Tip & Tricks

Getting started with smart home security

With over 3 million home burglaries every year in the US alone, homeowners are driven to find a viable, preventative home security solution. With modern technology, they can look beyond the old, passive solutions and discover an opportunity to enhance their security, installing a system that is truly proactive and reactive. A means of not only more effectively preventing break-ins, but also enabling fast, reliable emergency assistance, gaining deeper knowledge of all triggered events at their home, providing better ease-of-use for family and friends, and much more.

Smart cloud security solutions for your home

Security starts with your front door

While these smart security solutions provide a multitude of advanced features and functionality, making for a powerful, user-friendly security system, they also present homeowners with a difficult, time-consuming process of identifying where to start. That’s where we come in! We want to help get you familiar with some of these cutting-edge options by outlining some practical ways you can upgrade your home security, along with some recommended products and services.

It All Starts at your Front Door

As the main entryway into your home, the front door is an ideal place to begin when assessing your security needs and there are few other places in your home that present as many choices. One of the best all-around solutions though is a smart intercom, which goes way beyond what a standard intercom provides and introduces a host of integrated features from video recording to external light control to remote, keyless access.

One of the most well-known, all-in-one intercoms comes from 2N Intercoms, which offer devices that have an integrated camera (for video recording & presence detection), relays (for controlling lights & locks), and app functionality. While not the cheapest option (i.e. 2N IP BASE model is currently $850), the ability to monitor and control various functions at the front of your home, is a perfect combination of strength and convenience.

Another option, similar to smart intercoms, are video doorbells, like those from the company, Ring. Their line of Ring Video Doorbells have similar functionality to smart intercoms, including video, audio, and motion tracking, but lack the ability to remotely unlock the door. Their models range from the basic, battery-powered model ($99) to the fully-featured PoE (Power over Ethernet) model ($499).

Take your Access to the Next Level

While on the topic of front doors, many savvy homeowners are moving beyond the deadbolt and integrating smart locks that not only work in unison with both smart intercoms and doorbells, but are truly smart, working just as well without those devices.

Allowing for controlled access to your home, these locks work via remote access, many times via a mobile device. One such example comes from Nuki, which provides keyless access, activity logs, the ability to give access to individual users, and more.

Best of all, installation is simple and can be done without professional help.

Windows that Keep you Informed

Picture this, someone is trying to break into your window but is thwarted by either a lock, a neighbor, or some other factor. While it’s great that burglar couldn’t get into your home, wouldn’t you have liked to know they were trying to break in when it was happening? Shock sensors give you that peace of mind, giving you or third-party agents the ability to react when movement or a potential break-in is detected.

There are quite a lot of Wireless motion/shock sensors on the market and some of them require a device called a HUB/Base Unit that connects the sensors in your home to the internet and transmits their signals via. Other, more modern models don’t require a HUB and work connected directly to Sigfox, NB-IOT, LORA or other modern networks.

Some of our recommended window sensors are:

Securing your Yard the Smart Way

With high-resolution image quality, wireless connectivity, and more, today’s modern security cameras open up a new world of utility, giving you more clarity and oversight than ever before. But with those advancements comes a trade-off – how do you choose which one is best for your specific needs?

When selecting a new camera, the most important aspects to consider are the resolution, the sensor, and, to a lesser extent, the additional built-in features. One thing many people mistakenly believe is that the more megapixels the better. While this may be the case for those selfies on your iPhone, this isn’t necessarily the case for that new camera on your garage.

Smart home security: Have your property secured by a team of remote security professionals

What’s important to consider is not just the image quality, but the type and size of the image sensor. Every camera has some kind of sensor, these days the industry-standard is a CMOS sensor, but older models may have a CCD sensor. With that, the bigger the sensor is, the more light that can be used for each and every pixel, delivering much better light sensitivity during low-light conditions, which is vital for outdoor cameras.

For instance, a 4K camera has 4 times more pixels than a Full HD model, which means that 4x as much light will be required for each pixel. With an inadequate sensor, you will experience a low-light scenario, producing undesirable results like lots of image noise or the blurring of moving objects, both of which would destroy forensic details meaning you wouldn’t be able to identify individuals on the video.

Beyond image quality and sensors, you should consider some of the extra built-in capabilities such as embedded video analytics called, Video Motion Detection, which can detect if there is a movement in the area of interest.

With all of that said, Axis cameras are a great all-around option, combining good image quality and sensors, with one of the best Video Motion Detection embedded (for free) with the possibility to upgrade to their Axis Guard Suite analytics (additional $50) which offers better detection results. Axis cameras vary from $200 to even $800 and more depending on requested features. A good, all-around camera for monitoring your yard, with integrated infrared-lights (night-vision), is the AXIS M3105-LVE ($300).

If you need more help selecting, installing, or connecting your security camera(s), our security professionals are more than happy to help. Consulting with them is free and getting started is easy. 

Set up your free consultation now.

