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CCTV Test: External Video Motion Detection

by Benchmark

The growth of video analytics has seen a diverse number of options made available to installers and integrators. The headlines are often grabbed by the smarter aspects of video analytics, and often motion detection is relegated to being a general purpose choice for low risk applications. With the right detection discriminations and correct set-up, can video motion detection still deliver an acceptable level of security performance? Benchmark looks at options form Hanwha Techwin, IPS, Hikvision, Axis Communications and Bosch to see what is on offer.

There was a time when VMD was a credible solution. Even in the days of analogue technology, VMD offered much to high risk applications. However, the quality of VMD performance hinged on two things: discriminations to filter out nuisance activations and careful installation.

As digital technology came to the fore, the implementation of VMD became easier. As a result, some manufacturers included the technology as a free-of-charge feature on cameras and DVRs. The combination of low costs and limited processing capabilities meant that often VMD was little more than a contrast switch and was prone to false alarms.

With many products over-promising and under-delivering, installers and integrators lost faith in VMD. When increases in processing power arrived, video analytics became a reality. Because of past negativity, the surveillance sector was quick to distance IVA from VMD.

When many of the free VMD functions were added to cameras, DVRs and NVRs, processing capacities were low. Todays much higher processing capacities allow IVA to be included, and this also means that VMD can be enhanced with a wide range of discriminations such as target size, speed, perspective, direction, etc..

To establish whether today’s motion detection offers a credible solution, Benchmark looked at some edge-based options to see how they coped with external environments.

Axis: AXIS Video Motion Detection 4

AXIS Video Motion Detection 4 is an edge-based application which is included as standard on Axis network cameras and encoders running firmware version 6.50 or later. The free-of-charge app allows the creation of motion-based alerts, and also enables cameras to be configured for event-based recording. It is suitable for both external or internal locations.

AXIS Video Motion Detection 4 can support multiple areas in one field of view, and is triggered by moving objects. Where multiple streams are available, each stream can have a different set of ‘include’ and ‘exclude’ areas.

Signal processing helps to reduce false alarms by disregarding background motion, aided by Ignore Filters which disregard innocuous motion such as vehicle headlights, swaying trees and animals or birds.

Installation is very straightforward. The application will already be installed if the camera or encoder is running the appropriate firmware. If it has been removed, it is a simple task to download it from the Axis website and upload the replacement file. No licence file needs to be applied.

The software is found in the Applications menu, and selecting Video Motion Detection 4 loads a link to the settings page. In order to access this when configuring via a browser, either Chrome or Firefox is required: Internet Explorer is not supported as the process has been designed to be plug-in free.

The set-up is pretty straightforward. A Profile is created, and each profile can make use of one ‘include’ zone and up to three ‘exclude’ zones. The zones can be scaled and nodes can be added by double-clicking on an area edge. This allows a good degree of flexibility when configuring areas.

Multiple Profiles are supported, and separate Profiles can be associated with each video channel. Up to three Profiles are supported for each stream. This allows triggers to be changed for specific circumstances such as time of day, free access periods, etc..

With the ‘include’ and ‘exclude’ areas identified, the next step is to set the Ignore Filters. These are used to reduce nuisance activations. There are three filters: short-lived objects, small objects and swaying objects. The filters are set individually for each Profile.

The setting for short-lived objects can be set for between 1 and 5 seconds, and ignores any motion that is not in the viewed scene for at least the defined period . The small objects filter can be used to identify the size – in percentage of the whole image – which must be exceeded for a target to be valid. This is set separately for height and width, with both being adjustable from 3 to 100 per cent. Finally, the swaying objects filter allows for a percentage of the image to be set as a distance within which moving objects will not create an alarm. This can be adjusted from 3 to 20 per cent.

With the latter two filters, a visual indicator helps to simplify set-up.

With the Profiles set, alarms can be managed with the Events menu of the device. This includes a page to configure Action Rules. In the Trigger section, simply select Applications and the various Profiles will automatically appear. Action Rules can be set for all Profiles and can be scheduled.

Performance was generally good with a high degree of reliability. It is important to ensure the ‘ignore filters’ are correctly set to minimise nuisance activations. If set up with care they are very effective.

The app won’t be suitable for all environments, but a field trial will quickly establish whether or not a more analytics-based option will be required.

We did see some false alerts, but these were easy to filter out if they fell within the scope of the available discriminations.

Bosch Security: Motion+

Intelligent Video Analytics from Bosch Security is a licence-free analytics package that is included on most Bosch cameras as a standard function. The cameras’ event-based alarms include Motion+, which is the VMD element. Other IVA rules include object detection, line crossing, enter/exit, route following, stationary or removed object, counting and occupancy, crowd density, condition change, loitering and flow monitoring.

