SnapStream Blog

Creating Custom Workflows with SnapStream’s API

October 20 2011 by MLopez

One of the least recognized, yet most powerful features of SnapStream is the ability for our customers to create custom workflows by leveraging the software’s built-in API. The Application Programming Interface acts as a connector between different software programs, allowing them to interact with one another in a seamless fashion.

With SnapStream's API, the question of "can your software do this?" is now completely open-ended. Developers can create third-party applications that tightly integrate with SnapStream's TV search technology to accomplish almost anything imaginable. In layman’s terms, SnapStream’s API lets developers do cool things like:

• Create custom search portals
• Automatically create multiple versions of varying bitrate WMV or H.264 files (using our ShowSqueeze technology)
• Integrate with a Google Calendar to automatically schedule recordings on a closed-circuit camera

Densan Consultants, one of SnapStream’s custom code partners, has harnessed SnapStream’s API to create a customer-facing Web portal called NewsLink that allows the end user to search amongst TV transcripts (from two SnapStreams), a collection of 50+ federal government news publications, and newswires—all from a single, unified interface. Did I mention that the two SnapStream systems are located in two completely different regions of Canada?


View SnapStream in Canada in a larger map

With NewsLink, two SnapStreams are integrated along with EMM print sources and newswires.

The benefit with this approach is that this customer no longer has three independent tools by which they gather transcripts, news publications and newswire stories. Instead, the end-user simply launches his web browser, types in a search term, and voila, instant search results about what’s happening on CBC and Reuters.

TV Search + Print Search + Internet Search + Wire Search

Custom Web portal, searching SnapStream, EMM Print Sources and Newswires.

Perhaps the best part of the API: It's free to customers! To interface with the API, all you’ll need is a developer who's familiar with JSON Web Services, along with some ideas to implement. If you’d like to learn more about SnapStream’s API, and even look at sample code, just visit http://code.snapstream.com! You can consult with our engineering team as well by contacting us at sales@snapstream.com.

Get Your Hands On SnapStream 5.2

May 10 2011 by Rachel Abbott
We are thrilled to announce the availability of SnapStream's fifth generation TV search software for enterprise users! For the first time, eligible SnapStream users can upgrade their 4.x SnapStream appliances. Get the full lowdown here.
What's new in SnapStream 5.2

1. Build a SnapStream Cluster

+ Record and search more TV by adding SD/HD tuners
+ Expand your archive with SnapStream Storage Nodes
+ Save disk space by mass-ShowSqueezing recordings to Windows Media or H.264

⇒ Learn more about expanding your SnapStream solution

 

2. Benefit from reliability improvements

+ Improved database backend: SQL Server Express instead of INI and XML files
+ Record TV and execute tasks with greater fault tolerance
- Recordings and post-processing tasks are dispatched across nodes with more intelligent error handling
+ Service architecture designed from the ground up to be more robust
- For example, you will receive a notification e-mail if any individual tuner goes offline
and each tuner will automatically be reallocated to match your recording priorities

3. Stronger foundation for the future

+ New web interface runs on Microsoft IIS Express and is simpler, more nimble, and more intuitive
+ Improved logging enables you to easily search your logs to isolate user activity and resolve problems
+ "Round-robin" file distribution makes more efficient use of disk space

⇒ Read the complete SnapStream 5.2 Release Notes

Am I eligible for this upgrade?

It depends on several factors:
• You must be within a current and fully-paid service contract.
• Your SnapStream Server must meet the hardware qualifications—SnapStream Servers on a first generation platform, with varied drive configurations, or less than 4GB RAM will not qualify up front, but hardware upgrades can be made on a case-by-case basis.
• Contact us by phone at 1-877-696-3674 or at support@snapstream.com to confirm if you're eligible.

Why should I upgrade?

Best reasons for you to upgrade now:
• You want to simplify the task of managing multiple SnapStream Servers by combining them into a single SnapStream Cluster.
• There's a bug fix in 5.2 that solves a problem you've been encountering. Reference the full
5.2 release notes.
• You seek to expand the number of TV channels you record, the amount of storage available or the amount of ShowSqueezing you do. Learn more about clustering.

How do I upgrade?

If you're running 4.x, the upgrade to 5.2 will be a hands-on process with our support team. After prep, the entire upgrade procedure can involve up to a day of downtime. Additional SnapStream equipment may be recommended or even required.
If you're already on 5.x, the upgrade process is relatively easy. Contact our support team for upgrade instructions.

OK, I'm interested in upgrading!

Contact our support team to discuss your eligibility, benefits and upgrade strategy. SnapStream technical support representatives are available Monday - Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST by phone at 1-877-696-3674 or e-mail at support@snapstream.com.

