Content Programming for Multiple Screens

 

Once the screen arrangement and layout have been created the content can then be programmed.  Content programming tells the player what content to play in each of the layout zones. The content programming is also where content can be synchronized across zones. Keep in mind, a zone can be aligned with a single screen, multiple screens or all screens depending on your layout and screen arrangement. Programming content into a specific zone will scale that content to the size of the zone, even if the zone spans multiple screens.  Refer to the Creating and Editing Programs solutions.


Multiple Screen Content Programming Scenarios

1.  Single content asset spanning all screens (video wall).

2.  Different content assets playing on each screen.

3.  The same content asset playing all each screen (video tile).

4.  The same or multiple content assets spanning some screens.

5.  Combined scenarios.


Note: Content transitions are not supported by the EnGage multiple output player.  


No matter what the desired program model is, start by creating a new Program in the Studio section of EnGage. 



Select the Multiple Screen layout created in the previous steps. 



The content programming for multiple screens is very similar to programming content for a single a screen setup but there are some subtle details that will help avoid playback quality issues.


To start programming, simply drag the content from the area on the left of the window into the zones on the right. Use the thumbnail of the layout in the bottom left corner of the window as a reference to the layout zones.  Keep in mind that all content (with some exceptions when using flash) will scale to fit the size of the zone both vertically and horizontally. 



Once the content has been added to each zone, save the program and proceed to adding the program to a Timetable.


Jumping to Full Screen 

If the intention of the programming is to have some content play across all screens and sometimes play content across individual or some screens, take advantage of the “Full Screen” command. Any content listed after the “Full Screen” command will play across all screens. Return to the previous layout by adding the “Restore Zone Layout” command.  All other zones will effectively be paused until the “Restore Zone Layout” command is issued. Content playback will continue from the point of which it was paused in the other zones.


Add the “Full Screen” command by dragging it into a zone. The commands can be found under the Commands tab in the Default Commands->Zone folder.  Content listed between the two commands will play across all screens.




Synchronizing Zones

Zone Synchronizing can be used to have two or more zones switch to a content asset at the same time. The zone synchronizing controls the beginning of the content playback; however the duration of each content playback must be managed through programming.


There is always one “Master” zone and one or more “Sync” zones. The synchronizing is controlled by the “Master” zone and controls when the other “Sync” zones will begin playing content assets. 

  • Set the Master and Sync zones by dragging the icon that looks like a puzzle piece from one zone to another zones puzzle piece. The puzzle piece icon will then show an “M” or an “S” depending on whether it’s a Master of Sync zone
  • Synchronize content by dragging the puzzle piece from a content slot in the Master zone, to a puzzle piece icon on a content slot in the Sync zone. To synchronize content in a Master zone to multiple Sync zones, repeat this process for each Sync zone. Remove sync commands by dragging them into the trash bin icon in the tool bar.
  • By default, without any synchronization, each zone will play the content listed in its programming area independent from all other zones. The timing of the playback between the zones is not guaranteed. For example, if the same video is placed into the programming area of all the zones (without any synchronizing commands) the video playback may not be synchronized and will be quiet noticeable on the screens. Each zone will “load” the video at slightly different rates causing the videos to start playing at slightly different times. This variance will be enough to have the videos look like they’re not quiet synchronized.  Using synchronized programming will “pre-load” the content in each zone and start the playback at the same moment, creating a synchronized effect.
  • Different types of content can be synchronized between zones, such as having an image start showing in one zones just as a video starts playing in another zone. However, since the video has an inherit length (the playback time of the video) and the image (still picture) does not, timing the playback of the image to be the same as the video must be achieved through programming.  Set the duration of the image to be the same duration or slightly longer duration, then the playback duration of the video.
  • When a sync command is sent to a zone, it changes the playback position of that zone. For example if a Master zone commands a Sync zone to start playing slot four, once slot four has finished playing, the player will play slot five, regardless of what it was playing prior to the sync command
  • To avoid having a “Sync” zone proceed to playing the next slot in the zone, use the “Jump to Track” command to change the playback position of the Sync zone. This can be used to create playback loops in Sync zones and have the Master zone change the playback position in the sync zone, taking it out of the playback loop.
  • Using “Jump to Track” commands are useful when only some of the content in the Master zone is synchronized with other zones. The “Sync” zone can enter a playback loop during the playback of the non-synchronized content in the Master zone to avoid playback the content that should be synchronized with the Master zone. When the Master zone does play content that is synchronized with the Sync zone, the sync command will be issues to change the playback position outside of the play loop. Using a “Jump to Track” command after the Sync zones synchronized content can have the Sync zone playback position go back into the playback loop.
  • Due to the size of the window in which the Program editor is launched, it may be difficult to drag the puzzle piece icon from one zone to another. To work around this issue, drag and drop the zones into positions that are closer to each other prior to dragging the puzzle piece icons between zones. Be sure to move the zones back into their starting position or the content will play back in the wrong layout zones.

Synchronization Rules

  • A synchronization command starts the playback of content in multiple zones at the same time, but does not manage the playback durations.
  • Sending a sync command to a “Sync” zone, changes the playback position of that zone.
  • The Master zone controls the playback of the content in the synchronized zone only when synchronized commands are issued.  Otherwise, the zones play back content independent from other zones.
  • A zone can only be a Master or Sync zone, but not both.

 

Best Practices

When synchronizing content between zones, avoid setting the content duration in the Sync zones to the exact same duration as the content in the Master zone.  Since the EnGage player attempts to “pre-load” content, the player will pre-load the next file and then load the file a second time once the end of the Sync zone file plays. This second loading of the file puts extra strain on the player resources and can cause undesirable playback “flash” between content.  Set the duration in the of the Sync zones to be two seconds longer then the Master zone duration to avoid this problem.


It is easiest and less complicated to program synchronized content when all the content in the Master zone is synchronized with content in the Sync zones. Avoid having content in the Master zone that is not synchronized with Sync zones.

 

Audio Synchronizing

Synchronizing content between two or more zones is the perception that both zones begin playback at the same time. The EnGage player attempts to minimize the variation in start times and they may appear to begin at the same moment, but there is actually a very slight delay, measured in milliseconds, between the beginning time of playback in each zone.  Keeping this delay to as minimal as possible is the key to synchronized content, especially audio. 


Our eye’s are less susceptible to seeing this delay then are ears are at hearing the delay. When audio is not perfectly synchronized, it is much more noticeable then video.  The key to synchronizing audio is to have only one source play the audio. If two or more videos with audio are being synchronized, mute the audio of the videos in the Sync zones. 


Note:Synchronizing audio between two or more zones it not recommended.