Playout Scheduler

Our future plans are to present these codes to the open source community.

 

Kwiktec Cloud Playout System
Introduction
KwikTec has built a custom Cloud GlobeCast playout system that specifically caters for smaller commercial and community broadcasters. This is perfect for the customer that does not have the budget for an expensive final control software system or for a dedicated fibre or microwave last mile link to connect to GlobeCast’s satellite uplink facility. The playout system consists of three main components: content storage, scheduling and playout.

Connecting via the internet, the customer is able to connect to dedicated server instance, upload and manage existing content and schedule when content will be played out. The playout component will connect into the customers dedicated satellite channel and play the scheduled content out seamlessly and at the best possible quality for the medium.

System Overview
The playout system provides an end-to-end management platform for customers to upload, schedule and playout content.
All interactions with the playout system happen via the internet, allowing the customer to manage their channel from virtually anywhere in the world.

Content Storage
Content is uploaded to the playout system using a network protocol known as the Secure File Transfer Protocol (or SFTP). This allows the content to be copied over the internet securely and adds an extra layer of protection from any unwanted visitors getting access to the site. SFTP is a very common protocol and SFTP file managers are available for all popular computing platforms (WinSCP, Cyberduck, Filezilla, FireFTP addon for Firefox, etc.). While files can be uploaded from anywhere via the internet, there are some inherent time limitations for uploading large files. A fast ADSL line has a maximum upload capability of 512kbps, which limits you to just over 200MB of data transfer that can be uploaded in an hour. The typical video file that will be used with the playout system can easily be over 1GB for 1 hour of footage.
KwikTec has the option of allowing customers to access a LAN connection at the uplink facility to connect to the Content Storage at high speed (up to 100 mbps). Alternatively you can ship the media on some form of external storage such as an external HDD and someone from KwikTec will upload the files for you.
The playout system will watch for files that are added to the directory and make them available in the scheduler for to be added for scheduled playback.

Scheduler
The scheduler is a web based application that allows you to create a schedule of files and playlists that will be played back at certain times of day. Each customer gets their own interface that will allow them to manage their own channels.
Once the customer has logged in to their interface, with their unique login credentials, they will see the following interface.

This web application shows what is currently playing, the schedule list and allows you add, change and delete items in the schedule.
In the image above, the label shows where the current time is displayed. This is the playout system time (SAST or which is GMT+2) and it is linked to the central clocks at KwikTec that are used to synchronise the other TV stations and satellite broadcasts.
The label shows the now playing indicator. This shows which file is currently being played and how long it has been playing for. This is also a progress indicator bar, and the grey bar grows as the file plays to show the approximate position of the file that is currently playing.
Label shows the schedule summary which gives an indication of when shows are scheduled for, in a particular 24 hour period (00:00:00 to 23:50:00). Navigation is down by click the appropriate << Prev or Next >> buttons and moving to the next or previous day. If you navigate to the current day (i.e. today), the date text changes to red and the current time is indicated with a red line.

For all other days the date text remains black and the red time indicator line is not shown.

Label is where the detailed schedule for that particular day is shown. This is a table of the schedule that lists the type of item (file or playlist), file name, start time, end time and duration and also is where you access the schedule control functions.
Editing the Schedule
The schedule is a simple, linear time based system whereby specific content is selected to play at particular time, on a particular day. There are 2 types of content that the scheduler can work with: individual items, and playlists. A playlist is a collection of individual items that makes repeating a particular sequence of items simpler.
Adding an Item
To add an item, from the main home page, click the Add Item button:

From here, you can select the type, which for an individual item is file. Select the file you want added and the start time (this is accurate to the 1 second) and then click Add .

If you are successful, you will see a pop up that says “success – database updated”. There are some limitations though, you can’t schedule items in the past or schedule an item that overlaps with an existing item.
Working with Playlists
To add or modify playlists, click the Playlists button:

This will present you with a list of the current playlists. To go back to the main screen and the schedule click the Schedule button.

To add a new playlist, click the Add Playlist button:

A dialog will appear. Type in the name of the new playlist, and then click Add . This newly created playlist will appear in the playlist list with a duration of 00:00:00. To edit a particular playlist click the Edit button next the playlist you wish to edit. This will bring up the playlist editor.

To add an item to the playlist, select the item from the dropdown list, and click the button. This will append the item to the end of the list. Use the arrows to move items up and down in the list and the button to delete an item that is no longer required. Once you have finished editing the playlist, click the Ok button. This will take you back to the playlist list and you will see that the playlist duration has been updated. To get back the schedule, click the Schedule button.
Adding a Playlist to the Schedule
The process of adding a playlist to the schedule is exactly the same as adding a individual item (detailed earlier in the document), but you need to change the type from file to playlist. The dropdown selection list will change to reflect the available playlists rather than the available files.

Any playlists that are in the schedule can be identified by the lighter blue colour.

Editing the Schedule
To modify the existing schedule, use one of either the Edit , Add After or Delete buttons.

Edit will bring up the item edit dialog that will allow you change the start time.

Add After brings up the add item dialog, with the start time set to the end of the associated item.

Delete deletes the item from the schedule (but it does not delete the item from the content storage).
Playout Service
The Playout service is fairly straight forward from the customer’s perspective. Any item that is still in the schedule when the appropriate time arrives will be played back through the playout service to the customer’s satellite channel and broadcast live.

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