Beginner video capture and processing/Camera selection

Posted by mattbauch on Stack Overflow See other posts from Stack Overflow or by mattbauch
Published on 2010-05-21T00:44:40Z Indexed on 2010/05/21 0:50 UTC
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I'll soon be undertaking a research project in real-time event recognition but have no experience with the programming aspect of video capture (I'm an upperclassman undergraduate in computer engineering). I want to start off on the right foot so advice from anyone with experience would be great. The ultimate goal is to track events such as a person standing up/sitting down, entering/leaving a room, possibly even shrugging/slumping in posture, etc. from a security camera-like vantage point.

First of all, which cameras/companies would you recommend? I'm looking to spend ~$100, more if necessary but not much. Great resolution isn't a must, but is desirable if affordable. What about IP network cameras vs. a USB type webcam? Webcams are less expensive, but IP cameras seem like they'd be much less work to deal with in software. What features should I look for in the camera?

Once I've selected a camera, what does converting its output to a series of RGB bitmaps entail? I've never dealt with video encoding/decoding so a starting point or a tutorial that will guide me up to this point would be great if anyone has suggestions.

Finally, what is the best (least complicated/most efficient) way to display video from the camera plus my own superimposed images (boxes around events in progress, for instance) in a GUI application? I can work on any operating system in any language. I have some experience with win32 GUIs and Java GUIs. The focus of the project is on the algorithm and so I'm trying to get the video capture/display portion of the app done cleanly and quickly.

Thanks for any responses!!

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