Automated video surveillance is a rapidly evolving area and has been gaining importance in the research community in recent years due to its capabilities of performing more efficient and effective surveillance by employing smart cameras. In this article, we present the design and implementation of an FPGA-based smart camera system for automated video surveillance. The complete system is prototyped on Xilinx ML510 FPGA platform and meets the real-time requirements of video surveillance applications while aiming at FPGA resource reduction. The implemented smart camera system is capable of automatically performing real-time motion detection, real-time video history generation, real-time focused region extraction, real-time filtering of frames of interest, and real-time object tracking of identified target with automatic purposive camera movement. The system is designed to work in real-time for live color video streams of standard PAL (720×576) resolution, which is the most commonly used video resolution for current generation surveillance systems. The implemented smart camera system is also capable of processing HD resolution video streams in real-time. © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd 2017.