The Catalyst

Oct. 27, 2008
Packed with advanced features, digital recorders make for endless possibilities.

The architecture and features of CCTV systems has been radically altered by the introduction of digital signal processing and digital circuitry. Although the end product is still a video image, every element in the process has undergone revision and redefinition.

    The processes which occur in a video system are:
  • Image (data) acquisition (the camera).
  • Image (data) processing (data optimization for viewing, transmission and storage).
  • Image (data) transmission.
  • Image (data) archiving.

SD readers who are already familiar with VCRs and DVRs probably agree that is unfair to compare analog to digital technologies. Although market research and sales figures indicate that the cost of digital cameras is considered by many to be too high for most applications, DVRs are a different story. DVRs are offered in many configurations and at many price points. This makes them an attractive alternative for both new installations as well as retrofits.

DVRs allow live video and/or previously recorded video to be viewed through the Internet. They can be set to record only motion events. They reduce storage space and playback time needed. They reduce unproductive time reviewing hours of uneventful camera views. DVRs can have support for external CD burners, DVD burners, hard drives. Some units have CD burners in them. They can also write to other portable storage media.

Multiplexers are usually built into the unit. DVRs offer alarm features including motion sensing, alarm triggers, e-mail notification and PDA accessibility. There is also the option of a user selectable frame per second control for individual cameras in the digital video recorder system. Units with PTZ camera support permit off-site remote control of PTZ parameters.

DVRs save space because no tapes need to be stored when using a digital video recorder. Some 60 days of videocassette storage takes space and money whereas 60 days of disks can fit in a drawer. Since functionality is consolidated into a single DVR unit, the footprint of the surveillance system is substantially reduced, as are the power requirements. DVRs are available for one camera or numerous cameras. They are also scalable allowing distributed acquisition, monitoring, processing, and archiving.

DVRs are highly connective. Models can communicate with remote viewers, servers and storage over a variety of generic protocols. DVRs are able to accept inputs from conventional analog video cameras and other hardware as well as digital cameras.

After reviewing the capabilities of DVRs and digital processing, the old way of referring to surveillance as CCTV is a really inadequate. It should be replaced with a term that will differentiate Closed Circuit Television from what’s actually happening in the technology. Security Dealer refers to it in general terms as video surveillance and uses the expression “New Video.” It seems to be catching on.

The topology of a New Video system has become relatively streamlined and simplified as compared to the conventional analog system, even though the DVR technologies are infinitely more complex. The DVR user-interfaces strive to be intuitive. DVR image quality can be tailored to the topology and infrastructure of the system, and to the specific application.

The opportunities for DVR applications seem boundless. The selection of DVRs presented here offer features which are representative of the product group.

Remote Connectivity
Remote connectivity is a feature everyone is talking about in today’s models. Integral Technologies’ RemoteView, for instance, is an application that allows users to view live and recorded video, manage their systems remotely, and operate a host of features from any Integral DVMS unit, which includes the enterprise-class DigitalSENTRY system and the robust MasterControl DVX system. RemoteView is a single interface, user-friendly application that is easily installed and operated from any remote client PC. Virtually any number of users can simultaneously access single or multiple systems, making it a powerful, remote viewing tool.

By providing a universal interface, RemoteView eliminates cumbersome and costly training. Also, due to its universal interface, RemoteView operates with each and every enterprise-class system manufactured since 1998, and allows users to communicate with any of the company’s security systems.

Additionally, users may control the amount of bandwidth used to transmit information over a network connection with the data rate throttling feature, giving greater control of the system. To make data as portable and easy to store as possible, RemoteView exports video in XPV, and self-extracting EXE file formats, as well as still images in bitmap or JPEG format.

Another example is the VDR-204 from Vicon. It is ideal for your customers who require an easy to use standalone 4-channel digital video recorder with the benefit of additional remote PC access via a network/Internet. The VDR-204 is designed for use with industry standard composite video output CCTV cameras using BNC connectors. Two models are available. The VDR-204-12CD has a 120 GB hard drive; VDR-204-30CD provides 300 GB of hard drive space. Both models are NTSC/PAL compatible.

The VDR-204 is operated and controlled by simple front panel controls. All video recording takes place on the VDR-204 hard disk drive. Backup can be to a CD, through the network using the provided VDR software, or from the USB port to a memory stick. Multiple VDR-204s can be cascaded for greater camera coverage.

The VDR-204 can accept up to 4 composite video inputs with 4-channel loop through to be recorded on a local hard drive. The VDR-204 offers 720 x 480 resolution for a full image and 360 x 240 in Quad view. In addition, the VDR-204 has one audio input, 4 sensor inputs and 1 alarm output. The recorder allows displaying and recording a multiplexed image of the 4 inputs on the same screen at 30 fps, allowing 4 cameras simultaneously at 30 fps each. The unit supports dynamic IP allocation and remote live viewing across common networks.

