SnapStream Blog

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.

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.

SnapStream Enterprise TV 4.9.1 Release Available

January 30 2009 by Lynne Burke


The SnapStream development team is happy to announce availability of the 4.9.1 release for SnapStream Server customers. Much of the work was performed "under the hood," but there are a few big new features as well, among them:

  • Clear QAM support
  • StreamSnip
  • PlaceShifting


Clear QAM Support (plus StreamSnip)*

We did a complete overhaul of our HD recording system to include the ability to capture Clear QAM cable broadcasts. This part gets a little technical, but stay with me.

The demultiplexer (the part that splits the video from the audio so they can be displayed), was only written to support ATSC formatted transport streams in previous versions. QAM is a close cousin to ATSC, but instead of simply tacking it on, we completely re-wrote the demux, making it faster and better at handling bad signals. Additionally, we added the ability to play the secondary audio streams that could be stored in the digital streams.

While we were at it, we implemented StreamSnip, to pull the 38mbit/s bitrate of QAM down to only the size of the stream that you wanted to capture (5-16mbit/s depending on the content).

To allow the feature to be used, we added a number of pages to the Setup Wizard, implementing what we think is the best QAM setup procedure in the market. This setup shows you the QAM channel side by side with program guide data, helping ease the mapping process.

*Please note that QAM is only available to the Digital 5 tuner version of the SnapStream Server. The tuner cards in analog capture systems aren't able to grab the digital data. So, the Digital 5 Tuner version now allows you to search and then clip QAM and ATSC broadcasts:




The second large feature added is the limited availability of PlaceShifting. For the uninitiated, PlaceShifting is a way to stream any recorded content to any computer on the internet. The bandwidth of the remote computer is checked and then the video is streamed in the appropriate format and bitrate.

Other Stuff

As always, we added tweaks here and there to improve functionality of the Server. Some highlights:

  • Auto-Expiration is now available for individual programs (rather than at a system-level)
  • Recordings can now be tagged with the name of the user that scheduled them
  • iPhone and iPod Touch 2.0 video recompression is now supported
  • Startup speed of the Scheduler and Library is improved

Enterprise TV release 4.9.1 is available immediately to all SnapStream Server customers.

The era of VHS tapes and VCRs is ending

December 26 2008 by Rakesh

The LA Times ran a story earlier this week about a big distributor of movies and TV shows dropping the VHS format.

Realistically, this doesn't mean that VHS is dead -- I'm sure VHS will continue to be used for things other than movies and TV shows. But if the LA Times article is true, if this LA company is really the last distributor of VHS tapes, then that's a significant step towards VHS completely going away.

Here at SnapStream, we often see our customers replacing very old VHS tape and VCR setups with the SnapStream Server so we have lots of photographs of VHS tapes. Here are a few... in memory of VHS:

City of Houston - old VCR and VHS setup

The City of Houston's old VCR and VHS setup

Plano Police Department's old VCR and VHS tape setup

The Plano Police Department's VHS tape and VCR setup

VHS tape dubbing station at a law enforcement agency

VHS tape dubbing station at a law enforcement agency

VHS tapes -- lots of \'em -- at a law enforcement agency

VHS tapes -- lots of 'em -- at a law enforcement agency

VCRs at a media company in Washington DC

VCRs at a media company in Washington DC

VHS tapes (at a media company in Washington DC)

VHS tapes (at a media company in Washington DC)

TVs and VCRs at a congressional office

TVs and VCRs at a congressional office

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:

New! Enterprise 4.8.2

September 06 2008 by Melissa Kidonakis

We've improved existing features and added a few new ones to our TV Search Appliance in turn making recording, searching, clipping, and archiving television more efficient for your organization. Let's take a closer look at what's new.

24x7 Recordings: We’ve enhanced this feature to now show the program guide data, not just recorded time blocks, when you record every show airing on any one channel.

Program Guide

Record Everything on this Channel

Upcoming Recordings

Archived Closed-Captioning: If enabled, this feature will automatically archive the metadata of a deleted recording. This will allow you to continue to search through the recording once the audio and video have been deleted.

"Did you mean...": If you happen to mis-type or mis-spell a search term a "Did you mean..." message will appear to aid you in your search.

Did you mean...

Email Clips: Now you can email clips directly from the Viewscape or Web Admin with the click of a single button. SnapStream Enterprise will automatically convert the clip to your choice of Windows Media Video or H.264 so the attachment is as small as possible.

