FAQ

DV Playout is truly designed for Reliability, Functionality and . Our playout solution is SIMPLE to use and VERY FAST in everyday tasks. You are welcome to try our demo version or to contact us for a live demonstration.

We have been providing solutions for TV channels since 2001 and have solid knowledge in all areas of broadcast operations. Our playout is well tested in micro, small, mid, and big size TV channels worldwide. The support we provide is very experienced and typically includes support specialist + developer.

Finally but not least, we still keep our passion to provide great playout solutions that fit the best in the TV Channel workflow. Happy customers who recommend us to their colleagues are our primary distribution channel!

Every month we have several asks from customers that have started their TV channel and are searching to change the playout they use. In contrast, our recently done research shows that 95% of the DV Play 7 customers still use it after 3 years and 50% of our sales are to old customers for their new TV channels or due to the recommendation they’ve made to their colleagues.

Our playout automation solutions are used in all types of TV Channels – regional, movie, musical, religious, News, sport. But our classification is based primary on the TV channel workflow and it is:

  1. TV Channels that use prepared in advance playlists executed by schedule and rarely need a human operator to edit the today playlist. If your TV channel has such workflow, we strongly recommend including the DV Playout automation in your research. Read Question 4 for more info.
  2. Dynamic TV channels that have a lot of changes done manually from the operator in the daily playlist. Typically this is a TV with lot of live events like Sport TV channels that require having operators in 24/7. In January 2019 we finished a project for this kind of big TV channel  and now DV Play is well equipped and efficient for manual operations done directly in the video player.

 

A: We have been producing TV playout software since 2001 and till 2018 most of our customers are small / mid size TV channels that use prepared in advance playlists executed by schedule. Many of our customers have no operator at all because changes in the today playlist are not needed. For such TV broadcasters we offer the following features:

  1. 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.
  2. Very fast daily playlist creation. We have more than 5 different options how to organize playlists and how to auto fill the free time between the main movies (this free time we call time gaps). For example if a micro TV has 5 main movies that should be broadcasted at specific time today they need only to select those 5 movies. The final result is that a daily 24 hours playlist could be created for less than 5 minutes.
  3. Many options to schedule a run of graphic inside the playlist are available, like Permanent titles, auto run graphic with Now & Next movies, delayed run of graphic, run at specific time, auto close title on Hide Logo command (it is expected than the commercials will run when HideLogo is scheduled), etc.
  4. Unattended work in true 24/7 mode – special measures are taken and DV Play will continue playing even in cases like video file missing/damaged, live signal disappearing, etc. Auto load of emergency playlist is available in case there is not a planned playlist.
  5. Well-designed events classified in different ranks /Normal, Note, Warning, Error, Critical Error/ report about the player activity, giving the option , if a technical problem arises, to clearly address the reason, even when there is no operator to watch the playout.
  6. Email notifications for errors and critical error events will notify the channel responsible person few seconds after a problem appears and the playout needs an immediate attention.
  7. The silence detection proves that is extremely useful to notify the channel responsible person in cases when 1) The current video file has not a sound 2) The playlist is too short and has finished 3) Other problem.

8. 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. are broadcasted at 8 p.m without need to do any changes in the playlist or manual operations. 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.

Dynamic TV channels are Sport, News, Talk or other type of channels with many live events in their daily playlist. Those Live events are without fixed duration / a tennis match could vary from 1 to 3 hours/ and often their repeated broadcasts are planned in the playlist before the file is ready (because the event is yet to come/. This leads to multiple changes done from the playout operators and it is essential their work to be properly supported. Our special DV Play features for such cases are:

  • Extremely responsible and clear interface.
  • Excel like working style – drag & drop operations, fast key for most operations, Copy / Paste of items or use of the DB Clipboard (prepared  additional blocks with files to fill , for example blocks with durations 1, 2, 5 minutes).
  • Direct addition of a new video file is possible via Drag & Drop. Files could be played on the local HDD or directly via network.
  • Ability to visualize only the DV Play modules that are needed and use optimally the available screen size up to 3820×2160. The tables, windows panes size, position and font could be set.
  • File Manager Module supports planning of Virtual files and automates the file copy processes. Read more here..
  • File Manager allows adding video files with XML files (metadata) with set segments. That way the operator should not type manually the In and Out positions.
  • Easy and clear one click style to run graphic (banners like commercials shown at the proper time on live event).
  • My Command module provides the operators the ability to execute the most used commands with one click.
  • Edit only the text of prepared in advance graphic.

DV Playout is truly designed for Reliability, Functionality and Efficiency.  You are welcome to try our demo version or to contact us for a live demonstration.

Except the standard one expected from a professional playout /tv automation we recommend to take a look over those features:

  • Simultaneous outputs in HD and SD resolutions with different logos.
  • IP Resume that is truly working.
  • 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 & silence detection 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.

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.

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.

You could run up to 8 independent TV channels playout automations on a server. Usually we recommend up to 4 non dynamic TV channels (using playlists run by schedule) or up to 2 dynamic TV channels.

