Real Time Digital Recorders

Written by Kevin Tavolaro
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Real time digital recorders are devices that can eliminate some of the data storage concerns that might arise with traditional video recording systems. Remote video monitoring systems, such as security and surveillance cameras, are occasionally limited in the amount of data they can store. These systems usually record their footage to videotape, which can only contain a certain amount of information. Although many products exist to efficiently maximize the amount of surveillance footage that can be stored on a single videotape, some situations may require additional space. Real time digital recorders can provide that space without compromising the visual data.

In order to store extended periods of video surveillance on a single tape, most systems use time lapse technology. This involves using a system configured to incrementally record only a portion of a larger block of time. For example, a time lapse recorder might record only four frames of information per second (video usually captures 30 frames per second). The resulting images are transferred to the tape, creating a visual record that may be somewhat jerky and appear slightly sped up, but is basically accurate. Time lapse recorders that capture larger amounts of time at once, such as several days, may provide an even more inconsistent visual record, but can usually still provide adequate service. However, in situations where a precise, inclusive video recording is essential, real time digital recorders are often the best choice.

Data Storage and Real Time Digital Recorders

Real time digital recorders store video data electronically, as opposed to the analog storage offered by videotapes. Digital electronic storage means that, from the start, digital recorders can store far more footage than their analog counterparts. Videotapes are composed of a certain length of magnetic tape, which video footage is transferred to. Because it is a physical medium, videotape is strictly limited in the amount of footage it can hold. A certain length of videotape can hold a certain span of footage. Apart from small adjustments that can be made by changing the recording speed, the amount of space on a videotape is basically set in stone. A popular solution to this problem, time lapse recording, does not actually increase the space available on a tape. Instead, time lapse recorders decrease the amount of footage transferred to the tape by reducing the number of frames they capture each second. This can greatly increase the overall span of time captured on each tape. Although the visual inconsistencies that can arise from this type of recording are usually minimal, it is still not suited to situations where any and all activity captured by the camera must be recorded. Real time digital recorders store video footage as electronic data, meaning it is transferred to code before being transmitted to a storage device. This not only allows for much larger chunks of time to be recorded, but also enables the footage itself to be compressed as to increase the available time even further.

The footage captured by real time digital recorders is stored on a hard drive. Because it is an electronic storage medium, the amount of storage space is only limited by the amount of memory available on the hard drive. Even though these recorders are only limited by the size of the hard drive, video footage tends to produce especially large files. These files can eventually begin to tax a hard drive, so video compression is often necessary. Real time digital recorders encode video footage to one of several popular video formats. Often, the best formats for capturing live video tend to create the largest files. Compression allows the video data to be converted into another format, which is usually more space-efficient. As a result, real time digital recorders are capable of storing many days of footage at a time without losing a single frame.

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