Testing: Axis Corridor Format
HD cameras are well known for their wide aspect ratios. However, what if you turned the camera to display a 'tall' aspect ratio instead? What benefits or issues would this create? What, if any, applications might benefit?
In October 2010, Axis announced a feature called Corridor Format that rotates the image from 16:9 to 9:16 aspect ratio in all of its HD cameras. This feature enhancement is predicated on a +/- 90 degree image rotation capability, and yields an image that is taller than it is wide.
We tested the Corridor Format feature using an Axis HD camera and 2 VMS systems.
Inside the Pro section, we examine the Corridor Format feature setup process and installation steps/issues. Further, we compare and contrast the Corridor Format in different VMS systems and show how VMS layout is a key concern. Finally, we demonstrate appropriate and inappropriate use cases for the Corridor Format.
Though not 'gee-whiz' technology, we were pleasantly surprised about the potential for a 'tall' aspect ratio to improve surveillance quality in certain niche applications.
The key findings we found from out test include:
- Vertically oriented surveillance scenes such as hallways, staircases, and shopping aisles will benefit from better utilization of pixels capturing more meaningful video information.
- VMS support is highly recommended as non-supporting VMS systems may render the video too small in live viewing applications - this becomes a bigger problem in multi-camera view virtual matrices.
- Box form factor editions supporting Corridor Format will present aesthetic concerns and mounting hurdles as they will require unconventional methods to physically install - domes supporting Corridor Format may overcome such concerns
- Certain enclosures, such as a cylindrical housing, can potentially solve the 'awkward' mounting issues inherent in the box form factor
- Simply mounting a camera at a 90 degree angle without the software rotation produces an image that is distracting and confusing to users. Using a tall aspect ratio requires 90 degree software rotation.
From a business perspective, we think this will prove useful to Axis and Axis integrators as a differentiating specification. Since this feature is rare (or possibly unique), writing this into a specification could significantly limit competition.
A compatible VMS should be used with the feature to assure maximal usability benefits. Axis has provided guidance on the VMS manufacturers supporting the Corridor Format feature: "Genetec, Milestone Systems, On-Net Surveillance Systems and Exacq Technologies as well as in the next version of AXIS Camera Station, 3.40".
In vertically oriented applications more contextual breadth can be captured with the 9:16 aspect ratio. For example, in long flights of stairs ascending to great heights, in shopping aisles with higher than usual rack heights, and in hallways where greater foreground coverage is desired. Consider whether the application scenario can benefit from a taller versus wider 'shot'.
If the application under consideration is appropriate for a dome form factor, strongly consider using one supporting +/- 90 degree image rotation as it presents a more natural or conventional style of physical installation. Such domes allow the proper range of rotation of the camera about the relevant axis within the enclosure itself. For box form factors, certain housings, such as cylindrical enclosures, may represent another aesthetically 'friendly' option as well.
Setup and Configuration
One minor nuisance of implementing the Corridor Format feature is that the VMS (ExacqVision) did not provide a means to configure the feature. Setting Corridor Format up for Exacq's VMS required accessing the Axis camera's web interface. It then required disconnecting and reconnecting the camera to and from the Exacq VMS.
In this video, we walk-through the setup process inside the camera's web interface. Next, we'll demonstrate how the ExacqVision and LuxRiot VMS systems differ in the rendering of the 9:16 formatted video stream in their respective live viewing applications. Finally, we'll show what users would see if the software based image rotation were not available (or turned off in this case).
Applications for Corridor Format
Obviously Corridor Format is suited to a distinct minority of video surveillance applications, i.e., ones that require more vertical rather than horizontal coverage. In this screencast we provide 'real-life' video depicting both appropriate and inappropriate use of the 9:16 aspect ratio.