytics Tested on Sep 17, 2019
Vivotek has released "a neural network-powered detection engine", named Smart Motion Detection, claiming that "swaying vegetation, vehicles passing...
Schmode is Back, Aims To Turn Boulder AI Into Giant on Sep 16, 2019
One of the most influential and controversial executives in the past decade is back. Bryan Schmode ascended and drove the hypergrowth of Avigilon...
Manufacturers Unhappy With Weak ASIS GSX 2019 And 2020 Shift on Sep 16, 2019
Manufacturers were generally unhappy with ASIS GSX, both for weak 2019 booth traffic and a scheduling shift for the 2020 show, according to a new...