Email Clip 1

Email Clip 2

My Clips Folder: Once you have created a clip on your Enterprise TV Link Client the clip will automatically be added to your "My Clips" folder for easier access. And you can still access all the clips on the SnapStream Enterprise TV Server.

My Clips Folder

Library Folder Permissions: Grant or restrict specific user groups permission to view and access particular video folders in the library.

Improved Logging: The view log is now user-specific. It includes documented user log-ins and detailed use by user.

Detailed View Log

Faster Scheduler: The new scheduler is now 80 times quicker than before allowing you to manage larger recording schedules faster.

So check out the release notes for SnapStream Enterprise for the complete scoop and existing customers can upgrade their SnapStream Enterprise TV Server and their SnapStream Enterprise Link clients.

New: SnapStream Enterprise 4.8.1

April 07 2008 by Rakesh

A few weeks ago, we began shipping a small update to SnapStream Enterprise 4.8 -- version 4.8.1. This new version of SnapStream Enterprise adds a few new capabilities and a slew of bug fixes.

One new capability is what we're calling "saved guide searches" -- with this new feature, you can schedule recordings by keyword in the program guide. For example, if you are a presidential campaign, you could schedule SnapStream Enterprise to record any show with the words "presidential", "campaign", or "election" in the title or description. Or if you are a tabloid or celebrity magazine following Brad Pitt, SnapStream Enterprise can now record any program with the actor in it.

We've also added a enhanced DirecTV Pay Per View data in the program guide. Those of you using your SnapStream Enterprise TV Server to record from DirecTV may have noticed that large portions of pay-per-view channels on DirecTV would be displayed with everything listed as "Pay-Per-View":

DirecTV Data Before

Well, now you'll get data detailing the specific paid programming on those DirecTV channels:

DirecTV Data After

So check out the release notes for SnapStream Enterprise for the complete scoop and existing customers can upgrade their SnapStream Enterprise TV Server and their SnapStream Enterprise Link clients.

4.8 Enterprise Upgrade

February 04 2008 by Melissa Kidonakis

Long hours and hard work have paid off. We’ve polished off old features and added new features in the latest 4.8 version of the SnapStream Enterprise TV Server.

Some of the shiny new features include:

SnapStream TV Alerts (via email): Create a saved television search that runs automatically on every new recording. Whenever matches occur, the Enterprise Server will dispatch an e-mail with clips of the new results. SnapStream Alerts can be setup to run as-it-happens, daily or weekly.

Access Control: The SnapStream Enterprise TV Server now supports the creation of user accounts with restricted privileges. Activities like watching recordings, watching live TV, scheduling recordings and changing settings can now be access-controlled on a user-by-user basis. Access control supports integration with Active Directory, so your users don’t have to learn a new set of credentials.

Automatic Sync to iPod/iPhone: Automatically sync recordings and clips to iPods or iPhones by subscribing to an SnapStream Enterprise RSS feed in iTunes.

Frame-by-Frame Playback: Paused videos can be advanced by single frames with the arrow keys for more accurate clipping.

Administrator Email Alerts: The Enterprise Server can be configured to notify an administrator by e-mail whenever an error occurs.

Google OneBox Integration: Integrate television search results with Google's enterprise search products, including the Google Mini or Google Search Appliance (GSA), with our Google Onebox support.

Some improvements to our existing features include:

Real-Time Closed Caption Indexing - The Enterprise Server now begins indexing new recordings immediately. Search results are available 15 minutes after the start of recording.

Improved Search Results - Search Results are now shown in absolute time, instead of relative position within a video. (i.e.: Monday 4:44 pm instead of Monday 0:14). Duplicate search results have been eliminated, and results within the same show are now easier to recognize in the search results.

Search by Channel - searches by channel using the specific number (“channel:12”), network (“network:ABC”), or call sign (“callsign:KHOU”).

Clipping-In Progress - Clips can now be taken from a show while recording is still in progress.

H.264 - SnapStream's ShowSqueeze feature now includes support for the H.264 format, whch delivers high video quality in a compact file size. All Enterprise features are supported for H.264, including search and clipping.

Time-based Expiration - Recordings can now be deleted automatically after a time period of your choice.

Recording Stats - Better manage your storage capacity with at-a-glance recording stats, including average hours per day of recordings, based on your recording schedule.

Library advanced display options - New display and sorting options are available for the library.

Faster Library and Scheduler - New optimizations in the library and scheduler make them faster for large recording schedules and large recording lists.

We’ve tweaked and added to the Enterprise TV Server, making version 4.8 faster and more reliable when recording and monitoring television. Click here to view the full release notes.

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