A: The profile of a typical TV channel using the DV Play automation is a small or a medium TV channel working with schedule and not having a 24 hours human operator. For such TV channels we can offer many especially designed features, true 24/7 reliability, fast and efficient work. If your TV channel has such requirements we strongly recommend to include the DV Play playout solution in your research.
For the channels having 24 hours operators we offer standard features that are expected from such kind of software.
A: We have been producing TV playout software since 2001. Since 2007 we have realized that instead of trying to cover all kinds of TV channels we should focus on the automation of few specific types of TV channels. For TV channels working without operator in 24/7 we offer the following features:
- The scheduling options allow creating playlists for days and weeks ahead. The scheduling system is extremely powerful and covers 99 % of all actions you can send to the system with mouse and keyboard.
- Unattended work in true 24/7 mode – special measures are taken and DV Play will continue play even in cases like video file missing/damaged, live signal disappearing, etc. Auto load of emergency playlist is available in case you have not a planned playlist.
- Well designed events classified in different ranks /Normal, Note, Warning,Error,Critical Error/ report about the player activity, giving the option in case of technical problems to clearly address the reason.
- Email notifications for errors and critical error events will notify the channel’s responsible person few seconds after a problem appears and the playout need your immediately attention.
- The silence detection proves that is extremely useful to notify channel’s responsible person in cases when 1) The current video file has not a sound 2) The playlist is too short and has finished 3) The Player has crashed.
- The schedule can be set when the video server is started, automatically to load and start the playlist FROM THE CORRECT TIME, not from the beginning of the playlist. This allows in case of disaster when the server is restarted, that the advertisements scheduled for broadcasting at 8 p.m. to be broadcasted at 8 p.m without need to do any changes in the playlist. We hope that your TV channel will never need to use this feature but our experience shows that some of our customers are TV channels which are not well protected from disaster cases like lost of power supply, etc. and a video server restart by accident could happen.
All our efforts are to provide efficient playout solution in every aspect, including the price efficiency. We believe our total cost of ownership is on extremely good level. To get a quotation please specify the features you will need and fill our contact form here.
When compare different solutions instead focusing on their price, better is to focus on their reliability in true 24/7 mode and on the features that allow everyday tasks to be done in a fast and efficient way. A playout solution is expected to be used 6-10 years and selecting a cheaper solution that constantly requires to spent more time finally become many times more expensive. Buying an expensive solution also does not grant efficiency of work. The best option is personally to check every solution how it will fit in your TV channel workflow and how efficient it will be especially for your TV channel. To help you in that process, DV Play is available for download without any registration.
Except the standard one expected from a professional playout /tv automation we recommend to take a look over those features:
- Simultaneous output in HD and SD version both with different logos.
- TV Logger built in the video player could be used for saving the TV Signal to video files and it requires just an additional HDD.
- Email notification is proved to be extreme useful.
- For TV Channels willing to improve their commercial service & every day program planning we offer our truly advanced traffic solution Ads Schedule Pro. More information you could find at http://asp2.eu/
Imagine you start a new HD channel and start talking with cable providers, satellite and other companies to start distributing your TV signal. It is 99% sure, that many of them will agree to distribute your TV signal in SD version only, not in HD, because an HD takes 4-6 times more bandwidth. Some of your TV viewers will watch your TV in HD, while others in SD. Broadcasting both HD and SD version with one logo is a bad style. The user watching SD version on 40’’ TV easy could see that the TV channel promoted like HD is actually with SD quality and only a TV professional could guess that this is due to a limitation of the cable provider, others 99.99% of the TV viewers will decide that this channel is fake HD channel.
The bigger TV channels solve this with having HD and SD output with different logos – one for the SD logo for SD output and other for the HD logo for HD output. The HD logo is usually the same as the SD one but with added HD mark. The common way to do this is to use 2 external key generators which are very expensive (1500-2500 USD each) and they require special commands in the playlist to be put anytime you show/hide logo. In DV Play this feature is released by the software only, HD/SD logos are managed like 1 logo and the final result is both easier work and cheaper solution. For that option you will need 2 additional outputs.
