Recently, ultra-high-definition surveillance cameras introduced 4K resolution to the security industry. However, 4K resolution has yet to achieve wide application, mainly because of the tremendous bandwidth and data storage requirements. Limiting the bitrate of an ultra-HD video feed while retaining a high-quality, 4K-image remains the biggest problem—a problem whose solution will decide the fate of ultra-HD surveillance video. Video transmission balances image quality, transmission capabilities, and data requirements—i.e., how much information and how it is handled. Therefore, image transmission optimisation lies in advancements in video compression technology.

H.265: Compression technology on a new level

Until now, H.264 compression has been the industry-standard codec. When the H.264 codec found wide use, Hikvision developed its own compatible algorithm to go the next step, calling it “H.264+”. The next iteration in this codec lineage—H.265—presently stands at the cusp of widespread adoption. Once again, Hikvision has already pushed this compression technology to a new level. H.265+ employs an intelligent algorithm whose encoding technology stems from the H.265/High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard.

H.265+ optimises the existing codec most strikingly where specific criteria are met in a surveillance video feed. This criteria consists of: 1.) a stable background where information rarely changes; 2.) a primary focus on the objects moving across that stagnant scene; 3.) a substantial period of time where a scene’s moving objects appear only occasionally; and 4.) 24-hour non-stop surveillance where visual noise has a relatively large impact on image quality. In this type of environment, field-tests show H.265+ radically decreases the required bitrate of the ultra-high-definition surveillance video by up to 67% over H.265, thereby reducing required bandwidth and storage. Bitrate reduction means cost reduction for consumers, as well as increased efficiency, stability, and reliability of all the hardware in a given surveillance system. Here’s how it works.

With ultra-HD resolutions and higher efficiency transmission as the two primary objectives, H.265+ improves the compression ratio based on three key technologies: 1.) predictive encoding technology based on a background or reference frame, 2.) digital noise suppression technology, and 3.) long-term bitrate control technology.

H.265+ optimises the existing codec most strikingly where specific criteria are met in a surveillance video feed

Predictive encoding

Predictive encoding can be divided into “Inter-frame prediction,” creating a prediction model from one or more previously encoded video frames, and “Intra-frame prediction,” where the samples of a macroblock (processing unit) are predicted by using only information of previously transmitted macroblocks of the same frame. With inter-frame prediction, bitrate can be reduced by compressing only the difference in rates between a reference frame and any other frame. This reference frame—usually the background of a scene—will contain few if any moving objects. Fortunately, in most security surveillance, the background remains stagnant.

Example scenario

In a traffic intersection field-test, three unique frames are analysed from a video feed. The first frame is the empty intersection (T0), the second two (T1 and T2) include a moving object—in this case, an automobile. The first image gets encoded as the reference frame; thereafter, reference frame data no longer needs to be sent or stored with every frame. This liberates the VMS to follow moving vehicles only, since new data (bits) will not be required for each frame capturing the background. The requirement for bits, bandwidth, and storage immediately drop. In the case where a strictly empty background or reference frame cannot be captured, the alternative is to encode two or more frames that might include a moving object. Intelligent software can fill in spaces that are vacated by those moving objects with similar information found in the immediately surrounding space. Thus, bitrate usage can be lowered while guaranteeing normal playback for the user.

In the case where a strictly empty background or reference frame cannot be captured, the alternative is to encode two or more frames that might include a moving object
In a traffic intersection field-test, three unique frames are analysed from a video feed

Noise suppression

In order to guarantee a high image quality of moving objects, the encoding module also encodes the visual noise in the scene. However, using the predictive encoding methods mentioned above, the H.265+ intelligent analysis algorithm distinguishes between the background image and moving objects so that each can be encoded with different encoding strategies.

A background image is encoded with high compression in order to suppress noise and applies data to new or moving objects. Since data transmission is limited, the overall bitrate dips substantially when compared against conventional video compression.

Long-Term Bitrate Control

Hikvision has introduced a concept it calls “Long-Term Average Bitrate” to make full use of a data from a video feed. Long-Term Average Bitrate calculates the rates over a specified time period (usually 24 hours). With the average bitrate control, the camera can assign higher bitrates to busier hours while reducing it during idle hours—e.g., midnight to 6 AM outdoors, or 8 PM to 7 AM in an office. In the case of a constant bitrate mode for H.265 encoding, the bitrate varies slightly but stays near the predefined maximum bitrate value. Using H.265+, average bitrate can be as low as half of the maximum bitrate. Image quality can still be optimised since the H.265+ technology makes full use of every bit.