Remote Monitoring is your Reliable Security Partner

Imagine you have your smart security system designed and installed perfectly. You have the right combination of sensors and cameras, smart devices at your front door, and controlled entry into your home. Now what do you do if something is triggered and you can’t or are unable to react? What if a camera becomes blocked or there’s a false alarm?

In these cases, you need a virtual partner in operating and administering your security system and that’s where services such as Remote Monitoring comes in. With Angelcam’s Video Verification service, your entire system is connected to the cloud and accessed by a team of security professionals who can verify alerts, perform camera health checks, and notify you and the authorities, when necessary, of expected (e.g. parcel deliveries) and unexpected activity (e.g. break-in attempts).

If you have any questions on anything mentioned above or are interested in getting started setting up your smart security system, set up a free consultation with our security experts. 

10 reasons for cloud backup – part II.

Do you want to know more about advantages of connecting a security camera to the cloud? Let’s continue.
(Missed the part one? Read it here.)

6. THE LOWEST TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP (TCO) 

When comparing the cost of any two options (cloud vs. NVRs), one must look at all the costs involved, even the ones that are not so apparent. Below we’ve listed all possible costs you should be aware of:

  • Hardware – The cost of the NVR
  • Maintenance – The cost for upgrades, expedited service, license renewals, training, and security audits and inspections
  • Installation – You’ll have to consider the cost of installation, wiring, power, configuration, and training
  • IT department’s time/cost to implement installation – This includes product evaluations, vendor selection, setting up network security configurations, collecting and drafting documentation, and finding rack space, power, and a network. This all combined with the loss of working hours, which could be better spent on critical tasks.
  • Scaling the business – The cost related to the operational inefficiencies and ongoing labor associated with having different systems, often found in organizations experiencing quick growth or those which have multiple branches or offices (see “Scaling and Flexibility” below).
  • Capital Cost for redundant / protected storage RAID Storage option on NVR or external storage arrays
  • Cost due to electricity consumption – The power consumption of an NVR will vary greatly and a lot depends on the number of HDDs installed. A typical 16 channel NVR will consume anywhere from 30 to 250 watts (per what?). At $0.10 per kWh, this equates to an annual cost of anywhere from $26.00 to $219.00.
  • Risk / Cost associated with theft floods and fire – What is the cost of time spent trying to recover your lost video(s)? Will this missing footage cause a loss in revenue? Will this hurt your company’s goodwill or brand?
  • Physically protecting the NVR – This may include the acquisition of a secure location, door locks, card access to storage room, lock box, etc.
  • Productivity cost associated with NVR downtime – Lost productivity associated with NVR failures, updates, license renewals and general maintenance. There may also need to be overtime paid to employees that manage these interruptions.
  • Annual NVR software upgrades – IT Department’s time for doing security due diligence, coordinating activities, upgrading software, and implementing security procedures, patches and documentation. This also includes the maintenance fees paid to the security integrator.
  • Replacement – You may need to eventually replace your NVRs when they fail or become obsolete. This includes the time needed to re-evaluate business needs, make a proper product selection, acquire RFPs, and the costs of the new NVRs themselves.
  • Acquiring capital – Cost associated with obtaining capital, including interest on a loan or leasing fees.
  • Saving video clips – Cost associated with safely securing selected video clips and sharing them, including the time needed to save & download, establish security protocols to maintain the chain of evidence, and for protected storage.

When all that is considered, using a cloud service, such as Angelcam, brings down the overall TCO.

 

7. SIMPLE PREDICTABLE BUDGET 

Sometimes it is difficult to make a TCO calculation (see above), and with evolving technology and ever-changing business needs and regulations, many simply want to lower the risk of their video surveillance investment and have a more predictable and scalable solution.

Angelcam Cloud recording is subscription based and therefore, eliminates much of the cost associated with servers, installation, maintenance and software licenses. It also does away with the cost of IT personnel constantly maintaining server security, software updates, license renewals, infrastructure, and data protection. Cloud-based recording eliminates all of these costs and therefore allows for simpler budgeting.

In addition, cloud-based recording offers the most scalable storage solution possible. With Angelcam, there is no constraint on the amount of data coming from a camera. As long as you have adequate upload speeds, you can send the highest quality streams for recording and no longer need to worry if you will exceed your storage capacity.

 

8. SCALABLE & FLEXIBLE SOLUTION FOR YOUR GROWING BUSINESS 

Growing businesses, especially those that expand to different locations, need to consider the lifetime cost of scaling. For example, if you were to purchase an NVR one year and then the following year add the same surveillance at other locations, those new cameras may not be compatible with the new locations. On the other hand, if you were to purchase different camera brands for multiple locations, those new cameras may not be compatible with each other or your previous ones.

Even if the brand you choose can accommodate these new locations, consider that NVRs are constantly being updated and discontinued. So the cost of scaling will likely include the cost associated with managing different hardware, ongoing network security, software licenses, training, and installations.

In contrast, recording to the cloud with Angelcam not only eliminates all of these costs, but also provides operational efficiencies, a single interface for all users, and, best of all, a future-proof solution that will forever evolve and improve without wasting your organization’s time.