Introducing... the world's largest DVR (& TV search engine)

April 07 2010 by Zack Price

(First time visitors: Welcome to SnapStream! We make TV search software used by organizations like the U.S. Senate and The Soup (on E!) to search inside TV shows. And it’s not too expensive, starting at $2,000. What’s TV search, you ask?  Visit our website to learn more.)

50 Screens With DVR Server

If you've read any of our previous articles on our monster DVR systems, you know we have a knack for throwing together skunkworks DVRs that can record a lot of TV. In the past, these have been done in the wee hours of the morning with parts we've scavenged from other systems.

 

50 Channel Recording Guide Yup! This is what it looks like when you record 50 channels at once... (click to see it up close)

But... what would happen if we set out to make the World’s Largest DVR? And not from scrap parts, but with shiny new hardware and a real (gasp) budget? And while we're at it, let's not just go from 12 tuners to 13. Let's blow the doors off of television recording. Putting on my infomercial voice here, we're not doing 10, not 20, not 35, but 50…. Yes, FIFTY (50) TV channels at once. :-) And while we're at it, let's make a storage system to sit behind it that lets you keep all of those shows. Forever. Well, forever as long as you're willing to buy the drives to plug into the system. In total, the storage capacity is equivalent to 326 TiVo Premier boxes. But that might take up a little more space than our rack has, though.

Well, for the past little while we've been working on adding clustering capabilities to our TV recording and search software... technology that would enable us to go beyond the 10 TV tuners that we could put on a single PC motherboard. After planting the seeds for this new architecture last year, we've been working hard on getting this new version of SnapStream completed.

Well, spring has sprung and that seed sprouted into a 25U half rack packed to the gills with the most monster of DVRs ever created.

And we can't wait to introduce it at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas next week (April 12-15). If you'll be there, come check it out in person! (we'll be in the South Upper Hall in booth #2707)

 

Open Door 50 Channel TV Search Engine The finished product... our 50 channel DVR + TV search engine. The largest in the world.

The juicy details:

 

5-Server Cluster World's largest DVR in the rack

TV Source: You plug it in with one simple coax cable feed from your local cable company.

In that regard, it's pretty normal. Of course, do you know of other DVRs that need two 15amp power plugs and a 10GB Ethernet (or up to 8 bonded 1GB ports) uplink? :-)

Tuners and Storage: It has a grand total of 50 analog TV tuners recording to 125+TB of storage. (10 tuners and 18TB of storage per 3U chassis or 10 tuners and 30TB storage of 4U chassis). As a demo, this system shows both of our 3U and 4U chassis sizes. Depending on the storage requirements, one could do all 4U or all 3U boxes.

Note: Due to the higher bitrates, if you were to do this with digital recording sources like QAM or ATSC, each server would only do 5 shows per box. You'd just need more boxes to get to 50 channels.

Clustering: The magic behind building a TV search engine like this one is our new clustering technology. With this setup, one SnapStream node is designated as the master and other SnapStream nodes which can then be designated to performed a narrow or broad set of functions (see diagram at the left). Then the "master" doles out work to be done to the various nodes it has at its disposal and balancing resources appropriately. For example, when using the SnapStream Link software to playback shows, each Link Client will request (under the hood, of course) the video in question directly from the server that houses the video file to prevent any duplicate network traffic.

Networking: Because this is a "distributed" DVR, the networking between the nodes is important -- this network meshes the nodes together, allowing them to talk to one another, use each others storage, etc. The interconnect on this SnapStream Cluster is via an HP Procurve 2910 switch, with two 1GB copper Ethernet ports bonded via LACP per server.

 

IMG_1029 World's largest DVR from behind

Storage allocation: Using drive pooling, all of the storage shows up as one giant video folder... all 102TB of it! As a result of this, each system can record to either itself or other machines on the network as space allows. Our software handles all the magic of distributing recordings across the various logical storage volumes.

TV Search: And, of course, this giant SnapStream DVR cluster can not only record shows, but it makes them all searchable as well, using our powerful TV search technology. This is the same TV search technology that shows like The Soup (on E!) use to find their TV clips. With our clustering technology, there's one unified search interface all the recordings. With the storage capacity on this SnapStream, this means the ability to search about 115,200 hours of recorded TV... or about 13 years worth of TV recordings!

And then it gets even cooler....

Distributed Transcoding: For the uninitiated, ShowSqueeze is our built-in transcoding feature -- the feature that allows you to take recordings that are natively made in MPEG-2 and convert them automatically to H.264 or Windows Media. In the older architecture, each server could only ShowSqueeze up to the limit of the local CPU.

Anyhow, being limited to the CPU on one computer won't do for such a massive system, so in addition to scalable recordings and storage across nodes, we added scalable ShowSqueeze across nodes as well.

