Friday, November 20, 2009

Understanding Different Types of CCTV Cameras

Prologue: I find this as the most End-user-friendly Guide to Understanding the Different Types of CCTV Cameras available in the market. I don't own any of the below info. All credits to Aventura.

CCTV Camera Styles:

DOM Camera
Dome cameras typically are the best choice whenever possible
  • When the camera is within someone’s reach domes cannot be easily manipulated or vandalized
  • Domes Installs easy in drop ceilings – usually 2 screws
  • Since a dome has a covered lens the direction the camera is pointing is hidden
  • Domes can accommodate infra-red for Night Vision
NOTE: While dome cameras are the installation choice there are limitations. As the domes themselves are typically small you are limited in the size lens available. If you need to focus on long distances which requires a lens of 50mm focal length or greater it will not fit inside a standard dome camera. Dome cameras can be simple plastic ones or metal vandal-proof for public places.

Box Camera
  • When mounting to a wall or any vertical area
  • When viewing long distances where a long lens is required, which would not fit inside a dome or bullet camera
  • When extreme low light conditions are not a consideration
NOTE: If the box camera is within someone’s reach the camera is usually inserted in a protective enclosure. If the lighting is extremely low box cameras can be inserted inside enclosures that have built-in infra-red illuminators but the camera must be infra-red sensitive. Meaning it is able to utilize the infra-red illuminators from an external source.

Infra-red Camera
  • When there are extreme low light conditions
  • When the camera is not within someone’s reach
NOTE: The distances infra-red cameras can see are based upon its illumination capacity. Infra-red cameras have LED’s, which cast out into the darkness. Realistically, a good rule of thumb (but not an absolute) is figure 1 foot for each LED. Therefore, if a camera has 30 LED’s then it probably can see about 30 feet. There are some newer LED’s called Cat’s Eyes, which have more power, but they are not very common. You would notice a Cat’s Eye by the extra large size of the LED’s. With respect to infrared quality it has more to do with the intensity of the LED's and the distance they cover. One thing to note is that infrared LED's do have a limited life since they are illuminating so they do burn out over time. Just because one camera has more LED's than another does not mean it can cast a longer distance, there are different strengths in the LED's. Unfortunately, again for the consumer it is hard to properly compare.

Bullet Camera
  • When you want the camera to be inconspicuous but not covert
  • When the camera is not within someone’s reach
  • When extreme low light conditions are not a consideration
  • For shorter to middle distances
NOTE: As bullet cameras are small the type of internal boards and lens is limited. Accordingly, the picture quality of the bullet cameras cannot compare with other more traditional cameras, which can have double layer boards and camera function controls.

Covert Camera
  • Just as they say, these are meant not to be seen and come in all shapes and sizes from a wall clock to a sprinkler head or smoke detector

NOTE: It is important to check your local laws with respect to surreptitious recording. In some states certain types of covert cameras are illegal. For example, in New York State you are not allowed to install smoke detector cameras. With respect to recording audio, there are very specific laws, which vary from state to state. Some states require all parties consent to recording, while others only require a single individual.

Wireless Camera
  • When connection to the digital video recorder is not practical
NOTE: Remember though wireless is just for the video signal, you still need a method to power the camera. Wireless cameras can be found in most styles. For the most part wireless cameras require a line-of-sight to function properly. Distances will vary depending upon the strength of the transmitter and receiver, what other devices are in the same spectrum, etc. Realistically, you are looking at distances of 100’ or less on affordable wireless equipment. There are external wireless transmitters and receivers that can attach to any standard camera and make them wireless, but the costs are incredibly prohibitive.

Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) Camera
  • When you want live control of the camera and adjusting the manual pan, tilt or zoom on a fixed cameras is not practical
  • When you want to set up a camera to tour the premises
  • When you want to view several angles from a single camera
NOTE: Pan, Tilt, Zoom cameras cost anywhere from 5x – 10x the cost of a fixed camera. The Pan, Tilt, Zoom camera cannot record or see where it is not looking. You cannot pan, tilt or zoom after it has been recorded (this can only be done with a 360 degree camera). Making a PTZ camera wireless adds thousands to the cost. PTZ cameras can though perform various functions not possible with a fixed camera. You can control a PTZ camera and zoom in optically up to 36x and beyond digitally up to 12x giving zoom capabilities in the 100’s. The PTZ’s have intelligence and can be programmed to perform pre-defined tours and upon the event of an alarm the camera can swing to a specified location before continuing its tour. An operator can override and take control of the camera at any time.

CCTV Camera Categories:

Indoor vs Outdoor Cameras

Ostensibly, indoor and outdoor cameras are the same in terms of styles, sizes and shapes. The principle difference is outdoor cameras are at a minimum weather-proof.

While rain is a primary issue other considerations such as moisture, dust, sand, snow, frost and humidity need to be addressed. Accordingly, some cameras are equipped with heaters and blowers to counteract the elements, while others can be housed in outdoor enclosures for the specified purpose.

Outdoor cameras most likely have to address low light conditions for evenings. Accordingly, they either have to have infra-red or some day/night technology, which today are quite affordable.

Night Vision and Day/Night Cameras

For low light situations there are two possible camera technology solutions. If there is total darkness then the only possibility is infra-red or otherwise known as night-vision.

