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What is the Difference Between Normal, Smart, and Custom(Event) Playback when using a Monitor on a Hikvision NVR?


Staff member
All of the below testing was done on a DS-7716NI-I4/16P running the latest firmware v4.22.005, if after any future updates you notice any changes that may affect the below information then do let us know so we can update it.

Every so often customers have reported issues and confusion around the different playback options on Hikvision NVRs when using a direct monitor, one of the most common issues is users reporting that the event markers for Smart Event are not displaying correctly or at all in the Smart Playback menu. We have tested this ourselves and also experienced problems so we took the issue to Hikvision Support and they have now clarified with us the purpose of the 3 different types playback - Normal/Smart/Custom - which we have tested and our explanation of all 3 playback modes is below:

Normal Playback - here you are just seeing all the recorded footage, whether that is motion or continuous. You will NOT see any red Event markers in normal playback, it is just basic playback that allows you to scan through all the playback of one or multiple cameras. You may have noticed that the playback screen features 2 timelines, most people assume that this means it will show 2 different cameras timelines but actually the top line is the timeline of the camera you have currently selected in the split-screen view, while the bottom line is a combination of all the recordings from all the cameras you have selected.

Now obviously if all your cameras are recording continuously all you will see in both timelines is full blue bars, but it is important to be aware of this feature if all or some of your cameras are recording by motion/event because if the cameras physically close together they can be triggered by the same event and the bottom bar can end up very crowded with lots of recordings overlapping. So make sure if you are recording this way that you pay attention to top timeline and which camera you currently have selected.

Smart Playback - Smart Playback has 2 key playback functions, the first is to allow you to navigate through the smart events you have enabled in the Events menu with them displaying as red markers over the top of your continuous recording. The second feature is the smart ability to scan all your recorded footage for either motion/line crossing/intrusion detection whether or not you have any of those events enabled on those cameras. So, for example, you can hover over the playback image and select line crossing (see below), draw a line on the playback image, click the search button (magnifying glass), and the event markers in the playback will change to show you any person or object that has passed that line you have drawn on the footage. Now, because this smart setting is happening on NVR side instead of inside the camera the accuracy of it is not 100% but it can be a useful feature if you need to find something on a camera that doesn't have events set, has events set but in a different part of the scene, or cannot have events set at all. (footnote to this comment, we did try this feature with some ONVIF cameras connect to our Hikvision NVR and it didn't work so it is a feature exclusive to Hik cameras)


Custom Playback - If you click "Custom Search" in the bottom left of the playback window you will open a window that allows you to search by the specific basic/smart events you have enabled (see below), this is useful in situations where you have cameras running multiple events because you can search for one specific type of event and only see those ones rather than seeing all the event markers as you do in Normal Playback.


When you perform the custom search you will have 1 of 2 options as to how you view the Event notifications, you can either view them in a list format (see below) which allows you to select individual Event notifications and play them back, or you can exit the search and your search results will be displayed as Event markers on the playback timeline. Another big feature of both Smart & Custom Playback is the 'Play Strategy' menu (see below) which allows you to not only adjust the playback speed of continuous and event recording, allowing you to fast forward through non-Event footage, but you can also enable the 'Do Not Play Normal Video' function that allows you to skip over any normal continuous footage and only playback the Events. One final thing I should point out about the Custom Playback is that the search parameters stay locked in until you manually wipe them, so if you wanted to only ever use the custom search function for line crossing you can just leave a search for line crossing locked in. (although you may have to change the search date if you want to look for a specific event on a specific date)


In relation to this you can also check for any basic/smart event notification by clicking the notification bell in the top right of the screen, here you can see all the different notification types you have received (e.g. Basic Events/Smart Events/Camera disconnect/Abnormal Shutdown/etc...) from every camera/channel on your NVR.

What About K-series NVRs?

All of the above, as you will have seen from the screenshots, is in relation to I-series NVRs running the 4.0 GUI, If you are running a K-series NVR with the older GUI the Playback menu will look different but all of the above features are available on those NVRs, you just have to look in different places. By default, the Playback menu on a K-series NVR will open on the Normal/Smart page, on this page you can view Normal & Smart Playback the same as was described above. If you want to view specific Events, as you do with the Custom Search on the I-series NVRs, you will need to click the drop-down in the top left of the screen that says Normal/Smart and then select the Event page. Once there you will see the interface is fairly similar to the Custom Search page, select an Event Type from the drop-down in the top right of the screen, select a camera, select a date, and click search. The only major difference with the K-series NVRs is that you can, after searching, navigate through a list of the individual Event notifications, but you cannot see these Events displayed all together in the timeline like you can with the I-series NVRs.
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New Member
My model DS7204 HQI-K1. Serial: C989XXXX7B.
For the past couple of weeks playback has jumped to 6th October 2019. I generally need to see yesterday and a day or two previous.
To get to the most recent I have to change setting to 24hours and drag the tool bar along until I reach the most recent.
How do I set it to show more up to date than 6th October?
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