In variable bitrate mode, the instant bitrate varies according to a scene’s activity, while the image quality remains steady. Employing H.265+, the bitrate change can take two courses: 1.) if the configured average bitrate value is limited, H.265+ encoding can provide a better image quality within the limited bitrate; and 2.) if the configured average bitrate value is high for the scene being monitored, the actual average bitrate—the actual amount of data used—can be lower than the predefined value, lowering the total data storage requirement.

Instant bitrate comparison between two scenes

A bitrate-reduction test was conducted, based on cameras featuring 1080p resolution at 25 fps. The scene was a small café under video surveillance feed for a 24-hour period.

Testing the same scene—a busy café—at different times of day, showed that the rate difference between codecs appears less significant as the number of moving objects in the scene increases. Nevertheless, the numbers are still remarkable. The average bitrate between H.264 and Hikvision’s H.265+ decreased by a substantial 83%. The rate between the standard H.265 and Hikvision’s H.265+ codec decreased by 67%—a smaller difference, but nonetheless significant when applied to real-world surveillance systems.

In discreet, 24-hour file size comparison of two different scenes, drastic reductions were plain to see

24-hour file size in different scenes

In discreet, 24-hour file size comparison of two different scenes, drastic reductions were plain to see. Scene one was a café, where the H.264 codec yielded an average of 22.7 GB, and H.265 yielded 11.8 GB, on average. Remarkably, Hikvision’s H.265+ averaged only 3.9 GB. Scene two was a traffic Intersection. Here, the 24-hour file size comparison yielded similar results. H.264 averaged 36.4 GB, H.265 averaged 21.1 GB, and H.265+ averaged the lowest bitrate again at only 7.5 GB.

Here are in those numbers in percentages. In the café monitoring scenario, the rate of the 24-hour file size between H.265 and Hikvision H.265+ decreased by 66.4%, while the rate between H.264 and Hikvision H.265+ decreased by a substantial 82.5%. For the traffic intersection monitoring, the rate of the 24-hour file size between H.265 and Hikvision H.265+ decreased by 64.5%, while the rate between H.264 and Hikvision H.265+ decreased by 79.4%.

Improved bandwidth, storage, imaging, & VCAs

First, H.265+ makes the best use of every bit, so HD and ultra-HD resolutions looks as clear, sharp, and focused as possible. Also, as H.265+ improves image transmission, target objects will have more pixels so the use of VCAs will arguably become more precise, more accurate. Next, a network utilising H.265+ has more bandwidth available at any given time. More bandwidth means better system functioning all around. In real terms, on a 20 Mb broadband network, the H.264 codec can accommodate five cameras. H.265 doubles that, carrying the load of 10 cameras. But H.265+ doubles even that, accommodating 20 or more cameras on the single network. Therefore, H.265+ will be the best choice for users expanding an installation and moving to 4K at the same time.

A background image is encoded with high compression in order to suppress noise and applies data to new or moving objects
The overall bitrate dips substantially when compared against conventional video compression

What’s more, users reduce costs and other resources involved in storing video-feed data. Here's another scenario: when eight 2-Megapixel cameras are connected to a network, and a storage device holds five 5-Terrabyte hard drives, recording capacities vary significantly. A system running on H.264 will hit its storage ceiling in about two weeks. H.265 will do a bit better, filling up after about one month. Hikvision’s H.265+, however, will continue recording—up to about two full months. When considering these results on a monthly or annual basis for budgeting expenses and hardware allocations, H.265+ reduces expenditures all around. While the jump to H.265+ might be slow initially, the benefits will prove advantageous far into the future.

Applications are everywhere

The applications here extend at least as wide as those of any previous codec. However, under conditions such as an unstable network or limited bandwidth, or where customers are required to store data for extended periods of time, H.265+ will be most profoundly effective. Furthermore, this codec can be integrated into comprehensive security solutions for specific functions—4K, panoramic, and explosion-proof cameras, ultra-low light products, and anti-corrosion products are a few examples.

As with any new technological improvement, industry-wide upgrading from current or legacy standards requires investing time and resources. For H.265, migration is accelerating, primarily in newly designed systems since upgrading existing H.264 systems only increases expenditure. H.265 will become more desirable to system integrators and end-users since its decreased bitrates yield high-definition resolutions and images come through more clearly. Added to that, target objects can be isolated and enlarged with more clarity, and more accurate VCAs can be employed.

Hikvision’s H.265+ codec optimises the H.265/HEVC encoding technology, meeting its compression standards and operating with the vast majority of hardware and software designed to employ H.265. With H.265+, video quality remains virtually the same as that of H.265/HEVC while radically reducing transmission bandwidth and data storage capacity requirements. The H.265+ codec will serve to widen the application of ultra-HD resolutions in video surveillance, such as 8 MP and 12 MP devices. Wherever applied, this new codec will cut storage costs, make the fullest use of surveillance video investments, and broaden the use of 4K and ultra-HD security video.

Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Where is it inappropriate to install video cameras?
Where is it inappropriate to install video cameras?

Video cameras are everywhere, and hundreds more are installed every day. Our society appears to be reaching a point of perpetual surveillance. It certainly feels as if we are always being watched even though it is not yet the case. But as cameras are becoming more common than ever, we are also entering a new era of privacy concerns and sensitivities, as evidenced by GDPR and other such initiatives. We presented this quandary to this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Surveillance cameras can go anywhere, right? Where is it “not OK?”

Development of integrated thermal imaging technology into evolving market verticals
Development of integrated thermal imaging technology into evolving market verticals

Global and domestic threats have highlighted the need for tighter security across all verticals. One of the technologies that has redefined situational awareness and intrusion detection is thermal imaging. Once a technology exclusively manufactured for the military operations, thermal cameras today are deployed across hundreds of security applications and continue to see strong demand in existing and emerging commercial markets. With thermal technology, security personnel can see in complete darkness as well as in light fog, smoke and rain Technology overview and early adoption What distinguishes thermal cameras from optical sensors is their ability to produce images based on infrared energy, or heat, rather than light. By measuring the heat signatures of all objects and capturing minute differences between them, thermal cameras produce clear, sharp video despite unfavorable environmental conditions. With thermal technology, security personnel can see in complete darkness as well as in light fog, smoke and rain. Originally a military developed, commercially qualified technology, the first thermal cameras for military and aircraft use appeared in the 1950s. By the 1960s, the technology had been declassified and the first thermal camera for commercial use was introduced. However, it wasn’t until the late 1990s - when FLIR Systems introduced a camera with an uncooled thermal detector - when the technology began to see substantial adoption beyond government defense deployments. Installations at critical infrastructure sites In the 2000s, industrial companies were some of the first adopters of thermal, using the technology for predictive maintenance to monitor overheating and machine malfunctions. In the years following the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, there was an increase in thermal camera installations across critical infrastructure sites. Stricter security requirements drove the deployment of thermal cameras for perimeter protection, especially in the nuclear power sector. Thermal cameras produce clear video in daylight, low light or no light scenarios and their sharp images result in higher performing analytics In 2010, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Committee released its 73.55 policy, which states nuclear facilities must “provide continuous surveillance, observation and monitoring” as a means to enhance threat detection and deterrence efforts onsite. Because thermal cameras produce clear video in daylight, low light or no light scenarios and because their sharp images result in higher performing analytics, thermal cameras quickly became the preferred option for nuclear facilities. Likewise, following the 2013 sniper attack on PG&E Corporation’s Metcalf transmission substation, the Federal Energy Regulation Commission introduced the Critical Infrastructure Protection Standard 014 (CIP-014). The policy requires utilities to identify threats to mission critical assets and implement a security system to mitigate those risks. This statute also led to more thermal installations in the utility sector as thermal cameras’ long-range capabilities are ideal for detection of approaching targets beyond the fence line. The demand from both industrial and critical infrastructure entities, as well as other factors, helped drive volume production and price reduction for thermal, making the technology more accessible to the commercial security marketplace. Commercial applications In recent years, the increasing affordability of thermal cameras along with the introduction of new thermal offerings has opened the door to new commercial applications for the technology. In the past, thermal cameras were designed for applications with enormous perimeters, where the camera needed to detect a human from 700 meters away. Locations like car dealerships, marinas and construction supply facilities can be protected by precise target detection, thermal analytic cameras providing an early warning to security personnel Today, there are thermal cameras specifically designed for short- to mid-range applications. Developed for small to medium enterprises, these thermal cameras ensure property size and security funds are no longer barriers to adoption. Lumber yards, recreation fields and sports arenas are some of the commercial applications now able to implement thermal cameras for 24-hour monitoring and intrusion detection. Affordable thermal cameras with onboard analytics have become attractive options for commercial businesses Innovation and advancements Innovation and advancements in the core technology have also spurred growth in thermal camera deployment, providing faster image processing, higher resolution, greater video analytic capabilities and better camera performance. In particular, affordable thermal cameras with onboard analytics have become attractive options for commercial businesses that need outdoor, wide area protection. Car dealerships, marinas and construction supply locations all store valuable merchandise and materials outside. Without protection, these assets are vulnerable to vandalism and theft. However, by providing precise target detection, thermal analytic cameras provide an early warning to security personnel so that they can intervene before a crime is committed. By helping to deter just one incident, the thermal solution delivers a clear ROI. New market opportunities Not only are there more thermal cameras in use today than ever before, but there are also more thermal sensors being integrated with other multi-sensor systems, driving the adoption of thermal in new markets. For large perimeter surveillance applications, thermal is repeatedly being integrated with radar and drones to expand situational awareness beyond the point of fixed cameras. Users get immediate, accurate alerts of approaching targets and evidentiary class video for target assessment In the commercial market, thermal imagers are combined with optical sensors, analytics and LED illuminators into one solution that integrates with central monitoring station platforms. By bringing these technologies together, users get immediate, accurate alerts of approaching targets and evidentiary class video for target assessment. The result is a lower number of false positives, reducing the total cost of ownership for the solution. These multi-sensor solutions also feature two-way audio capabilities, which enable remote security officers to act as “virtual guards” and speak to intruders in real-time to dissuade them from illegal activity. The introduction of solutions that integrate all these state-of-the-art technologies under one unit reduces the amount of capital and infrastructure needed for deployment. Consequently, more small businesses and alarm monitoring companies can implement advanced perimeter security technologies like thermal sensors, some for the very first time. Thermal cameras have gone from military defense devices to widespread commercial security cameras Multi-sensor thermal solutions Multi-sensor solutions featuring thermal are quickly gaining traction and opening the door to new business opportunities for the security channel. One of the primary reasons for the strong market interest in these systems is they enable integrators to increase their recurring monthly revenue (RMR). With intense price competition and eroding margins on CCTV equipment, integrators have to rely on RMR to grow their businesses. Offering remote video monitoring services and virtual guarding technologies is one of the best ways to do so.  Additionally, there is a clear demand for it. Central stations are continually looking for new technologies to offer their customers and businesses are interested in economical alternatives to physical guards. In conclusion, thermal cameras have gone from military defense devices to widespread commercial security cameras that are a substantial segment of the outdoor security protection market. From nuclear power plants to construction locations, thermal technology is being implemented to secure sites around the globe.

