How to Avert a Compression Depression

While bandwidth is widening, larger video systems and more advanced megapixel cameras are continuing to push the throughput limits of network piping. Fortunately, new compression methods such as H.264 are available to help keep surveillance data flowing.

Welcome to Part II of the latest in SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION‘s acclaimed “D.U.M.I.E.S.” series: “Megapixel Video for D.U.M.I.E.S.” Brought to you by Pelco, this four-part series has been designed to educate readers about megapixel cameras and video – the next phase of surveillance technology following the leap from digital to IP-based, or networked, CCTV systems. “D.U.M.I.E.S.” stands for dealers, users, managers, installers, engineers and salespeople.

Recently, the megapixel revolution has begun to affect all of us in the industry. First came the megapixel camera, then megapixel lenses and, of course, megapixel video recorders. Perhaps the megapixel coffee cup is next!

It’s for certain that this changing technology is on a very fast track, and a great deal of hype has surrounded the megapixel revolution. But what exactly is this so-called revolution all about? What is required to support megapixel systems and what are the main advantages of megapixel and IP cameras over analog cameras?

The answers lie in this series of articles, which cover the theoretical and practical technology and design theories required to intelligently sell, install or service megapixel solutions. This edition tackles compression methods.

Advantages of Megapixel Cameras
In its basic form, compression is the art of removing information viewed as irrelevant to the viewer. In this case, the viewer is a dealer, systems integrator or anyone else who relies on high quality recorded images. The amount and type of information removed varies from system to system and can be controlled by system setup parameters.[IMAGE]dumies3-1.jpg[/IMAGE]

But why do we need compression? To help answer this question, let’s evaluate the requirements needed to transmit

or store a single minute of composite video to a remote location.

Without compression, the ability to store this information would require a minimum of 1.66GB of storage space. In the case of a network-viewed, 3.1-megapixel camera it would require a system bandwidth of 168MHz.

Having recently attended the ISC West show in Las Vegas, the main attraction was not The Strip but rather advancing megapixel technology for the surveillance market. Everywhere one looked this technology was being displayed.

After surveying the types of compression incorporated by manufacturers exhibiting at ISC West, it was obvious which have become the most popular. And the winners are:

  • H.264
  • Motion JPEG
  • JPEG
  • MPEG-4
  • Wavelet

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