Frame Rate

Most have become accustomed to what’s referred to as real time recording; this implies recording at a rate of thirty frames per second.  The end result is fluid recorded video that looks identical to what you’d see during live viewing.  Granted, this is a nice added bonus to have, but how realistic is it for businesses?  The average homeowner has around eight to twelve cameras making recording at this rate pretty easy to obtain.  Businesses don’t have such an easy time as their average ranges from twenty four to thirty two cameras.

The problem these larger systems run into is not that the technology doesn't exist, but that almost all businesses are going to be working with a finite budget.  Unless you’re a business that has already experienced a good reason to have CCTV cameras, a video recorder (DVR, NVR, Hybrid, Tribrid) that’s capable of recording that amount of cameras in real time is probably not going to fall into that budget too nicely.

All of this being said, let’s get back to how realistic or necessary this may be.  The realistic part is simple; it’s a nice feature to have but proper and well planned camera placement is far more important and ultimately your loophole around real time recording.

Custom frame rate options vary but business class video recorders will generally range from three to fifteen frames per second.  Since it’s a little hard to visualize these different recording rates in our head, please watch the video below to view sample footage:

You'll see from the video that thirty frames per second, while fluid and easy on the eyes, is just not required for what we're after here.  Even at just three frames per second, this camera was able to achieve facial identification.  Higher frame rates are a fantastic feature to have, and give you you a better chance of capturing more detail, but don't feel like you're locked into anything.

Scheduled Recording

You’d be hard pressed to find a DVR that isn't capable of scheduling how and when your cameras record.  More specifically, you’re looking for certain options that come along with this.  In addition to scheduling your cameras to record during specific time periods, you should also be able to schedule them to record only when motion is detected.

Why is this important?  Well, when your offices are closed, there's nothing for those cameras to record but office furniture.  Unless something begins to move within their field of view, such as someone breaking in, they will only be providing a live video feed.  This is hugely important when it comes to conserving storage space.  Without this feature, fifty percent of your recorded video would be of what your business looks like when it’s closed.

If you haven’t put it together already, what comes along with this is the ability to set your cameras up in a multitude of ways.  In addition to being able to change how cameras are recording on certain days, you should also be able to set them to record how you want during different times of a single day.  For instance, during normal business hours, it may make sense to be recording for as long as you have people in the building.  However, as we stated, at night when the building is closed, it doesn't do you a lot of good to be eating up storage space for the sole purpose of knowing what your desk looks like in the moonlight.

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Camera Placement

As you’re likely trying to reduce the number of cameras you have as much as possible to keep cost down, it’s very important to think this step out.  A lot of people get it in their head that every camera they put up needs to be able to identify someones face within a certain area.  What’s generally overlooked is the idea of placing a single camera in a position where people will naturally have to enter the building or room.

Naturally, you’re going to want the ability to identify anyone and everyone who enters the premises.  instead of positioning cameras all over the room to make sure you can identify someone regardless of where they’re standing, a single camera can be zoomed in and focused on the entry point.  From the second they enter the room, you've identified them.  After that, another camera or two with wide angles of view can be placed around the room to provide you with a good general overview.  That person’s physical characteristics and clothing will be enough to following them around room later if you end up needing to review your video.

Wide Dynamic Range (WDR)

This moves us right into a specific camera feature you may find is worth considering.  It’s not wdr-imguncommon for businesses to have doors leading from outside with large windows or panes of glass.  A typical security camera is not going to be able to see through that glass even though you think it would; the problem is glare.  During daylight hours, that glass emits a very bright glare as the camera perceives it.  It completely cuts out your ability to see through these panes of glass at all.  If the glare is bad enough, it can actually drown out the individual as he/she is walking through the entryway and your chance of identifying him/her is lost at that time.

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You fix this problem with something called Wide Dynamic Range (WDR).  There are two types of WDR; “real” or “true” WDR and digital WDR (DWDR).  The DWDR type is a cheaper version and is found, by default, in quite a few models of cameras.  You usually won’t see DWDR being advertised outside of the spec sheet because it’s unreliable.  Depending on the level of glare you may be dealing with, DWDR will certainly help but not eliminate it.  This is where real WDR comes into play.  If you’re seeing a camera being presented as a WDR camera, you’ll want to ensure that it’s not DWDR.  The fact is that if you truly need to solve your problems with glare, real WDR is the only way to ensure that you eliminate the problem entirely for yourself.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Cameras

Not everywhere you may consider to be indoors necessarily fits the bill for an indoor camera.  Indoor cameras need a climate and temperature controlled space that’s absent any humidity or moisture.  As indoor cameras are not weatherproof, something as simple as condensation or humidity is enough to short the camera out and render it useless.  Warehouse areas are the most frequent areas that people have misconceptions about.  There may be a roof over your head, but they are almost never a climate controlled environment.  Entryways leading from outdoors encounter the same issue as they are subject to frequent and rapid temperature changes every time a door is opened.  If there’s any doubt in your mind, you’re better off assuming you need an outdoor camera; there’s nothing wrong with using outdoor cameras in an indoor environment.

Don Stephens is a Technical Support Manager at CCTV Camera World, a leading Security Camera distributor located in Buffalo, NY. His area of expertise is in designing professional security camera systems for medium and large scale businesses, schools, and government projects.

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