I am early in the design phase for a camera array of ~12 units. Each unit will be comprised of an ArduCam camera module (possibly the OV9281) and a Raspberry Pi to compress the video data and send it on to a central PC (via USB) to be saved and later composited.

However, the webpage for the OV9281 states that, "This camera and RPI driver . . . does not support hardware JPEG/H.264 encoding." All other mono cameras on their website (and some RGB) give the same disclaimer, and none of their RGB cameras can run 800p/720p at 60fps--presumably due to bandwidth limitations of the MIPI interface.

I've found this thread which claims to be able to install FFmpeg/MPV on RPi to do hardware H.264 encoding in real time for nearly any video--including 1080p at 30fps--but it is unclear to me whether the hardware encoding limitation of the ArduCam modules is a fundamental incompatibility in their output format, or just an hole in the driver functionality that could be filled by the FFmpeg/MPV installation.

So, Is it possible to run H.264 hardware encoding on video from a monochrome ArduCam module? Or is this setup infeasible for my project?

Additional notes:

  • I am looking at ArduCam and the OV9281 in particular because it exposes the FSIN pin of the camera sensor, allowing external triggering/synchronization between cameras--essential for my application
  • I want to apply H.264 encoding because I am worried that a central PC wouldn't be able to handle 12+ concurrent RAW video streams, even just to save them to a disk. I am open to other methods of aggregating the data if they exist.

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