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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 09:49 AM CDT

Putting the Squeeze on Surveillance Video

H.264 compression provides high resolution with variable bit and frame rates
Euresys
A Mexican city’s metro station uses a Euresys Picolo V16 H.264 board to digitize, compress, locally store and broadcast over a network to a central station where it’s ready for observation and review.
The Picolo V16 video capture board features real-time H.264 on-board compression for 16 video channels with audio capability. Each video input simultaneously delivers a formatted and compressed video stream, both of which are independently configurable.
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By Barry Hochfelder

With security and surveillance requirements that demand high frame rates and high resolution becoming increasingly more important—seemingly daily—the amounts of data being collected, analyzed and stored for later review are growing rapidly.

How to do it? The answer, of course, is video compression technology, which has evolved from JPEG to MPEG-2, MPEG-4 to the latest version, MPEG-4 Part 10, commonly known as H.264. H.264 came about through the efforts of two standards bodies—the ITU (International Telecommunications Union), and ISO MPEG (International Organization for Standardization’s Moving Picture Experts Group). They formed a body called the Joint Video Team (JVT).

H.264 is an open, licensed standard that supports the most efficient video compression techniques available today. Without compromising image quality, an H.264 encoder can reduce the size of a digital video file by more than 80 percent compared with the Motion JPEG format and as much as 50 percent more than with the MPEG-4 Part 2 standard. This means that much less network bandwidth and storage space are required for a video file. Or seen another way, much higher video quality can be achieved for a given bit rate.

“There’s no question that H.264 provides the highest compression ratio and best image quality for the bit rate, which is what [customers] want,” says Marc Damhaut, the Singapore-based VP of Marketing for Euresys.

H.264 has a flexible bit rate that can work with a variety of devices, including cell phones and other mobile devices. According to DivX, a San Diego-based digital media company, digital video is compressed to economize space and a codec (compression-decompression) compresses and decompresses the signal. “By improving the compression standards upon which the codec is based, we can transmit higher quality video using the same bandwidth as before,” the DivX site explains.

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