 

9. HIGHLY SECURE

It is understandable why some people are concerned with the security of videos in the cloud, but cloud companies are aware of the dangers of the internet, and they invest heavily to insure data is not compromised and that their users are protected from viruses and malware. Angelcam utilizes Amazon’s S3 cloud, so our customers receive the security benefits of this leading cloud provider.

When one considers all aspects of cloud security they may discover that cloud recording is the safer and more cost-effective solution.

 

10. FALSE ALARM REDUCTION WITH VIDEO VERIFICATION 

Did you know that 99% of alarms are false alarms? Video Verification is a feature that aims to reduce the number of false reports, by verifying the existence of an emergency before alerting the authorities. This is accomplished by sending a video to the user and central monitoring station when an alarm is triggered. This ultimately results is a much faster response time and avoids fines associated with false alarms, which exist in some municipalities.

Traditional video verification solutions are proprietary and only work with certain cameras. Additionally, there are indirect expenses related to the integration of these alarms to the central monitoring stations. The result is generally an expensive solution, which many times does not match the needs of the user.

Launching soon in the US, Angelcam’s Video verification product will feature all the benefits of our cloud architecture, including working with most cameras and not requiring expensive integration with CMS software. This will help pave the way for a more cost-effective and flexible video verification solution.

When you consider just these 10 reasons, it’s easy to see why more and more businesses and individuals are connecting to the cloud every day and taking advantage of all the benefits that come with that. If you have any further questions, about cloud solutions or the compatibility of your camera with the cloud, please contact our support team at any time, as they’ll be happy to help you.

 

Mike Farnan
Vice President of Sales at Angelcam

Mike is an experienced industry expert, who has spent years in the Security Camera division of Philips and Bosch, where he was responsible for Product Management, Sales, and Partner Relations. He also co-founded App-Tech Corporation, a security integration company, where he spent the past 10 years before joining Angelcam. Mike is always excited to “talk shop”, so if you ever wish to discuss industry challenges or your company’s cloud future, feel free to get in touch.

 

 

10 reasons for cloud backup

Ever wondered why there is such a fuss about the cloud these days? How someone can possibly trust in something that’s intangible and send a stream from their IP camera there? Well, you might be surprised, but there is actually “something” about it. Read our expert Mike’s comparison of cloud and DVR/NVRs that are commonly used, mainly because of habit.

The advantages of the cloud in a nutshell:

1. Opens up new features and functionality for your camera, which are easily customizable and scalable 
2. Keeps your video footage safe and secure, thanks to services such as Amazon’s S3 cloud
3. It will never become obsolete, as new features can be continually added over time
In addition, there is no need to pay for extra electricity, or additional maintenance and support. Put simply, it’s a cost-effective, highly efficient service that opens up a wealth of options for you and your surveillance needs.


1. Protection against hard drive failures


NVRDVR/NVR‘s record video on hard drives
that will eventually fail and many times these failures are discovered right when you need the video.
DVRs/NVRs can provide an extra level of protection by utilizing redundant storage space but this adds significant cost. In addition, these systems require more rack space, generate more noise, heat and consume more electricity.

 

2. Long retention time


DVRs and NVRs have limited storage capacity.
Inevitably, as more cameras are added and higher resolution cameras employed, the overall retention time of the NVR is reduced. In other cases, you might simply want one, two or more years of storage from just a few cameras to protect yourself against fraudulent claims, product recalls or for any number of other reasons.
With cloud recording, you have the most flexible and scalable storage solution. Simply select the retention time needed for each camera and know that it is safely stored in the cloud.

 

3. Protection against fire & theft

burglary-2022162_960_720

The most obvious reason for cloud recording is to ensure that video evidence won’t be lost or stolen. However DVRs/NVRs can easily be stolen, fires and floods can destroy them.

 

 

 

 

4. Compliance


Some industries are regulating security
. The cannabis industry is one example. Each state that has legalized marijuana has included specifications for security and ensures compliance with state inspections. Since the loss of video evidence is not tolerated in this industry, many states have direct or indirect requirements for off-site backup storage.
With cloud recording, the video is stored in real-time at an offsite location. Therefore if there is a theft, fire or flood, the video is safe.

 

 

5. Easy access & sharing

Screen Shot 2017-02-15 at 15.32.29People today are always on the move and for them to remain productive and responsive, they need easy and immediate access to their video – no matter where they are. Once an important piece of video is discovered, it will then need to be shared with others. Traditional NVR systems can do all of this, but they require a connection back to the NVR system.
To make sure these remote connections are secure, your IT department or security vendor needs time and diligence to do things properly. This may include firewall, router and NVR configurations along with software installations, PC configurations, and training. In addition, each connection back to the NVR will consume bandwidth and rob performance from the NVR, so if you have multiple remote connections you may experience a slow and unresponsive system.

In contrast, with cloud-based storage systems, the video resides in a cloud, so many users can simultaneously access the live or recorded video stream without any performance degradation.

