Training: Frame Rates for IP Cameras

Author: John Honovich, Published on Apr 18, 2010

This is the industry's most in depth guide to frame rates in video surveillance.

As a precursor, you need to know the speed of objects, most typically people.

Speed of People

The faster a person moves, the more likely you are to miss an action. You know the 'speed' of frame rate - 1 frame per second, 10 frames per second, 30, etc., but how many frames do you need for reliable capture? 

Here's how fast people move. 

For a person walking, a leisurely, ordinary pace is ~4 feet per second, covering this 20 foot wide FoV in ~5 seconds:

For a person running, our subject goes through the 20' FOV in ~1.25 seconds, meaning he covers ~16' in one second:

For example, if you only have 1 frame per second, a person can easily move 4 to 16 feet in that time frame. We need to keep this in mind when evaluating frame rate selection.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

In this guide, we cover:

  • What speed do people move at and how does that compare to frame rates.
  • Walking: What risks do you have capturing a person walking at 1, 10 and 30fps.
  • Running: What do you have capturing a person running at 1, 10 and 30fps.
  • Head Turning: How many more clear head shots do you get of a person at 1, 10 and 30fps.
  • Playing Cards: What do you miss capturing card dealing at 1, 10 and 30fps.
  • Shutter speed vs Frame Rate: How are these two related?
  • Bandwidth vs Frame Rate: How much does bandwidth rise with increases in frame rate?
  • Average Frame Rates used: What is the industry average?

Walking Examples

As our subject walks through the FOV, we view how far he moves from one frame to the next. In 30 and 10 fps streams, he does not complete a full stride. However, in the 1fps example, he has progressed ~4' between frames, which falls in line with our measured walking speed of ~4' a second.

Running Examples

With our subject sprinting through the FOV, the 30 fps stream still catches him mid stride, while in the 10 fps stream, he has traveled ~1' between frames. In the 1 fps example, only one frame of the subject is captured, with him clearing the rest of the FOV between frames, with only his back foot visible in the second frame.

Capturing Faces

Trying to get a clear face shot can be difficult when people move because they naturally shift their head frequently. In this demonstration, we had the subject shake their head back and forth walking down a hallway to show the difference frame rate plays.

Take a look:

Notice, at 1fps, only a single clear head shot is captured, but at 10fps, you get many more. Finally, at 30fps, you may get one or two more, but it is not much of an improvement.

Playing Cards

In this test, our subject dealt a series of playing cards from ace to five with the camera set to default shutter speed (1/30). 

In the 30 and 10 fps examples, we can see each card as it is removed from the top of the deck and placed on the table. However, in the 1 fps example, we see only the cards appearing on the table, not the motions of the dealer, as frame rate is too low.

Shutter Speed vs Frame Rate

Frame rate does not cause blurring. This is a misconception. The camera's automatic shutter speed control does.

Dealing cards ace through 5 again, we raised the camera's minimum shutter speed to 1/4000 of a second. The image below compares the motion blur in the dealers hand and card, with the 2 card much more easily legible in the fast shutter speed example.

1/4000s shutter speed completely eliminated all traces of motion blur. 1/1000 and 1/2000 of a second shutter speeds significantly reduces blur, but it was still noticeable around the dealers fingers and edges of the cards when looking at the recordings frame-by-frame.

If you have blurring, you have shutter speed configuration problem, not a frame rate one.

Slow Shutter and Frame Rate

On the other side, sometimes users want or camera manufacturers default their maximum shutter to a rate slower than the frame rate (e.g., a 1/4s shutter for a 1/30s camera). Not only does this cause blurring of moving objects, you lose frames.

Key lesson: The frame rate per second can never be higher than the number of exposures per second. If you have a 1/4s shutter, the shutter / exposure only open and closes 4 times per second (i.e., 1/4s + 1/4s + 14/s + 1/4s = 1s). Since this only happens 4 times, you can only have 4 frames in that second.

Some manufacturers fake frames with slow shutter, simply copying the same frame over and over again. For example, if you have 1/15s shutter, you can only have 15 exposures and, therefore, 15 frames. To make it seem like you have 30 frames, each frame can be sent twice in a row.

Be careful with slow shutter. Beyond blur, you can either lose frames or waste storage.

Bandwidth vs Frame Rate

Frame rate impacts bandwidth, but for modern codecs, like H.264, it is less than linear. So if you increase frame rate by 10x, the increase in bandwidth is likely to be far less, often only 3 to 5 times more bandwidth. This is something we see mistaken regularly in the industry.

The reason for this is inter-frame compression, that reduces bandwidth needs for parts of scenes that remain the same across frames (for more on inter and intra frame compression, see our CODEC tutorial).