The base unit is a 1U dual-processor quad-core Nehalem Xeon server (8 physical, 8 logical cores) with a ton of ram. On the price to performance curve in a 1U space, this box is theperfect choice. It can do more than one ShowSqueeze from HD to HD h.264 in real time or can take eight analog shows at once and squeeze to an archival quality file. Under the hood, we have all of the software knobs to turn and buttons to push so you can optimize the performance of the box to the task at hand.

Assuming one box isn't enough, one could just add more SnapStream ShowSqueeze nodes. As additional ShowSqueeze boxes come online, the master SnapStream node will dole out any available tasks to them. And if a ShowSqueeze node is taken back offline and the master node automatically adjusts by moving ShowSqueeze tasks to the remaining nodes!

HD-SDI playout: To finish out our rack, we also threw in one of our HD-SDI playout nodes. (Once again, one can add as many as needed for your workflow.) For our traditional television customers like NBC, The Soup (E!), Current TV and MTV, being able to get SnapStream recorded shows to their HD-SDI video router is important.

Stats Quick View (Maximum Configuration):

Xeon Processors 8
2tb Hard Drives 68
Raw Space 136TB
Raid Storage 102TB
Total Storage 24x7 Recording* 115,200 hours = ~13 Years
Storage Per Tuner 96 Days

*Assuming a recording quality of 2mbit/s.

Help us name the World's Largest DVR... and win an iPad:

We need a really cool name for this thing and we want your help! And the winning submission will get an Apple iPad - 16GB + Apple's iPad case/cover. Enter the contest here from April 9 to April 30.

And, as mentioned above, you can come see this thing live at the National Association of Broadcaster's (NAB 2010) show in Las Vegas. We'll be showcasing it in the South Upper Hall, #SU2707.

And, finally, some more pics:

(see them all on Flickr here)

50 Channel DVR-search engine
"Internal Hardware
Internal Hardware
Inserting tuner cards
2 Servers in the Making
Gearing up the DVR with memory and tuners
Lifting the Nodes in Place
Building the DVR Rack
5-Server Cluster
IMG_1029
50 Channel TV Search Engine

Modulating your own unencrypted QAM (aka how to record/search high-definition TV)

February 22 2010 by Rakesh

Updated 11/3/2017: added new information about creating a Digital TV head-end in the cloud

Updated 10/18/2011: added information on Drake's HDMI to QAM / HD encoder products-- the DSE24 and the HDE24.

comparing high-definition television and standard definition television

At the end of last year, I wrote a blog posting about how to create your own analog TV headend. Today, I'm going to talk about how to do accomplish the same thing, but with digital, high-definition television.

Standard-definition analog TV is fine for some media monitoring and TV recording scenarios. But in other scenarios you might want to record TV shows in the highest quality possible.

Maybe you produce a TV show, like The Soup or , the Daily Show/Colbert Report and when you include a TV clip inside your show, you want it to show up at the highest quality possible.

Or maybe you're a non-profit that wants to showcase your media mentions on television at the highest possible quality to donors.

For scenarios such as these, you want to record television in high-definition and be able to search within those recordings in high-definition as well.

There are a couple of ways to make HD recordings and be able to search within them:

New - How to create your own digital (IP) TV head-end in the Cloud

Recording ATSC

ATSC is the standard by which digital TV is transmitted over-the-air in the United States. It's transmitted without encryption, so recording and searching TV broadcast over ATSC is pretty easy. Just get and install an antenna for your physical location and connect the output from that antenna to your SnapStream TV search appliance (note: it has to be one of our HD-capable appliances) and just use SnapStream as you would with any other TV source... we have full program guide data for ATSC signals in the United States and parts of Canada and using ATSC with SnapStream is really straightforward.

But what if you want to record something in high-definition that's not available over the air? What if you want to record something like ESPN HD or CNN HD or MSNBC HD?

Well, then you'll need to build your own QAM headend. What's that? Read on...

Building your own unencrypted QAM headend

To make high-definition (HD) recordings of channels that aren't available over-the-air (OTA), you'll need to build your own unencrypted QAM head-end. Unencrypted QAM, like ATSC, is something that SnapStream's HD TV search appliance can take as an input and record from.

Building your own unencrypted QAM head-end is pretty similar to building an analog TV headend. You follow the same basic steps:

1) get your TV sources
2) modulate each source to QAM
3) combine the modulated channels into one feed!

So for step 1, you'll simply get your high-definition TV source from whatever provider you choose -- this might be from a digital cable provider (like Comcast or Time Warner Cable) or from a satellite service (DirecTV or DISH). For each channel you want to modulate, you'll need a single receiver (or set-top box). And each of these receivers need to be capable of high-definition TV. You should also choose a receiver that can output HDMI or component while also outputting analog composite or s-video. The analog composite or s-video is how, in most cases, you'll be able to access the closed-captioning for searching with SnapStream.

