A visit to the IDIS Display at IFSEC 2014
Reminder: I had 5 questions specifically relating to the exporting of evidential video from a Video Surveillance System.
My decision to go for the small, ‘appliance’ type device continued with the DR-2104P. A neat looking NVR…
How easy is it to export evidential video from this device?
Exporting a few minutes from 4 cameras was pretty painless. I didn’t take too much attention to the export process as I was discussing the systems supposed ability to have a standard readable internal HDD. I was informed that IDIS have a HD Player software package that enables the reading of an entire NVR HDD. I have searched for this, and reviewed some manuals, but have been unable to confirm the existence so far!
Back to the export in hand… the export transferred quickly to the USB data device – let’s see what we have!
How easy is it for me to play the exported footage?
A single executable containing both player and footage. The IDIS Clip player has had a bit of a refresh from a graphical point of view, but what about capability?
As a basic player I like the interface. Easy buttons and a minimal approach to the GUI. If playback is required, either in multi-camera or single camera, it passes with no problems. It was interesting though to hear my processor start to speed up and another fan kicking in as I played all the streams. Could there be an issue with more than 4 cameras on a low powered corporate machine?
How easy is it to analyse and understand the format of the video?
An icon at the bottom brings up a good menu.
The default Aspect Ratio was set to ‘Fit to Screen’ rather than original. Changing this made things look better and removed the distortion!
Another useful menu item was under ‘Frame Info’.
OK, it was no surprise that my CPU ramped up a gear with four 1920×1080 streams playing.
Having this information is great but there really needs to be a lot more here. Frame type and milliseconds are sorely missed. There is also no information on frame rate.
Are there any functions to deal with the evidential video within the software?
Still Images are well catered for with both Jpeg and Bitmap. The date and time information, along with camera number is over-layed. The native recording resolution is used. For video, we have a multitude of options. Before I go into those, it may be worth highlighting an issue discovered with an older version.
Lets look at the transcoding option first, but bear in mind that you may need to validate that your transcode has not dropped frames.
Every codec with encoding capabilities that is installed within your PC, and a number of older generic ones are listed under ‘Codec’, but the most important ones are missing! Native – Do Not Transcode & Uncompressed. In order to get Uncompressed, it’s possible to use the FFdshow Uncompressed option. To create a short clip, at a smaller size, perhaps for media use – there are lots of possibilities. For analysis – its a bit difficult.
This new Clip Player, along with other recent versions, has an ability to save a single camera clip copy.
This now saves a new .exe file with player, and just the video for Camera 1. Very handy!
Is it possible to deal with the evidential video away from the software?
Due to the video being encapsulated within the executable, we have the task of finding it and then attempting playback. The success rate on this is rather hit and miss and has to be done on a clip copy with single camera export. Some video streams can be read with no problems.Some though, as is the case here, cannot be decoded correctly.
The video data starting at offset 280000. The start of the file was the playback program. By carving out the first bit, just leaving the single camera stream, it is sometimes possible to recover, analyse and utilise the native H264 video. As it is only a single camera clip, there is no issue with other camera streams confusing the situation.
Unfortunately, all four streams in my example export were not read correctly. The extra data within the video caused too much distortion and corrupted frames.
The same result was found when importing the video data in other software utilising video frameworks such as FFmpeg. In the image below, It would initially appear that Amped FIVE can play the stream but on playback or rewrapping, it failed.
I did try it in Linux with Libav but didn’t attempt any others.
1. Documentation. Again, this is not solely an IDIS Issue – it’s across the entire industry. In researching the mysterious HD Player and export options, I have found little information and it’s interesting to see that there is now little information on the IDIS site for older DVR’s. Some of these appliances sit on shelves for years, quietly recording away. When the time comes to actually need it, the manual is usually lost. Linked to this is the fact that the Make and Model number should be on the front of the device. Not on a sticker on the bottom. With that info, and good documentation online, the owner, or investigator should be able to establish the information they require.
2. Although not tested, I would be interested to see what happens with 8+ streams of full HD. Does playback slow down, or does it drop frames?
3. Aspect Ratio should (IMO) be set to original recording ratio as default.
4. Frame type, GOP Structure, Frame rate and milliseconds need to be included.
5. Video export. Uncompressed needs to be added, along with native. The native export would strip all the IDIS proprietary metadata from the H264 stream, leaving the native video to work with.
This method of export is not too far off from being very good. With a little development to include some of the suggested information and capabilities, this could really be helpful.
The information provided here, has been supplied to assist the video security business.
If anyone from IDIS wants to improve the systems using the information provided, please feel free to get in touch.