Product Innovations
Video and the bandwidth it takes up can cause major headaches in an IT department. However, innovations in technology are changing that. Dedicated Micros shows off its hard work in this area with the DV-IP. This unit comes with a MPEG4 feature which provides streaming video while cutting the bandwidth usage by about one-third of the normal amount of bandwidth that is required for 24/7 viewing over the network.

The technology shrinks each digital image by changing the compression to create smaller files that use less space on the network. Fully flexible, users can independently configure the DV-IP Server’s transmission image resolution, bit rate and picture update rate so the DV-IP will not slow down worker productivity on the intranet, or the network itself.

Additional features on the DV-IP Server with MPEG4 include a spot monitor output to provide a visual deterrent that indicates a CCTV system is in place, tamper alarms and an improved audio setting. The improved audio setting allows the installer to set the audio quality to best support the specific application. The default sampling frequency is set to 8KHz, but it can be enhanced to CD-quality to meet higher audio recording requirements.

INTELLEX IP (Internet Protocol) from American Dynamics is also packed with innovation. INTELLEX IP is an enhanced digital video management system that provides support for IP based video surveillance devices, as well as double the frame capacity and twice the resolution of the current INTELLEX system. INTELLEX IP uses video servers and digital video cameras transmitting video over an IP network instead of analog cameras over coaxial cables. Additionally analog cameras can easily be incorporated into an Intellex IP system by using a video server that converts the analog signal to a digital signal.

Intellex IP—which is just one-quarter the chassis size of the previous Intellex system—provides several key benefits, including reduced cabling costs, widespread camera distribution across a wide campus, and greater flexibility to scale to large, high-performance video surveillance systems.

By using a combination of wireless and wired IP technology, customers are able to look at a widely dispersed area and monitor events from a single source.

Rich with Features
Today’s digital video surveillance recorders are being packaged with advanced features allowing procedures to be performed that were never before possible. Honeywell set out to understand the technology challenges and needs of your customers before releasing its enhanced BusView player. New features include advanced searching, camera replacement, four-camera viewing and easier image sharing.

BusView Player Version 1.2, which features a self-contained video clip archiving system that allows users to quickly find, print, distribute and archive video and audio files for future use. The new version of BusView also helps keep video clips secure by avoiding common media players, such as MPEG or .AVI.

The enhanced BusView includes features designed to help users work more efficiently: an online help function; a reorganized, easier-to-use main screen; increased ease in camera replacement; extensive, four-camera viewing options; and new image quality and frame rates. The improved image quality setting supports longer recording times and maximizes hard drive storage.

BusView also includes advanced searching capabilities that allow users to quickly locate a specific instance of video footage by narrowing search parameters. New search parameters include time frame, triggers, cameras, record rules and vehicle speed.

BusView V1.2 is completely compatible with previous versions of the system and easily integrates with Honeywell’s Digital Chaperone DDR, an all-digital video and data recorder system designed specifically for transportation systems. The system supports Microsoft Windows 2000, XP Professional and XP Home Edition.

Digimerge Technologies Inc. offers a family of products focused on the emerging trend of integrated digital video surveillance. Its DHT Series (Triplex) network digital video recorders are offered in 4, 9 and 16 channel model configurations. It features a large video storage capacity. The DHT Series also offers a USB interface (for copying images to flash memory and firmware downloads), MJPEG video compression, 60FPS recording, 2 Hard Drives (for up to 600 GB of data storage) and even a Handheld Remote Controller.

Bosch Security Systems’ new 8-channel VideoJet 8008 and VideoJet 8004 offer DVD-quality real-time video combined with efficient use of bandwidth for a compact solution wherever multi-camera transmission and recording is required. The VideoJet 8008 and VideoJet 8004 encoders offer multi-channel capability through 8 non-multiplexed MPEG-4 video streams simultaneously over a gigabit Ethernet connection and these multi-channel units offer dual streaming.

VideoJet 8008 and VideoJet 8004 integrate with existing analog products and networks. The new units’ integrated 120, 240, 600 or 800 GB hard disks provide full DVR functionality and pre-alarm recording.

The Video Digital Recorder (VDR) from GE Security offers all the advantages of digital recording including sharper, more detailed images, instant searches by time, camera or alarm, and no more tapes or VCR maintenance. The VDR version 1.05 lets you copy video evidence on a CompactFlash card to give to investigating law enforcement officials. You can view the stored images on any PC without additional software. The VDR is a simple plug-in replacement for most VCR applications. It uses common time-lapse settings and is compatible with most multiplexers. Plus, the VDR hard drive is removable, giving you unlimited storage capacity. Simply install a new hard drive when your existing one is full.