So Long, Analog Video
HD CCTV enters casino security mainstream
- By Randy Jones
- Oct 01, 2010
So, you’ve been a CCTV provider
for years and have watched surrounding
you. DVRs have become more powerful,
and less expensive, but with the very
best analog cameras using composite
video, the picture quality has reached
End users look at IP camera solutions,
but training all the technicians to
become IT professionals is daunting.
Plus, performance is still not worth the
extra effort with tooling and training.
Consumers today can go to a national
electronics store and buy a
1080i camcorder with a built-in zoom
lens and hard disk for less than $500.
This begs the question of why any end
user is stuck with low-quality analog
or complicated IP video in CCTV applications.
The answer is pretty simple:
because of the signal transports available
End users understand that analog
video is tied to a 525-line standard and
most IP cameras leave them scratching
their heads, wondering what else is
there. The question remains, how do I
easily get that beautiful high-definition
signal from the cameras to the DVR?
The Good News
Over the past couple of years, a few ambitious
manufacturers have crossed into
the broadcast market to give CCTV
guys the opportunity to adopt the old
The result is a high-definition serial
digital interface. HDSDI is able to send
uncompressed 720p or 1080p video at
30 frames per second over coax cable,
similar to the HD camera that hovers
over any NFL field during game day.
The quality of the images is high definition.
What you get is a really good
image with the sudden availability of
high-definition cameras components
and an affordable HD CCTV solution
that installs using exactly the same
steps as analog. CCTV systems are now
“This has been quite a run for us,”
said Tom Rensch, managing director
at the Silverado Casino in Deadwood,
S.D. “For three months, we’ve been
experimenting with HD CCTV; we
always want to try new technology at
the casino. We couldn’t see the cards
or into the pit as well as we would like,
but now we’re getting ready to order the
new cameras. Yes, the image quality is
The Silverado has 26 gaming tables
and five poker tables, and Rensch said
the camera and image quality has been
second to none. The Silverado will be
the first casino to implement the HD
CCTV product line.
Rensch has been sampling the technology;
his next goal is to see if the
state gaming commission will amend
the rules to require two cameras to be
placed over every table. But because the
quality is so impressive, he hopes they
will reconsider the requirements to only
one camera per table.
For the first time, a U.S. governing
body has issued certification for
an HDSDI-based CCTV system. The
South Dakota Gaming Commission
has approved the use of a HD/DVR
camera solution for use in casinos.
“We’re pretty excited about using this
technology,” said Dennis Roberts, president
and CEO of 5-Star Audio Video
Systems in Sturgis, S.D. “Customers
are getting very clean shots. The picture
quality at poker tables is stunning.”
Roberts said, in this case, this technology
allows the gaming industry to
achieve excellent picture quality and
frame rates up to 30 fps, both live and
in storage mode. Roberts’ 5-Star integrators
set up a test camera system at
the privately held Silverado Casino in
Deadwood, S.D., where end users were
able to view crystal clear HDTV-style
“This technology does what IP cameras
can’t deliver: 30 fps over Cat-5 cable,”
Roberts said. “Goodbye, analog;
A Full House
SG Digital offered a camera solution
to an integrator who specializes in the
smaller casino market in the Midwest.
Based on performance and playback
quality, the integrator was able to install
a four-camera system with each camera
viewing one gaming table for a beta
test. When viewing the captured video,
casino officials realized they could easily
determine a playing card, as well as
see the currency denominations on a
6-foot-wide table with one camera.
After six months of testing and a
few minor software upgrades, the HD
CCTV system received approval.
Some of the items pending approval
were a system that could achieve a constant
30 fps per channel at 1,280x720
resolution, a compression codec on the
DVR that allows for 10 days of storage
at 2 TB, and watermarking and verification
of all exported video.
Finally, backups can be made as
proprietary or AVI and easily viewed
on any computer. Installation must be
identical to an analog system as the
recording and capture process doesn’t
touch the network.
Coming to Market
By working hand-in-hand with integrators,
SG Digital has been able to
bring this new CCTV format to market,
benefiting retailers, quick-serve
restaurants, banks and casinos. Once
the solution was rolled out, end users
were able to recognize the performance
and ease of use of HD CCTV, adopting
it as a new standard.
One of the keys to migrating to
a new standard is to support the old,
since all HD systems are offered as hybrid
DVRs, allowing support for any
combination of HD and analog cameras.
Some integrators have found that
these types of packages are an easy upsell
The transition to the gaming world
means the HDSDI-based system
sends video from the DVR in a fully
uncompressed 30 fps format and
allows for more conventional
This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue of Security Today.