SnapStream Blog

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!

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.

Features Spotlight: Advanced TV Search

July 20 2009 by Melissa Kidonakis

SnapStream's TV search feature is one of the most powerful features of our servers, because it allows you to find mentions of just about anything in your TV library instantaneously. But even some seasoned users of the SnapStream Server may not be aware of all of the options that are available for tweaking and refining searches. Did you know that there are commands that allow you to group search terms, filter your search by date, channel or program?

Let's look at some examples of ways in which you might use our Advanced Search features.

A couple of things to note:

  • A full list of search options can be found in the SnapStream Help File, online at:
  • You may have seen some of these features already if you've used the Advanced Search page in the web admin, all of options are available in both the Enterprise TV Link client interface and the Enterprise TV web admin. The web admin has shortcuts for some options; to use them in the client software, simply type the command as shown here

Search by Grouping

You're probably familiar with the use of AND, OR and NOT to combine search terms. Did you know you can "group" search terms by using parentheses? For example, let's say you work for a sports marketing firm and you want to find mentions of sports teams in Houston from sports other than the "big three-" baseball, basketball and football. You could use parentheses to exclude multiple terms at once: HOUSTON SPORTS NOT (ASTROS OR TEXANS OR ROCKETS)

This will return mentions of the words "Houston" and "sports" together while excluding any results that mention the Astros, Texans or Rockets.

Search by Category

Now let's say you wanted to restrict that search to news broadcasts. You could do that using the category filter. This is available in a drop-down box in the web admin, or you can enter the term CATEGORY:NEWS in Enterprise TV Link's search feature. So the full search string would look like this:HOUSTON SPORTS CATEGORY:NEWS NOT (ASTROS OR TEXANS OR ROCKETS)

Or you could use the Category Filter drop-down box in the web admin, as shown here:

Search by Channel

Maybe you'd like to see only mentions on ESPN. Use the CHANNEL command. You can enter the callsign or name of the station, or the number on which it appears in your lineup. HOUSTON SPORTS CHANNEL:ESPN NOT (ASTROS OR TEXANS OR ROCKETS)You can use the options NETWORK: and CALLSIGN: in a similar way.The Channel field in the web admin has the same function.

Search by Show Title

Maybe you work for a particular team and want to see if they've been on a specific program recently. You can use the TITLE command, which restricts a search to a particular program.HOUSTON ASTROS TITLE:SPORTSCENTER (If you enter a title that has two words or more, use quotation marks- "BASEBALL TONIGHT")

Search by Date

Maybe you want just mentions from a specific date, or maybe just the last week. Or last month. Or last year. You can use the DATE syntax in Enterprise TV Link, or you can specify the date on a calendar in the web admin. The date filter gives you a couple of different ways to limit the date range of your search. You can use a specific date, in the M/D/YY format:HOUSTON ASTROS TITLE:SPORTSCENTER DATE:6/14/09 You can also use the Date Range option in the web admin to specify a single date or a range of dates.

Or you can use one of the date keywords, which are also available through Quickdates in the web admin. These are:TODAY, YESTERDAY, THISWEEK, LASTWEEK, THISMONTH, LASTMONTH, THISYEAR, LASTYEAR For example:HOUSTON ASTROS TITLE:SPORTSCENTER DATE:LASTMONTH

Search Clips

Say you've made some clips from this particular program, and you want to see all of those. You can specify that you're searching for clips. HOUSTON TITLE:"BASEBALL TONIGHT" IS:CLIP You can also use this syntax with the minus sign ( - ) to exclude any clips you've made from the search. HOUSTON TITLE:"BASEBALL TONIGHT" -IS:CLIP The IS option works with the file types CLIP, ORIGINAL, and SHOWSQUEEZE. This is very useful if you find that your searches are cluttered with duplicate hits on existing clips or ShowSqueezed files. HOUSTON TITLE:"BASEBALL TONIGHT" -IS:CLIP -IS:SHOWSQUEEZE

There are check boxes for each media type in the web admin search menu.