Infrared (IR) Radiation — electromagnetic radiation of a wavelength longer than that of visible light, but shorter than that of radio waves. The name means "below red" (from the Latin infra, "below"), red being the color of visible light of longest wavelength. The infrared portion of the spectrum has a number of technological uses, including target acquisition and tracking by the military; remote temperature sensing; short-ranged wireless communication; weather forecasting and for our purposes night-vision.

Infrared is used in night-vision cameras when there is insufficient visible light to see an object. The camera uses the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, sometimes referred to as thermal imaging. The radiation is detected and turned into an image, hotter objects showing up in different shades than cooler objects, enabling the camera to see warm targets, such as human beings and automobiles.

Day/Night — a sensitivity enhancement technology which improves light sensitivity of a camera by a factor of 2 for visible light and a factor of 4 for near-infrared wavelengths. It still cannot work in near zero light as will an infrared camera.

While both infrared and day/night technology sound expensive, both have become commercialized and are surprisingly affordable. The difference in camera pricing for one of these cameras versus a traditional camera is nominal.

The rule of thumb we like to use is if you walk the area where you intend for the camera to be and view it at its lowest possible lighting, if you can see with the naked eye, then the day/night camera should be fine. If you cannot see, then an infrared camera would be recommended.

CCTV cameras similar to your movie camera are rated in terms of “lux” for purposes of lighting. In addition to night vision and day/night cameras there are low light cameras, which are standard cameras with a low lux rating (0.1).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Video Compression Technology

We're familiar with the more common video compression technologies used for DVR Applications in the market today like MPEG-4 and H.264. We know that H.264 is a higher compression standard over MPEG-4; but do we know why and how is that so? We need not to go deeply into the compression rates comparisons and very technical stuffs. Here's a layman presentation of the Basic Image Compression Standards - what they offer and where they are more commonly used for.

Video Compression Technology

At its most basic level, compression is performed when an input video stream is analyzed and information that is indiscernible to the viewer is discarded. Each event is then assigned a code - commonly occurring events are assigned few bits and rare events will have codes more bits. These steps are commonly called signal analysis, quantization and variable length encoding respectively.

Compression Standards

MPEG stands for the Moving Picture Experts Group. MPEG is an ISO/IEC working group, established in 1988 to develop standards for digital audio and video formats. There are five MPEG standards being used or in development. Each compression standard was designed with a specific application and bit rate in mind, although MPEG compression scales well with increased bit rates. They include:

Designed for up to 1.5 Mbit/s
tandard for the compression of moving pictures and audio. This was based on CD-ROM video applications, and is a popular standard for video on the Internet, transmitted as .mpg files. In addition, level 3 of MPEG-1 is the most popular standard for digital compression of audio--known as MP3. MPEG-1 is the standard of compression for VideoCD, the most popular video distribution format throughout much of Asia.

Designed for between 1.5 and 15 Mbit/sec
tandard on which Digital Television set top boxes and DVD compression is based. It is based on MPEG-1, but designed for the compression and transmission of digital broadcast television. The most significant enhancement from MPEG-1 is its ability to efficiently compress interlaced video. MPEG-2 scales well to HDTV resolution and bit rates, obviating the need for an MPEG-3.

Standard for multimedia and Web compression. MPEG-4 is based on object-based compression, similar in nature to the Virtual Reality Modeling Language. Individual objects within a scene are tracked separately and compressed together to create an MPEG4 file. This results in very efficient compression that is very scalable, from low bit rates to very high. It also allows developers to control objects independently in a scene, and therefore introduce interactivity.

MPEG-7 - this standard, currently under development, is also called the Multimedia Content Description Interface. When released, the group hopes the standard will provide a framework for multimedia content that will include information on content manipulation, filtering and personalization, as well as the integrity and security of the content. Contrary to the previous MPEG standards, which described actual content, MPEG-7 will represent information about the content.

MPEG-21 - work on this standard, also called the Multimedia Framework, has just begun. MPEG-21 will attempt to describe the elements needed to build an infrastructure for the delivery and consumption of multimedia content, and how they will relate to each other.

JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. It is also an ISO/IEC working group, but works to build standards for continuous tone image coding. JPEG is a lossy compression technique used for full-color or gray-scale images, by exploiting the fact that the human eye will not notice small color changes.

JPEG 2000 is an initiative that will provide an image coding system using compression techniques based on the use of wavelet technology.

DV (Digital Video) is a high-resolution digital video format used with video cameras and camcorders. The standard uses DCT to compress the pixel data and is a form of lossy compression. The resulting video stream is transferred from the recording device via FireWire (IEEE 1394), a high-speed serial bus capable of transferring data up to 50 MB/sec.

H.261 is an ITU standard designed for two-way communication over ISDN lines (video conferencing) and supports data rates which are multiples of 64Kbit/s. The algorithm is based on DCT and can be implemented in hardware or software and uses intraframe and interframe compression. H.261 supports CIF and QCIF resolutions.

H.263 is based on H.261 with enhancements that improve video quality over modems. It supports CIF, QCIF, SQCIF, 4CIF and 16CIF resolutions.

