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We have to share video across around 4/8 terminals at a public facility where we need to display live video from within the facility, as well as display messages(advertisements), and also play videos(not live) which need to be controlled centrally from another location. We can do central location handling over Internet, over ssh.

What we want to do is connect cameras to a computer, and use the computer to display over multiple display units. We need to do live titling if possible. Once the live local telecast which usually takes about an hour or two a day, we would like to play other videos locally off the PC server.

Preferably everything should run off Linux, since budgets are very constrained....

Addendum -- Its not over WAN, it's over a local area. I prefer not using LAN, we would rather use co-axial cable if possible. The reason is if it's LAN, I need some kind of an Networking device, at least a thin client

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closed as off topic by the-wabbit, RobM, mailq, Iain, MDMarra Nov 23 '11 at 23:11

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I had to figure out whether "titling" is the addition of boobies to live video feeds. –  Tom O'Connor Nov 23 '11 at 16:17
    
@TomO'Connor I am all for adding boobies to any kind of live video feed! –  TylerShads Nov 23 '11 at 17:33
    
Rather uncommon to come to a server/networking Q&A site for an analog video advice. I am voting for close as off-topic, you should take a look at numerous forums on studio and event technology and ask there. –  the-wabbit Nov 23 '11 at 20:46

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Let me get this straight.

Inputs: Live video (cameras), display messages (advertising), and recorded video, adding titles

Outputs: 4-8 video screens. Controlled across the LAN.

Right. All of this is possible. There's hardware and software to do it. It's not cheap. There's no open-source / free software alternatives that do all of the things you want, and I'm willing to bet none of them do it to a standard you'd be willing to settle for.

You want a live video compositing / mixing suite. Something like a Green Hippo media server would handle the whole thing, probably. I'll ask one of my VJ friends to pop over and have a look at this Question.

You'd also need some way to split and mirror the output video feed to 8 devices.. I'd probably split down with a 1:10 Distribution Amplifier, then distribute HDMI over fibre to the end displays.

It might be possible with VLC or Red5 media server, but the overhead of managing it all seems a little daunting to me, at least, and the quality might well be pap.

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Couldn't agree more, this wouldn't be that easy with a GREAT budget let alone doing it in subsistance nomad mode. –  Chopper3 Nov 23 '11 at 16:33
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I reckon.. this would cost somewhere between £25k and £55k, depending on options, and engineer labour time. –  Tom O'Connor Nov 23 '11 at 16:35
    
clarifications-- Its not over WAN, it's over a local area. I prefer not using LAN, we would rather use co-axial cable if possible –  ramdaz Nov 23 '11 at 16:48
    
Same difference, really. Coaxial for what? Where? Why? WTF? –  Tom O'Connor Nov 23 '11 at 16:57
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@ramdaz - please go away, think about this and come back with more than just a wishlist. –  Chopper3 Nov 23 '11 at 17:13

Take a look at VLC. It is capable of streaming in different formats and of course also of playing - either streamed or locally present video data.

We've set up something with similar requirements a while ago - VLC was fetching MPEG2 stream data from several network web cams connected over a rather narrow WAN link and re-streamed it to the internet (i.e. acted as a reflector).

As an afterthought, I think it might be worth looking into the idea of streaming servers and streaming clients. The DLNA streaming clients can usually be "remote-controlled" over the network. Although there seems to be no out-of-the-box DLNA compliant media server solution that would support live streams from webcams, open source server software like mediatomb is pretty flexible and there is a lot of fancy stuff you can do with it.

Addition: as you are not going to use any kind of network for video transmission, this would be a pure video question. There is hardly any additional value in having a PC in between your camera and your displays - just use a common cam with an analog S-Video or composite output signal and split it to your monitors. You can use CCTV or conferencing equipment if you are tight on budget - it is a commodity and as such rather cheap, although you should not expect studio quality from such a solution. The CCTV splitter / matrix switches with BNC inputs and outputs would fit for composite video signals as well as S-Video - the S-Video signal would just take up twice as many in-/outputs compared to composite.

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We do something like that here.

We're not doing live video from a camera but it would be possible. We have about 14 LCD tv's hanging from our call center ceiling. They're all connected via S-Video back to the server room. These all go into an s-video amplifier; the amplifier also does audio, but we choose not to (we provide local radio via wired speakers). Into the s-video amplifier goes a PC with s-video out.

In our current configuration, I can remove the PC and put in a DVD player or anything I can convert into s-video. We also have used a video overlay box that displays a banner that pulls statistics from a database (custom Adobe AIR application I wrote to pull the statistics via odbc).

It was the cheapest thing we could come up with. Our longest s-video run is about 250 ft and I have successfully transmitted video via HDMI at 100ft and it works / looks fine.

I think the s-video amplifier / distribution block is from Pelco and the s-video out is just a generic everyday PC video card with s-video out on a Dell tower.

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+1 for a working, affordable, low-tech approach ;) –  Chopper3 Nov 23 '11 at 17:12
    
I prefer mine.. it'd be a full HD solution.. Much more client-friendly. –  Tom O'Connor Nov 23 '11 at 17:18

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