The first option is to pay a mouthly fee to a media server provider. You should broadcast a RTMP stream to that media server, DV Play will play the RTMP link provided by that media server. You can’t stream a RTMP directly to our playout because the RTMP requires a server to get the stream and that is not a task for a playout.
You may create a RTMP stream with many different tools. Our suggestion is to use our TV Logger, run on a server or on a laptop that will capture the TV signal in SDI/HDMI/NDI/IP and will create the RTMP stream pushed to the Media Server.
The second option we recommend is without using a media server. For the purpose you may use our TV Logger that is able to send the TV signal directly to the public IP of the playout server /typically with 1 port forwarded in your router/. For that option you should pay once for TV Logger, without monthly fee for the media server.
DV Play could play UDP/RTMP/HTTP streams as an ordinary file. YouTube internally uses RTMP, but it uses different techniques to hide the RTMP stream inside its HTML page. So the answer for DV Play and any other playout is – ‘’NO’’ because YouTube doesn’t allow this. YouTube wants you to watch the clips via its web site. If you find the hidden RTMP stream DV Play could play it, but our experience shows that frequently changes are done and a clip that was played yesterday may not be played today.
The last several years there is a fashion to make the application interface in black-white style. We didn’t like it because we found out that it tires the eyes when you look at a screen with such big contrast during many hours every day. Contrariwise, the blue – white interface colors that DV Play uses are the best option to provide a mode that does not overload the eyes. Instead of making amazing looking color skins we found out many times more important to discuss a request like for example “ I do this action 100 times per day and I’d like to do it (that way) because I’ll have two clicks less and that will save 5 minutes of my daily work.” Since 2001 we`ve receipt and executed around 300 such requests and now we have a solution that provides an extremely fast work for the daily operations.
Other direction in the interface we are focused on is the functionality. The DV Play 7 playout could use different layouts that allow to use optimally the screen size and to select only the needed modules. Docking and resizing of the windows and the grid columns are available as well.
New in TV business?
On the market there are many solutions with different properties and a price between 400 and 40,000 USD. Please find below the main questions we recommend to consider:
- The Reliability is a vital requirement for any TV Channel. Any playout that declares being for TV Channel should be reliable, but this is not always true. Please, read more below.
- The Functionality means that the solution should have features that cover all your requirements and should allow a fast work in the everyday tasks.
- The Support provided with focus on its speed and precision.
- The Further development of the products – there are many playout solutions (primary cheaper one) that actually are not longer developed.
A typical workflow to test the DV Play solution is:
- Download & install the demo version via our full DVD package (3.4 GB).
- Open the Demo Playlist – it is designed to demonstrate quickly around 70% of the DV Play features + graphics. Add your video files to that playlist and test if DV Play handles with them.
- Watch our DV Play Intro movie on youtube to see how DV Play solves standard tasks.
- Contact us for 1 hour meeting to discuss your specific TV requirements and how DV Play could satisfy them.
Reliability for us means that the playout works in 24/7 without the TV channel goes down. The best you could do is to test the solution you consider to order – 1)install demo/trial version 2)create a playlist with 100-200 files, graphics, live events, etc. 3) leave the server to loop the playlist for 3-7 days. The playout should not crash, the graphic should smoothly run and the switch to the live source should work.
Around 60-70% of the customers contact us when their TV is already started or they are about to launch their second/third TV channel. That means they are not happy with their current tv automation, the primary complains we hear are that the currently used playout is not reliable or has not the needed functionality. The reliability is not guaranteed, until you test it. The fact that a company is well known on the playout market and claims it has many customers doesn’t guarantee that it will provide a reliable and efficient playout solution for your case. It may happen that even a famous company uses old products that were a great solution 5 years ago, other are well-known simply because of a huge marketing. It may happen that a good company creates a new version of a product, which is not so good. For example, the DV Play history includes successful versions 1, 2, 3, 4 which were very reliable, followed by the versions 5 and 6 that were not so good. They improved the interface, but the new playout engine they used had strict requirements about the allowed video formats, also had not live input support. Since 2017 our current version is DV Play 7 in which we succeeded to remove all the previous limitations and now it is a professional solution you could rely on (after testing it of course 🙂 )
We are in the TV automation business since 2001 and we have a rich experience with the common mistakes.