Motion+ is suitable for both external or internal locations and can support multiple areas. Events are triggered by moving objects including people and vehicles.

The configuration allows detection fields and masked areas to be created, and sensitivity is adjustable. Other discriminations include percentage of activity and target size (cell cluster).

The configuration menus are pretty straightforward and are accessed via the VCA page in the Alarm menu.

To configure a Profile, simply select it and identify the type of analysis required. Further configuration options are set based upon this selection. Motion+ options set whether detection is across the whole scene or in custom zones, and activity levels and object sizes can be set, both as percentages. These settings do include an on-screen icon so you can see how they relates to the actual image.

With this done, masks can be applied and sensitivity is set via a slider.

The VCA screen also allows tamper detection, global scene change and bright/dark alarms to be configured.

The ability to mask portions of the image can be useful if there are problem areas within the viewed scene, but most typical nuisance activations can be filtered out.

As Motion+ is an integral part of the camera’s functionality, this makes it simple to apply various alarm actions. These include triggering an output, email notifications, event recording, etc..

In previous tests, IVA from Bosch has rated highly, predominantly because it delivers a good level of discriminations and allows the analytics to be configured for accuracy and stability. With Motion+, the same high level of configurable detail hasn’t been applied. Motion+ does work, but you need to spend some time tweaking to get it to a point where it performs as expected.

Hanwha Techwin: WiseNet X Integral VMD

The WiseNet X range from Hanwha Techwin supports licence-free intelligent video analytics as standard. Rules include motion detection, line crossing, directional motion, enter/exit, appear/disappear, face detection, audio detection, loitering, tamper detection, and auto-tracking. The cameras also support the use of alarm inputs and outputs.

Alarm actions include file upload, email notification, recording to edge storage, output triggering or displaying a digital PTZ preset. There is also an option to ‘handover’ to another designated camera, which does allow a decent level of flexibility.

Hanwha Techwin’s analytics are an integral part of the devices. There is no need for licences or additional applications. With the camera set-up for video performance, the installer or integrator simply goes to the Analytics menu and can then configure the functionality.

Motion detection set-up is simple. There is a tick-box to enable VMD, and then there are two toggled screens. The first allows detection areas to be set, and the second allows excluded areas to be created. Up to eight of each are supported.

Each detection zone can have an independent level of sensitivity and alarm threshold set, allowing problematic areas to be managed separately whilst still contributing to detection. It’s not exactly nuisance filtering, but it does achieve the goal in a less sophisticated way. The approach works best if you know what the source of false activations is likely to be.

In terms of performance, the lack of filtering makes the motion detection hit-and-miss in some external applications. We did note that even on high sensitivity, the alarm threshold had to be set very low to capture events. If the threshold is high motion events can be missed; this is something Benchmark has reported in the past.

Hikvision: Integral VMD

Hikvision includes event management and video analytics in many of its cameras as standard. This includes motion detection, video tampering and notification of device exceptions (such as invalid login attempt, address conflict and LAN disconnection) as basic events, and intrusion detection and line crossing as smart events.

The motion detection feature can support up to eight detection areas, which are simply drawn using a mouse. There are two configuration menus: Normal and Expert. The Normal menu is, in our opinion, too basic for security applications. The latter menu is the one to select. It adds the ability to create multiple areas, set up the motion for day and night operation, and includes a percentage scale along with sensitivity settings.

Each area can have independent settings, which does allow a higher level of flexibility and a degree of filtering can be achieved, albeit in a less seamless way than if dedicated discrimination settings were included. Just remember to save the settings for each area before moving on to the next!

With an area drawn, there are three options for day/night configurations: off, auto switch and scheduled switch. Both switch-based options give two settings for sensitivity and percentage: one for day mode and another for night mode. In the scheduled switch menu there is also an option to set times for each mode.

There are two sliders: sensitivity and percentage. The latter sets the proportion of an object to be detected. Once these are set (and you might need to do a bit of tweaking to get the balance right), the final steps are to schedule the motion detection and select which notifications or actions will be triggered. These include email, image upload, notification to the Hikvision VMS or triggering recording.

Performance was actually more stable than we’d originally anticipated, and while tweaking sensitivity and percentage did take some time, once we’d got it right the motion detection performed well. During the test we did see an occasional nuisance activation, and judicious use of the detection areas did allow these to be filtered out to a degree.

We found the way to get the best from the function was to ensure the detection zone was made more isolated via camera placement and area creation.

IPS: IPS Motion

IPS Motion from IPS Intelligent Video Analytics is an application which can be run on any ACAP-compatible device from Axis Communications. The application creates real-time alerts when motion is detected in a predefined area. The application is suitable for both external and internal use.