For instance, if you have a camera with build in Angelcam ready firmware, it’s safely connected to Angelcam cloud by using an encrypted channel. So it’s only you who can remotely view and store a video from it. The magic is in no port forwarding, no exposure a stream of your camera to the public internet. Angelcam stores videos in Amazon S3, the industry’s most-trusted service. Everything happens through HTTPS to protecting your data and privacy.

In addition, sharing video clips couldn’t be easier. Once a video clip is saved, all one needs to do is enter the email addresses of the individuals that you want to share the video with. These users will get a link (no downloads necessary) and be able to play the video from any device with any internet connection.

 

Wondering what other five reasons might be? The hint is that they are related to cost and business issues. Read about them here.

And don’t forget to visit our website www.angelcam.com to see how we can help connect your camera to the cloud.

 

Mike_BW_S
Mike Farnan
Vice President of Sales at Angelcam

Mike is an experienced industry expert, who has spent years in the Security Camera division of Philips and Bosch, where he was responsible for Product Management, Sales, and Partner Relations. He also co-founded App-Tech Corporation, a security integration company, where he spent the past 10 years before joining Angelcam. Mike is always excited to “talk shop”, so if you ever wish to discuss industry challenges or your company’s cloud future, feel free to get in touch.

 

 

 

Cameras that love Angelcam

Check out the list of compatible cameras at “Connect a camera”. If you can’t find yours in the list, your camera may still be compatible. Just read this article to find out!

Most IP cameras support H.264 encoding and RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol) – the standard,most compatible and reliable service for streaming. You will need a device that has these features to use our Cloud recording app.
We also support MJPEG mode but only for our Live Streaming app (we may include further support for MJPEG cameras in the future).

Check your camera specifications for compatibility (in its manual or on the web). If you find RTSP among the specs, H.264 is usually supported as well. But double check! In this screenshot from the manual of an Axis camera, you can find the H.264 under video specifications.

Screen-Shot-2016-06-13-at-08.10.35

RTSP can be found under Network or sometimes Protocols.

Screen-Shot-2016-06-13-at-08.10.52

Be aware, some un-branded or cheaper devices will mention RTSP support, but may be missing or very unstable. Use our list below to assist you.

Recommended cameras

We listed some of our favourite brands here:

axis

Axis

Most cameras have required protocols as well as a service called AVHS allowing you to connect using “one click” technology. No router configuration is required and with Axis, although the price may be higher, you always get a quality product with good support, great image quality and configuration options.

foscam

Foscam

Another well known brand which offers good image quality for a good price. The configuration is not very detailed, but it gets the job done for most users. Look for camera models marked 9xxx, the older ones don’t support h264 encoding.

dahua

Dahua

As currently the world’s biggest IP camera manufacturer, Dahua offers a wide range of devices for various applications at a great value for money with the price of basic models starting under $99.

However, Dahua devices are often unofficially distributed, meaning there’s no firmware upgrade option, or various glitches may occur in the settings.

tp-link

TP-link

A good choice for a home user.

ipcc

IPCC

One of the few low-cost brands which actually works: A nice user interface with all the basic settings. Great value for money – price can be as low as $40, international shipping included.

vivotek

Vivotek

A well known manufacturer, good quality and acceptable price. Good support.

sony

Sony

Great image quality, some neat features. Higher price.

hikvision

Hikvision

Another big manufacturer, it is similar to Dahua with all pros and cons.

 

Other brands: Samsung, Geovision, AirLive, Bosch, Panasonic, Pelco

There are many other brands, and generic devices which function perfectly with Angelcam.

Not recommended cameras

Xiaomi Small Ants (Also known as YiCam, MiCam): this brand commonly has issues with it’s RTSP streaming and is usually not stable or working on our Cloud recording app. This device also comes with various firmware versions, some of which don’t even support RTSP. You can run into many more similar Dropcam/Nest clones with the same problem.

NEST cam (Dropcam): Restricted access for mainly their own services. Incompatible with Angelcam.

TP-Link NC200: Although this device does not work on angelcam, newer versions, such as the NC220 are working without issues.

D-Link DCS-931L, 932L, DCS 5020L: no RTSP support, unstable MJPEG stream. Some other D-Link models have stability issues as well

Cantonk: The camera restarts when we try to initiate a new connection

Escam: Cameras keep restarting

Cameras that require an extra step in the setup process

AEvision & Vstarcam & Anran: Are not currently detected by Angelcam due to specific authentication requirements. RTSP address should be set manually.

 

 

Optimizing Your Camera for Smooth Streaming: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know in 1262 words

You’re here because you need your camera to be streaming properly. We get that, so let’s skip the usual opening chit-chat and get straight to business.

Ready? Let’s go.

When configuring your camera stream, your main goal is clear: to find the best possible streaming quality while keeping your Internet connection limits in mind and then to provide a satisfactory quality / bandwidth ratio for your viewers (note that some of them will be watching your stream on their mobile devices).