Then for step 2 (modulating each source to QAM), we recommend using a simple one-box QAM modulation solution. There are three such solutions that we know of on the market today, and we've heard of a bunch more that are coming -- there seems to be a rising demand for one-box QAM modulation solutions. More on this below.

Then in step 3, you would simply combine all of these signals together using a combiner, much as we described in our article on how to build an analog headend.

The one-box QAM modulation devices (ie what you need for step 2) that are a) shipping today, b) that we've tested in the lab here at SnapStream, are:

Blonder Tongue's HDE-QAM: This is a pretty simple box that takes in HDMI, modulates its audio and video to unencrypted QAM, and outputs it via coax. The HDE-QAM also has an ethernet port for accessing it's web-based settings page where you can configure the channel/sub-channel to which it modulates and the quality (bit-rate) at which the encoding happens. Images of the front and the back of the Blonder Tongue HDE-QAM:

Blonder Tongue HDE QAM - Front image

Blonder Tongue HDE QAM - back image

The Blonder Tongue HDE-QAM appears to have been around the longest amount of time -- we learned about it in March of 2009. The list price for the Blonder Tongue HDE-QAM is $10,000 (we expect this to come down). More information on the HDE-QAM can be found on Blonder Tongue's website.

Adtec's HDMI-2-QAM: The Adtec HDMI-2-QAM is less expensive than the Blonder Tongue AND has more features. Like the Blonder Tongue HDE-QAM, the Adtec takes in HDMI, but it can handle two channels in its 1U chassis. So it takes two HDMI inputs and modulates both of those to a single QAM channel, each on its own sub-channel. It also is supposed to have support for passing closed-captioning through (which the Blonder Tongue unit does not have support for), though at the time of writing this blog posting, this was still being worked on and should be fully enabled in a soon-to-be-released firmware update. One important note: the Adtec HDMI-2-QAM will not allow you to modulate a source HDMI signal that has HDCP copy protection enabled (the Blonder Tongue does).

Images of the front and back of the Adtec HDMI to QAM (click the front and back panel for larger images):

The Adtec HDMI-2-QAM first began shipping in November and it's just now beginning to ramp up to production quantities. The list price on the Adtec HDMI-2-QAM is $7500, making it a price-attractive option at $3750 per channel.

Contemporary Research's QMOD-HD: Finally, there's the QMOD-HD from Contemporary Research. Instead of HDMI (which both the Blonder Tongue and Adtec products use), the Contemporary Research QMOD-HD takes in video via a composite high-definition signal (Y-Pb-PR cables) and audio via an optical audio input or analog audio composite (left and right) inputs. And then it modulates that audio and video to QAM. One unit of the QMOD-HD handles a single channel. The advantage to using composite inputs is that the QMOD-HD doesn't have to worry about handling HDCP encryption that might be present on the HDMI signal. The QMOD-HD does not have any support for passing closed-captioning data.

Here are images of the front and back of the Contemporary Research QMOD-HD:

Contemporary Research's QMOD-HD - front

Contemporary Research's QMOD-HD - back

This is the newest one-box QAM modulation solution that we've come across -- it started shipping in quantity last week (Feb 2010). The list price for one unit of the CR QMOD-HD is $2450, making it the least expensive per channel of the three options we've listed here.

Drake's HDE24+MEQ-1000 and Drake DSE24 products (new!): While we haven't fully tested and reviewed them yet, we recently discovered Drake's DSE24 and HDE24 products. Read preliminary information here. (Updated 7/26/2011)

Have any questions about building your own QAM headend for the purposes of recording and searching high-definition television? Drop us an e-mail at sales@snapstream.com.

How to create your own (analog) cable TV head-end

December 17 2009 by Rakesh

Pasted image at 2017_10_31 03_34 PM.png

Updated 11/03/2017: added new information on creating a TV headend in the Cloud.

Based out of Houston, SnapStream has been making TV distribution and recording products for over a decade.

TV Networks, TV Shows, Media/News sites , K-12 Schools, Government departments, Journalism colleges and dozens of local TV stations use SnapStream to distribute, record, search, clip and to post clips to Twitter/Facebook.

While most organizations are now looking to create their own digital TV head-end, there are still some who want to go the analog route. This article is for those customers.

New - How to create your own digital (IP) TV head-end in the Cloud

Why build my own cable head-end?

First of all, why would you want to build a cable head-end? Why not just take the regular cable signal from your cable provider and distribute that over RF around your organization? Well, for a lot of people “regular” cable (ie what you get without any kind of a receiver or set-top box) doesn’t include channels that are important to them. Regular cable might not include certain sports packages – like NFL Sunday Ticket or NBA League Pass on DirecTV – or other channels.

