H.265 (also known as High Efficiency Video Coding or HEVC), is a video compression standard that was developed as a successor to the widely used H.264 (also known as Advanced Video Coding or AVC). H.265 video compression standard was designed to provide higher compression efficiency compared to H.264, which means it can achieve the same level of video quality while using less data or bandwidth, which makes it ideal for streaming high-quality security camera videos.
HEVC achieves this improved compression efficiency by using more advanced video coding techniques than its predecessor, such as larger block sizes, improved motion estimation, and improved prediction algorithms. It also supports higher bit depths, color spaces, and a wider range of resolutions and frame rates. Simply put, H.265 can drastically improve the video quality at the same bitrates, and also improve digital zoom quality. This improvement is more noticeable when streaming higher-resolution videos (4K and above) and in scenes that see a lot of motion across the camera (such as busy intersections and hallways).
All Verkada cameras are capable of H.265 video encoding but until recently, Chrome browser did not support H.265 video decoding. Since Chrome is used by the majority of Verkada Command users, we could have enabled H.265 but were forced to use the H.264 video compression standard. However, in late 2022 Chrome announced support for H.265 video if the underlying device (PC/Mac/Mobile device etc.) had H.265 hardware decoder. With this announcement, we immediately saw an opportunity to deliver an industry-leading, browser-based security camera video playback experience to our customers and started working on enabling H.265 in all Verkada camera models.
Now Verkada cameras not only support H.265 across all models but also offer cloud transcoding. This feature ensures that users can seamlessly stream live and historical video from Verkada cameras, even if their computers or browsers do not support the latest H.265 codec. With cloud transcoding, the video is automatically transcoded to the widely supported H.264 format, allowing for smooth playback and accessibility on a variety of devices. This ensures compatibility and flexibility so that users can access their camera feeds regardless of their device's capabilities. Furthermore, users with compatible devices can fully experience the benefits of the new H.265 codec.
How cloud transcoding works
Cloud transcoding enables the use of H.265 on Verkada cameras, even if there are users in the organization with outdated browser versions or devices lacking support for the latest codecs. To illustrate this concept, let's consider the following scenario: On the right side, we have a Verkada camera configured with H.265, while on the left side, there is a laptop that is compatible with H.265, and a PC that is not compatible with H.265.
When the video stream is initiated from the compatible laptop, Verkada Command recognizes the compatibility between the camera and the device, and the stream maintains the H.265 video codec throughout the transmission.
However, for the other computer on the left, which lacks compatibility with H.265, the video stream is requested, and Verkada Command detects the device's inability to support H.265. In this case, the video is automatically transcoded in the cloud and delivered as an H.264 stream to the incompatible device.
A similar process occurs during local streams within the camera's local network. If a compatible device initiates a video stream, the H.265 stream is transmitted directly through the local network. On the other hand, if an incompatible device requests a live SQ video stream, it will be streamed from the camera to the device using H.264. For any other type of video requested from the incompatible device, the transcoding process takes place in the cloud, allowing playback for all streaming scenarios through Command.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should you enable H.265 video encoding on Verkada cameras?
Drastically improved video quality (up to 2x improvement)
Significant reduction of video artifacts and better retention of key details even while digitally zoomed in
Which Verkada cameras support H.265 video encoding?
All Verkada camera models now support H.265.
What are the minimum system requirements to play Verkada HEVC?
H.265 requires more processing power to encode and decode compared to H.264, which can make it more challenging to use in certain devices or browsers. Verkada H.265 video decoding requires compatible device hardware and browser. Refer to the compatibility section of this article.
What are the limitations of Verkada H.265?
Local viewing: Command users without compatible devices + browsers won’t be able to play native H.265 video, but will be able to still play video transcoded to H.264.
Cloud viewing: If a Command user tries to stream video from a device + browser combination that cannot support H.265 video decoding, the video will be automatically transcoded in Verkada cloud to H.264.
Note: Due to the additional step, there will be a slight increase in delay and time to load the video.
Share links: Transcoding is not supported with share links. If a user tries to stream video from a device + browser combination that cannot support H.265 video decoding, only SQ video will be playable.
Will H.265 support RTSP?
H.265 can be used with cameras running RTSP. You will need to make sure the device configured to stream from the camera is compatible with H.265 as well, as transcoding to H.264 is not supported for RTSP streams.
Note: H.265 is not automatically enabled for cameras with RTSP, you will need to modify this setting manually through the camera settings.
H.265 can be configured in bulk or for an individual camera following these steps:
Navigate to the Settings page for the camera.
Under Device select H.265 from the drop-down.
Note: To get a list of users in the org that have used an incompatible browser or device, click Check org level compatibility.
Note: Users with incompatible devices will still be able to stream from any camera with H.265 thanks to cloud transcoding; although having a compatible device, is recommended for the best experience while playing video using the H.265 codec.
CPU with HEVC support:
7th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors:
Intel® HD Graphics 610+
Intel® Iris® Plus Graphics 640+
Apple M series processors:
All are supported.
Operating Systems with HEVC support:
macOS Big Sur (11.0) and above
Windows 8 and above
Android 5.0 and above
Chrome OS (Only supports GPUs that support VAAPI interface, eg: Intel GPU)
Linux (Chrome version >= 108.0.5354.0, and only supports GPUs that support VAAPI interface, eg: Intel GPU)
IOS 11 and above
Browser support for HEVC
Chrome: Supported in versions 105+
Edge: Requires installation of HEVC Plugin that can be purchased from Microsoft Store
Safari: Supported in versions 11-16.4+
Opera: Supported in versions 94+
Firefox: not supported
GPU support for HEVC:
AMD RX460 and above Integrated GPU
Intel HD4400, HD515 and above
AMD Radeon R7, Vega M and above
Apple M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, M1 Ultra and above