SVC - A Better H.264 Coming For Video Surveillance

Author: 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.

Bob Beachler is the VP of Marketing at Stretch.

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

VLANs for Video Surveillance on Sep 26, 2016
Many people confidently say to 'use VLANs' as an answer to IP video networking problems and as a way to signal expertise. But how should VLANs be...
You Get Robbed, Canary Will Pay You Up To $1,000 on Sep 22, 2016
Canary is trying to break the status quo in DIY security, first by raising over $40 million, and now a revamp of their monthly services package...
History of Video Surveillance on Sep 22, 2016
This is a concise history of video surveillance covering the past decade.  The goal is to help professionals newer to the industry understand...
How to Measure Video Quality / Compression Levels on Sep 16, 2016
Two cameras have the same resolution, frame rate and scene monitored but camera A consumes half the bandwidth than camera B. Is Camera A better?...
Camera Course September 2016 on Sep 15, 2016
This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based on in-depth product and technology testing. Lots of manufacturer training exists...
Milestone Kills Go, Slashes Express Pricing, Launches Enhanced Version Free on Sep 12, 2016
Milestone is shaking up the industry again with enhanced free software and a major price drop. 6 years ago, Milestone launched their first free...
Milestone VMS Adds H.265, SVQR, RAM Video Optimization on Sep 09, 2016
Milestone is rolling out enhancements to XProtect to support H.265, enhanced edge recording functionality, and potentially allow users to reduce...
Hikvision 4K Camera Tested on Sep 09, 2016
Hikvision is the most common choice for low price entry level products but they are also competing with low light models, smart CODECs, WDR...
Pelco Optera 270° Camera Tested on Sep 06, 2016
Multi-imager cameras are typically 180° or 360°. Pelco has released a fixed 270° versions of their Optera intended to cover exterior building...
ONVIF Profile G Video Storage Test on Aug 26, 2016
A standard to retrieve video stored on 3rd party devices. This is the aim of ONVIF Profile G. The proprietary nature of accessing recorded video...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Axis Secretly Paid Anixter Sales People To Push Axis NVRs on Sep 26, 2016
Internal Axis communication shows how Axis paid Anixter and Tri-Ed sales people with secret bonuses to push Axis NVRs. In this report, we examine...
VLANs for Video Surveillance on Sep 26, 2016
Many people confidently say to 'use VLANs' as an answer to IP video networking problems and as a way to signal expertise. But how should VLANs be...
Ambarella CEO Admits H.265 and 4K Not Popular on Sep 26, 2016
Ambarella is the main chip provider for high-end surveillance cameras driving higher resolution and new CODECs. While Ambarella has been pushing...
Nest Cam Outdoor Tested on Sep 23, 2016
After years of claiming an outdoor model was "coming", addressing their biggest user demand, Nest has finally released their Outdoor Camera, an...
ACTi Refuses Race To The Bottom, Shifts To Solutions on Sep 23, 2016
The original low cost IP camera disruptor was ACTi. Back in the 2008 - 2010 time frame, Taiwanese manufacturer ACTi challenged the Western and...
You Get Robbed, Canary Will Pay You Up To $1,000 on Sep 22, 2016
Canary is trying to break the status quo in DIY security, first by raising over $40 million, and now a revamp of their monthly services package...
Milestone Ends Development of "Enterprise" VMS on Sep 22, 2016
Milestone 'Enterprise' was one of the first enterprise video management software offerings, selected by many early adopters of IP video. However,...
History of Video Surveillance on Sep 22, 2016
This is a concise history of video surveillance covering the past decade.  The goal is to help professionals newer to the industry understand...
Access Control Course Fall 2016 on Sep 22, 2016
IPVM offers the most comprehensive access control course in the industry. Unlike manufacturer training that focuses only on a small part of the...
Totally Wireless IP Camera (IPVideo Corp NomadHD) on Sep 21, 2016
Wireless battery powered cameras have been a surveillance pipe dream for years, limited by camera power consumption, battery technology, and...

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