06 Aug 2010


Scala broadcast solutions Comments Off on Scala


In the case of multimedia systems it is often a problem that the graphic designers do not understand the computer science, however IT specialists are not skilled at the graphics. This fact complicates the management of multimedia systems and forces the users to work together. The Scala company’s InfoChannel system solved this problem and created a system, which requires some computer knowledge to install the system, but it is no longer needed during use.

Architecture of system

The Scala InfoChannel is based on PC-based computer network architecture. So the available standard computers – with given configuration – are not special tools. The network can use LAN based on TCP/IP or WAN. It can use FTP server, but it’s not absolutely necessary. The computers drive the monitors with their own monitor controller card.
We can say, that InfoChannel is a standard, flexibliy configurable system based on a well-known information technology.

Components of the system

InfoChannel’s software system consists of 3 components and optional modules. The software components run by Microsoft Windows operating systems.

  • InfoChannel Player
  • InfoChannel Content Manager
  • InfoChannel Designer

InfoChannel Player

The main task of the Player is displaying the media materials on the display or screens. A player can drive two independent dislplays, if a dualhead controller card is inserted into the computer – in this way consiredable installation and operatinal costs can be saved.

Basic features:

– Driving of display(s) with optional picture proportion
– Driving of standing or lying displays
– A computer may drive two displays with a various size and different picture proprotion
– More fields (display parts) can be defined on a given display. Materials with different components can be displayed in these.
– It works automatically
– Centrally manageable
– If necessary, it also plays audio material
– Suitable for both of central and local data reception/display
– If a TV tuner card is inserted into the PC, telecast can be displayed in full screen or in part of the screen in optional size, while in the background or around the image of the telecast other media materials can appear. You can also change the channels.
– With a tuner card or grabber card, live video can be displayed, as well, in a full or smaller size and in optional position
– Via the PC’s serial port, the Player can control the devices (for example turn on and off displays, controll media players with serial port, communicate with other devices, which can be controlled through serial ports)
– Players can be divided into groups. Players in the same group start to play the same material in the same time.
– Excellent image quality, fine movements effects can be shown in displays.
– The content may appear covering each other simultaneously in more layers, dimming, moving with a real-time imagery (real time rendering).
– Even more video files can be played simultaneously.
– The material being played does not stop at the time of updating the content, so there is not idle time.
– Downloading of the content is centrally scheduled, it can be solved remotely automatically or manually.
– Player sends sign of life during function to the central media server (heartbeat)
– Player generates diary data on demand.
– It can be turned off, restarted remotely.
– Menu-driven interactive playing can be achieved (KIOSK)
– It can also be used to display data of Internet and intranet services. (For example, RSS news service)
– It also works, when the connect is lost with the center, however in this case it can not be updated with the data stored in center but with local data it can be. (Exchange rate, customer calling) The update will start automatically after the connection is restored.
– Optionally, the Player can be programmed by standard scripts, thus the Player’s function, applicability is very varied. (VBScript, Java script, Python) Software development device (szoftverfejlesztő eszköz) is not needed for these, a word processor lets you create the programs.
– Player is licensed but the licenses are registrated centrally. There is no need for USB key (dongle), so irreparable damage does not occur in the case of its loss, destruction, appropriation.

InfoChannel Content Manager

The main tasks of Content Manager are storing the media materials for dislay, sending them to the Players, scheduling and planning of play, system administration. The Content Manager can also run by Microsoft Windows XP operating system, or even by Windows 2003 server. The Content Manager computer should be located in a central, supervised room (server room, computer room). Local operating is only necessary at the time of installation. It is worth noting that updating of Player computers’ program can be achieved remotely and scheduled with the Content Manager. This makes the system maintenance yery fast, comfortable and safe.

Main tasks:

  • Storing of media materials (’media server’)
  • Defining and configurating of Players
  • Defining of Player groups
  • Central storing of licenses
  • Defining and managing of user rights (Administrator, designer)
  • Setting of scheduling (When and which Player should display what kind of material)
  • Uploading the media materials to the media list
  • Creating Playlists and ordering them to players
  • Central monitoring of nework and the player PCs
  • Checking of possible error lists
  • User activity monitoring
  • Player software upgrade

Basic features:

SQL database + web server based operation
Local operating is not required, we can connect to the server remotely via internet browser. (Both LAN, WAN can be used) Through this connection we can upload the media materials.

Practical, pre-inbuilt, but variable user profiles:

  • System Administrator
  • Graphics Designer
  • Message Editor
  • Message Manager
  • Network Manager
  • Schedule Manager
  • Viewer

InfoChannel Designer

We could see that Manager is suitable for creating playlist from different media materials, which is transferred to the given Players with the media materials. In this way, for example after a film, ten images can be screened in every fifth minutes, then the film follows again or even jumped to another playlist other materials can be displayed. It results a programmed play, but there are no particular movement, spectacular effects or moving texts.

With Designer a special script can be made. (XML based file + media materials) This program is similar to a film maker software, where different media materials can be combined, moved and texts or images can be floated with effects. The Designer creates the possibility to integrate external data (exchange rate, customer number, weather information, RSS news service, etc.) into a system. Extrenal data are not taken to the script in an exact way, as in this case it wouldn’t be possible to update the information. The Designer can only open one or more data channel to external data, from which displayed data will be dinamically updated during playing.

Script made by the Designer can be checked locally, and taken to the media list of Content Manager with one touch of a button. Form here it takes a minute to the script to get the Players and it will be displayed. There is no rendering, it results very fast content modification and updating.

Of course, transmission of the materials are bounded to entitlements. Graphic designer, who has Designer program, has the right to send material to a related server or update the existing materials but any other rights are taken away from them, such as they don’t have access to the schedules or system parameters. Moreover, graphic designer needn’t be in the institutions of the bank to send the content to the server. Graphic designer can work in his/her own office, in a design studio if the user provides external access to it. (Firewall, IP address filtering, MAC address filtering)

Basic features of Designer:

  • Designer program, which ensures professional apperance
  • Computer program, Designer is not necessary after creating the scripts, even you can turn off the computer
  • Professional graphics, graphical effects
  • Very easy to use
  • Basically, IT expertise is not required
  • External scripts (VBScript, Java Script, Python)
  • Management of any number of graphic layers
  • It can be tested immediately, that how the prepared script will be displayed on player computer
  • It knows the tricks used in multi-layer graphic solutions (Blue Box, Green Box, Alfa Channel, Luminance Channel, Chroma Channel)
  • Internal timing, managing of page changing, loop
  • Optional modules can be added: Video control, DVD control, TV-tuner operation, processing module of meteorological stations’ data, etc.

Currently used media formats and technologies:

AnimGIF, AVI, WMV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, SWF, FLA, BMP, JPG, TIF, GIF, PNG, MP3, WMA, WAV, Streaming Video, Captured Video

Scala company is expanding the range of adaptable media formats.