Finding the right balance between video quality and network bandwidth and storage capacity can be one of the biggest challenges of using IP cameras.
Setting high frame rates and bit rates on your cameras can give you clear video, but it can also quickly eat up storage space and even clog your customer’s network.
Setting rates too low could result in poor quality video.
Many IP cameras come with a variable bit rate mode (VBR) and a constant bit rate (CBR) mode to allow you to adjust the bit rate based on scene complexity, but even these settings can sometimes have unintended consequences. With VBR mode, if your scene becomes more complex (with a lot of people, objects or motion) your bit rate spikes, consuming valuable hard drive space and possibly exceeding available bandwidth. With the CBR setting, the visual quality of a complex scene could be degraded to try to maintain the constant bit rate. In less complex scenes, CBR mode can add extra data to try to compensate for the low bit rate, again adding to your storage capacity.
To help strike a better balance, March Networks recently optimized the H.264 compression in our ME4 Series and SE2 Series IP Cameras with a new Low Bit Rate (LBR) setting. The LBR setting automatically optimizes the bit rate to give you the best video quality, with the lowest bit rate, based on scene complexity.
LBR mode can reduce storage and bandwidth consumption by as much as 50% in most applications. In our own tests of this feature, we’ve seen video streams that can drop below 1 Mb/s at 2MP (at 15 images or frames per second) with no noticeable degradation of video quality.
Watch this video demonstration:
For this comparison, we’ve used our SE2 Indoor IR Dome, a 2MP camera recording at 15 ips. You can see the bit rate in VBR mode fluctuates between 2,100 and 2,600 kb/s. In LBR mode, that number drops to less than half (700-900 kb/s) with no noticeable impact on video quality.
March Networks’ ME4 and SE2 Series IP Cameras record in LBR mode by default, so you can take advantage of these storage and bandwidth savings.
As you can see in the video demonstration, the difference is dramatic, and when multiplied over many cameras, this feature allows customers to increase recorder retention times and even purchase fewer hard drives.