Tag Archives: PTZ Camera

New American Dynamics Surveillance Keyboard

Designed for use with victor, the new surveillance keyboard is designed to improve video surveillance operation surveillance. Simply “plug and play” via the USB connection — the keyboard is automatically recognized by victor software.

AD Keyboard

The surveillance keyboard offers greater control of PTZ cameras with an intuitive joystick. With 30 pre-programmed buttons mapped to victor’s most common controls, navigation is simple. Operators can program controls and call ups (guard tours, salvos, view switches) and change layouts. Buttons can be customized for specific security operation function.

An intuitive joystick enables precision control of Illustra PTZ cameras, while the jog shuttle wheel quickly manages video, cameras and PTZ preset controls. With its LED backlit buttons, the keyboard is visible even in low lighting.

The surveillance keyboard can be rotated for either right- or left-handed operation. It can be used as a stand-alone device or along with other common peripheral PC devices (mouse, keyboards, etc.)

Video ‘must haves’ for active surveillance

In the majority of surveillance situations, the end user is going to be using video forensically or sporadically, checking on situations that have occurred and using video to determine what happened or to help make a case against a perpetrator or tuning in to a specific incident that is under way.

Active Surveillance SecurityBut for some security officers, active, live video is the critical element. Casinos are users that are constantly monitoring surveillance cameras as the action unfolds in real time. So too with high-risk assets such as babies in the maternity ward or animals in a drug-testing facility: The more valuable the asset, the more intense the surveillance.

Fortunately, IP-based security systems have made many of the processes easier for those in active surveillance situations through the addition of analytics that can alert officers to potential situations; mobile and remote views of what is unfolding; cost savings, especially for large installations; and network-based redundancy.

Where IP-based surveillance has fallen short sometimes is with latency issues for cameras and monitors and network security. When viewing an ongoing incident, it’s critical that the cameras and monitors used have as low a latency issue as possible so those handling the surveillance can make the PTZ camera follow the action. When there is an active shooter or a kidnapping in progress, security personnel can’t afford to lose track of the person they are tracking.

As companies migrate to IP-based solutions, they are also finding that LED monitors have a higher latency issue than the old CRTs. Unfortunately, CRTs are being phased out, but it’s important to know that there can be latency problems created by the monitors when switching views among PTZs.

On the plus side, there are many advantages presented by the newest video management systemsthat improve performance during active surveillance situations and these should be on the “must have” list for anyone putting together a system designed for high-volume use. One of these issituational awareness through analytics, or getting alerts when activities out of the ordinary occur, such as someone entering through an exit.

In some scenarios, such as a shopping mall, there are plenty of open spaces or doorways that allow people to enter and exit, so deploying analytics for situational awareness may not be possible. In these cases, the IP system can provide another benefit through the use of multi-view, time-synched video.

Say, for example, there is an active shooter in the mall. Through the use of time-synched video, security can bring up the various camera views that show the shooting and then help create a timeline to show what happened from there — where the shooter started from, where the event occurred, where he is now, and so on. And this video can also be pushed to officers involved in tracking the shooter so they can see what is happening in real time, rather than relying on audio transmissions to tell them where to go and what to look for.

Because video in these instances is so important for forensic purposes, being able to “vault” the video — extract it from the recording — means it is saved for future viewing and you don’t run the risk of recording over it or losing it.

All of these factors are necessary for the proper design and execution of an IP video system aimed at addressing an active surveillance environment. So as you put together plans for a system, but sure to add these to your checklist.


For a more in-depth look at Active Surveillance and some solutions that address the “must have” features, please watch my recorded Webinar:

Recorded Webinar - Active Surveillance Environments


What challenges are you having with your active surveillance? Please leave me a comment below.

The Security Camera Conundrum: Finding Your Video Solution

If you’ve ever stood in front of the yogurt section of the supermarket, you’ve probably been overwhelmed by the choices available. When yogurt first came on the market, it was available in a few flavors. Then they started to add more varieties, different fat contents, fruit on the bottom or mixed in, Greek vs. traditional.

The same can be said for the security camera market. At one time, there were just a handful of choices to be made. Everything was analog and fixed and boxy. Now the selection rivals that of the yogurt case, with PTZs, fisheyes, domes and high definition, low light, and more.

Security Cameras

But unlike yogurt, where a poor choice means you don’t eat the whole container or keep it off your shopping list for next week’s trip, picking the wrong camera can be a costly transaction, not only in terms of budget but also overall security.

