July 6, 2011

              How Can I Benefit from H.264 High Profile?

              Matt Transue
              Matt Transue, Technical Services Specialist at Basler, explains the different H.264 profiles and how you can benefit by using the H.264 High Profile in your Basler IP Camera.
              In surveillance applications today, you can select from three main types of image compression: MJPEG, MPEG-4, and H.264. This article concentrates on H.264, and more specifically, on High Profile (HiP) H.264.
              H.264 Overview
              H.264 compression has become mainstream and is offered on almost every IP camera and recording server today. H.264 has bridged the large gap between MJPEG (high quality, high bandwidth, and high storage consumption) and MPEG-4 (lower quality, low bandwidth, and low storage consumption). H.264 also has a second "layer" of options known as "profiles". These profiles offer different codec efficiencies and will affect the overall quality of the transmitted video as well as the bandwidth and storage consumption. Today, different H.264 profiles are available. Only three of these are common in surveillance applications: Baseline profile (BP), Main profile (MP), and High profile (HiP). Each manufacturer must decide which of these profiles will be offered with their cameras.

              H.264 Profiles Explained
              Due to its low cost of implementation and low processing requirements, Baseline profile is the most commonly used H.264 profile. However, Baseline is the least efficient profile and produces the most compression artifacts in the transmitted video when there is high motion activity within the captured scene. This is due to a lack of efficiency in its predictive algorithm.
              Main profile is used for standard definition TV broadcasts and is not designed to handle HD video. You will see fewer compression artifacts as well as greater bandwidth and storage savings when compared to Baseline profile.

              High profile is used in high definition Blu-Ray movies and is much more efficient than either Baseline or Main profile. High profile will produce very robust video and fewer compression artifacts than either of the other two profiles mentioned here. The processing requirements for the video encoder in the camera are higher than the other profiles, but the bandwidth and storage savings are very high.
              Advantages of High Profile

              Basler is one of the few camera manufacturers that implement the High profile option. We do this because we see great value in using a better, more efficient profile in your critical video infrastructure. You will see bandwidth and storage savings of 1.5x to 5x when comparing High profile to Baseline profile.

              Another big difference worth noting is that High profile uses Context Adaptive Binary Arithmetic Coding (CABAC), which is more efficient than the Universal Variable Length Coding/Context-based Adaptive Variable Length Coding (UVLC/CAVLC) used in Baseline profile.

              The following table shows how High profile stacks up against Baseline profile:
              Assumptions: A one megapixel camera running at 30 fps in a well lit environment.

              H.264 High profile is the first choice for Basler IP Cameras, and we recommend using High profile whenever possible. High profile will provide a quicker ROI (Return on Investment) than Baseline or Main profile due to its ability to transmit more video feeds over the same size “pipe”. It will also provide much better results in complex scenes than the other profiles discussed here.

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