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Playout server recommendations?

PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2018 6:43 pm
by cclark
Changing gears from my last question. Can anyone recommend an affordable (think high school budget) scheduled playout solution to me? I'm not looking at needing anything fancy with CG (bugs, lower third tickers, "L" overlays with squished video, etc). I'm not opposed to a dedicated server but I think that's going to be out of my price range, so I'm considering a computer and output device (likely BMD), preferably Mac but Linux or Windows is acceptable too.

Here's the kicker. I need something that will either turn off the output completely (if you've read my other thread, we only broadcast out recordings periodically, when we're not broadcasting our transmitter stays in standby and the cable headend reverts to a Community Billboard), or something that has an ability to control a contact closure to otherwise put the transmitter into standby.

I've done my own research to a point, I've found a couple options within the price range, but mostly Windows based and I don't really have a way to research their options and functionality ahead of time, so I'm wondering if anyone has any recommendations from experience. Thanks!

Re: Playout server recommendations?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:32 pm
by Greg_E
I would look at CasparCG as a free and open source tool that runs on Windows or Linux. Not sure what it will take to get it running, but the price of a decent computer and some output cards should be cheap enough to fit your budget. I think it can trigger to/from a GPIO but you may need to buy a USB GPIO from somewhere like Broadcast Tools. Hopefully my limited post count will let me post links:

[edit] no posting links for me, you'll have to look them up the hard way. The GPIO was a USB to 32+2 device (32 inputs, 2 outputs) and we use the 16 input version on the recorder for our radio station to record airchecks when the microphone is turned on.

You might trick Open Broadcaster into doing this on any regular computer with an HDMI or SDI output, it would probably be kind of a kludge, but you could probably get it working.

At work we use an Avid Airspeed in our studio, I'd recommend it but I'm guessing the cost will be well over your budget, I think we paid $60,000usd for 4 channels simultaneous play or record (any combo of 4 things at a time), but only to compressed codecs like XDCam. They have a cheaper 2 channel version that might fit in your budget.

As too the eliminate video when done, if the GPIO didn't work to a simple switch, a timer that will switch the video away from the encoder will do the job. Yes it is nice if it does this after the playlist ends, but sometimes with cheap you have to find workarounds.

Re: Playout server recommendations?

PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 4:37 pm
by cclark
Thanks for the recommendation, I looked into it a little. I'm thinking that and many other programs like that are going to be overkill for what we're trying to do.

Where I'm starting to lean towards is maybe just a HyperDeck Mini Pro through an SDI to Analog downconverter controlled by HyperDeck Control Panel, although it seems there will need to be some experimentation with that too. I know there's no repeating schedule on HCP although I had messaged Jeff about that and he said it was one of the things he had been asked about before.... But it also seems there's some disconnect in how and what Hyperdecks are able to play back. In my own personal trials (without HCP) it doesn't seem there's a way to select a video file specifically from an SD card to play, and even with files that were recorded on the Hyperdeck it seems tricky or even impossible to select and/or playback any files -- I've definitely encountered issues with that and it seems to vary from day to day whether it works or not, although maybe HCP has some way around this. The other problem of controlling the video signal into the transmitter to get it to go back into standby is also still something I'm working out, so we'll see. It may not be the final answer either, but guessing by the lack of rousing response (thank you Greg for suggesting something) this may not be the best place to be asking this?

Re: Playout server recommendations?

PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:15 am
by Greg_E
No problem, I have 30 years of finding solutions for TV stations, including finding solutions I can throw together out of parts on hand right now to get back on air.