Testing Avigilon ACC 5 VMS

By Ethan Ace, Published on Sep 10, 2014

In this report, we provide in-depth videos covering Avigilon Control Center 5's operation and configuration with 30+ minutes of screencasts providing clear explanations of ACC features including:

  • Applications review for live viewing and configuration
  • Viewing cameras
  • Customizing layouts
  • Controlling PTZs and digital zoom
  • Manual recording and screenshots
  • Basic playback controls
  • Using timeline search
  • Using pixel based search
  • Discovering and adding cameras
  • Configuring resolution
  • Setting recording settings and schedule
  • Configuring dual streaming
  • Adding users and groups
  • Configuring motion detection

And more. This sample video reviews ACC's automatic camera discovery:



Additionally, we review Avigilon's pricing, licensing and dealer availability inside.

Related VMS Tests

Contrast to other recent IPVM tests of integrator favorite VMSes, including:

  • ExacqVision VMS Tested 
  • Genetec Security Center Tested
  • Milestone XProtect Enterpris Tested
  • Avigilon has three VMS versions: Core, Standard, and Enterprise. Core allows one server up to 24 cameras. Standard supports 48 cameras per server on up to 24 servers. And finally, Enterprise allows up to 128 cameras per server, 100 servers per "site" (simply a name for a logical group of servers), and unlimited cameras and servers in total.

    Control Center Core also removes features such as maps, saved views, and multi-camera export found in higher tiers. Finally, most access integrations, or to use Avigilon's high-megapixel Pro series cameras, Enterprise is required.

    Application Overview

    In this video we briefly review the applications including in Avigilon Control Center, including Client (used for live viewing, search, and most setup tasks) and Server Manager (used for storage and license configuration).

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    Live Viewing

    Adding Cameras to Views

    Similar to other VMSes, users simply double click the desired camera or drag and drop it into a viewing pane. Cameras may also be to different panes of the view by dragging and dropping.

    Removing Camera Views

    To remove a camera from a view, users click the X on the top right corner of the camera, or use backspace on the keyboard.

    Camera Layouts

    To change view style, users click the layout button on the top toolbar, which shows available options.

    Users may also edit layouts to create custom split views to best meet their viewing needs.

    Digital Zoom

    To digitally zoom, users simply begin scrolling with their mouse wheel. Zoom follows the cursor's position. Users may also use the zoom in/out buttons and pan controls to move the window once zoomed in.

    Live Cycling

    To cycle between a camera or cameras in a view, users first create multiple tabs with desired cameras, then click the "task cycling" button on the toolbar. Cycling interval may be changed in client setup and defaults to 5 seconds.

    Instant Replay

    Users may right click on any camera and select 30, 60, or 90 second instant replay. This affects only the selected camera, with others in the live view remaining live.

    Snapshot

    Hovering over any camera pane raises the context menu, with a snapshot button in the top right corner. ACC's snapshot function takes users to the export screen where they may edit contrast of the image using Avigilon's image enhancement before saving or printing it, an uncommon feature. However, this requires an extra step which users who simply want to save snapshots to a folder may find tedious. 

    Full Screen

    F11 is used to remove menus and run the application in full screen. However, moving the mouse drops the top toolbar down for access, and the Windows task bar is not hidden in this view.

    Playback & Search 

    Users switch to playback mode by clicking the "Recordings" button on the top toolbar. This places all cameras in the view in playback, with the timeline showing recorded video and events at the bottom.

    Playback controls are fairly typical, allowing users to play backwards and forwards and up to 8x speed, skip between events, or enter a specific time.

    Event Search

    This search mode is used to find either motion detection or camera digital input events for a specific camera or cameras. Selecting the desired cameras and search period, ACC lists all events which users may quickly click through to review motion.

    Pixel Search

    Pixel search allows users to search archived video for pixel changes in the field of view, either full screen or a specific region. These events are then listed, similar to event search, so users may quickly review where changes took place.