Thus, when the time comes to make a camera choice it’s critical that you carefully weigh your options. To help you through that process, here are some questions to consider:

What do I want to accomplish? With all the options in the marketplace it’s important to drill down to just how the camera will be used and what result is desired. Think about not only how it will be used, but also where — indoors, outdoors, in a setting where aesthetics are important, and so on. If you’re running a meat packing company and need to record video within a chilled meat locker, you’ll have different specifications than someone looking for a camera that can zoom in on a person at the perimeter of a dark parking lot.

If you need to track shoplifters within a retail setting using recorded video that can be used to make a case against an individual, you’ll be looking for video quality and the selection and placement of cameras that allow a seamless experience. That’s different than the meat packer, who is more concerned with a camera that operates in extreme temperatures and rugged conditions.

Next, ask yourself: What do I already have in place? While there are instances when you are purchasing cameras as part of a new installation, often a camera is being added to an existing system. So think about what types of recording and analytics systems you have in place and if the camera will be the appropriate fit.

Once you’ve determined how the camera will be used and what works with your existing or desired system, you can move on to looking at specific types of cameras to fit your need. In North America, mini-domes have become the form of choice, having proven to be versatile, robust cameras that provide wide angle, telephoto, and IR illuminator options. Cameras also come with various mounting options, so add that to your list of considerations when making a selection. Compact mini-domes may be a more appropriate choice in a budget-conscious installation, still providing high-definition, but in a smaller size for discrete applications.

If you’ve determined that you are best served by a rugged, all-in-one solution, a bullet camera may be the right pick. Sturdy and weatherproof, bullets often come with included mounts so there is ease of set up. On the flip side, box cameras can be among the most flexible, offering dozens of lenses, built-in recording, and various housings and mount options so you can customize and tailor the camera installation to fit your need.

Of course, specialized cameras such as fisheye cameras and PTZs offer different levels of functionality for a variety of applications. For example, the fisheye provides a 360-degree view, offering good situational awareness. But there are also limitations; in this case, a 20 to 25-foot sweet spot, which means that anything beyond that range falls off in resolution and image clarity at a much greater rate than other types of cameras.

A PTZ camera can track and zoom in on a subject. However, PTZs perform best when used in conjunction with other types of cameras because the PTZ may not be looking exactly where you want it to when an event occurs. A fisheye or fixed camera, for instance, may catch an event in its field of view, but it’s the PTZ that can then be used to zoom in, pick up the action, and follow it.

And then there’s camera resolution: How much do you really need? Higher resolution comes with trade offs, especially in terms of storing and moving data across a network. Deciding on the proper resolution goes back to the first question about the goals of your surveillance program. How does the resolution of the camera support your objective? Is the goal to be able to capture faces and license plates, or simply detect movement in the dark? Knowing the answers to these questions can determine your resolution needs.

Finally, in making your camera choice, don’t rely solely on the product specifications provided, but rather narrow down your options and put them to the test. There are no industry standards on specifications, so they vary by manufacturer and individual camera. The best way to figure it out is to see a camera in action — does it address the issues you have and allow you to see, capture and analyze video to its fullest extent? If it does, then you’ve found the one that’s right for you.

Please visit our website for more on selecting from the many different IP cameras available from the American Dynamics.


For a more deatiled review, please watch my ASIS 2013 recroded presentation below, which explains how to make an educated decision on selecting a camera based on visibility requirements, resolution, form factor, design needs, and much more!



What other factors have you considered prior to purchasing a security camera? Let me know in the comments section below.

Building A Better PTZ To Meet A Changing Industry

The evolution of video surveillance cameras within the security industry has seen the technology migration from analog to digital, from low resolution to high, and now into the frontiers of high-definition.

Historically, the pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera has played a role within just about every surveillance scenario because it brings to the table abilities that even the most feature-rich fixed surveillance cameras can’t replace. Typical video system installations combine fixed camera technology with PTZ functionality allowing for complete site monitoring and the capability to zoom in and track the subject when an event has occurred.

PTZ Pan Tilt Zoom joystick latencyFrom an operator’s perspective, the resistance to migrating from analog to 1080p HD PTZ cameras is latency or response lag time when controlling an HD PTZ camera. Until now, operators believed that the joystick control experience with HD PTZ cameras was no match to the responsiveness they experienced with high performance analog PTZ cameras. In a monitored surveillance operation, when the operator moves the joystick control to pan and zoom in on and track a subject, the expectation is that the PTZ camera will respond with precision, accuracy and near zero latency. Latency has many contributing factors when you consider where the joystick control is physically located and the path the operator’s camera move-commands must travel to reach the camera. The operator requires accurate, real-time control if the HD PTZ camera is expected to follow the industry trend for replacing the analog units.