Highlighting the importance of security integrations and alliances
Highlighting the importance of security integrations and alliances

Most technology companies have one goal in mind: to provide customers with high-quality, affordable products that can efficiently help streamline operations. Whether it's surveillance cameras, video management software, access control technology or any other type of security device, today's leading organisations invest in expertise in these product segments and strive to produce the highest quality solutions. To effectively fulfill this task, technology providers are always searching for emerging components to make their products and services even stronger. Oftentimes, a key aspect necessary to build a comprehensively robust solution involves finding like-minded partners that share a common goal and are willing to work together to create an integration that increases insight and intelligence.The interoperability between systems, devices and different types of applications should be intuitive and fast Key factors for security integrations A basic factor in a partnership is openness. For an integration to perform seamlessly for the end user, the platform through which the technologies converge must follow standard protocols, easily operate with other platforms, allow freedom and customisation, and provide adaptability. The interoperability between systems, devices and different types of applications should be intuitive and fast, enabling more time to be spent on analysing critical data and responding to security events. The puzzle of a complete security solution contains many pieces, and it's often necessary to fuse together aspects from various providers to create a best-in-breed technology offering. When organisations collaborate, the end result is a simplified solution with an increased level of value. As threats become more severe and complex, customers demand solutions that combine different security and business elements into a single interface that can address a wide variety of risks. A unified security system requires a strong collaboration between technology providers and integrated solutions Interconnected security devices Users used to only look at specific security devices - such as cameras or door alarms - as each having a strong, autonomous purpose, but now, every device plays an important interconnected role. And the progression of the Internet of Things (IoT) has made this transition even easier, as maintaining a consistent and uniform communication and interconnectivity between devices has now become the norm. The IoT has also made it so that partnerships must not only exist between manufacturers, but also within the customer's organisational structure. Although exceptionally beneficial, the IoT brings with it an increased amount of cyber vulnerabilities. As security systems are networked to increase flexibility, the door is opened to a number of potential threats that could compromise the entire enterprise. This risk highlights the need for an internal partnership and knowledge sharing between a company's physical security professionals and its IT team. IT experts should be pulled into security decisions and positioned as collaborative partners to assist with software updates, data safety protocols and solving complex network challenges, ultimately leading to a more cyber secure solution.Partnerships are beneficial to both the companies involved and their customers Knowledge sharing and learning Aside from cybersecurity, the latest prominent security attacks and events have focused primarily on soft targets, such as schools, concerts or shopping malls. This has caused many technology providers to venture into different vertical markets, and strong partnerships streamline this crossover. Innovators can extend their geographic reach and purpose through integrations with other like-minded manufacturers or integrators to add new levels of functionalities. Of course, a partnership cannot operate properly and to the best of its ability without a core component: learning. In today's evolving business and risk environment, knowledge is critical. A shared knowledge base can open up new opportunities and lead to the strengthening of security across many levels. A truly powerful, unified security system requires a strong collaboration between technology providers and integrated solutions. Partnerships are beneficial to both the companies involved and their customers, and the results created through these alliances can reach far beyond a user's expectations, offering enhanced flexibility and extensive safety options.