H.264, also known as MPEG-4 AVC (Advanced Video Coding), is a video compression standard that offers significantly greater compression than its predecessors. The standard offers up to twice the compression of the current MPEG-4 ASP (Advanced Simple Profile), in addition to improvements in perceptual quality. The H.264 standard can provide DVD-quality video at under 1 Mbps, and is optional for full-motion video over wireless, satellite, and ADSL Internet connections.

DivX Compression

DivX is a software application that uses the MPEG-4 standard to compress digital video, so it can be downloaded over a DSL/cable modem connection in a relatively short time with no reduced visual quality. The latest version of the codec, DivX 4.0, is being developed jointly by DivXNetworks and the open source community. DivX works on Windows 98, ME, 2000, CE, Mac and Linux.



International Organization for Standardization - a non-governmental organization that works to promote the development of standardization to facilitate the international exchange of goods and services and spur worldwide intellectual, scientific, technological and economic activity.

International Electrotechnical Commission - international standards and assessment body for the fields of electrotechnology

Codec - A video codec is software that can compress a video source (encoding) as well as play compressed video (decompress).

CIF - Common Intermediate Format - a set of standard video formats used in video conferencing, defined by their resolution. The original CIF is also known as Full CIF (FCIF).

QCIF - Quarter CIF (resolution 176x144)
SQCIF - Sub quarter CIF (resolution 128x96)
4CIF - 4 x CIF (resolution 704x576)
16CIF - 16 x CIF (resolution 1408x1152


Monday, November 16, 2009

CCTV DVR Glossary of Terms

In choosing the CCTV system that is most suitable for a specific application, we will need to consider some important parameters to meet the standards and requirements of the project. We may encounter some terms like fps, resolution and compression which are common terms in the CCTV and Video Surveillance world. We may hear them often but we don't really understand them (esp. the End-users). It would be better to know how relevant they are to the CCTV system's functionality and operation so we can evaluate if a CCTV system falls short of our requirement or is too high-level for our desired application.

Let's try to understand some of these common terms:

Analog Video Signal - Video signal which contains the luminance (brightness) and chrominance (color information) of the image, which may be carried in separate or combined channels. This is the type of camera signal used by older cameras, often called analog cameras or CCTV cameras. These cameras transmit the signal via Co-ax Cables, which are not network-ready.

ASIC - (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) Integrated circuit is customized based on the user’s specific needs. Basically, the circuit has a specific use.

Bandwidth - The channel capacity for information transmission over an internet connection. If the information flow is too much for the bandwidth, the bandwidth is said to “choke.”

CIF - (Common Intermediate Format) Video size format measuring 360 x 240 pixels for NTSC and 360 x 288 pixels for PAL.

Compression - In surveillance, compression refers to the process in which the data used to present an image or a video is reduced.

D1 - A video size format measuring 720 x 480 for NTSC and 720 x 576.

Decode/Decoding - It is the process of transforming information or data from one format into another. In surveillance, it is the process in which the compressed video data is transformed to raw video data.

Digital Video Signal - Digital video signals are digital representations of discrete-time signals. In surveillance, it is the type of camera signal used by newer cameras. These cameras transmit the signal via Cat5 Cables, which are network-ready. Digital Video Signal is also known as IP Signal.

DVR - (Digital Video Recorder) A device that records videos onto a hard disk drive.

DVR Card - Also called DVR capture card. The DVR card, which allows a computer to receive television signals, record video, and/or playback video content is the center or heart of the DVR system.

Embedded DVR - Embedded DVRs are all-in-one, often times plug and play standalone DVRs. A PDA phone is an example of embedded technology. DVRs such as Standalone DVRs or embedded DVRs are manufactured for the sole purpose of being a DVR. These typically contain a single circuit board with DVR software implanted into the chip.

Encode/Encoding - It is the process of transforming information or data from one format into another. In surveillance, it is the process in which the raw video data is transformed to compressed video format.

FPS - (Frames Per Second). A measurement standard for the viewing and recording speeds of videos. Real-time viewing and recording speed is at 30 fps for NTSC and at 25 fps for PAL. When a video plays at these speed rates, it is as good as watching the action face to face, hence the term “real-time”.

Half D1 - A video size format measuring 720 x 240 pixels for NTSC and 720 x 288 for PAL.

Hardware Compression vs. Software Compression - Hardware compression happens on the level of the microchip (or chip). Because the compression is done “physically,” none of the CPU space is eaten up. In software compression, the data is compressed using the memory and the speed of the CPU, as the software resides in the CPU. Since the CPU receives a continuous flow of data to be compressed, there is a possibility for it to be overwhelmed and thus hang. Since hardware compression uses only the microchip and does not involve the CPU, the risk of the computer hanging is totally avoided.

Hardware MPEG4 Compression - A compression capability that combines hardware compression technology and the MPEG-4 compression standard.

Hybrid DVR - A DVR capable of accepting both analog and digital video signals.

Linux - A freely available open-source operating system. As compared to other operating systems sold commercially, Linux is royalty-free, highly customizable and more stable. CentOS is one of the more popular the Linux distributions.

MPEG4 Compression - MPEG 4 is a measurement standard for digital video and digital audio compression. In the DVR market today, MPEG 4 compression is considered to be one of the higher compression rates available. Other compression standards are MPEG 1, MPEG 2, and MJPEG.