We would love to tell you that things are very much straightforward and there’s one single most important attribute of any stream that you should focus on. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

What matters most is the purpose of the stream. Are you going to broadcast a live stream from a concert? Or are you interested in streaming “just” for security reasons? Once you’ve determined this, there are three key attributes of your stream that matter most.

Resolution

You likely know a thing or two about this, but let’s sum it up anyway. Repetition has never killed anyone, right?

The optimal resolution which delivers a high-quality stream is 1280×720 pixels. You and your viewers should be fine with that. However, if you start experiencing connection issues, lower it right away to keep the stream running smoothly – ideally to VGA resolution, which is 640×480 pixels.

If the opposite is the case, meaning you have a solid Internet connection and want viewers to enjoy higher image quality (in fullscreen, for example), switch to 1920×1080 pixels, that should do. Such resolution is particularly useful when you or your viewers will likely be zooming in when watching the recorded footage.

By now, a question might have popped up in your head. What does “solid” connection really mean? Let’s have a brief look at Internet speeds. If you’re already familiar with this subtopic, feel free to skip to the next chapter titled Compression.

Internet speeds

Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) should be able to tell you what your Internet speed should be. It always includes two numbers:

  • Download (usually the higher number)
  • Upload (usually the lower number)

If you are trying to stream your camera over the Internet, you should mainly worry about the Upload speed, as this is the speed which will limit you in how much data or camera streams you will be able to stream. It is good to measure your real-life speed, for example at www.speedtest.net.

For a 720p camera with h.264 stream, we recommend an upload speed of around 1Mbps, in order to maintain decent video quality. For each additional camera, you would have to multiply that number of course.

All clear so far? Good, let’s move on.

Compression

Compression is the second of the three key attributes of your stream. And – just to give you a heads up – it’s also the point where things start to get a bit nasty, technical jargon-wise. No worries, though, you’ll be fine!

When it comes to compression, you get to choose from three options:

  • MJPEG
  • MPEG4
  • h.264

The most suitable one? Opt for h.264. It consumes a lot less bandwidth than the remaining two while maintaining the same image quality. Interested in details? Read the compression types comparison below. If you’re fine with just knowing that the three options exist, feel free to skip it.

Compression types comparison

MJPEG

+ compatibility
+ supported by most cameras
+ low decoding demands
– consumes significantly more bandwidth than h.264
– lower quality of the stream
– not supported by our recording app
– no audio support

h.264:

+ best widely supported compression type available
+ reduces bandwidth usage
+ high quality picture
+ can include audio
+ can be used with cloud recording app
– higher hardware demands for decoding
– the picture might be temporarily corrupted when packets get lost

MPEG4

– not widely supported (like most platforms, we don’t support MPEG4 either)
– it is a compression similar to h.264 but not as efficient

Along with h.264 comparison, we also recommend you to go for either of these two options:

  • CBR (constant bitrate) set to a lower value than the upload speed of your Internet connection.
  • VBR (variable bitrate) with a fixed maximum value which won’t be exceeded.
    This way, you will decrease the bandwidth when there is no movement in the picture. That proves useful especially when streaming for security reasons.

If you use fixed quality settings, you can run into trouble with your stream when the traffic increases significantly, e.g. at night or when there’s sudden, unexpected movement in the stream, which either exceeds the upload bandwidth or the camera itself can’t handle.

Framerate

Almost there! We’ve already discussed resolution and compression, let’s close it with the third attribute of a stream – the frame rate.

Most cameras allow you to choose frame rate on a scale from 1 to 30 FPS (frames per second). The higher the frame rate (more FPS), the more fluid your streaming is.

Sounds logical, right?

Lower frame rate results in using less bandwidth, but also for a choppy video. We recommend it when there’s not much movement in the picture because then you can save some bandwidth or use the same bandwidth to keep the stream fluid.

Higher frame rate consumes more bandwidth and, not surprisingly, results in a more fluid video. It should be your option of choice when you’re about to stream fast action and a lot of movement. In order to avoid using too much bandwidth while keeping the picture fluid, we suggest lowering the resolution or compression quality.

When streaming for security purposes, it’s usually sufficient to opt for a frame rate of 10 – 15 FPS. Some cameras will even lower the frame rate during nighttime as they increase the exposure time in order to reduce the noise in the picture.

That’s it!

Got what you came here for? Great! Need to go deeper? Leave a comment, our camera guru, Paul, will be in touch.

For those of you who are still hungry for more information, we prepared a glossary with the most widespread expressions you can possibly come across when dealing with streaming and cameras in general. We’ve covered some of them earlier in this blog post, some might be new to you.

The glossary

FPS = Frames Per Second

How many frames per second your camera encodes. It can usually be set to 1 to 30. The higher the value, the more fluid the video is.

CBR = Constant BitRate

Also known as fixed bitrate. The camera will keep the bitrate constant, thus the video quality will vary.

VBR = Variable BitRate

Also known as fixed quality. The camera will keep the quality constant, thus the video bitrate will vary.