Illustrating this point further, we took 30, 10 and 1 fps measurements to demonstrate the change in bit rate in a controlled setting in our conference room. The average bitrates were as follows:

  • 1 fps was 0.179 Mb/s
  • 10 fps, with 10x more frames, consumed 4x more bandwidth than 1 fps (0.693 Mb/s)
  • 30 fps, with 3x more frames, consumed double the bandwidth of 10fps and, with 30x the frames, 7x the bandwidth of 1fps (1.299 Mb/s)

These measurements were done with 1 I frame per second, the most common setting in professional video surveillance (for more on this, see: Test: H.264 I vs P Frame Impact).

For more on this, see our reports testing bandwidth vs frame rate and 30 vs 60 fps.

Average Frame Rates Used

Average industry frame rate is ~8-10fps, reflecting that this level provides enough frames to capture most actions granularly while minimizing storage costs.

As show above, going from 10fps to 30fps can double storage costs but only marginally improve details captured.

From our Average Frame Rate Used for Recording survey results, see this table:

For more commentary on why integrators choose the frame rates hey do, see the Average Frame Rate Used for Recording report.

Methodology

For this test we used an Axis Q1604 (firmware version 5.50.3) with three streams (30/10/1) recorded by ExacqVision 6.2.7.63216.

 

To see for yourself, download the 6 video samples.

Related Reports

Camera Course Summer 2017 on May 25, 2017
Learn video surveillance and get certified. IPVM provides live online classes, recorded videos, personal help, cutting edge education and...
Selling and Valuing Security Integrators on May 12, 2017
This ia a tutorial in how to (1) determine your security integrator's value and (2) to sell your security integrator. If you own an integrator,...
Blink XT Outdoor Totally Wireless Camera Tested on May 11, 2017
Running wires for cameras outdoors is one of the biggest challenges, especially for consumer or DIY installs. Now, Blink has released an outdoor...
48MP 180 Camera (Digital Watchdog) Test on May 10, 2017
Camera resolution continues to advance, with Digital Watchdog offering the MegaPIX PANO 48MP 180° camera, the highest resolution mainstream camera...
On-Board Storage Usage Statistics 2017 on May 03, 2017
SD card slots are now commonplace on IP cameras, but is on-board storage usage now common place? In 2014, integrators reported using edge...
Duress Codes For Alarms Systems on May 02, 2017
An alarm system can call for help in the event of an attempted break in, but only if it is armed. If an adversary forces an authorized user to...
Instant Cloud For Hikvision - Manything on Apr 28, 2017
One ISC West exhibitor had a very specific and clear pitch - cloud for Hikvision: In this note, we examine their offering, key differentiators,...
Avigilon Discontinuing Rialto Analytics Line on Apr 27, 2017
Avigilon is informing dealers/partners that the legacy VideoIQ Rialto products have been discontinued, recommending the newer ACC ES Analytics...
Last Day - IP Networking Course May 2017 on Apr 26, 2017
Today is the last day to register for the May IP Networking Course. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video...
Dell EMC Surveillance Division Profile on Apr 20, 2017
With revenue growth from traditional IT customers slowing, Dell has set a focus on the security industry as a market where the company can offer...

Most Recent Industry Reports

H.265 / HEVC Codec Tutorial 2017 on May 25, 2017
Since 2013, video surveillance professionals have talked about the potential for H.265. Now, in 2017, H.265 is starting to gain mainstream...
Camera Course Summer 2017 on May 25, 2017
Learn video surveillance and get certified. IPVM provides live online classes, recorded videos, personal help, cutting edge education and...
Most Respected Manufacturer Competitors on May 25, 2017
Manufacturers told IPVM what competitor they most respected. In terms of total revenue, Hikvision, Dahua and Axis are certainly tops but would...
CyPhy 'Unlimited' Flight Time Security Drone Examined on May 25, 2017
Drones face several issues as commercial security platforms - legal restrictions (e.g., in the US, the FAA), costs, and limited flight durations...
Milestone Entry Level Mobile Password Vulnerability Disclosed on May 24, 2017
While many manufacturers have only addressed cybersecurity vulnerabilities after public disclosures were made (or threatened), Milestone has...
How Integrators Use IPVM on May 24, 2017
150 integrators explained how they use IPVM and how it helps them stay informed and improve their business.  The 4 main uses integrators cited for...
Alarm Supervision Guide on May 24, 2017
Burglar alarms can constantly monitor the health of attached circuits, sensors, and devices to ensure that they remain operational. This is known...
Arlo Go Cellular Cloud Camera Tested on May 23, 2017
Totally wireless surveillance cameras are growing but almost all typically depend on a hub and local Internet access. However, many outdoor...
Avigilon New COO James Henderson Profile on May 23, 2017
It has been nearly 2 years since the infamous Bryan Schmode 'resigned' as Avigilon COO. Now, Avigilon once again has a COO, promoting James...
Hikvision Marketer Caught Spamming, Fails at Coverup, Fired on May 23, 2017
A Hikvision marketing employee was caught by IPCamTalk trying to surreptitiously disparage IPVM and IPCamTalk. This is an outgrowth of Hikvision's...

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