Wildcard Searches

Finally, there are some specialized search operators that can help you with very specific searches:A "wildcard" search allows you to find multiple words that start with the same series of letters. For example, searching for SPORTS TEXA*Will find mentions of "sports" along with a state, TEXAS, or someone from that state, a TEXAN- even the name of a tri-state region: TEXARKANA.

Note that you can't use a wildcard as the first letter in a search term. For example, you couldn't use a wildcard to search for the phrase "State of _," because the string "STATE OF *" will return no results. "Fuzzy" search allows you to search for words that are similar, but not identical, to the search term. This is very useful when searching for words that are frequently misspelled in closed-captioning data, especially proper names. For example, HOUSTON ROCKETS MCGRADY~ Could be used to find mentions of Rockets basketball player Tracy McGrady, even if his last name is misspelled as MacGrady or Magrady. It also works backwards- searching for HOUSTON ROCKETS MACGRADY~ will return correctly spelled results.

Now, you will see only results in which the two search terms appear within 5 seconds of each other.

For further information on how to search and create clips watch the video below.

Support corner: Manual recordings

April 03 2009 by Daniel

Hi there, Daniel Mee from SnapStream Enterprise Support here. We're hoping to use these Support Corner posts as a place to bring up some tips, tricks and common questions we come across in the course of supporting our Enterprise clients. Some of these posts will contain usage hints, while others may explain features or offer suggested workflows that our software supports, but that may not be immediately obvious.

Let's start with something simple, but important: scheduling manual recordings.

What is a manual recording, and why would I want to make one?

Our Enterprise software offers a powerful and intuitive program guide for scheduling recording jobs. But maybe you don't care about the program guide data, and you just want to record based on time, as if you were setting a VCR- say you want to record a particular time on the same channel every day, regardless of what's on. Maybe the program guide doesn't have data for the channel you want to record, as is the case with public access, government and educational channels. Maybe you're importing video from an A/V source- say, a VCR ;).

For these applications, you'll want to use our Manual Recording feature, which allows you to control the specifics of when and where a recording will be dispatched.

Two different methods

There are two different methods for scheduling a manual recording. First, from Enterprise TV Link, go to Setup Recordings and select Set Up a Manual Recording. From this screen, you can set the name, recording schedule and channel for the manual recording.

Setting up a manual recording in Enterprise TV Link


  • To change the name of the recording, highlight the Name field and hit Enter, or just click on the existing name.
  • The options that will appear on the screen will change depending on the type of Recording Frequency you select- for example, the Block Size option will only appear when 24 Hours a Day is selected. Try flipping between the different Frequency options to see this for yourself.
  • You can't specify the tuner on which a recording will be dispatched using this method. If you need to, you can do so after the job is scheduled by going to Recording Settings and Priorities and selecting View and Edit Details for the job.

Second, you can use the Enterprise TV web admin. Select Setup Recordings and then Create a New Recording. You'll be able to set many more options from this screen.

Setting up a manual recording in the web admin


  • This page allows you to enter custom metadata for your recording jobs. Metadata are tags attached to the recording that describe it, but aren't part of the video. Along with the Title, you can specify the Series Description and Genre. If you want to change the title of a specific episode of this recording, you'll need to edit the recording of that episode after it's complete.
  • The Start and Stop Recording options can be used to move the beginning or ending of the show. This is useful if the show may be delayed depending on another program that may run over, like a sporting event.
  • Some of the options on this page, like Video Source and ShowSqueeze, will cause the page to reload if changed. Don't be alarmed if this happens.

So how do I decide whether to schedule a manual recording through Enteprise TV Link or through the web admin?

Enterprise TV Link is the fastest, easiest way to schedule a manual recording. If you have a lot of recordings to schedule, or if you just don't need a lot of control over all the options for the recording, this may save you some time. Additionally, if you are an administrator, you might want to instruct your users to use this method if you want to limit their access to options- this basically limits them to time, title and channel.

The web admin, on the other hand, offers much greater control over how the recording happens. You'll want to use this method if:

  • You have metadata that needs to be entered
  • You want to specify the tuner on which the recording will happen
  • You want to change the quality at which the shows will be recorded
  • You want to set custom ShowSqueeze options
  • You want the recording to expire based on age or a set number of episodes, or not to expire at all

After the recording job is saved, most of these options are available in Enterprise TV Link through Setup Recordings → Recording Settings and Priorities, but in order to set them when you're scheduling the job, you have to use the web admin.