DV Play is fully featured to be used as IP playout, meaning it could produce an IP outputs in UDP/RTMP/NDI and could play directly UDP / RTMP / HTTP stream as live inputs. More, our IP inputs/ outputs supports IP resume*1*2. Special buffering is provided, so the IP input will be disconnected when the connection is lost for more than 10 seconds.

Deploying our playout on a virtual machine is also possible.

*1 – IP resume on input is a vital feature due to the nature of IP. Most of our competitors declare having such feature, but our tests show that it is not truly working in real environments where 6 different scenarios are possible. The same tests done with DV Play show that it manages well with all cases of IP break and as a bonus, it gives useful event messages. That is shown in our demo movie as well.

*2. IP resume for RTMP output is specially supported. Every several seconds DV Play checks if the connection with the RTMP server is broken and if an auto-restart is needed.

Reliability is the absolute priority for any TV broadcast automation. DV Play has 7 SPECIAL techniques built in outputs and inputs to ensure the playout will never stop. The final result is that the reliability with Decklink Duo 2 card which costs 500 USD is equal to the specialized Matrox SDI card, the most trusted hardware in TV industry which costs 2,500 USD .

Our expertise shows 3 major points that could increase the reliability:

  1. The more the customer follows our hardware, installation and best practice recommendations, the less problem he will face. Around 50% of the problems are classified in that area. *1 *2.
  2. Having active standard or full subscription. This guarantees that when a problem arises, we will analyse it with the help of logs, database and TeamViewer and will provide recommendations / solutions.
  3. Use the DV Play Redundancy option. It includes a second playout server working in 1:1 with auto switch if the primary playout fails. Note that typically the Redundancy makes the budget triple more – because of the payment for 2 playouts + use of File Manager + RS 232 + Redundancy modules + use of video matrix (typically BlackMagic Video Hub) + need of File Server to hold the video files. * 3 *4 * 5

Notes:

*1 Many of our users have a good technical experience over general computers and TV. But our experience is focused exactly on the functions and the features that DV Play uses and we have 19 years statistics about customer’s hardware and how it performs during the years. Our recommendation typically produces better result and in the most cases actually saves money.

*2 Email notification greatly reduces the off-air time with sending emails for problems and that is in great help to smaller TV that have not operator in 24/7.

*3 Even the customer follows strictly point 1 and 2, he could expect 2-4 problems every year that lead to off-air time for minutes or hours. If this is not acceptable, using Redundancy module (Point 3) is recommended.

*4 The problems that lead to off-air time could be different –power supply cut, hardware malfunction, cable disconnected, operator`s errors, Windows errors, DV Play bugs, etc. Only 15% of the problems are because DV Play bugs and we work actively to reduce them. The most of those 15% DV Play bugs are due to a non proper work with DV Play, we analyse every single case and do the required changes in the playout to not allow it happens again.

*5 The Redundancy gives the freedom for maintenance as well, you could turn off the Master and broadcast via Slave server without any need to transfer the settings/files/graphic. Or you could do different tests on the Slave server, like a new graphic test.

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 is very reliable and most of our customers don’t include the Redundancy option in their order. Without it, you may expect one issue for a period of 2-6 months due to reasons like operator`s errors, hardware issues, maintenance reasons, etc. * 1. When such a failure rate is not acceptable, it is needed to include the Redundancy option in your order. Note that it increases the required budget 3 times more because it includes 2 playouts (hardware & software & extra DV Play modules like RS 232, Redundancy option, File Manager) + video switcher like BlackMagic VideoHub or other +  File Server to hold the video files and the needed budget is more than 10,000 EUR.

Using the redundancy option gives you huge freedom in the maintenance or the change of the hardware location – you can easily run a long check of the HDD health or move on different location one of the servers, while the other is working. Any tests (of the graphic for example) also easily could be done.

*1 DV Play expected failure rate is one issue for a period of 2-6 or even of 12 months. Note this is possible ONLY when the customer follows strictly our recommendations about the hardware, installs only approved software, and follows the DV Play best practices.

 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:

  1. 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.
  2. The Functionality means that the solution should have features that cover all your requirements and should allow a fast work in the everyday tasks.
  3. The Support provided with focus on its speed and precision.
  4. 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:

  1. Download & install the demo version via our full DVD package (3.4 GB).
  2. 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.
  3. Watch our DV Play Intro movie on youtube to see how DV Play solves standard tasks.
  4. 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 10 64 bits Pro / Ultimate. Note that the Auto updates should be stopped as often they produce a lot of troubles. Also there are several other requirements, like to turn OFF User Access Control (UAC), to turn off OneDrive, not to use antivirus software, etc. Please watch our movie 07 DV Play installation & settings

Often we use Windows 2019 LTSC as this version is the only one that Microsoft officially allows to stop updates.

Windows 7 64 bits is still a great platform you can use with Z390 or older hardware.

Customers that run a serious test on the DV Play reliability may call our support team and ask them to check all about their hardware and Windows settings.

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).