GOP = Group Of Pictures

Also known as I-Frame interval, keyframe interval. It can be expressed and set in seconds (1/30 to 2s) or in frames (1 to 60). This value identifies how frequently the keyframe (complete picture) will be used in comparison with predictive frames (incomplete pictures, carrying only data which differ from the keyframe)

More frequent keyframes are used for videos with a lot of motion, which reduces a potential chance of frame corruption. Less frequent keyframes are used for more static videos, where it can significantly reduce the bandwidth or improve image quality while maintaining the bandwidth.

GOV = GOP Compression

Image quality can be set in percentage (0-100) or in steps from low to high. It influences the overall image quality and bandwidth usage.

High value = high quality, high bandwidth usage.

Low value = blocky / blurry image, low detail, low bandwidth usage.

Powerline frequency

It reduces flickering when used in combination with artificial light (fluorescent lamp). 50/60Hz (EU/US), anti-flicker.

OK, now that really is it. We hope we’ve made things clearer to you!

How to save bandwidth without lowering stream quality

There are numerous ways to save bandwidth when streaming video. Most of them, however, have a direct negative impact on the quality of the stream (e.g. lowering bit rate, frame rate or resolution).

Luckily, you can seek out more sophisticated forms of saving bandwidth, ones that have no or very little negative consequences.

The most well known technology is Zipstream by AXIS. It’s supposed to save about 50% of transferred data without lowering the quality of your stream. And our own tests confirm that you can really achieve these savings with AXIS.

Zipstream turns out to be most useful for night scenes and static scenes.

You can turn it on in your camera settings via the Video Stream Settings / Zipstream section. Turn H.264 bitrate reduction to High and turn on Dynamic GOP (Zipstream can only be used with newer camera models).

Other camera manufacturers certainly don’t want to be left behind, so you can check out technologies like Vivotek Smart Stream, Hikvision Smart H.264 and Arecont Bandwidth Saving Mode.

Port Forwarding: The Solid Guide You’ve Been Looking for

It can be a tricky thing, this port forwarding! No worries, though, with this guide you’ll manage to set it up on your camera before your coffee cools down.

Let’s start with a bit of theory to get you warmed up.

It’s your router that matters

Every device, which is a part of your local network, has its own local IP address. To make things interesting (meaning more confusing), this address only works within your local network. Should you want to access your camera remotely, you’ll need a different one. Configuring your router is step number one. Your router has a unique IP address, assigned to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

All incoming communication ends in the router, and if you want to access any device from your local network remotely, you will need to tell the router which device should the request go to.

You guessed correctly: this process is called port forwarding. The following guide will help you get it up and running.

The guide itself

We covered the theoretical basics of port forwarding, now let’s move on and put it into practice. The first thing you need to know is that apart from the IP address, there is an additional form of identification called the port number. It looks like this: 192.168.1.1:554.

This port number lets you access different services (for example a web server, mail server, FTP server, servers for online games, chat clients, etc.) and even more devices (for example different computers within your local network) with the same service using just one public IP address. With an IP camera, you are most likely to encounter HTTP port (80) for configuration access and MJPEG streaming, and RTSP port (554) for RTSP streaming. If your camera supports RTSP (you can find it in its specification sheet), lucky you – it’s the only port you will need to use.

Setting up port forwarding step by step

  • Look up your router brand and model. Each brand and type has a slightly different user interface.
  • Here’s where you find guides for the majority of routers. Just select the brand, the model and correct service type (RTSP for h.264 cameras or HTTP for MJPEG cameras). Feeling lost? You’ll find dozens of video tutorials on YouTube when you search for “port forwarding BRAND MODEL”
  • Generally speaking, the first thing you need to find is your router’s IP address. This is usually to be found on 192.168.1.1; 192.168.0.1; 192.168.0.254; 192.168.11.1, 10.0.0.1. Just simply enter this address into your web browser while you’re connected to your local network, a login screen should pop up. Can’t find it? Please check your network settings. The router address should be defined as “gateway address”.
  • After you’ve logged in to the configuration interface, look up a tab named “Port forwarding”, “Virtual server”, “NAT” or “Firewall”. In this tab you’ll need to specify the following:- public port: 554 (or 554-554 when a range is required)
    – internal port: 554 (or 554-554 when a range is required)
    protocol: TCP and UDP (or ANY, BOTH)
    – IP address: the private IP address of your camera (192.168.x.x or 10.x.x.x)

    Please note that for MJPEG cameras you’ll need to use port 80 instead of 554. Should you be using multiple cameras in one location, each camera will need to have its own unique port. Feel free to contact our support team if this is the case, we’ll do our best to help you out.

  • When you’re done with these configurations, it’s time to verify that everything’s fine and whether the port is open. You can do it in this open port check tool
  • If you’ve managed to open the port (and we certainly believe you have), your camera should now be detected automatically.

Experiencing any kind of problems during the port forwarding configuration process? Feel free to reach out, we’re always here for you!

What is the difference between MJPEG and H.264?

 

If your IP camera supports both H.264 and MJPEG, you might be asking yourself: which format should I choose?

