Best Practices for Video Capture Content

Broadsign has evaluated several devices for use with Broadsign Player for displaying video capture content. A brief summary of our test results is presented below to assist the hardware selection process and OS configurations.

Broadsign has created a comprehensive battery of endurance and quality tests in order to determine which video capture hardware, drivers and operating systems performed best in a Digital Signage environment.

We found that the quality of most consumer-grade devices and drivers is not sufficient to endure the long uptimes and 24/7 operation of a Broadsign Player. As such, we strongly recommend that you avoid using these devices on your network if at all possible. If unavoidable, at least ensure you conduct your own endurance tests with several different models before deploying them in a production environment.

The following operating systems are supported for use with video capture devices:

    • Windows XP Pro SP3
    • Windows Vista Business SP1
    • Windows 7

Broadsign no longer validates or supports specific TV tuner devices. The reason for this is primarily because they become unavailable far too rapidly for us to maintain an up-to-date list. Broadsign supports these TV Tuners via the MsVidCtl ActiveX. In theory this should allow support for most devices, however, in practice, this is not always the case.

First, some TV tuners are not compatible with MsVidCtl and require their own custom client software to view live TV. These devices are *not* supported by Broadsign. In general, a device that advertises itself as “Windows Media Center Compatible” will be compatible with Broadsign because they both use MsVidCtl.

Second, due to their nature as consumer devices, some TV Tuner devices are notoriously buggy. They may work once or twice (i.e for the home user) but overheat, crash, deadlock or leak memory when used in a demanding 24/7 environment such as digital signage where there is no user present to unplug and replug the device. Vendors update their drivers continuously, so if you are encountering issues, make sure you are using the latest driver.

Lastly, before deploying a TV tuner solution, the best advice is to purchase a few different devices and test them thouroughly for your desired use case. Make sure that you can return the devices that do not meet your endurance criteria.

List of Recommended Hardware

Broadsign cannot guarantee compatibility with devices. However, we have seen the following devices be used successfully:

    • AverTVHD Volar Max
    • DVico fusion HDTV7 USB
    • Terratec H7 USB
    • Hauppauge USB HVR 950
    • ATI Tv Wonder 600

In order to determine the list of channels that are available in a given region, the airwaves must first be scanned.

In order to do this, you need to have a supported video capture card installed on either the Administrator or Player machine. If you have a video capture card installed on the Administrator machine, the airwaves will be scanned as part of the Add New Video Capture File Wizard.

If you do not have a video capture card installed on your Administrator machine, or your Administrator system is not in the same country as your player machines, you will need to perform the scanning locally on the Player. In the Player’s Windows Start Menu, there is a link to the Digital TV Scanner. Run it, and it will scan the airwaves, outputting the x-video-capture files for each channel to a specified directory. Those x-video-capture files can then be copied back to your Administrator system, uploaded to the server and scheduled normally.

The digital TV scanner may take several minutes to determine the exact frequencies for every available channel.

Installing the Full K-Lite codec pack with the default settings will allow audio through the scheduled TV Source on BSP. This is required as Dolby Surround is restricted by a license, thus both Microsoft and the Video Capture drivers prevents the audio decoders from being available to other software.

In order to allow audio in dedicated mode, the K-Lite settings must be exported to the bsp user:

  1. Ensure that bsp has been dedicated.
  2. Export the K-Lite Settings with the following:
      1. Go to Start -> Programs -> K-Lite Codec Pack ->Configuration and select ffdshow audio decoder configuration.
      2. Click on Export all settings. Save the .reg file: C:ffdshow.reg. You will use this file later on.
      3. Configure ffdshow for the “bsp” user (the configuration settings were enabled for the current user only(. Those steps should now be repeated for the bsp user. Open a command prompt and type the following:
      4. 
        cd %ProgramFiles%Broadsignbspbin
        Type "runas_bsp.exe reg IMPORT C:ffdshow.reg
        
  3. Once the process is completed, restart the system and audio will now be heard from the scheduled video capture in dedicated mode.