The app delivers a range of configurations including capture and alarm zones, with discriminations for object size and perspective. It also features adjustable sensitivity level and switch-off delay.

The application is configured via a web browser, and alarm information is transmitted via the ACAP interface, allowing the use of Action Rules. The app can also deliver metadata via the web browser or to VMS packages with an SDK.

Installation is relatively straightforward. The app is downloaded from the IPS web-site, along with a licence code (demos are available but include a significant watermark stating that fact). The app file is then uploaded to the Applications page of the camera, and a visit to the Axis web-site is required to create the licence file using the camera serial number and the supplied code. This generates a downloadable file which is then uploaded to the camera.

Having used IPS applications before, we knew that on logging in to the app you will be presented with a page requiring authentication. This has nothing to do with the app itself; the camera log-ins are required.

The app can support up to 8 profiles, and when setting these there is a Configuration Workflow which guides you through the set-up process.

The first step is to set up object sizes for the foreground and background. This is simply achieved with scalable ‘mimics’. After this the Capture zone is created, and it can then be scaled or have additional nodes added. You can also set a Detection zone, with objects being detected but no alarm created. The latter must overlap the Capture Zone.

Sensitivity is then set (options are high, medium or low), a switch-off time entered (this is how long after a trigger an event ends) and the a button selected for external or internal use. The settings are then saved and you can move onto other profiles or test the detection rule.

IPS offers a range of analytics with a very good degree of discriminations, making them suited for higher risk applications. However, the options for IPS Motion are slightly limited.

Interestingly, IPS Motion saw tree sway as motion, and this was filtered out by adjusting the Capture zone. However, the Detection zone did show that the activity was still being detected.

The app worked with basic scenes, but lacked the refinement of IPS’ analytics options, and in some applications nuisance activations will rule it out of contention.

BENCHMARK VERDICT

Motion detection did have a bad reputation in the past, typically because it was ‘dumbed down’ to meet limited processing resources. Today’s devices have more than enough power to run advanced analytics, but most manufacturers haven’t used the opportunity to add filters and discriminations to motion detection options.

All manufacturers in the test are capable of doing this, as their IVA features show. It seems as if they’ve decided that motion-based detection isn’t worthwhile for them, despite it being a valuable tool in many security applications. Motion detection might not grab the headlines like IVA, but manufacturers should still ensure it’s properly developed!

This test left us with something of a dilemma: it was a case of do we recommend all of the products, or none of them. All of the motion detection functions could be – and should be – better. All of the manufacturers offer video analytics functions with a range of filters and discriminations, but for some reason the motion detection configurations have been left basic and lacking in some departments.

Axis Communications: AXIS Video Motion Detection 4

AXIS Video Motion Detection 4 is a free-of-charge app that creates motion-based alerts, and it achieves its goals. The Ignore Filters work well, and that gives it more stability than you might expect. It is easy to configure and is stable in most mainstream applications. It is important to remember that this isn’t a motion-based analytics package but a VMD application with some additional filters.

As such you won’t be able to tweak beyond the scope of the filters, but if it fits the needs of an application, the fact it is supplied pre-loaded means it has to be worth giving it a shot before looking elsewhere!

Bosch Security: Intelligent Video Analytics Motion+

In previous Benchmark tests, Intelligent Video Analytics from Bosch has rated well. However, like a few others in the test, the discriminations and filters applied to other analytics simply haven’t been included in Motion+. It feels as if the manufacturers view VMD as a low-end application, and have ignored it instead of improving what it offers.

The lack of filters can be worked around, but it wouldn’t be an arduous task for Bosch to enhance what’s on offer.

Hanwha Techwin: WiseNet X Integral VMD

At the risk of repeating ourselves, the motion detection in WiseNet X cameras has not had the thought and implementation that many of the other IVA and smart elements have. This is despite the general detection of motion being useful for a wide range of security applications­. Also, the alarm thresholds need to be set very low and a tweak from the manufacturer on this would be welcomed.

Hikvision: Integral Motion Detection

Hikvision’s integral motion detection isn’t the simplest to set up; you need to feel your way with regard to sensitivity and percentage settings in order to achieve a decent level of stability and catch performance.

Putting that to one side, we also had to use multiple detection windows with varied settings to eliminate some nuisance activations caused by environmental conditions. However, once set up it was better than we expected.

IPS Intelligent Video Analytics: IPS Motion

IPS Motion from IPS Intelligent Video Analytics lacks the discriminations that are available in the company’s other analytics rules, much as is the case with all the VMD functions in the test. This might be because motion detection still has something of an air of negativity attached to it. However, as the application is being sold, we feel that it should be enhanced.

It might be sufficient for general detection tasks, but isn’t suited for anything more critical to site security.

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