For example, say CSPAN is important to you. Well, here in Houston, TX, our local cable provider (Comcast) has been moving channels from the “analog” spectrum into the digital only spectrum and CSPAN has been one of the channels that’s been moved. So the only way to get CPSAN in Houston on Comcast is using a digital cable box (or a DTA – digital to analog – box). And if you want to distribute that channel around to various TVs in your office without a digital cable box at every TV, then you look at building your own regular cable head-end!

Another reason why you might want to modulate your own cable line-up is you might want to include non-TV channels on your cable line-up. For example, maybe you have a few security cameras that you want to modulate to certain channels on your cable system.

How do I build my own cable head-end?

So how do you create your own cable head-end? It’s surprisingly easy. Here’s a high-level overview of what your system will look like:

1. Your TV source is usually going to be either satellite (here in the US that means DirecTV or Dish) or digital cable. Depending on how many channels you’re modulating (‘n’ in the above diagram), you’ll need a corresponding number of receivers or set-top boxes from your provider. And if you’re using a satellite service like DirecTV, you’ll need a multi-port switch to drive all of those set-top boxes off of one satellite dish. A multi-port switch is a sort of splitter for satellite service.

2. Each set-top box is set to a particular channel on that TV source. Then that set-top box connects to it’s corresponding modulator via RCA video and audio cables. Generally speaking, analog modulators come in two varieties:

  • "Channelized" modulators – this kind of modulator is hard-wired to modulate the audio/video passed into them to a particular channel # (ie to a particular frequency of the RF spectrum). You can’t change the channel number that it outputs on-the-fly.
  • "Agile" modulators – with an Agile modulator, you can configure, on the fly, what channel you want it to output on. This provides more flexibility with the channels you can output on, but with some sacrifice of quality. Agile modulators are also more expensive (roughly twice as expensive) than "Channelized" modulators.

The typical recommendation, as I’ve heard it, is that most of your modulators can be “channelized” and then maybe you add a few “agile” modulators in case you need to modulate to some random channels later down the line.

3. And then each of the modulators connects to the combiner via RF and the combiner mashes all the channels together into one RF signal. There are two types of combiners – ones with amplifiers built-in (“active combiners”) and ones without amplifiers (“passive combiners”). Depending on how you’re distributing RF (the next step), an “active” combiner might save you the need for a dedicated RF amplifier on the output of the combiner.

4. Last but not least, you need to distribute your new cable signal throughout your organization. Designing an RF distribution system is a separate topic unto itself (discussion of splitters and taps, signal loss of distance, etc.), but for simple configurations, you just need to amplify the signal at the exit to the combiner. How much you need to amplify it depends on how many ways you’re splitting it and how long the distances are in your RF network.

If you’re doing all of this so you can record TV and search over it with SnapStream, your SnapStream Server is 100% compatible with your new custom cable line-up. We have the ability to create custom line-ups so your program guide in SnapStream exactly matches how you have your channels configured.

Ballpark Pricing

You’ll need to contact a vendor or distributor of this equipment, but our quick calculations had the per channel cost of the modulators and combiners (EXCLUDING the cost of any multi-port switch, receivers, and RF distribution stuff), if you’re using “channelized” (ie “fixed”) modulators, come out to $150 / channel. And if you’re going with “agile” modulators, then the cost might go up to something like $250 / channel. Now this is just eyeball pricing.

Ok now I have my own lineup, how can I record it?

If you are like most of our customers and want to record TV for strategic purposes SnapStream can help. Our appliance lets you record any TV feed (antenna, cable, satellite, IP or inhouse analog/digital feeds) on a centralized DVR. Once recorded we index all the closed captions making it possible for users to search inside shows. And once you've found what you are looking for there are easy tools tocreate a clip and then download it or to post it to Twitter/Facebook.

 

Conclusion

That's it... Thanks to my friends at Blonder Tongue for their help in putting this together. And if you're reading this and want to be able to record LOTS of TV and then search inside those TV shows, let us know. That's what our product, SnapStream, is all about!

 

 

Feature Spotlight: Access Controls

December 07 2009 by Daniel

SnapStream Enterprise TV, the software that runs our TV servers, has a lot of different features that make it suitable for a lot of different tasks. But as someone once said, with great power comes great responsibility!

 

Like Uncle Ben told Peter, "With great power comes great responsibilty." - Uncle Ben tells Peter Parker

Because the server has a lot of different functions, it may be accessible to a lot of different users - for example, at one educational institution, the SnapStream server is accessible to professors and students from a dozen different classes, as well as departmental staff, research assistants and IT. The server might be in use for two or three different purposes at any given time. That means a lot of users with different and sometimes competing needs, who have a lot of opportunities to get in each others' way.

Fortunately, we also have some very powerful and versatile tools for wrangling your user base.

User Groups
SnapStream software has group-model security. This means that users aren't assigned permissions directly, but rather, they are assigned to groups, and permissions are assigned to everyone in each group. This makes it a lot easier to manage a large group of users- especially when you're using the LDAP integration feature, which I'll talk about a bit below.