Network - A series of computers or mobile devices that are connected to each other with the purpose of communicating and sharing information. A Local Area Network (LAN) is a type of network connection usually found among the computers in an office or an internet café. A Wide Area Network (WAN) on the other hand, is a network connection that spans over a broad geographical area. For data to travel via the network, it must be in digital format.

NTSC - (National Televisions Standards Committee) Standard video signal for the US and the Philippines.

PAL - (Phase Alternating Line) Standard video signal for Europe and some countries in Asia.

PC-Based DVR - A DVR using the hardware format of a regular PC.

QCIF - (Quarter Common Intermediate Format). A video size format measuring 180 x 120 pixels for NTSC and 180 x 144 pixels for PAL.

Resolution - A measurement standard for how clear (level of detail) the video is. The resolution is usually measured by the number of pixels shown on screen. The more pixels shown, the higher the resolution.

SDK - (Software Development Kit or Systems Disk Kit). A start up kit usually offered by DVR manufacturers to users who wish to build their own DVR system.

Video Server - A device that accepts analog signal and converts it to digital signal. This allows the video to be viewed remotely via a network connection.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The DVR Software GUI

The DVR Software GUI is one determining factor of the user-friendliness of a specific DVR Application. Less is better when it comes to this element. It's straining in the eyes and kind of confusing to look at a crowded or a not-so-very-well organized user-interface. Would you go for a complicated GUI with lots of buttons filling out the screen or a simplified version offering the same functions. A sound mind will surely go for the simplified version. However, simplifying the GUI is not enough. We need to take into account the organization of the buttons - they should be arranged throughout the screen in the most orderly way as possible.

Here are just some of the better DVR Software GUIs in my opinion.

Hawkeye Software GUI:

AverMedia Software GUI:

NUUO Software GUI:

Geovision Software GUI:

Still, it's all up to you. We all have different tastes and preferences. Choose wisely!

Friday, November 6, 2009

PCI Express (PCIe) DVR Cards

The PCIe bus is becoming the dominant interface on PC Motherboards nowadays. With this current advancement in the technology, the PC-based DVR industry was driven to adjust and adapt to the improving and fast-paced PC world. Thus, the entrance of PCIe DVR Cards into the CCTV scene.

Most of the DVR Cards available in the CCTV market today are still referenced to PCI. But how long will the PCI technology last? How long can we make use of our PCI DVR Cards? New motherboards are introduced in the market almost every month like crazy. Having said that, it won't be a big surprise if the PCI technology gets obsolete before we know it. This is where the industry is headed to and we have to face that fact. The PCI DVR Cards will soon be replaced by PCIe DVR Cards. And it's for the better. c",)

Why we moved to PCI Express?

PCI Express has several advantages, not only to the users but to manufacturers. It can be implemented as a unifying I/O structure for desktops, mobiles, servers and workstations, and it's cheaper than PCI or AGP to implement at the board level. This keeps costs low for the consumer. It is also designed to be compatible with existing Operating Systems and PCI device drivers.

PCI Express is a point-to-point connection, meaning it does not share bandwidth but communicates directly with devices via a switch that directs data flow. It also allows for hot swapping or hot plugging and consumes less power than PCI.

However the most promising feature is that it is scalable meaning greater bandwidth can be achieved through adding "lanes," ostensibly future-proofing into the next decade.

While we've spent plenty of time and energy improving the speed of processors, memory, and other parts of the PC, we've done virtually nothing with the main connection betweern many devices - the PCI. As such we are stuck with a technology in our PCs and Servers that still runs at the speeds and bandwidth we were comfortable with in the 90's. PCI as we know it is holding us back - it is a bottle neck - a limitation to the maximum performance of our systems.

We all want the most from our PC. To get the most out of our PC we must remove all bottlenecks (obstacles to performance). To that end we must turn to the next best alternative: PCI Express.

Increased bandwidth can be equated into increased system performance. We've long known that to get the most out of your processor you need to get as much information into it as possible, as quickly as possible. Chipset designers have consistently addressed this by increasing Front Side Bus speeds. The problem with this is that front side bus speed increases the speed of transfer between the memory and CPU but often you've got data that's coming from other sources that needs to get to the memory or CPU like drives, network traffic, video, etc. PCI Express addresses this problem head on by making it much faster and easier for data to get around the system.


Friday, October 30, 2009

BNC Video Input Ports: Built-In vs Pigtails

A DVR System may stand without audio recording but we cannot call a system a 'DVR' without video recording. Hence the name Digital VIDEO Recorder.

The BNC video input ports serve as gateways of video signals from the analog cameras to the DVR System - for later recording and management. As for the DVR Cards for PC-based Systems, they may come built-in on the DVR Card or separated by DB25 video cables as shown in the above image. The same thing goes for the Standalone Systems, the BNC ports may be built-in on the unit found at the back panel or separated by DB25 video pigtails.

There are various reasons why we have these 2 different BNC port standards. Some installers prefer the built-in type due to durability concerns. They find the video cables easy to wear and tear over the months which will apparently call for replacement and they consider it costly. Another issue is the labeling on the video cables. Video cables that are poorly labeled may cause confusion should the labels be erased over their use. They may re-label them but it will look unprofessional and it's unacceptable. So their last resort is again to replace the video cables.

