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JPEG2000 and H.264 for Video Surveillance

Most IP surveillance cameras are based on the standards JPEG2000 (Motion JPEG) and H.264 where the efficient compression of surveillance video sequence and storage is important to consider. The essential difference between MJPEG and H.264 video compression methods is the algorithm used.

JPEG2000 and Motion JPEG2000

JPEG2000 is a wavelet-based compression codec. Its predecessor is the still image compression algorithm JPEG, which is not based on a wavelet algorithm. Wavelet-based compression provides a scaling property to simultaneously support different resolution video streams  and does not cause blocking artifacts in the encoded images. For video sequences using Motion JPEG2000, each frame is sequentially processed and transmitted. At this time, Motion JPEG2000 is also a leading standard for digital cinema development.


H.264 is a sophisticated video standard, based on its predecessor MPEG-4, that uses key (reference) frames transmitted periodically. Between these frames only change information (relative to these reference frames) is transmitted. H.264 supports several types of reference frames.

Comparison of JPEG2000 and H.264

The main weakness of JPEG2000 for video surveillance is its lower compression efficiency, 10 – 12 Mbps for a standard resolution video frame (720×480), compared to 1.5 – 4 Mbps using H.264. This lower efficiency severely impacts bandwidth and storage requirements.

Motion JPEG2000 allows a single stream of video to be simultaneously distributed to different resolution and frame-rate video monitors, and therefore supports different video quality (for example portable device, SD monitor, HDTV monitor).

Motion JPEG2000 does not require extensive coding and decoding resources. However for HD resolutions, it requires huge amounts of data to be transferred, which in turn leads to a requirement for wide network bandwidth and also a correspondingly huge size for video archives.

Although H.264 significantly reduces the amount of transmitted and recorded data, it requires more CPU resources for video encoding and decoding when compared to Motion JPEG2000.

H.264 delivers better image quality in low-to-medium resolution sequences, while Motion JPEG2000 delivers significantly better images in high-resolution sequences. For CIF and SD video frames, H.264 performs better than Motion JPEG2000, for 1280 x 720 the performance is more or less the same, whereas for HD (1920 x 1080) JPEG2000 has a distinct quality advantage over H.264.

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VOCAL Technologies, Ltd.
520 Lee Entrance, Suite 202
Amherst New York 14228
Phone: +1-716-688-4675
Fax: +1-716-639-0713