Let us help.

The technical side of things
The main difference between H.264 and MJPEG is that MJPEG only compresses individual frames of video, while H.264 compresses across frames.

MJPEG is the compilation of separately compressed JPEGs in a sequence, which leads to high quality outcome in terms of resolution.

With H.264, on the other hand, only some frames are compressed by themselves, while most of them only record changes from the previous frame. This can save a significant amount of bandwidth compared to MJPEG (which encodes each frame as new), but results in a video of lower quality.

H.264 pros/cons
+ reduces bandwidth and storage consumption significantly
+ adaptive video quality based on bandwidth
+ suitable for storage
+ / –  complexity setup – sometimes tricky to set up – streaming quality, frame rate and i frame rate. GOP, VBR, CBR etc.

MJPEG pros/cons
+ consistently great image quality
+ robustness, if one frame is dropped, then it does not affect the video
– no sound
– consumes much more bandwidth and storage
– no storage support at angelcam

In conclusion, when it comes to deciding whether to use MJPEG or H.264, it always comes down to what the consumer is looking for and where the camera is being installed. Although H.264 will be the preferred way for many, MJPEG may be a format of choice for those who seek higher quality with crisp details, but can’t support the H.264 stream.

 

Quick tips on how to set up your camera

 

I was wondering what should be the first thing worth mentioning when installing a camera and then something crossed my mind. The main thing is to plan the installation before you buy any camera because there are different aspects that might render some cameras useless for your application.

So here are the main aspects you should consider when installing a camera:

1. Think of the reason of your camera system, plan in advance, buy cameras later. Simply avoid the troubles with bad choice. Angelcam recommends everyone to consider the conditions first and purchase suitable cameras afterwards. Once you appear in the last step “Purchase the camera” you can check our page with recommended cameras.

2. Identifying your camera on the network is easy when you purchase a camera from a well established manufacturer. You get a tool which will scan your network and find the cameras. In other cases you can check if your camera wasn’t detected as a network device (cameras with UPnP presentation enabled) and if you can’t find it, the you would have to scan your network with for example angry IP scanner.

  • For users who are not using a DHCP server to assign IP addresses automatically in the network, each camera should come with a default IP address which should be specified in the user manual.

3. Always install the camera facing the entrance point (door, windows), having a footage of someone’s back won’t help you with the identification.

  • Be careful though, when monitoring windows and doors, you will usually discover that it is not that simple as it might sound. Usually, inside a building it is quite dark while you get a direct beam of light through the windows or when someone opens the door and most cheap cameras don’t handle scenes with high contrast really well.
  • The easiest option is to look for cameras which do come with WDR (Wide Dynamic Range, also called HDR). The problem is that cheap cameras only have a software WDR which has extremely limited capabilities, simply put, the picture is post processed which makes some objects slightly more visible. So either check if this function is acceptable for your installation or get a camera with hardware WDR. Every experienced security company should be able to point you in the right direction in their portfolio. Here is an example of the difference in Axis cameras.

 

 

  • If you still want a cheap camera, there is a solution as well. After you install the camera, go into the image settings and look for for something like exposure settings. You should be able to leave it in automatic mode and select just the area where the window/door is and exclude it. The camera will then correct the exposure settings only to match the light conditions inside the room and when someone enters it, part of the image will be over-exposed but you will see the face instead of just a dark silhouette. Of course it won’t be perfect, you won’t see anything through the window for example.
  • You can use the exposure configuration in all other cases to force the camera to match only the light conditions in the important areas.

4. Don’t install the cameras too high, always make sure you are clearly able to see a person’s face, not just the head, again, it won’t help you with the identification.

  • When you have selected the position for each camera, measure the horizontal angle of view (you don’t have to cover the whole room, just the important areas. Choose your camera according to your measurements, most cheap cameras come with a lens with a fixed focal length, but you can usually pick from 2-4 specific versions of the same camera, each with a different lens and different view angle. A nice online tool for illustration is here: http://www.theiatechnologies.com/calculator.php

 

You already know how to install an IP camera, here are some tips related to camera settings:

1. Resolution: for most indoor applications, you don’t need more than a 1 MPx (720p) camera, you don’t need to pursue the highest resolution, look for a good image quality instead (light sensitivity in Lux in color and B/W mode).

  • Cameras with higher resolution are usually worse in low light conditions, the same amount of light going through the lens is divided to more pixels. It isn’t the universal truth however, budget cameras with higher resolution tend to use next generation sensors, so keep an eye on the datasheet.

2. Frame rate: if it is possible, use the highest available frame rate, lower the framerate only in case you have some bandwidth/storage limitations, in that case, 15 fps is still enough for security purposes, it won’t limit you when identifying a walking/running person.

3. Flickering is also associated with the frame rate, it is caused by difference in the power line frequency (60 or 50Hz depending on the country you live in) and the frame rate and shutter times. Anti-flicker modes sync these values so the picture is not degraded. Be careful, some cameras come in different versions, so not every camera will be able to sync with your powerline frequency.