The negative effect of PTZ control latency will typically cause the operator to overshoot the target and continually make adjustments, trying to establish proper tracking on the correct Field of View (FOV).  When controlling electronic devices using a joystick control, the operator tends to continue pressing the joystick until the device visually responds.  In a surveillance system, control responsiveness is gauged by the video seen on a monitor. Once the operator sees the proper video, s(he) will adjust directional tracking control as needed. The existing problem with latency and high lag time is that, to deliver the proper video scene during lag time, the operator continues to send commands to the camera causing it to move beyond the desired FOV. To compensate for the lag, the operator moves the camera in the opposite direction. The latency forces the operator to make control adjustments so the scene oscillates around the target FOV but never precisely delivers what is expected.

NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has done extensive studies to establish the maximum acceptable latency for flight control fly-by-wire systems before latency or control stick lag delays affect a pilot’s ability to properly control an aircraft. To achieve real-time control so that the lag is imperceptible to human vision and reaction time, the delay must be 200 milliseconds or less. This same level of performance is needed in surveillance systems. Today, most HD PTZ cameras have higher latency in their control delay making the tracking control not only frustrating for the operator, but often times the resulting recorded video might be missing the key situational elements.

Armed with this knowledge, what do you as an integrator or an end-user need to look for in an HD PTZ camera?  You need to look for a 1080p HD PTZ camera built with high precision, solid core motors and the necessary high performance processing power to deliver the HD video with speed, precision, and accuracy. The HD PTZ camera’s capabilities are critical to achieving performance expectations.  These capabilities are a combination of low latency performance and how well the camera is integrated into the recording platform. You need to look at the total solution.Whenever possible, test the camera on the system to insure the performance meets your requirements and expectations.

Too often decisions on HD PTZ cameras, like many other pieces of surveillance equipment, are made using listed specifications and pricing. It’s more beneficial to experience an HD PTZ camera’s performance and the benefits it can deliver.  Before making a final investment decision, conduct a competitive comparison for yourself.  You will clearly see which HD PTZ outperforms the others.

As many surveillance applications require PTZ Megapixel camera technology, it is heartening to see HD PTZ cameras being developed that can deliver this “real-time” control experience. This IP camera workhorse is steadily growing in the IP industry, adding capabilities and intelligence to meet ever-changing security demands.


Please leave me a comment below with your thoughts on HD PTZ cameras.

PTZ in a Megapixel World

PTZ CameraIt was heard in many security related market discussions over the past 3-4 years that the era of the PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom camera) was over.  Megapixel technology would allow the digital zoom and detail in video that would make the mechanical PTZ obsolete. After all, fixed megapixel cameras are a fraction of the cost of mechanical PTZ, often with greater resolution.  And with enough of them covering the viewing scene, these fixed cameras would resolve the main issue with mechanical PTZ, which is when it looks in one direction, it misses the action elsewhere.

If that wasn’t bad enough for the mechanical stalwart of the analog era, along comes the emergence of high-megapixel fisheye cameras that can dewarp the curved view and digitally PTZ around a 360 degree view. Now, with one camera, a security professional can see the entire field of view in real time and in the recorded video.  Wow, how could a higher cost device that can’t look in all directions at once compete with that?

However, as IP camera manufacturers improve their megapixel fixed camera offering, and as they push dewarped fisheye technology to 5 megapixels, so too do they release HD PTZ cameras with longer mechanical zoom and faster rotational speeds. Is it that old habits die hard, or is there a market for these cameras that can’t be served by the fixed newcomer technology?

The answer lies in the evolution of resolution from analog to IP and the actual customer needs.  Mechanical PTZ cameras rose in popularity at a time when analog resolution was too low to meet much of the need. With mechanical zoom, that resolution shortfall was overcome. And that is what many people think of when they imagine megapixel fixed technology overtaking the mechanical. However, there are several uses that the fixed technology has yet to address, and are driving not only the continued use and investment in PTZ, but innovation as well.

For security professionals that engage in active surveillance and need to see the detail of activity at distances greater than roughly 30 feet, the mechanical PTZ still is the weapon of choice. While the recent economic downturn has reduced the investment in active surveillance, it is still a core activity in the gaming and higher end retail verticals. The dewarped 3 and 5 megapixel fisheye cameras can zoom in for evidentiary detail of theft to about 30 feet from a camera (depending on the height). But a 1080p PTZ with 20x mechanical zoom can achieve this at 350 ft.

If one stands in a control room of a casino or retail Loss Prevention station, and watches the officerstrack, zoom, and move with targets as they investigate in real time, it is evident that while many of the prior uses for PTZ have been consumed by less expensive technology, PTZ is the only tool that can meet the needs of these video power users.


Has technology changed your view on PTZ Camera necessity? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.