    Thumbnail Search

    Using thumbnails, users select a camera and search duration, which is then shown as a series of thumbnails with varying interval depending on the size. Users may double click any thumbnail to zoom the timeline in, regenerating thumbnails across the newly selected period.

    Export

    Avigilon allows for typical export options, including their propriety database format with authenticated video and standalone player, as well as AVI video or a series of screenshots. Note that ACC Core allows only one camera to be exported at a time, while Standard and Enterprise allow multiple camera synchronized export.

    Configuration

    Discovering and Adding Cameras

    Cameras may be automatically discovered by Avigilon Control Center on the local subnet. However, note that this discovery is most often via ONVIF, and users wishing to connect via Avigilon's set of direct drivers will have to manually select camera type and enter the IP address or range.

    To add cameras, users simply drag and drop a camera onto the desired server. In most cases, no other steps are necessary. In some cameras, reentering the username and password may be necessary.

    Adding Users

    Avigilon offers user options such as password expiration and login timeout which are not found in all VMSes. Additionally, users must be added to one or more groups or they will have no application access or rights to cameras. Rights may not be assigned on a per user basis.

    Group settings allow for granular access to specific client and setup functions, as well as specific cameras. Predefined groups exist to speed typical installations, with preset administrator or operator rights.

    CODEC Configuration

    Resolution and framerate may be set under each camera's configuration page. Not all settings may be changed in all cameras, with some only allowing these two settings, while others (most often Avigilon cameras and a few direct drivers) allow keyframe interval, dual streaming, etc. to be changed.

    Settings may be copied from one camera to others globally, but only to cameras with the same model number. Users may not copy settings from an Avigilon camera to a Hikvision model, for example.

    Motion Detection

    Like CODEC settings, motion detection support varies depending on the camera, with some allowing full control of motion zones and sensitivity (even via ONVIF), while others send motion events to the VMS, but must be configured in-camera.

    Retention Time

    Retention time is set to max by default, with cameras simply stored as long as the disk allows. Specific durations in days may be set via these options. Avigilon cameras have one additional option, allowing users to save disk space by retaining only the low resolution stream after a certain period, discarding the full resolution recording stream.

    Disk Configuration

    The sole function most users will use Avigilon Admin Tool for is configuring storage volumes. This application is available only locally on the server. Storage volumes fill the entire disk by default, but may be configured to use a smaller percentage of the disk.

    Camera Integration

    Avigilon lists support for some third party cameras via direct drivers, as well as ONVIF, though this list is limited compared to open platform VMSes such as Exacq, Genetec, or Milestone.

    The level of integration via either method varies with some functions such as motion detection, privacy masks, multi-streaming, and I/O available in some manufacturers, but not others. Users should confirm feature compatibility prior to installation if features other than simply streaming are required.

    Licensing Costs

    Avigilon requires only camera licenses, with no base server licenses. Licensing costs for a single camera for each version are as follows:

    • Core: $95 USD MSRP
    • Standard: $185 MSRP
    • Enterprise: $335 MSRP

    These prices reflect licenses purchased one at a time. Packages of up to 24 licenses are available at discounts per channel. For example, a 24-license pack for ACC Core MSRPs for $1,895, ~17% less than buying licenses individually ($95 x 24 = $2,280).

    Maintenance Costs

    Minor version updates and service packs are available at no cost to all users, with no need for support agreements. However, major version upgrade releases (4.x to 5.x) require an upgrade fee per server. In their move from ACC 4 to 5, these costs were:

    • Enterprise: $335 per server
    • Standard: $185 per server
    • Core: $95 per server

    Channel

    Avigilon is restricted to authorized dealers [link no longer available] only, with no sales through distribution (in North America) or online. Typically speaking, the dealer channel is not strictly geographically restricted, with numerous dealers in some areas, and dealers able to sell outside their typical service area without restriction.

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