The permissions configuration page looks like this:

A detailed description of what each permission does is available in our help file.

Predefined groups
Enterprise TV comes preconfigured with several user groups that are designed for some of the typical tasks that you might want to permit or deny.

Administrators: These users can do everything on the server, including change user permissions, so put only your most trusted and knowledgeable users in this group. An unskilled user in this group can do a lot of damage by accident.

Schedulers: Basically just like Administrators, except they don't have access to any server settings. Notably, these users can manage recording priorities. These guys are sort of "in charge" of the recording schedule.

Basic Schedulers: They can submit recording jobs, but they can't manage recording priorities. New jobs that they submit will come in at the bottom of the priority list, so they can't accidentally bump someone's crucial CNN Newsroom recordings for a ball game (or vice versa).

Live TV Viewers: These users can't schedule recordings, but they can view Live TV and create TV Alerts. Note that Live TV can't ever cause a recording to be blocked- these guys are one step below Basic Schedulers.

Recorded TV Viewers:
They can watch and use recordings, but they can't watch Live TV.

All of these groups can download files, create clips and schedule TV Alerts. A detailed breakdown of the permissions for each group can be found in
the help file.

How permissions affect the user experience
Users will only see options to which they have access. A Basic Schedulers user, for example, won't be able to even try to access the Settings menu- they simply won't see the option.

This helps ensure that users are steered towards the functions that you want them to perform without getting distracted by trying to fiddle with settings or change the recording schedule.

"Hiding" recordings from users with Folder Security
A client called us recently wanting to know if it was possible to create a series of recordings that would be hidden from most of their users. We weren't sure what they were planning- and we didn't ask - but what they were trying to do is pretty simple to accomplish using our Folder Security feature.

First, create a folder to which these "hidden recordings" will be saved.

Make sure that the Folder Security option is Enabled, as in the screenshot above. You'll see your user groups in a picklist. Simply select the groups that you want to have access the folder. To select multiple groups, hold the CTRL key and click on the group names.

Now, we need to create a recording that will be saved to the hidden folder. The easiest way to do this is by using the scheduling tools in the web admin. To create a manual recording, mouse over Setup Recordings and select Create New Recording.

Set the recording options however you want, and for Target Video Folder, select the hidden folder. (Note that the user creating the recording will need to have access to the hidden folder in order to select it from the drop-down menu). All recordings created by this job will now be saved to the hidden folder.

If you want to create a hidden recording from the Program Guide, first schedule the recording through the guide as normal. Then, you can change the Target Video Folder by Editing the recording, through Setup Recordings=> Recording Manager.

LDAP integration
Our LDAP integration feature allows your users to use their Active Directory or Novell credentials to log in to the server- one less password for them to forget!

Configuring LDAP integration is a three-step process.
1. Consult our recommendations for LDAP integration for some best practices relating to the configuration of Windows on the server.
2. Enable LDAP integration, in Settings=> Advanced Settings=> Security Settings. You'll need the location of your LDAP server, as well as a username and password who have permission to query other users.

3. Go to Settings=> Advanced Settings=> User Configuration. Add a new LDAP-linked group for each LDAP group that should have access, select the LDAP group that you want, and specify the permission settings. Note that users who aren't in an LDAP group that is "linked" in this way won't be able to log in.

A few words about security
When you log in to Enterprise TV Link, you can feel as secure as logging in to Windows. If you're using version 4.9.2 of Enterprise TV Link along with our LDAP integration feature, Windows will pass your login information to the SnapStream server, allowing you to bypass the login screen automatically.

When you're logging in to the web admin, you may see a page like the following:

This is a result of our implementation of SSL encryption in the web admin. The security handshake that allows your web browser to trust a site using SSL depends on a certificate that verifies the network name and domain of the server. Since that information is different for every installation, SnapStream can't provide a security certificate with new servers, which is why this error appears. However, it does NOT mean that the security of the TV server is compromised- it just means that your browser can't verify the name of the TV server. This error screen can be bypassed safely. If you'd like to purchase a security certificate for the server, we have instructions posted in our knowledgebase .

Please note that this only applies to the secure side of the web admin- that is, if the text in the address bar of your browser begins with HTTPS. If the address begins with HTTP, you're accessing the nonsecure side of the web admin, and your password will be transmitted in plain text, so be careful.

New: SnapStream Server HD

December 03 2009 by Melissa Kidonakis

If you haven't realized it yet HDTV is no longer the wave of the future, it's the present. The recent digital conversion has made HDTV stations more prevalent and in turn propelled HDTV sales. It's become obvious that folks have come to value high quality TV, whether it's for personal at home viewing or presenting media mentions of your company in a board room. With the launch of the SnapStream Server HD, we're making it easy for you to record the highest possible quality TV and use SnapStream's powerful search technology to search within those recordings to pinpoint mentions of interest.

