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Controling many video screens from distance



11:34 am on Sep 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hello, I have a rather tricky task to complete, all help is appreciated.

(hope I'm putting this in the right forum, please correct me if I'm wrong)

We'll be installing plasma screens in several cities which will provide news, info and video advertising.

What needs to be accomplished:
- if connected to wireless internet, how would one control the media? (plasma screen is connected to a small computer)
- should we approach a simple method like having a full screen web browser display the info and control it with PHP? How stable would it be anyway?
- or should we go for some more advanced methods?

- how would you create uninterrupted video flow when adding new files?
- ideally, could you upload all the video files from the main base to remote locations and just loop them without the need for extra downloading (to save bandwith)
- should we try and develop a script that would check if the playlist changed after each video file? How would you do that?
- what type of video files should we go with? FLV and display them via browser or MPEG2 and display via desktop?

- how to be safe that freezing wont occur and what to do to prevent it?

- are there any software solutions that would be able to do that? One company offered us a software solution, but the price was way too much for us (over 15,000 $).

Thanks for reading and do feel free to ask me the questions and/or clarifications !



11:58 am on Sep 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Do the screens have to be synchronized?

...and how much control do you need over what's being shown?


12:16 pm on Sep 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hello thecoalman.
Well, the screens should be partially synced. In other words, we will need the option of updating them all at once if we have a material that will be displayed on all locations. On the other hand, many video materials will be location specific.

This actually means that we'll need a lot of control over the locations, which does tend to complicate the whole project : )

Some info that will be displayed is live such as: weather and traffic report
Some will be updated several times per day: news reports and daily guides
Finally the ads will be changed less frequently (perhaps once a week).

All the locations are different and unfortunately we'll need the ability to control them all individually for numerous special purposes.
On the other hand, examples such as national news report would have to be displayed on all of them using a single click.


3:56 am on Sep 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Well I can give you an idea of where i would be going with this, the following may sound a bit cheesy but it will be very cheap and it will work.

On the main computer I'd set up a common folder and a folder for each individual location. On the satellite computers I'd set up a FTP program, schedule it for automatic updating of the common folder and the specific folder for that location. This will get all the content to the location with minimal bandwidth and you don't have to worry about network issues. New content even if it's very high bitrate can be downloaded in the background.

This is where it gets a bit tricky and I'm not sure where you'd go from here. But you could install something like VLC on the satellites. From there you would only have to figure out how to get them to play the content you want. For example you could feed them a playlist either downloaded via FTP or one they could look for on the main site. The only issue I'm aware of with that is I don't know the if/how to trigger them to update the playlist. You may even be able to use its built in features to play a directory as a playlist but again I don't know if it updates it with new content, VLC is quite a versatile tool though so I'd be looking in how to utilize it for your needs.

Just some food for thought and I don't know if that fits your needs but it's dirt cheap solution and would be very reliable. Just set the satellite computers to auto run the applications you need on start up.


what type of video files should we go with? FLV and display them via browser or MPEG2 and display via desktop?

I'd go with neither, there is much better codecs than FLV and MPEG2 for your needs. You can get really good compression and high quality through WMV, there's others as well. MPEG2 is used for DVD and is way too big, you need need roughly 4X to 5X the bitrate for comparable quality that you'll get out of mpeg4 variants like WMV or Divx.


7:38 am on Sep 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Lets figure we have a folder on each of those computer's desktops where video files are downloaded into.

I tried to create such an environment on my desktop. I used VLC folder playing capability.

But when I do a simple test and play the folder - during the video flow I manually drop another video into the folder, but unfortunately VLC doesn't "see" it before restaring. If there was only a way to evoke some sort of "check if there is anything new in that folder" after each files was played. That would really be great.

Even if we figured the live playlist thing, we'd still be stuck in a very static environment. As VLC is a media player and if we use only video like DIVX we won't be able to create certain gadgets like displaying current time over a blue cloudy background. The only possibility to achive such a thing is a standard flash animation.

But how to assemble the high quality video playback (I agree that WMV and DIVX are great options for this) and mix it down with various "live" information (news tickers, weather report etc etc).

Maybe the more simpler way of phrasing the question is this: how to combine desktop video playing with live flash information that sucks data right off the internet? : ))

Yeah, we'll also need to work how to sync it. Get the video to stop during flash report? How to get it to continue ?

It does tend to get kinda complicated really :P


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