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Simple instructions for recording a clip using Quantel Dummy Server

June 6th, 2012

You have just finished Installing a Quantel ISA Manager with DummyServers for test development and now we are going to look at launching the ISA Manager and recording a test clip.

Running the ISA System is really simple now:

  1. Navigate to C:\Data\QuentinV3.
  2. Double click manage.bat.
  3. This will launch the ISA Manager. The window is titled Quentin Manager: Execute mode. In the centre of the window you will see a list of pools: Pool 11, Pool 12 and Pool 13. They all appear in red which indicates they are currently down.
  4. Back to Explorer and change directory to C:\Data\QuentinV3\DummyZones.
  5. Double click DummyZone1.bat.
  6. A window titled Dummy Zone 1 will appear. It contains 3 Dummy Servers called Dummy 1100, Dummy 1200 and Dummy 1300 which hold pools 11, 12 and 13 respectively.
  7. Switch back the the Quentin Manager and you will see that all the pools are now listed in blue which indicates that they are available.

Now that all the servers are up we can launch the controller to …erm control the system! Now let’s do a record. Make sure the Dummy Zone is visible on your desktop. As we use the controller we’ll be able to see the effects in real time.

  1. Navigate back to C:\Data\QuentinV3.
  2. Double click ctrl.bat.
  3. Choose the System tab.
  4. Select Dummy 1100 and then double click Channel S1100C0 (Server 1100, channel 0).
  5. Click Record. The server record panel will open in the controller and the first port on Dummy 1100 will switch from colour bars to a dummy feed.
  6. Click the button next to Initial Frames, it should have a number on it. Enter the number of frames you would like to record. To help with the sums, if you set the system up as PAL it’ll be 25 frames per second and if you set it up as NTSC it’ll be 30 frames a second. Then click ok.
  7. Click Initial Frames to acquire the space and set up the record.
  8. When you are ready click Start. You will see the pattern change for each frame. The view port in the controller will match the port on the Dummy Server.
  9. In the Save Data section of the controller enter a title and click save. You have just recorded and saved a clip.
  10. We can make another smaller clip from the same rush. Hover the mouse pointer over the gap between frame 6 and frame 7 and double click. The green In point will be set. Move the slider to the other end and do the same between frames 83 and 84. This time a red Out point will be set. Add a new title and click save again.
  11. One of the cool things about the Quantel system is that you can create as many sub clips as you like and it won’t take up any more space on your server!
  12. Click the Release button in the server control panel at the top of the controller window, to make the port available to the system again.
  13. Click the Zone Dummy 1000 (local) tab.
  14. Click Search and you will see your new clips.
  15. You can select any of the entries in the search results with the usual click/control+click/shift+click to select more than one and then click Delete at the bottom of the controller window.

Congratulations you have successfully recorded a clip, searched for that clip and deleted it.

New Radio Times navigation bar

June 1st, 2012

The Radio Times has recently updated their web site and while it looks good and has a couple of nice new features there’s one thing I really hate about it.

If you asked the old version of the site to show what’s on telly now, the listings start from that time. The new site shows the current hour so quite often I was checking the listings at 19:45 and wondering why the guide didn’t match what was on the telly. It was because the start line was showing 19:00 and that program finished at 19:30. Your eye had to scan down the channels and keep scanning up to check if that program was still running. It made reading the page a bit of a chore.

And so I’ve try to fix it! The time bar label is still locked to the hour so it doesn’t match the programs but it’s a small price to pay for being able to scan down the start line and see what’s on now. I’ve also put an update button at the top of the screen to refresh the page so you don’t have to phaff around with their awful mouse-over navigation menu thing at the top. The refresh button has the last updated time on it which has turned out to be a handy little feature.

http://www.bigsoft.co.uk/projects/radio-times/

I replaced my existing Radio Times bookmark, and frankly I haven’t looked back!

Removing B2evolution "Publish!" button

May 22nd, 2012

I’ve been using B2Evolution for a number of years. There are a couple of things that have bugged me about it, although not enough to sell my soul and switch to evil Word Press.

When writing blog posts there are a set of buttons in the middle which link to editing actions. WYSIWYG which switches the editor from text to rich text, Preview which opens a new window to give you a preview of the work so far, Save & edit which saves the page and re-presents the page (handy for saving work in progress), Save which saves the page but sends you back to the list of all the pages, and finally Publish! which puts the page live, visible to your fans and sends out pings to various article distribution centres.

My articles can take months or years to write depending on how much research I need to do. They are proof read and checked for accuracy and may under go a couple of rewrites before finally publishing them. I want to make sure the content I produce is of the highest quality. The Save buttons are so close to the Publish! button so occasionally I click it by mistake. Normally there’d be nothing wrong with doing that but there’s a bug in B2evolution that means it only sends the pings once on publish. However if it was a mistake and I return the article to draft status then next time I publish it won’t send out any pings. This is especially bad because the fresh publish has a new date and my urls are in a date dependant form (/yyyy/mm/dd/name-of-article). The pings that went out earlier are no longer valid because they point to an address that doesn’t exist.

The Publish! button is redundant anyway because one can change the status with the same effects by setting the Visibility / Sharing section to Published (Public).

Version 5 of B2evolution has addressed this issue, with options to allow (or disallow) various buttons on the edit screen. They’ve said they are not going to retro fit this feature into version 4 so I thought I’d let you know how to do it by editing the application source code. It’s quite simple, we’re just hiding the button using the cascading style sheets.

  1. Edit <b2e-root>/inc/items/model/_item.funcs.php
  2. Search for display: inline
  3. Change it to display: none
  4. Save the file

Easy! Good job you had the source code !

