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MV Encoding Improvements: Smart Codec

Introduction 

A standard codec such as H.264 will use one set of compression algorithms to compress a RAW video into an encoded video. A Smart Codec will dynamically adjust the parameters within the compression algorithm in real-time to efficiently increase or decrease the compression levels. On cameras that support Smart Codec, this technology enables us to DOUBLE the retention for most scenarios.

MV cameras use H.264 by default, and starting MV4.15 supported MV cameras will implement Smart Codec encoding. 

Benefits of Smart Codec 

Smart Codec can be beneficial in many ways, not limited to the following: 

  • Improved on-camera video retention (averaging 2x based on the scene)

  • Low bandwidth utilization for Cloud Archive uploads (averaging half based on the scene)

  • Low bandwidth utilization for local and cloud streaming (averaging half based on the scene)

  • Faster file exports 

As Smart Codec aims at reducing the overall size required to store videos, any action where video file sizes have an effect will be improved. 

Retention Improvements with Smart Codec 

Smart Codec aims at offering up to twice as much video retention improvement on our Gen2 MV product line. This would mean that a camera running a specific resolution and video quality setting will experience an approximate improvement of 2x the retention when upgraded to a firmware supporting Smart Codec. 

One of the main factors that influence the compression algorithm is the amount of motion seen by the camera at a given time. As every camera sees a different scene and, thus, a different amount of motion, the benefits of Smart Codec will also vary with other cameras. 

Due to the dynamic nature of Smart Codec, every camera will not see the exact amount of retention as it will be dependent on the scene the camera is looking at. However, all cameras will see improvements in retention. 

The following factors can affect the retention of a Smart Codec enabled camera: 

  • Amount of motion seen throughout the day

  • The camera is in day or night mode

  • Lightning condition and noise level in the frame

With the rollout of Smart Codec, the Quality and Retention page has been updated to reflect more dynamic retention values per camera. 

Screen Shot 2021-12-02 at 10.26.33 AM.png

For every camera running Smart Codec, the retention values will be estimated based on the motion data and storage used by the video over the last three days. This will provide more accurate retention values based on each camera. 

Video Quality with Smart Codec 

The goal with Smart Codec is to achieve maximum efficiency with compression of video while maintaining the video quality option as set on the dashboard.

Network Bandwidth and Cloud Archive Benefits  

As Smart Codec reduces the size of the video files, we can also notice the benefits for the network bandwidth required by the camera to perform local stream and cloud stream. For cameras using Cloud Archive, this network bandwidth usage will be most visible as seen below: 

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This screenshot displays the network bandwidth usage with Cloud Archive enabled for an MV using 1080p at standard video quality setting with H.264 (top) and Smart Codec (below), where you can see the reduction from 1 Mbps to between 500-600 kbps. 

FAQs 

What is a codec? 

A codec is software that encodes or decodes a data stream like video. Meraki MV smart cameras use the H.264 codec. Starting MV4.15, MV cameras will start using Smart Codec.

How do we deliver more video retention?  

Smart Codec analyzes a scene in real-time and dynamically optimizes video retention and playback. It observes various levels of motions and other parameters to apply corresponding levels of compression logic to the video files by intelligently determining which scenes require more compression and which scenes do not. 

How much can video retention improvement be expected?  

As the Smart Codec applies various compression algorithms based on the amount of motion detected, the video retention noticed on the cameras will also depend on the motion detected. For most cameras, the results show double the improvement in video retention as of November 2021. 

How is this going to affect the video quality?  

The Smart Codec will perform various video compressions while maintaining perceivable video quality. 

Which MV cameras will leverage the new Smart codec?  

All second-generation MV cameras (MV12, MV22, MV32, and MV72) on MV4.15+ will support Smart Codec. MV2 and MV52 will be supported with a future firmware update. 

Will Gen1 Cameras support Smart Codec?  

Gen 1 cameras will not support Smart Codec. 

Smart Codec Troubleshooting 

Different cameras with different retention days

Please note that this is not an unexpected behaviour, as the results of Smart Codec rely on various factors such as motion detection, day and night mode, lighting conditions, noise, etc.

 
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