Others, however, consider the pigtail-type more advantageous. For the DVR Cards, they believe that replacing the video cables is better and a lot easier than having to remove the entire DVR Card from the system to check the issue on the BNC ports. They will need to repair the hardware which will most probably leave unnecessary marks on the affected portion in the board. All the worse, the unit will be called for RMA. Now with the Standalone Systems, the ones that make use of video cables are obviuosly more compact. They are smaller in size since the supposed space for built-in BNC ports has been saved leaving a single DB25 port. Smaller size means lighter weight; and lighter weight means lower shipping cost per unit.

Now what do you think? Will you go for built-in or pigtails?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Analog PTZ Camera Connection Diagram

Connecting an Analog PTZ Camera to the DVR System maybe an easy job for professional CCTV Installers. But for starters, it will take them wild guessing and a lot of trial and errors to accomplish the supposed-to-be-simple task. It might sound weird but it's surprisingly true.

Below is a diagram showing the proper connection of an Analog PTZ Camera to the DVR System:

I hope this will help the starters out there. Asking is a step to Knowledge. Everyone started from nothing. This is something we should not be ashamed of. Be an inquirer!

Cheers people! :D

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The H.264 Standalone DVR: A New Level of Security

With its combined high performance, usability and affordability, the H.264 Standalone DVR is tailored specifically to meet the demands of your video surveillance. Utilizing the advanced H.264 compression technology, it ensures efficient data transmission and high-quality video at a much lower bit rate. Equipped with other key features such as enhanced GUI and mouse support, EMAP and DDNS support, 3G Mobile Phone Viewing, TV out support, multi-streaming and flexibility for integration, it is the ideal choice for medium to large-scale or growing systems.

The Wall-Mount H.264 Standalone DVR
The Desktop H.264 Standalone DVR

Key Features:

H.264 Video Compression Technology
Utilizes an advanced high-compression H.264 algorithm for efficient video recording and management system. Supporting video resolution up to D1, the highly efficient H.264 video compression format drastically reduces bandwidth and storage requirements without compromising image quality.
• Longer Recording Time. With high image quality and small file size, the SH Series provide longer recording duration and thus reduces storage cost.
• Efficient Data Transmission. Compared with conventional DVRs, the SH series provide faster network transmission with better video quality via internet.

* The diagram shows that MPEG-4 requires approximately one-third of the bandwidth used by JPEG and H.264 requires just one-fifth. That’s almost a 40% saving between standard MPEG-4 and H.264.

GUI with Mouse Support
Supports graphic user interface as well as dynamic, easy-to-navigate menus to allow users
manage the DVR easily. It features full mouse control through USB mouse for easy setup and operation.

EMAP support via Remote Client
Using an impressive E-Map, you can add floor plans or maps to plot the locations of cameras, sensors and relays. By charting positions this way, the DVR provides you with rapid response-time to emergencies. Via a single click, you can view live display of events instantly.

TV Live Display
With TV out function and IR control, you can easily do on site installation setup, configure video quality and perform local monitoring even without network.

Mobile Phone Surveillance
Supports mobile phone viewing through wireless devices such as cellular phones, PDAs and other smart phones.

DDNS Support
Supports static IP, dynamic IP and dynamic domain name system (DDNS) for easy remote

Multi-Device Streaming Support
Supports simultaneous encoding of D1, half D1, CIF, to allow multi-platform web viewing. Each stream is optimized for its purpose and environment, e.g. if you want to view high quality videos for live viewing, you can stream it D1 via PC. On the other hand, if you want to stream videos using lower bandwidth, you can stream it CIF size via web viewing on PC.

Integration Flexibility
Can easily be integrated with other systems such as Hybrid DVR, Video Server, CMS solutions and Sensors/Alarms.

• SATA Support
• Motion Detection
• Two-Way Audio
• Hardware-Watchdog System
• Real-time event notifications through SMS and Email Alerts

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Genuine CCTV Drama

We've recently seen and heard from the news some astonishing and heart-breaking real-life dramas caught by CCTV. They may look like scenes from a movie but they're actually real - no scripts, no directors and no stuntmen.

Here are 2 of the most sensational and controversial CCTV footages that lately created wild buzz esp. over the internet worlwide.

A Robber's Change of Heart:

A repentant robber fell to his knees and prayed with the clerk of the store during a hold-up, according to US media Wednesday, which said the man nevertheless proceeded to pinch 20 dollars from the cash register.

The 23-year-old initially entered the check-cashing establishment in the midwestern city of Indianapolis, Indiana seeking a loan but left, purportedly to get an identification card that was requested, law enforcement officials told ABC television.

He returned armed with a gun, which he pointed at the employee, telling her that he had a son to feed and "no choice" but to revert to robbery since "times are hard," according to the report of the heist.

But when the clerk started to talk to the man about God, the gunman appeared to have a change of heart, confiding in the clerk about his hardships and asking her to pray with him.

"I started crying and praying and telling him, 'Don't do this,' he was too young to throw away his life," store clerk Angela Montez later told a police dispatcher by phone.