Installing a Quantel ISA Manager with DummyServers for test development

May 18th, 2012

Ever since Quantel created a Windows Installer for it’s ISA Manager it has become really easy to install and upgrade it. This article will take you through installing and setting up the ISA Manager with 3 Dummy Servers to play with. The Dummy Servers have the same CORBA interface as the Quantel sQ servers and behave like them too. You can record rushes, create clips, clone between servers and do all the normal stuff; the only difference is that there’s no real pictures.

The latest ISA Manager is available on the Quantel web site or through your account manager. The installer only works on Windows.

  1. Right-click on the ISAManager-setup-Vx.x.x.x executable and select Run as administrator.
  2. Click Next to get passed the welcome screen.
  3. Click I agree to accept the user agreement.
  4. On the Database Configuration->Passwords screen accept the default passwords. This defaults to root for the user name and the host name in lower case for the password. Then click Next to move on.
  5. From the Select the type of install drop down select Install Master. You will see all the components which will be installed. You can not alter this selection. Click Next.
  6. Accept the defaults for the Start Menu shortcuts’ location, then click Next.
  7. On the Database configuration->Language screen choose the language collation you would like for the database. Collation determines text sort ordering which ties in with using different character sets. Leave it on utf_general_ci if you are not sure.
  8. Uncheck the I am at Quantel checkbox. This feature can only be used in combination with the ISA Manager source code and a host of debugging tools. For you it will just slow things down, so click Next to continue.
  9. On the Database configuration->Configuration screen choose Plug-n-play Dummy Server Configuration. This will install sample data for dummy servers within a dummy zone. Click Next after you make your selection.
  10. Accept the default of 2096 for the IOR port. This is the HTTP port that is used to deliver the IOR string. This value is largely obsolete because the ISA Manager runs a cut down web server which also delivers the IOR string over the standard port 80. Just accept the default and click Next.
  11. Depending on your region your system will need to be PAL/625 or NTSC/525, so make your selection on this screen and click Next.
  12. This is a new installation and not a Legacy system so just accept the defaults for this screen and click Next.
  13. We don’t want to be a Sequence master either. You would only use this if you are installing front end editors as well, which you are not.
  14. Finally click Install.

The next article will be an instructional guide to running the ISA Manager and Dummy Servers. We will look at how to use the ISA controller to record a clip, create a sub clip, search for them, then play them out through a Dummy Server and finally deleting them.

Compiling the Quantel’s quentin.idl

May 11th, 2012

In order to drive the Quantel Broadcast system you need to compile the CORBA Interface Definition Language (IDL) file into a language of your choice. There are many CORBA IDL compilers out there: JacORB (Java), OmniORB (Python), TOA (C++), IIOP.NET (.NET) and there’s a more complete list on the Object Management Group’s web site.

Quantel’s IDL is known as Quentin.idl and may be obtained from your account manager, or the 24 hour support desk if you can’t wait! It contains the API interface’s for talking to:

  • ZonePortal - main driver module, metadata, searching, space allocation, copying media, organising running orders, registering listeners.
  • ThumbnailListener - generate thumbnails from video media.
  • StateChangeListener - receive callback notifications on status changes.
  • Server - control of playout and ingest storage servers.
  • Port - object representing a video port.
  • PortListener - callbacks relating to Port status changes.

This article just covers compiling the IDL into your language of choice: coding fun comes later! Due to the amount of IDL implementations there are this will have to be a cut down guide limited to the languages I deal with. I’ll start with JacORB for Java. I might do Python if there’s time.

Ok, so let’s get started. I’m assuming you’ve obtained a copy of Quentin.idl and you have the Java JDK installed. Next we need a copy of JacORB.

  1. Go to the JacORB web site’s download page.
  2. At the time of writing this article the latest version was 3.0rc1.
  3. We are not interested in compiling JacORB from source so download the Binary version.
  4. Use 7-zip to uncompress it, so now we have a folder called d:\blog\jacorb-3.0rc1.
  5. Place the Quentin.idl in the top level folder d:\blog.
  6. There isn’t an installer as such because the package assumes that you have downloaded the source code and are compiling from scratch. So to avoid downloading and installing all sorts of supplementary requirements we are just going to frig the file we need to make it work.
  7. Edit D:\blog\jacorb-3.0rc1\bin\idl.bat and change the classpath:

    -classpath “D:/blog/jacorb-3.0rc1/lib/idl.jar;%CLASSPATH%”

  8. Almost there! Now we need to open a command window and go to the d:\blog folder where the Quentin.idl file lives.
  9. Type:

    jacorb-3.0rc1\bin\idl.bat -all -genEnhanced -d src -i2jpackage Quentin:com.quantel.quentin Quentin.idl

  10. This will compile the IDL into the target language, creating a folder called src in the current directory which contains all the com.quantel.quentin package source code.
  11. Now we have the source, we can compile.
  12. The Java compiler, is frankly a pain in a arse, so if anyone knows a better way of doing this then please leave a comment.

    dir /s/b src\**.java > src.txt
    mkdir bin
    javac -d bin -cp “jacorb-3.0rc1\lib\jacorb.jar” -sourcepath src -g @src.txt

  13. Finally we need to package all that compiled code into a Java Archive (Jar) for easier access.

    jar -cf quentin.jar -C bin .

  14. This will produce a file called quentin.jar in your current folder (d:\blog).

That’s it! We will use the quentin.jar in combination with the jacorb.jar to create our application to drive the Quantel Broadcast system.

Next lesson - obtaining the IOR and connecting to the ZonePortal.