How to see livestream video for your unbranded chinese CCTV/IP camera

Many unbranded cameras from AliExpress etc comes with bad or close to no instructions so you’re sometimes left to yourself to figure it out. As I just went through this painful process myself, I’ve written down some notes till next time. Scroll down if you wish to see the easy solution, or continue reading for a little more in-depth process.

Livestream CCTV/IP camera with VLC using RTSP

Luckily most of the unbranded IP cameras use standard protocols so we can stream the picture directly in VLC by using rtsp (Real Time Streaming Protocol).

First step would be to get the cameras IP address. Login to your router and find the device in your DHCP list. If it’s configured to use a static address, check the instructions or use an IP scanner utility to find it.

Once you have the IP address, verify and try to login the usual way at http://xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx (i.e. http://192.168.1.88). The camera will typically have a web server running giving you some administration/settings. Sometimes you must also enable media streaming / RTSP.

Anyway, I’m gonna pretend everything works out of the box. You have the IP address. Now you can open it in VLC (keyboard shortcut CTRL+N to open a Network media stream).

Enter the URL and click Play. If necessary, a password prompt will ask for admin/password combination. Default login tends to be admin/admin or admin/123456 etc.

If you’re not sure what the URL should be, try one of the following. One of them will hopefully work:

rtsp://<ipaddress>:554
rtsp://<ipaddress>:554/mpeg4
rtsp://<ipaddress>:554/1/h264major
rtsp://<ipaddress>:554/user=<username>&password=<password>&channel=1&stream=0.sdp?real_stream--rtp-caching=100
http://<ipaddress>/monitor.cgi?Channel=1&Audio=0000&Live=1

Obviously replace <ipaddress> with the cameras IP address, and <username>/<password> with… yes, the username/password. You could also try switching the channel=1 to 2.

Hopefully one of the URLs will work, and voila! You can stream the camera!!

Let’s continue on with the easy solution:

Find IP address and stream directly using ONVIF Device Manager

ONVIF Device Manager is a great open source project which offers plenty of features for managing your IP cameras/CCTVs including network discovery, live stream and PTZ controls. It’s pretty much plug n play, just install the software and let it find your cameras automatically.

Left column shows all available cameras found on the network. Middle column shows various settings. Right column shows preview/live stream.

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