In security, there are two warring needs in digital security monitoring. The first need is for high-quality video. After all, having images of a problem isn’t helpful if you can’t get any good detail from it. Being able to identify parties, or read details on items, can be the critical difference between useful information and redundant footage.

The second need in digital security monitoring is storage. Once it is recorded, video needs to be stored, and that takes up both memory space and processor power for streaming. That space and power cost a lot of money. Since this is the case, the size of a video file plays a major role in the costs of any security setup. Finding a balance has not always been easy, but a new codec hopes to reconcile these two issues and strike a new balance. Today, we will explore this and tease out the good, the bad, and situations where h.265 compression just might be the right choice.


What is H.265 Compression?

H.265 compression is an upgrade to the currently widely adopted h.264 standard. It is a 4K compatible standard that is designed to help reduce the issues that are associated with the network and storage infrastructure of video storage. This standard, which is gaining traction, hopes to provide up to 50% in savings on the costs of bandwidth and video storage savings. The system is designed to be back compatible, which will help with the adoption between this standard and the previous one.

H.265 technology has built-in compression and noise reduction technology. This is designed to assist in lowering overall costs for video surveillance solutions, with is designed to offer higher resolution streams without requiring significant upgrades to the capacity of existing storage systems.

How H.265 Compression is Better

If the standard can live up to its claims of being a 50 percent decrease in bitrate, then it will represent a significant cost savings for organizations using 4K surveillance systems. It will allow organizations to spend less money on storage, or conversely to be able to store information twice as long before they need to delete and rewrite over the data. Given that every organization is cost conscious, these savings can add up significantly.

Some of the other possible options for organizations that are less concerned about immediate upgrade budgets would be the ability to add more cameras on sight. This would allow for more detailed coverage of sensitive areas. It would also reduce the need for regular panning, which would increase the stability of coverage for some areas. Alternatively, the option to make enhancements to the current cameras in order to display more pixels is another upgrade option. The increase of pixels would give the option of widening the field of view for camera, which would potentially cover more ground.

H.265 Compression’s Drawbacks

Of course, there are no benefits in this world that come without drawbacks. The h.265 is much more processor intensive than the previous h.264 standard. This means that the upgrade will not be possible using strictly firmware for the existing hardware which cannot handle the additional processing required by h.265. Current hardware will also need a hardware decoder somewhere in the system. Higher end systems may be able to handle the new standard, but older systems will likely require the physical upgrade.

Another drawback currently is the cost. As there are fewer manufacturers of the newer compatible equipment the costs will be higher. As this standard become more standard the hardware costs for new systems setups will go down, but just as right now the current hardware needs as upgrade, hardware that is ready to go will come at a high price.

There are also some concerns around the different licensing and royalty structures that have been suggested by the two organizations that hold the patents that the h.265 standard are built upon. While this issue has largely impacted media companies, the provisions requiring a royalty on revenues generated on the content developed by device using the standard has created a lot of industry pushback from companies such as Netflix and Amazon. This has stalled widespread adoption, and fueled the advocacy for a non-royalty bearing option via the Alliance for Open Media. This pushback has decreased the demand for the hardware and kept prices higher for hardware made under this standard.

H.265 vs H.264

H.264 is the current standard used by most of the security industry, and while h.265 has been gaining ground, it has a long way to go. This isn’t really surprising when you consider that it took h.264 quite some time to get to the top of the heap. The standard was setup in 2003, and it wasn’t until 2009 that adoption became widespread. H.265 may have the same long march up to make. The largest difference between the two is the previously mentioned compression algorithm. This is designed to province a reduction of about half of the current standard video file size.

Who is into H.265 Compression?

When it comes to h.265 compression there are a few big names in the game. Companies such as Hikvision have already made explosion proof versions of their cameras using the h.265 standard. Axis has also been working with Hikvision to spread awareness of the benefits of the new standard by sponsoring joint events such as webinars. Dahua technology has come out strong with a line of video surveillance equipment that supports the h.265 standard with the ability to work with both the h.265 and h.264 codec for maximum flexibility.

H.265 Compression and The Future

The future of h.265 will likely be an upward trend, with adoption growing in a steady slope. Unless the royalty free alternatives become the standard that is adopted. If the licensing issues are not resolved, then the growth may be slower than the adoption of the previous standard. Any time standards are split, the growth is likely to have a bit of a lag. Immediate upgrade is not required for most security organizations, but it is time to start planning for the future.

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