4. IR illumination: There are not many configuration options in this case, so when installing the camera with an IR illumination, check if there aren’t any surfaces reflecting the IR light back to the camera.

  • Another challenge might arise when a person comes in front of a camera with an IR light on, the face might be overexposed which limits the chance of identifying the person. There isn’t any settings which would help with this, but some more advanced cameras can dynamically reduce the IR light output in the affected cameras making the object in the front more less overexposed.

5. Blurry image at night, in this case the camera is increasing the exposure time too much, making the picture clearer (allowing more light through to the sensor during longer time) but making any movement blurry. Simply decrease the maximum exposure time to 1/15s or so and you shouldn’t get any more blur. Also note that longer exposure time also reduces the framerate (with some exceptions)

6. Streaming settings is usually set to quite a high quality from factory, you just might want to check if the compression is set to h264, that the I-frame (keyframe) frequency is set to roughly 1s (1x the framerate value=usually 30 or 25). If you’re experiencing some issues, it is a good idea to set a maximum bitrate so that the camera doesn’t send too much data, for example at night. For cloud solutions, it is good to keep the maximum around 1500-2000 kbps for a 720p or 1080p camera, for local storage it might be 4000-6000. These are the common values, you need to take into account your connection speed and your storage capacity as well.

7. Connection quality is pretty much connected with the bitrate, most cameras can handle only up to 10 concurrent connections (depending on the stream quality settings), any new connections are refused once this happens. This is however the maximum value, if your stream quality is high, you can observe increased delay, choppy image or even connection loss with as low as 5 connected viewers.

  • This issue can be easily managed by using angelcam live streaming app. Angelcam creates only one connection to your camera and all the other viewers do connect to angelcam servers only.

8. Outdoor/indoor cameras, this basic division just distinguishes which cameras can be mounted outside, in cold/hot environment, working in rainy or dusty conditions. The most common standard for such cameras is called IP66. Cameras marked as IP66 can be mounted outside, but it is still a good idea to check the operating temperature of each camera, the differences can be quite dramatic.

  • When installing an outdoor camera, don’t forget to protect the cable as well, most connectors in cheap camera are not water resistant. Also, any cables should always face downwards, otherwise you risk the water droplets getting into your camera and damaging it.
  • Clearly visible outdoor cameras act as a prevention system, when someone notices that the house is being monitored, he is likely to find another object which is less risky getting into. Having said that, always make yourself familiar with your local laws, in some countries, you’re not allowed to monitor public areas.

All clear, but don’t have a camera yet? Feel free to check our recommended cameras.

I hope this helped, however if you should have any questions, feel free to contact me or our team via our Live chat. We are ready & happy to help!

How To Check What’s Wrong With Your Network Camera

Getting your IP camera work well isn’t always easy. So today we’ll share with you a small trick we’ve learned. Chances are it’s nothing new to you, but we feel like a lot of our customers might benefits from us sharing it.

When will this trick come in handy:
– when you’re not sure whether your camera is streaming at all
– when you’re having trouble with your firewall

It’s all about the VLC player. Because VLC is not only good for playing movies. It can also show you your camera’s video and audio stream.

Here’s how you do it:

1) Download VLC (if you don’t have it already)

Just click here, download and install it on your computer.

largeVLC

2) VERY IMPORTANT: Connect to a different network than your camera is connected to

Most often the issue with cameras not showing in click2stream is the firewall or internet router that doesn’t allow the stream to go outside of your network. That means you can see the stream as long as your computer is on the same network, but it can’t reach our servers because they are outside of your network.

Here’s what you need to do:
Take your laptop home (if your camera is running on your company’s premises) or to the work (if your camera is at the office). Or just go to your favorite cafe with WiFi. And do the next steps from there.
If you don’t have a laptop computer you can take with you anywhere, ask a friend living in a different building to use their computer. It won’t be more than 5 minutes (so you can grab a beer and watch a game afterwards together).

3) Open VLC

You probably guessed this one already 😀

4) Go to File > Open Network

Or press CTRL-N (or CMD-N if you’re using a Mac)

VLC Open Network

 

5) Enter your camera’s RTSP or HTTP stream address

Put it into the URL text field.

VLC rtsp address

 

6) OPTIONAL: Click on Open RTP/UDP Stream

Here you can setup a few finer points – like if you have a non-standard port in your firewall or router open for the camera. Usually, the port is 554, but as said, you might have a different one open.

VLC port settings

 

7) Click Open

8) Can you see your camera’s video and hear the audio?

If you can, your camera is working: High five someone close to you!

If it isn’t you know the issue is not with click2stream and you can fix the problem in your camera’s setup.

If it works in VLC, but not on click2stream, don’t panic! Our tech support team will surely be able to help you and make it work. So go to the website and contact them (in live chat or if they’re not available, just drop them an offline message and they’ll get back to you ASAP).

Hope this little trick works well for you.
If you have a trick or two of your own and would like to share them with other click2stream customers, please let us know at sales@click2stream.com