"He took the bullet out of the gun and said, 'Here, I'm not going to hurt you, I'm not going to hurt you,'" Montez said.

The suspect, Gregory Smith, asked Montez for a hug and asked her not to report the crime, then told her to go into the store's restroom and not come out for 20 minutes, police told ABC.

Officials said Smith took Montez's cell phone from her purse and 20 dollars from the cash drawer, leaving the rest of the money behind.

He was arrested on robbery and firearm charges when he turned himself in to authorities a few hours later.

Baby Miraculously Survived Pram's collision with Train:

A six-month-old baby boy whose pram rolled onto railway tracks in front of an oncoming train has survived with only a bump to the head, officials said Friday.

The child, who was strapped into his stroller when the accident occurred, was dragged about 35 metres (yards) by the train as it pulled into Ashburton station in Melbourne's east on Thursday afternoon.

"The pram rolled a very short distance straight over the edge of the platform and onto the tracks right as the train was coming in," Connex trains spokesman John Rees told AFP.

"The baby has gotten away with just a cut on the forehead."

Rees said the driver slammed on the brakes as hard as possible as soon as he saw the pram tumble in front of him, and was aided by the fact that the train was slowing down as it entered the station.

Paramedics, who arrived to find the baby being comforted by his mother, confirmed the child received a bump on his head.

"Luckily he was strapped into his pram at the time, which probably saved his life," paramedic Jon Wright said in a statement.

The accident occurred one day after Connex issued a child safety awareness campaign focusing on warning parents to keep infants strapped into their prams at all times while on train platforms.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

CCTV Footages: Funnily, Shockingly and Amazingly Useful

How did you find the above sample CCTV footage? It was an accident caught in CCTV camera. Please forgive me but I must admit that I found it very funny at first view. That's the least that I can think of to happen to the waitress in that set up (actually giggling while writing this). It's shockingly entertaining. Kudos to her for getting a tight hold on that tray (LOL).

But seriously, we may find CCTV footages in these kinds of scenarios very useful. It's an honest evidence to probe unwanted incidents in the workplace. In that video, it appeared very clear that it's an accident. Using the recorded videos, authorities will be able to examine the event, identify causes and execute corrective actions and necessary sanctions to responsible personnels. I actually worried for the lady afterwards. I wondered if she's okay. Moreover, I can only hope that their pub is not situated in the 2nd or 3rd floor of a building.

This is another CCTV footage I found interesting. Amazing how the fugitive survived that death-defying crash and still managed to get on his feet and run for his life. But I doubt if he managed to get away from the police. A real-time CCTV video is a very useful lead to help the authorities locate, chase and corner escaping criminals.

We may find a CCTV footage funny, shocking and amazing in a sense. But nevertheless, it still gets to serve it's significance and very purpose; that is to provide a material that will lead to solving crimes and identifying anomalies in a workplace... to apparently establish better operations and procedures.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Major Peak from 2009 Downfall: The Future of CCTV and Video Surveillance Market

The CCTV and Video Surveillance Market wasn't spared from the massive stroke of the Global Economic Downfall. Not all but most of the larger CCTV Companies around the globe were hardly hit by this unwelcome phenomenon. But as we all know, there's always a rainbow after the storm and the storm that devastated our industry is about the come to an end. There's a striking future ahead of the CCTV and Video Surveillance Market. A very big opportunity awaits.....


The video surveillance market is showing limited unit growth in 2009, but still seeing revenue declines as the weak economy takes its toll. However, the impact is greater in some segments than others, according to market research firm, In-Stat( Due to their higher cost, IP cameras will see a large slowdown in 2009 shipment growth. As the Networked Video Recorder (NVR) segment is tied to IP camera shipments that area will be impacted as well.

Meanwhile, stimulus programs are actually increasing surveillance equipment shipments in select applications. "In-Stat sees Digital Video Recorder (DVR) channel shipments growing faster than camera shipments, with hybrid DVRs that can connect to both analog and IP cameras increasing at the highest rate,"says Michelle Abraham, In-Stat analyst. "We expect the overall market to return to growth in 2010."

Recent research by In-Stat found:

* After a decline in 2009, revenue from analog cameras, IP cameras, DVR/NVR, and IP encoders will grow to US$19 billion in 2011.
* Video encoding for DVRs, IP cameras, and IP encoders is moving to H.264 from MPEG-4 part 2. This is enabled by more powerful ICs able to encode multiple streams of H.264 on a single IC.
* As pricing comes down, the attach rate for video analytics in video surveillance equipment will increase at a fast pace.
* Semiconductor revenue for the video surveillance equipment will be stable through 2013, with lower average selling prices offsetting shipment growth.


Thursday, September 3, 2009


Using a Dynamic Global IP Address can be a headache when trying to access your DVR Server remotely. Having to find out what the new IP Address is whenever it changes is not an option when you need to regularly access your DVR Server globally either through the Remote Client or the Web View. The DVR DDNS resolves this problem.

