Based in Okemos, Michigan, Smart Homes and Smart Offices (SHSO) is a custom integrator that designs and builds IT centric solutions for clients. At the helm is President John Gilluly whose main focus is to help his customers improve their processes, productivity, communications and bottom lines.
SHSO was commissioned by a leading testing facility specializing in aeronautic components to help design testing cells for clients in the aerospace and automotive industries. In these highly regulated markets, such testing plays a vital role in meeting safety requirements. Equipment is placed under harsh conditions such as extreme temperatures, different pressures and high levels of vibration while performance data is collected. Recording video from different vantage points is an integral part of the process.
The testing facility needed a multi-channel recording solution that could continuously record from multiple cameras in perfect sync, be easily controlled by a single operator and have the video immediately available for playback after the test. They also wanted to be able to archive high-quality video of all tests at small file sizes to save on storage space.
Originally SHSO looked into using a standard security DVR but none had the features needed for the required level of video capture and data analysis. The ability of Matrox VS4Recoder Pro to provide multi-camera synchronous recording was exactly what IT support specialist Ben Crowley had been searching for. Having worked with Matrox gear previously, he was familiar with the company’s reputation for quality products. According to him, “Between the card and the software, the VS4Recorder Pro is a very efficient solution to the problem. It lets us record everything in sync and there are plenty of camera options that work with the system.”
VS4Recorder PRO lets users capture video to industry-recognized codecs that can be use with leading editing applications without transcoding. The efficient, high-quality Matrox MPEG-2 I-frame codec at up to 300Mb/s is provided in an AVI wrapper. H.264 is provided in either MOV or MP4 wrappers. DV/DVCAM, DVCPRO, DVCPRO50 and DVCPRO HD QuickTime files are provided in MOV wrappers. Global audio settings include audio codecs for .wav and .aac files with bit rate, bit depth and stereo/mono options. SHSO uses the H.264 compression format and the MP4 file wrapper in this application to maximize video quality while minimizing file sizes to keep data storage requirements in check. With multiple cameras and numerous tests, the number of video files going to storage adds up quickly. “H.264 compression gives the testing facility the high quality video required to reliably analyze the tests, but because the file sizes are relatively small, storage is efficient at the same time,” explains Gilluly.
Analyzing the results
As the tests are recorded from multiple angles, the operator watches the process using the VS4Recorder Pro system as a multiviewer. VS4Recorder Pro offers high-quality video monitoring of all inputs. Thanks to patent-pending Matrox technology, video quality is pristine even when viewing interlaced sources on progressive computer monitors. VS4Recorder Pro accurately represents the incoming video signals at any video window size and offers single- and quad-view modes for a customizable multi-viewing experience. Quad-view mode lets the operator preview all four inputs simultaneously or he can switch to single-view mode and cycle through the inputs.
Having eyes on the action in the test chamber is very important. Sometimes the tests involve highly volatile substances and the operator must stop the test immediately should an issue occur that causes safety concerns.
As soon as the test is complete, the video is ready for analysis. Because VS4Recorder Pro records to standard MP4 H.264 files, the video can be played back with any standard media player, no special viewing software is needed.
Plans for Expansion
The success of the first testing cell led their client to build another. They plan to move the original cell to a new location and to create a new dual-cell setup. Two VS4Recorder Pro systems will be used to record from up to eight cameras. Thanks to the VS4Control feature built into the VS4Recorder Pro app, synchronized, frame-accurate recording of an unlimited number of video sources is possible simply by networking multiple VS4 machines together in a master-slave configuration. At the touch of a single button, the operator can record as many camera feeds as needed — all in perfect sync.
SHSO also expects to reproduce the same testing set up in multiple locations across the country, wherever testing is done by automotive and aerospace manufacturers.