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Cisco Meraki Documentation

Motion Search and Motion Recap


The following article will help you search for and view motion events on the Dashboard. This tool is ideal for incident reporting and expediting the retrieval of video for said events.

Understanding Motion Detector V1 vs. V2

Note: Motion Detector v1 is currently only supported on MV21/71. For all other cameras, Motion Detector v2 is set as the default on MV5.5.1+ and Motion Detector v1 is deprecated. 

Motion Search makes finding events easier on all MV cameras. However, due to the presence of a more advanced processor on second generation cameras, there are some differences to note between the way Motion Search works on first generation cameras (MV*1) and second generation cameras (MV*2). First generation cameras employ Motion Search 1.0, whereas second generation cameras has the ability to use the more powerful Motion Search 2.0 algorithm along with Motion Recap as well as Motion Search 1.0. Motion Search results will be shown in list view for first generation cameras, while you also have the option of a grid view with Motion Recap images for second generation cameras.


A major difference between Motion Search 1.0 and Motion Search 2.0 is that the newer algorithm has increased fidelity for small changes and better sensitivity in low light. Motion Search 2.0 uses background subtraction to isolate motion instead of frame-to-frame differencing which the previous generation used. Motion Search 2.0 allows for more motion events to be captured which were not possible with Motion Search 1.0. This background subtraction also allows for the creation of Motion Recap images, which makes finding events even faster. Read more below on some factors to consider when using Motion Recap and Motion Search 2.0.


On the other hand, Motion Search 1.0 is based on chroma and luminosity changes as well as spatial and temporal filtering. A tiny amount of spatial motion can trigger an event if it's intense enough and long enough. If it is too short, it will be dropped. Additionally, motion that covers the entire frame can be saved as a motion event, even if it's really short. For example, a change in lighting or shadows from passing objects in an environment that cover a large part of the frame can trigger a motion event. On the other hand, someone standing in the frame but not moving very much may not be registered as a motion event. Additionally, events in poor lighting conditions may not have intense enough chroma or luminosity changes to be registered as a motion event.


For Motion Search 1.0, to optimize the performance in poor lighting conditions, it is highly recommended that customers use an external, high power IR source. This provides greater illumination of the scene and allows for a more precise identification of motion events. Additionally, having a light source that is further away from the camera itself reduces the likelihood of capturing motion caused by dust, insects, etc on the camera. Cisco Meraki can recommend RayTec, who have a wide range of PoE IR lighting for almost all deployments.


Motion Search V1 Pros Motion Search V2 Pros
Lower sensitivity reduces the chance of false positives Increased sensitivity to motion events
Less impact on edge storage retention Improved detection of motion in low lighting environments

Adds Motion Recap image support

Motion Search V1 Cons Motion Search V2 Cons
Unable to detect all sources of motion compared to motion detector v2 Increased potential for false positives due to sensitivity

No support for Motion Recap images

Increased motion event frequency will result in reduced video retention duration

The image below highlights the difference in detection capabilities between Motion Search V1 and V2.


Note: The MV32 fisheye camera does not support Motion search version 1.0 and thus will not be able to toggle between the modes.

Optional: Disabling Motion Recap Images

On second generation cameras, Motion Recap makes finding events faster and more efficient, but requires additional bandwidth.

When Motion Recap is enabled, upstream bandwidth will increase with a potential of spikes up to ~200Kbps.

You have the option of disabling Motion Recap images and save bandwidth by enabling restricted bandwidth mode through the Quality and Retention settings tab. More on this toggle in this article here. 

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Example Motion Recap image:

Motion Composite - 360 Store Middle - Jun 10 2019 09_20_48 AM PDT - 1.jpg


How to Use Motion Search

Some of the later screenshots may have a slightly outdated user interface, but the highlighted step should remain the same.

  1. Go to Cameras > Monitor > Cameras. Select a camera from the network list.

  2. On the Video tab, select Motion Search.


  1. Draw your region of interest on the video feed.


  1. At this time, motion events from your search parameters will be populated on the dashboard in either grid view or list view.

If you see "Image Failed to Load" under your Motion Recap images, it is likely that SSL inspection is utilized upstream of a Meraki security camera. If so, please disable to ensure you can view Motion Recap images.