The DDNS Service works to track your IP address and report it back to the DDNS Provider. The DDNS Provider then assigns an extension (that's unique to you) to a publicly available Domain. Each time you type that Domain name into a browser, the DDNS Service translates what you've typed back to the current IP address of the internet that your DVR is located at.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

MPEG-4 vs H.264 Video Compression Technology

Despite its pristine technology, why is it that a lot of CCTV Installers still prefer MPEG-4 DVRs over the more advanced H.264 DVRs? Would there be anything (functions or processes) that you can do better with MPEG-4 Videos that you cannot seem to execute falwlessly with H.264 Videos? Do you believe that the MPEG-4 Video Compression Technology will soon be obsolete and casted off the CCTV market thru the advancement of the H.264 Video Compression Technology? Your comments, opinions, relevant knowledge and information are mostly welcome.

Stated below is a General Comparison of the MPEG-4 and H.264 Video Compression Technologies:

Overview of MPEG-4 Encoding Format:
  • MPEG-4 is a standard used to compress audio and visual data. The MPEG-4 standard is generally used for streaming media and CD distribution, video conversation, and broadcast television. MPEG-4 incorporates many features of MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and other related standards.
  • MPEG-4 is still a developing standard and is divided into several parts. The standard includes the concept of “profiles” and “levels,” allowing a specific set of capabilities to be defined in a manner appropriate for a subset of applications.
  • MPEG-4 is able to crunch massive video files into pieces small enough to send over mobile networks. While these blurry pictures are unlikely to persuade millions of people to upgrade immediately their mobile phones but holds enough promise for future.
  • Perhaps more important are the interactive features that MPEG-4 offers. The video functions almost like a Web page, but allowing people to interact with the picture on the screen or to manipulate individual elements in real time.
  • MPEG-4 also allows other types of content to be bundled into a file, such as video or images. These files require special software to play.
  • MPEG-4 would allow the interactivity of the video which may open potential to do far more than just point and click at links on the screen. Individual elements of the video like a character, a ball in a sporting event, a rocket ship in a science-fiction epic can exist in a separate layer from the rest of the video. This could allow viewers to interact with these elements somehow, even changing the direction of the story.

Overview of H.264 Encoding Format:
  • Also known as MPEG-4 Part 10 or AVC (for Advanced Video Coding).
  • Poised to become the next standard for format of convergence in the digital video industry regardless of the video playback platform . Big Internet players like Google/YouTube, Adobe, and Apple iTunes are all backing this cross-platform format.
  • H.264 standard is jointly maintained with MPEG so that they have identical technical content.
  • The intention behind H.264/AVC project was to provide good video quality at substantially lower bit rates than previous standards. An additional goal was to provide enough flexibility to allow the standard to be applied to a wide variety of applications on a wide variety of networks and systems.
  • H.264/AVC/MPEG-4 Part 10 contains Multi-picture inter-picture prediction including the features like using previously-encoded pictures as references in a more flexible way than in past standards, allowing up to 32 reference pictures to be used sometimes.
  • H.264 provides quarter-pixel precision for motion compensation enables very precise description of the displacements of moving areas. For chroma the resolution is typically halved both vertically and horizontally, therefore the motion compensation of chroma uses one-eighth chroma pixel grid units.
  • H.264 provides six-tap filtering for derivation of half-pel luma sample predictions, to lessen the aliasing and eventually provide sharper images.
  • H.264 provides flexible interlaced-scan video coding features, includes Macro block-adaptive frame-field (MBAFF) coding, using a macroblock pair structure for pictures coded as frames, allowing 16×16 macroblocks in field mode compared with 16×8 half-macroblocks in MPEG-2. An enhanced lossless macroblock representation mode allowing perfect representation of specific regions while ordinarily using substantially fewer bits than the PCM mode. Picture-adaptive frame-field coding, allowing a freely-selected mixture of pictures coded as MBAFF frames with pictures coded as individual single fields (half frames) of interlaced video.
  • H.264 is more attractive for video network delivery and for delivery of HD, high definition video.
  • H.264 or AVC is an open format with published specification and is available for anyone to implement.


Monday, June 22, 2009

The Pocket DVR... for Video Surveillance On-the-Go!

Finally, the absolute Stealth of Video Surveillance unveiled...

  • The smallest and lightest Digital Video Recorder with built-in camera
  • Portable and easy-to-use
  • Built-in Microphone for Audio/Video Recording
  • Real-time Recording in 3GP format
  • Support Micro SD/TF Card
  • Playback Video on Cellphone or PC
  • Built-in Lithium Battery for long hours of Recording
  • 5-7 meters valid distance for Audio/Video Recording

Important Common Specifications:

  • Dimension: 7.3 x 2 x 1.1cm for portability
  • Weight: 36g (including battery)
  • CMOS Chipset with 300,000 pixels
  • View Angle: 60 Degree
  • Recording Video Format: 3GP 320x240
  • Li-Battery Recording Time: Up to 2 hours
  • Charging time: 3 hours
  • Video File Size: >500KB per minute
  • Recording Mode: continuous recording
  • Adaptor Type: USB Adaptor charging cable
  • Operating Temperature: 0 to 65 Celsius

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Central Monitoring System

The Central Monitoring System (CMS) is an enterprise software application that allows the monitoring, management and control of thousands of digital video recorders from a central location. It equips security personnel with the needed information to verify reported events so that false-alarms are minimized if not completely avoided. It makes it easy to view a specific camera of a specific DVR no matter where it is located. It actively pushes the event information, a motion or sensor event for example, to the central facility. The remote users need not look for the information. Instead, the event information is dynamically presented to them.