Anyone interested in showcasing their television recordings/clips in the highest quality will benefit from the SnapStream Server HD. Perhaps, you're a TV Station who just switched to broadcasting in HD and you need an HD aircheck solution, or you're a PR Director and want to present you company's TV mentions to your constituents/investors/shareholders/board members at the highest quality, or maybe you're a producer of a TV show like E!'s The Soup or VH1's Best Week Ever and you want to include HD clips into your program, whatever your case is the SnapStream Server HD makes it so you can easily get the best quality TV recordings.

How do I incorporate HD into my existing workflow?

1) First you will need an HD Source. It could be an ATSC (over-the-air) HD signal or a clear QAM signal from your cable/satellite provider or a signal from your own in-house QAM modulation solution.

2) Feed the source into the SnapStream Server HD. There are five input cards, so you can record up to five channels at a time.

3) Run SnapStream’s client software on PCs within your organization. The software user interface looks and feels like a DVR allowing for an easy implementation process.

4) Once you've done the above you can start recording, searching and clipping HD TV.

 

Now that you have the basic setup for recording and searching HD TV you can take it a step further by importing clips into an editing workstation. We've come up with two viable options to accomplish this task. You can either set up the SnapStream Transcode Appliance and create a file-based workflow or you can use the SnapStream HD-SDI Playout Appliance.

File Based Workflow:
In a file based workflow the SnapStream Transcode Appliance can be used to automatically convert your transport stream files to HD H.264 (works really well with Apple’s Final Cut Pro) or HD Windows Media files. Once the files have been transcoded into the preferred format they are ready for importing into the editing workstation.

HD-SDI Workflow:
In an HD-SDI workflow the SnapStream HD-SDI Playout Appliance allows you to ingest SnapStream recorded content (clips or full recordings) into SDI enabled products within your environment. For example a workstation running Avid or Apple’s Final Cut Pro that has an SDI input card that's connected to your HD-SDI router.

The SnapStream HD-SDI Playout Appliance is a separate appliance that you can connect to using the LAN. The user interface is web based and shows you a list of recordings/clips you've created using the SnapStream Server HD. By clicking the play button next to the show you can start the playback of your clip to the HD-SDI Playout Appliance. If you have a couple of clips you can create a playlist and que them all up at once, so you don't have to keep clicking play for each one. As a side benefit when you import the playlist into the workstation it comes through as one video file instead of multiple ones making it easier to edit.

Either of these workflows work well with the SnapStream Server HD. Which you choose really just depends on your preference.

What are the benefits of the SnapStream Server HD?

  • Recording: It can record ATSC (over-the-air) HD or a clear QAM signal from your cable/satellite provider or your own in-house QAM modulation solution.
  • Setting up Recordings: It’s a single centralized server for recordings. Accessible to everyone in the organization over the LAN.
  • Searching: It’s equipped with SnapStream’s search technology so you can efficiently pinpoint TV clips of interest.
  • Creating Clips: Recordings can be clipped directly from within SnapStream making for easy hand-offs from within the organization. No more sneakernet!
  • Sharing: Clips can be emailed to anyone or sent as links to others within the organization. No more dubbing beta tapes!
  • HD/SDI Ingest or File Transcode: Playout to HD-SDI via web-based interface ensures high-quality (HD) final output.
  • Archiving: Added storage gives you flexibility in creating a fully stocked archive (40 Raw TB).

Want to learn more about the SnapStream Server HD? Contact a sales representative via sales@snapstream.com or 1-877-SNAPSTREAM to schedule a product demonstration.

Learn How to Record & Search High Definition (HD) TV

November 10 2009 by Melissa Kidonakis

Join us on Thursday, November 19th for a one hour web seminar designed specifically for organizations interested in recording, searching, clipping, archiving and/or rebroadcasting high definition (HD) television.

Using QAM encoders the SnapStream HD Server is able to directly record your satellite provider (Direct TV, Dish) and/or cable provider’s (Time Warner, etc..) HD feed. And like with the SnapStream Server, you are able to record up to five HD channels simultaneously and then search within those recordings for mentions of interest. We've also created a SnapStream HD-SDI Playout Node that can be added to your setup to give you quick and easy importabilty of recordings and clips created on the SnapStream HD Server into your Avid or Apple's Final Cut Pro editing work stations. The SnapStream HD Server was designed to save you time and effort every step of the way: recording, searching, clipping and editing.

During the web seminar, we'll discuss how to:

  • Record and search thousands of hours of HD TV
  • Save time using our HD-SDI Play Out Node
  • Distribute HD TV (live and recorded) using the existing office network
  • Create unlimited HD clips from full recordings
  • Engineer your ideal HD workflow

Learn more about the capabilities of our new SnapStream HD Server as well as the engineering details of designing an HD workflow in further details by signing up for our upcoming web seminar.