    • With Motion Recap images enabled, you can still toggle between a grid and a list view using the buttons on the right-hand side. In this list view, you can click on the headers to sort by timestamp, duration of the event, how much of the frame it covers, and how much of the region of interest in covers.
    • This same list view will be the only view when restricted bandwidth mode is enabled.

Screen Shot 2019-06-11 at 9.29.58 AM.png

Screenshots below are outdated and will not have this toggle shown, but the option exists.


Continue reading the steps below if you see Motion Recap images and do not have restricted bandwidth mode enabled.


  1. Take note that you will not see all your results at the same time. Use the navigation buttons to see more results.


  1. If desired, do the following to specify more accurately the time period you are interested in.

    • Changing the time via the calendar box (recommended due to ease of use) 


  • Clicking the zoom in and zoom out on the timeline bar to grab a greater range of events (as in normal usage)image7.png
  • Clicking and dragging on the timeline bar (as in normal usage)
  • Using the day selector (as in normal usage)



  1. You can narrow down your results even further by performing any of the following actions. The text below the options help give a summary of how many results were omitted due to the added filter/s. You may also reset all filters using the option below this text.


  • Change motion sensitivity (0 to 100%)

    • Motion sensitivity slider is represented as a percentage. This percentage is a weighted average of the frame percentage and region of interest percentage.

  • Change minimum event length (0 to 35 seconds)

    • Minimum event length slider represents the minimum duration allowed for an event.

  • Show results with detected people only

    • Helps eliminate results and focus on motion caused by detected people

  • Show motion blocks (see below)

    • Helps correlate the Motion Recap images with the blocks in the selected region



  1. From here, you can select the Motion Recap image that you want to view in more detail. Here, you can see the date, time, duration of this event. You can also download the image.


  1. Events which contain sporadic motion or are longer than 30 seconds may have multiple images associated with them. You can toggle between the different Motion Recap images of this event.



  1. If you want to see a different result, you can toggle between different Motion search results.


  1. Close by clicking on the “X” on the upper right, or “Close” on the bottom right.


  1. You can exit search or jump to search results at any time using these buttons here.


Understanding Motion Recap Images

The images displayed in this view are not simply screenshots from the camera; instead, they are composite images which summarize an entire motion event. Objects in the foreground are tracked independently, then layered into a single image. Events which contain sporadic motion or are longer than 30 seconds may have multiple images associated with them.


Note that some factors may negatively affect the resulting Motion Recap image. They are enumerated below. When the conditions are less than ideal, it is expected to sometimes have images like these ones below.

Factors That Affect Motion Recap Images

Motion Recap images turn out best in areas with even lighting, easily identifiable subjects and clean lines of motion. Avoid the following scenarios listed below. Consider disabling Motion Recap if you find that the Motion Recap images are consistently affected by these.

Lighting Changes

Motion Recap relies on being able to distinguish subjects in the foreground from the background. When the background changes drastically due to lighting changes, Motion Recap will not be able to create a clean composite image with a clear foreground. See examples of affected scenes and images below.

  • This is common in outdoor cameras, where the passing of clouds change the lighting in the scene.


  • This is also common in scenes overlooking doors to the outside, where the opening and closing of the door lets in outdoor light frequently.


Sporadic Motion

When trying to create a composite image of subjects moving infrequently within a small space, the subjects in the Motion Recap image may appear ghost-like. The limited movement of the subject/s may cause Motion Recap to conclude that the subject is part of the background instead of the foreground.


Lots of Movement

It can be very insightful to see a Motion Recap image with many different subjects. However, since a lot of these subjects may overlap within the frame, it can be hard to track a single subject’s line of movement.


Subjects that Cover a Majority of the Camera’s FoV

When the subject covers a large portion of the camera’s field of view (FoV), there is a chance that any lighting sources close to the camera may be obfuscated. This may cause the camera sensor to adjust itself and cause a change in the background (similar to an actual lighting change, but different since the source itself is not changed, just the amount of light that reaches the camera sensor). As a result, subjects too close to the camera, cameras zoomed into a subject, or subjects that are large in size may also result in distorted motion recap images.



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