Developed using web-based technologies, management and configuration of DVRs can easily be done through the CMS software. Through a browser, it is possible to modify nearly all of the parameters of the DVRs registered in the CMS. Furthermore, the DVRs regularly update the CMS of their statuses and vital signs. These information help in mitigating possible downtime and allows management personnel to be proactive rather than reactive.

The CMS software is designed having an enterprise environment in mind. That means it is designed for Multi-DVR, Multi-Site, Multi-User and Multi-Organization use. In more concrete terms, a company can effectively report events to any third party such as the police or the fire department, about any event in any of their satellite offices which could be scattered nationwide. The result can be a quick response to a verified event.

CMS Important Features:
  • Standalone Server-based System - Highly-scalable Web-based System
  • Supports Multi-Group or Multi-Company
  • Supports virtually an unlimited number of DVRs per Group/Company
  • Dynamic and proactive Event Notification
  • Intelligent Bandwidth Utilization
  • Remote vital sign monitoring of the DVRs and cameras
  • Allows Centralized DVR Management and Control
  • Provides management reports useful for analyzing historical events and response times
  • Stores pictures/snapshots of historical events for future review
  • Dynamic Screen Layout – relevant information is displayed automatically as needed
  • Provides facility for integrating external alarm systems
  • Configurable Event Notification
  • Allows instant Playback of recent events
  • Provides quick access to Live Video and Audio Feeds

The Network Video Recorder

The noticeable growth in the demand for IP cameras apparently leads to the growth in the demand for Network Video Recorders. What is a Network Video Recorder? The NVR is a full-featured Digital Video Surveillance System that manages all IP-based cameras. That's easy to understand. But what's more important to know are the primary factors that need to be considered in choosing the right NVR for a specific project.

The better NVR in the market features advanced capabilities such as powerful Remote Access, Motion Detection, Event Management and superior Image Quality. Another impressive feature it may offer is the Bandwidth-Saver function via Live View Streaming. With this feature, it will be possible for you to stream all channels using Constant and Lower Bandwidth regardless of the number of videos streamed through the network.

NVR System Diagram:

NVR Live View Streaming Diagram:

Primary NVR Features:

  • Support for Major Network Video Device Manufacturers such as Samsung, Panasonic, Axis, Vivotek, ACTi, Etrovision and other known brands
  • Any Authorized Client can have direct access to any IP camera connected to the NVR for Monitoring and Control from anywhere in the world
  • Fully integrates with CMS (Central Monitoring System) and provides a seamless migration path for PC-Based DVRs, Hybrid DVRs and Network Video Servers

Take Note: Evaluate the project, Identify the required Features and Functions then Select the best NVR suited for the Job.

Friday, May 8, 2009

POS DVR Integration: Text Insertion

Text Insertion is a method of inserting or displaying text on the video display of the DVR. The text will be saved and time‐stamped together with the video. The text can be used to search for specific video clips. Lastly, the text can also be displayed during playback.


The following diagram illustrates how text may be inserted onto the video.

The DVR listens to incoming TCP/IP connections from other devices connected to the network. These devices may be a Point-Of-Sale terminal, an access control system or any application capable of sending data via TCP/IP.

Once the DVR receives data, the DVR authenticates the sender and validates the data. If valid, the text information is superimposed onto the video of the camera or cameras specified by the sender. Simultaneously, the text information is stored to disk with the video, and stored to a database for search purposes. Search may be performed on the DVR or remotely via a client software application.


POS DVR System Benefits:
  • Quick resolution of sales discrepancies by recalling the relevant video footage on the POS machine
  • Seamless integration of DVR and POS into a single operating environment enhances overall system reliability

Some POS DVR Applications:

The POS DVR is an ideal security system for Retail Enterprises looking for a fully integrated Digital Video Surveillance solution:
  • Retail Stores
  • Convenience Stores
  • Fast Food Restaurants
  • Petrol Stations
  • Grocery Stores
  • Parking Toll Booths

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Network Video Servers

The Network Video Server is a high resolution network based video server which converts video signals from analog cameras into full frame rate IP-MPEG4 streams and transmit these video images to remote clients over an IP network, such as LAN, intranet or Internet.

Important Features:

Full D1 Streaming
Live video and audio streams are available at full frame rate, real-time full D1 resolution (NTSC: 720x480, PAL: 720x576) making the image clearer.

Triple Encoding Technology for Multi-Device Streaming
Supports simultaneous encoding of D1, CIF and QCIF to allow multi-platform viewing.

TV Out Support

Capable of displaying the videos directly to a regular TV Set in high quality resolution. With TV Out function and IR Control, you can easily do on-site installation setup, configure video quality and perform local monitoring even without network.

Bandwidth Usage Saver
With the new Live View Streaming feature, you can view all cameras real-time in MPEG4 format which is significantly smaller in size than the JPEG and MPEG streaming. Aside from individual streaming of channels, it offers MUX streaming which allows streaming of multiple cameras using constant bandwidth.

Important Applications:

Traffic monitoring, School Video Surveillance, Construction Site Monitoring, Production Lines and Factory Monitoring, Warehouse Management, Retail, etc.