I. Ordering hardware first and then searching a playout solution (software), too much or poor money spent on hardware, start broadcasting with a temporary server
1 Ordering hardware first and then searching a playout solution
The best way to spend your money on hardware is to follow exactly the requirements of the company which playout you will use. For that purpose the right way is to select first the playout and then to order the hardware.
2 Too much money spent on hardware:
In our practice we meet many cases when the customers contact us, we install DV Play on his already bought powerful Dual Xeon system with 32 GB RAM and it becomes clear that DV Play uses less than 10% of the CPU and 8 GB RAM are more than enough. Usually, customers spend so much to ensure their TV channel will function properly, but much better final result will be got if they spend this money for professional technical person working in their company or pay us for Standard / Full Support.
3 Poor money spent on hardware:
Other typical case is when a customer uses a budget model HP, Dell, etc. designed for office. Those producers have great servers and workstations models, but we are talking about the cheaper models designed for standard office work. The office models are NOT proper for a playout. The playout makes constantly a heavy load of the motherboard and it should handle it in 24/7. The office motherboards often fail in that, typically in a style that is hard to be analyzed because it may happen once for several days. Other critical component is the HDD – it should be a reliable NAS/Server model, not Desktop model.
4 Start broadcasting with a temporary server
Some of our customers start their real broadcasting with temporary server and change it later after several months. Our experience shows that it takes 1-2 days until all the settings are transferred, in many cases there are complications that lead to an extra support (and payment too). Better is to avoid such complications starting your TV channel with a new hardware that strictly follows our recommendation. That will grants that you server will work for 5 or more years without changes required.
II. Select a playout solution that is not good enough and change it after several months
Around 60% of the requests we get are from TV channels that are broadcasting already. This means that they are not happy with the playout solution they bought and will spend money again, also the TV staff should again spend time to learn the new solution.
III. Rely on the office network to make IP streaming
Streaming of a TV signal via Internet is a heavy process and in most cases can’t be provided in 24/7 mode from an office internet. A typical solution will be to put the playout in a data center with guaranteed internet, power supply and monitoring.
We do recommend Windows 7 64 bits Pro / Ultimate. Windows 10 is fully supported, but our tests the last 2 years have shown that it is NOT a proper OS for ensure a 24/7 processing because of its constant auto updates that produce a lot of problems. The updates can’t be stopped, different non official techniques for that are widely used, but in 6-12 months anyway Win 10 forces the updates or will stop working at all. Those problems are applied to all playouts, not only to DV Play. Since 2017 we have a test playout working in 24/7 and till now we recorded many problems with average frequency once on every 2-6 months. Some of the problems could be fixed for several hours, other ones need several days, third can’t be fixed at all. We had seen all possible kind of problems after Windows updates – like Windows which can`t start at all, loss of audio drivers, Blackmagic drivers stopped working at all and needing a re-installation, Windows Defender turned on the artificial intellect which can’t scan DV Play because of our anti-debugging protection which prevents DV Play start at all, User Access control turned on and so called Application isolation applied that prevents DV Play modules to communicate each with other, etc. All this are not acceptable risks for a TV channel working in 24/7. When a playout is working without problems, all changes in installations/drivers SHOULD BE AVOID. However, you may use Windows 10 on your own risk.
Call us for recommendation how to install Win7 on your hardware. For the playout purposes there are no any benefits using Windows 10, but there are many disadvantages. Our recommendation is to buy Win 10 and to downgrade it to Win 7 (some Win 10 license versions allow this).
A: The choice depends on you. Our recommendation is not to mix video files with different frame rates. For example if you broadcast at 1080i25 frames (European standard) better is to use video files that are 25 or 50 frames (progressive) and to avoid using 23.97 (USA standard).