Web Seminar: Incorporating HD TV into the Work-flow
When: Thursday, November 19th, 2009; 2:30 - 3:30 PM (CST)
Cost: Free

Sign me Up!

Television Monitoring Made Simple: No VCRs. No Clipping Fees.

November 10 2009 by Melissa Kidonakis

Join us on Wednesday, November 18th for our free web seminar centered around Public Information Officers in Fire and Police Departments looking to record, search and pinpoint mentions of interest on television.

Do you ever wish you had faster, more efficient means for monitoring the media coverage of your department? Are you still using banks of VCRs, DVRs, or a news-clipping service to track mentions of your department on TV? If so, then you know just how unreliable, high-maintenance, and time-consuming these methods can be. Fortunately, now there’s a better way: the SnapStream Server.

A cross between a DVR and a search engine, the SnapStream Server enables your department to record video from up to 10 television channels simultaneously and then quickly use keywords to find any mentions of interest – just like searching the Internet. SnapStream also brings TV (live and recorded) right to your desktop PC, and with the Server’s Email Alerts feature, you can receive automatic notifications anytime the words or phrases that you specify are mentioned.

SnapStream is currently used in Police and Fire Departments to:

  • Record & search thousands of hours of TV
  • Eliminate manual search of video tapes
  • Track TV mentions of department personnel
  • Respond appropriately and quickly to TV coverage
  • Distribute TV using the existing office network

Attend our one hour web seminar to learn more about how the SnapStream Server is currently being used and how it can help your department reduce the amount of work and time associated with monitoring TV.

Web Seminar: Cost Effective TV Monitoring for Fire and Police Departments
When: Wednesday, November 18th, 2009; 2:30 - 3:30 PM (CST)
Cost: Free

Sign me Up!

SnapStream's New Hardware Platform

September 17 2009 by Daniel

Hi there, Daniel Mee from SnapStream Enterprise Support here. I'm writing to tell you about an exciting change to our line of TV servers: a brand new hardware platform!

This is the chassis that's been in use on our server since its introduction in 2007. While this hardware has done very well for us, we're beginning to find that some of our clients are using their servers heavily enough to demand better power and thermal management, greater storage capacity, and easier access with less downtime for maintenance. So, we're phasing out our existing chassis in favor of this new design.

Among the benefits of this new platform:

  • Increased storage capacity
  • Hot spare hard drives
  • Better OS drive management
  • Bigger, better power supplies
  • Server-grade SAS storage backplane
  • Better failure indicators
  • Better airflow management and cooling
  • Improved access to storage hardware

Increased storage capacity: Our servers will now start at 3TB of usable space, and we can offer up to 9TB on our 3-unit servers, while our 4-unit models will max out at 15TB. We hope to be able to offer 30TB or even more soon!

Hot spare hard drives: Our new drive cage has space for hot spares, which will make drive failures much less intrusive by providing automatic failover to the spare drive.

Better OS drive management: The system's mirrored OS array will now be managed through the same controller as the storage array, allowing for faster performance, better management, and dramatically easier maintenance, as well as providing e-mail alerts for failed OS drives.

Bigger, better power supply: All SnapStream servers are equipped with dual hot-swap power supplies that are both redundant and load-balancing. A single power supply may fail without the system losing power- and a single unit may be replaced without shutting down the system. In addition, the redundant units are rated at 900W each, allowing them to operate at a much lower percentage of capacity, and providing safer operation even if one unit fails.

Server-grade SAS storage backplane: We've switched to SAS for the connection between the system's RAID controller and its backplane. SAS provides better performance, as well as better reporting in the event of drive or port failure. Meanwhile, we've retained the use of SATA for the drives themselves, due to its higher storage density.

Better status indicators: Using SAS for the RAID hardware allows for better communication between the chassis and the RAID management software, including the ability to display drive status using LEDs on the front of the server. A flashing blue light means the drive is in use, while a flashing red light appears on a drive that needs to be replaced, and a slow-blinking red light indicates a hot spare.

Better airflow management and cooling: Improved cooling means better performance and stability in long-term high-load use cases.

Improved access to storage hardware: Replacing the RAID backplane now takes ten minutes instead of two hours.

Overall, it's a physically stronger chassis that can provide the same storage in fewer rack units. And, the rackmount rail kit delivers its own significant improvements over the older model- easier installation, sturdier design and a better fit to the case.

We're very excited to offer this new hardware on all new orders of the SnapStream TV Server, starting immediately. We hope that you'll be as happy with it as we are.

SnapStream is:
  • how The Daily Show finds TV clips for their show
  • how organizations clip TV to Twitter and Facebook
  • how broadcasters can monitor their feeds for regulatory compliance
  • and more
 

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