Vivotek's SVC Camera Support Examined

By: John Honovich, Published on Jun 12, 2011

Vivotek has announced upcoming support for SVC (Scalable Video Codec) for its Supreme line of IP Cameras. SVC is important because it has the potential to be the next 'big' CODEC, after H.264 AVC, adopted by video surveillance solutions. In this note, we examine Vivotek's plan for supports, potential issues and benefits of migrating to SVC.

What is SVC?

SVC is an extension to H.264, providing new features to H.264 compression. The key new features are the ability to dynamically 'scale' or change the resolution, frame rate or quality of the video. By contrast, in 'regular' or 'traditional' H.264, an individual video stream can only be set and viewed at a single resolution, frame rate and quality level (e.g., 1.3MP, 30fps). With SVC, the video management system can change the settings of the stream on the fly (e.g., scale down the 1.3MP, 30fps stream to only send or store 480p, 5fps).

What are Vivotek's Plans?

According to Vivotek, SVC support will be available as a firmware upgrade for their new Supreme line of IP cameras (running on recent TI chipsets) but not their legacy series. SVC H.264 support will be provided up to 1080p /  30fps. Firmware upgrades are planned to start in Summer 2011. Additionally, Vivotek says SVC support will be added to their own VMS software and believes 3rd party VMS providers will add support as well (but did not cite any definitive plans for others).

As a side note, Vivotek claimed that their SVC camera support is the 'first'. However, there is so debate about that as GE Security lists support for SVC in an SD IP camera line from 2010. However, given GE Security's integration into UTC, we have not seen any practical impact of those cameras. Regardless, anyone releasing SVC H.264 IP cameras in 2011 is at the leading edge of video surveillance releases.

What is the Upside of SVC?

If you are familiar with JPEG2000 and Avigilon's HDSM, H.264 SVC will likely provide similar benefits. Indeed both JPEG2000 and H.264 SVC are scalable video codecs. The big difference is that JPEG2000 is based on JPEG compression while H.264 SVC is based on the much more efficient compression of H.264. 

There are two main uses of a scalable video codec:

  • Streaming to clients: With SVC, you can dynamically change the size of the stream depending on the remote connection and viewing display of a client. This can improve client responsiveness and more efficiently use bandwidth. For instance, instead of trying to send 9 MP streams to display in a 3 x 3 matrix, the server can dynamically scale down the video to 9 CIF streams (reducing bandwidth consumption and CPU/GPU consumption on the client PC).
  • Storage management: With SVC, it is is fairly easy to periodically reduce the resolution or frame rate of video. This provides a simple yet powerful way to reduce long term storage utilization. You can do this with 'regular' H.264 but this is generally much more limited as pruning is limited to I frames (see a Genetec discussion on such limits).

The main alternative to achieving these benefits with 'regular' H.264 is to use multiple streams at different quality / frame rate settings. With this approach, the VMS can choose between the streams for the right 'size' given the application or time frame. The downside of this is that this generally needs to be manually set up, is time consuming and is generally not done.

What Limitations for SVC H.264 Exist?

There are a number of limitations and issues that will block SVC adoption:

  • The biggest one is that it needs to be supported by both the camera and VMS. Just like when systems migrated to H.264, it takes investment and motivation for both sides of the system to add support in. Currently, VMS support for SVC is basically non-existent.
  • Most cameras will not allow for firmware upgrades as SVC encoding is considerably intense than regular H.264 encoding. As such, this will require a move to a next generation of cameras (like the move from MPEG-4 to H.264 a few years ago).

Finally, while we expect to see more vendors use TI chips to add in SVC support, we think wide spread VMS support for SVC will be slow unless and until a player like Axis with major marketing and VMS clout makes a significant push around SVC. That said, we do believe SVC is the most likely next big codec but it could take a few years to see wide spread use.

Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on VMS

Axis ~$150 Outdoor Camera Tested on May 21, 2019
Axis has released the latest in their Companion camera line, the outdoor Companion Dome Mini LE, a 1080p integrated IR model aiming to compete with...
Panasonic 32MP Multi Imager Camera Tested (WV-X8570N) on May 16, 2019
Panasonic has released their first multi imager models including the 32MP (4x4K) WV-X8570N, claiming "Extreme image quality for evidence capturing...
Bank Security Manager Interview on May 15, 2019
Bank security contends with many significant threats - from fraudsters to robbers and more. In this interview, IPVM spoke with bank security...
Milestone XProtect 2019 R1 Tested on May 15, 2019
For the past few years, Milestone has released quarterly software updates XProtect VMS platform. What is new and how much impact do the updates...
Bluecherry Open Sources Entire VMS on May 13, 2019
Bluecherry announced they have "released the entire Bluecherry software application open source with a GPL license". We spoke to Bluecherry's...
Mining Company Security Manager Interview on May 10, 2019
First Quantum Minerals Limited (FQML) is a global enterprise with offices on 4 continents and operations in 7 countries with exploratory operations...
Aegis AI Gun Detection Video Analytics Startup on May 07, 2019
Gun detection analytic startups are increasing as the promise of AI and the threats of active shooters grow.  One company, Aegis AI, is being led...
Restaurant Security Manager Interview on May 06, 2019
Wright’s Gourmet House in Tampa, Florida has been around for over 50 years. During most of that time, there were no security measures in place. Now...
Ranking Manufacturer Favorability 2019 on May 06, 2019
24 manufacturer's favorability was ranked based on 170+ integrators feedback. Voting plus in-depth comments revealed insights on which brands were...
Verkada Cloud VMS/Cameras Tested on May 02, 2019
Verkada is arguably the most ambitious video surveillance startup in many years. The company is developing their own cameras, their own VMS, their...

Most Recent Industry Reports

NJ Law Requires Apprenticeship For Public Works Integrators on May 24, 2019
Few integrators do a formal apprenticeship program. However, now a NJ law is requiring any integrator on public works projects (such as state...
Security / Privacy Journalist Sam Pfeifle Interview on May 24, 2019
Sam Pfeifle is best known as the outspoken former Editor of Security Systems News. After that, he was publications director at the International...
Verkada Video Quality Problems Tested on May 23, 2019
Verkada suffers from numerous video quality problems, not found in commercial IP cameras, new IPVM testing of Verkada vs Axis and Hikvision...
Average Frame Rate Video Surveillance 2019 on May 23, 2019
What is the average frame rated used in video surveillance systems? In IPVM's 2011 statistics, the average was 6-8fps increasing to ~10fps in...
Access Control Job Walk Guide on May 22, 2019
Significant money can be saved and problems avoided with an access control job walk if you know what to look for and what to ask. By inviting...
ASCMA / Monitronics Declares Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Plan on May 22, 2019
Monitronics is entering into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company, also called Ascent Capital Group Inc., aka ASCMA, aka Brinks Home Security,...
US Considers Sanctions Against Hikvision and Dahua on May 22, 2019
The US government is considering blacklisting "up to 5" PRC surveillance firms, including Hikvision and Dahua, Bloomberg reported, with human...
Dahua USA Celebrates 5 Years of Errors on May 21, 2019
Dahua USA is, in their own words, 'celebrating' 5 years in North America or as trade magazine SSN declared: Dahua Technology finds success in...
Axis ~$150 Outdoor Camera Tested on May 21, 2019
Axis has released the latest in their Companion camera line, the outdoor Companion Dome Mini LE, a 1080p integrated IR model aiming to compete with...
Covert Facial Recognition Using Axis and Amazon By NYTimes on May 20, 2019
What if you took a 33MP Axis camera covering one of the busiest parks in the US and ran Amazon Facial Recognition against it? That is what the...

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