The network did turn out to be the cause of most of our camera skipping. We had all 25+ cameras running on MJPEG, which was driving our network usage through the roof at almost 10MB/sec per camera on a 100MB pipe. We did have to have the Convergint tech come out to help figure it out, and re-configure a few things, with some small hints.
First, we switched some of the cameras to H.264 when we were ok with a slightly less crisp picture, like our establishment shots to follow how people move from exhibit to exhibit. This drops the network usage to less than 1MB/sec per camera, though it does drive the CPU usage up a bit. That’s a fair tradeoff because our computers are dedicated to this video processing.
We also set up user accounts on the slave server as well as the master, which allowed us to spread the cameras across the two to distribute usage, and are working with our IT folks to bridge the servers to spread the load amongst the four that we have, so that even if we are driving nearly the full network usage, we are doing it on four servers instead of one. Finally, we put the live video on a different drive, also freeing up processing power.
Just a few tips and tweaks seem to have given us much smoother playback. Now to get more IP addresses from campus to spread the network load even further as we think ahead to more cameras.