Feature Spotlight: ShowSqueeze

January 30 2009 by Lynne Burke

SnapStream's ShowSqueeze lets you separately recompress any standard-definition (SD) or high-definition (HD) recording to either Windows Media (.wmv) or H.264. These formats offer the same great recording quality as the other formats in a fraction of the space. And when you're recording thousands of hours of television, this can be particularly useful.

So, let's say you're recording at Fair Quality (2 mbps), by automatically ShowSqueezing all programs as they're recorded to a Windows Media file (667 kb/s), a server that once could hold 2000 hours of television can now hold over 6000 hours of television.

It's as easy as 1, 2, 3!

1. In the SnapStream Web interface home page, go to settings. Choose ShowSqueeze from the list of options.


2. In the ShowSqueeze settings menu, you'll see the option to Automatically ShowSqueeze all recordings (either all SD shows, all HD shows or all shows (SD and HD)). In this example, we've chosen to compress the files to the default Windows Media setting at Fair Quality (667 kb/s).


3. Your program will immediately be compressed (or if you choose, can be scheduled for a later time). Once the compression is done, you'll see it in your list of recorded programs again.


That's it. The ShowSqueezed clip is now ready to download or email. This particular program went from 3.27GB (it was originally recorded in Best quality at 8mbps) to .7GB, compressing it to about 25% of its original size (the Windows Media file setting in that example is 667 kb/s).

So, Automatic ShowSqueeze is especially useful if you are recording a number of channels 24/7, as many SnapStream TV Server customers do. In that case, you can even set your SnapStream Server to automatically compress programs:

  • At a global level (i.e., everything you record)
  • Just certain channels (i.e., channels you record 24/7) or
  • Just certain programs (i.e., one particular episode of CNN, as in the example above)

To maximize bandwidth usage, you can also schedule the compression to take place after business hours, for example, from 2-4 am. Keep in mind, ShowSqueezing takes server processing power, so you have to strike the right balance between space and processing power to get the best use of the server's processor in the quest for more space. For questions or more details, please contact your Sales Rep or Enterprise Technical support.

Automatic TV searches with SnapStream email alerts

November 25 2008 by Lynne Burke

The SnapStream's TV Alerts feature allows you to save keywords and have your SnapStream Server (or SnapStream Mini) automatically search all of your TV recordings for them; you'll get an email with results on a real-time, daily or weekly basis - you choose the frequency. If you've ever used Google Alerts, think of this like Google Alerts but for traditional television.

So let's say you want to track all mentions of your organization. Simply type in the keyword, and anytime your organization is mentioned on your recorded channels, an email will be sent to you showing you the transcript of the video along with a link to the particular part of the video where it was mentioned. It's as easy as that!

For example, let's say you're in charge of press for the City of Houston and you want to track all mentions of The City of Houston or Bill White (our mayor) on the local news, you could set up an automatic search for the keywords:

  • "city of houston"
  • "mayor white"
  • "bill white"

and have the results emailed to you:

City of Houston email alert

With the "real-time" frequency option, you can get an email the moment a mention occurs so there's no time lost in responding to an important media mention. You can even track "breaking news." For example, recently, The San Jose Police Department was able to react immediately to an incident involving a cow and a train (?) thanks to SnapStream's as-it-happens email alerts!

Once you've found stuff you're interested in, you can click the link to watch the video and then create clips, email clips to other people within your organization, or even synchronize those clips to your iPhone or iPod so you can watch them while you're traveling. And unlike clipping services and media monitoring services, you can create an unlimited number of high-quality TV clips without any incremental cost.

To learn more, see this in-depth YouTube video on SnapStream's TV alerts function:

What is SnapStream? There's an unlimited amount of video content out there: 24/7 news channels, breaking news events, sports, talk shows, awards galas, entertainment shows, and so much more.

SnapStream makes a real-time news and media search engine that makes it fast and easy to find the video moments that support our customers telling great stories.

Posts by Topic

see all