BEFORE I sat down at BGWT’s Pyrmont HQ I knew very little about ONSSI Ocularis, an IP video and security management solution that gives users NVR capability combined with management functionality. But it wasn’t long before I was impressed by the system’s capabilities and ease of use. 
Founded in 2002 by Gadi Piran and Mulli Diamant, ONSSI’s first product was a DVR replacement based on a software module and the fact the pair were not encumbered by an analogue legacy has worked in ONSSI’s favour. Ocularis is now an integrated video and event management platform that includes a full-fledged video management system (VMS) for streaming, recording and managing an unlimited number of cameras at multiple sites.
Scoring exclusive distribution of a product of this quality – Ocularis has won best video management platform for the last 3 years in the USA – is a coup for BGWT and allows the company some differentiation in a crowded distribution market. 
“We are the sole ONSSI distributor for Australia and that’s a big deal for us,” says BGWT’s Paul Thompson. “It gives us a powerful head end we can use with our own IP camera solutions as well as allowing us to partner with the cameras of other manufacturers.”
On first appearance, ONSSI’s Ocularis is a very clean management system. Sitting in front of the screen there’s no clutter – its camera views only with full bleeds to screen edges and no stray function buttons, camera trees or other distractions. Taking me for a fast lap in Ocularis is BGWT’s Steve Johnson and it’s obviously from the start he’s very comfortable with this product. 
“The user interface is the next generation up compared to what we are used to in this industry – it’s about what you do with the system,” Johnson explains. “Do you need a camera tree that’s exposed all the time, do you need to lose any of the screen for any static purpose? By adding transparencies can you add functionality and still have the entire screen devoted to viewing. 
“We think that 90 per cent of the time users employ 30 per cent of the systems options and maybe 10 per cent of the time they need all the system’s functionality but they don’t need it in their face when they are they are conducting day-to-day monitoring operations. 
“Given these user fundamentals it makes sense to push functionality back into the system and to have the maximum usable interface area. That’s what you see here – a screen that is taken up only with camera views.” 
Now, you’d think driving a solution with no visible controls would be harder that steering one with an obvious and familiar Windows layout but this is far from true, as Johnson demonstrates. 
“The first interface in terms of function is a right click on the screen and when you click, discreet option buttons appear that apply to the scene being viewed,” he says. “From here you can copy, start tours and instant record, as well as pushing video to other recipients – to email addresses, monitors, workstations.”
As Johnson runs through the options camera lists appear for selection – again the idea being that rather than wasting screen real estate on static camera options these choices are an active part of the display.  
“Another interface is PTZ and this works by simply highlighting an area on the screen with your mouse and the camera automatically zooms in on that area. You can also use your mouse when to zoom in and out,” he explains. 
“There’s also a hot spot in the middle and you can drag that around a scene and pull the PT function with you – the further you drag it the faster the camera moves. Playback is instantaneous and you can pause and play and go back to live view.” 
This profoundly intuitive functionality – that buttonless PTZ function – is evident throughout the entire interface. Everything is a click or right click away – there’s no interminable drilling in and out of directories to handle this system. When told Ocularis is extremely touch friendly, I’m not surprised. There’s a slinky Apple feel to this solution I’ve not encountered in a management system ever before. 
“With a fixed camera you have mostly the same options but you can go to a camera with digital PTZ and zoom in and pan using the digital functions,” Johnson continues. “There’s also an overview in the top corner that shows where you are and you can pause (jump back to start of the segment) then play backwards and forwards – it’s very smooth because you are pulling video back off the HDD and you dedicate a fast HDD to the task.” 
When it comes to playback you just go to browse and there’s a timeline at the bottom of the screen – you can then zoom in and zoom out on the timeline and drag the timeline backwards and forwards. The speed of playback and pay forward and search using these SATA 3 HDDs is seriously impressive. Johnson is jumping days with no discernable latency. 
“You can do the normal pause, jump forward, playback fast slow, jump to a time,” he says. “If we jump back a day – you see how fast it is. And wherever you are you can just go straight back to live. We also have other features including large video walls and analytics.”
A cool feature operators would be likely to use a lot is time slicing – one slice for every ten minutes – that allows quick visual searches. If you find an item of interest in a video slice you select that slice and then play back and forwards with a mouse click. Ocularis can slice on motion as well and you can bring up a slice representing any movement event. 
Operationally, Ocularis is hugely scalable. You can start with a single box with 25 cameras on it and run one workstation in support of 4 monitors. But if you need more, you can build an 8000-camera system or scale by adding servers as you go to create any size in between. Clients too, are unlimited – you just scale the system for consistent performance. 
“There’s base server software, recording and then the client. The base and recording software can run on a single box and as the system grows then you split your system up,” says Thompson. 
“But from a pricing point of view it’s one price for the management software then a price per camera and that’s it – there’s maintenance if you want it – it’s optional and the licenses are not recurring so you don’t get slugged each year.” 

Fact file:
Features of base ONSSI Ocularis include:
* Scalable for unlimited number of cameras
* Unlimited number of servers at multiple sites
* Bundled with Ocularis client for unlimited installs
* Instant investigation during live monitoring
* Support for hundreds of camera models
* Centralized user rights management
* Advanced video investigation tools
* Video evidence export
* Map navigation with active camera previews
* Shared event and alerting management
* On-event automated push-video alerting.