Moonfire NVR is an open-source security camera network video recorder, started
by Scott Lamb <firstname.lastname@example.org>. It saves H.264-over-RTSP streams from
IP cameras to disk into a hybrid format: video frames in a directory on
spinning disk, other data in a SQLite3 database on flash. It can construct
.mp4 files for arbitrary time ranges on-the-fly. It does not decode,
analyze, or re-encode video frames, so it requires little CPU. It handles six
1080p/30fps streams on a Raspberry Pi
less than 10% of the machine's total CPU.
So far, the web interface is basic: a filterable list of video segments, with support for trimming them to arbitrary time ranges. No scrub bar yet. There's also no support for motion detection, no https/SSL/TLS support (you'll need a proxy server, as described here), and only a console-based (rather than web-based) configuration UI.
This is version 0.1, the initial release. Until version 1.0, there will be no compatibility guarantees: configuration and storage formats may change from version to version. There is an upgrade procedure but it is not for the faint of heart.
I hope to add features such as salient motion detection. It's way too early to make promises, but it seems possible to build a full-featured hobbyist-oriented multi-camera NVR that requires nothing but a cheap machine with a big hard drive. I welcome help; see Getting help and getting involved below. There are many exciting techniques we could use to make this possible:
- avoiding CPU-intensive H.264 encoding in favor of simply continuing to use the camera's already-encoded video streams. Cheap IP cameras these days provide pre-encoded H.264 streams in both "main" (full-sized) and "sub" (lower resolution, compression quality, and/or frame rate) varieties. The "sub" stream is more suitable for fast computer vision work as well as remote/mobile streaming. Disk space these days is quite cheap (with 3 TB drives costing about $100), so we can afford to keep many camera-months of both streams on disk.
- decoding and analyzing only select "key" video frames (see wikipedia).
- off-loading expensive work to a GPU. Even the Raspberry Pi has a surprisingly powerful GPU.
- using HTTP Live Streaming rather than requiring custom browser plug-ins.
- taking advantage of cameras' built-in motion detection. This is the most obvious way to reduce motion detection CPU. It's a last resort because these cheap cameras' proprietary algorithms are awful compared to those described on changedetection.net. Cameras have high false-positive and false-negative rates, are hard to experiment with (as opposed to rerunning against saved video files), and don't provide any information beyond if motion exceeded the threshold or not.