Feeds

IPTV/VoD: How to set up your own home/office system

It's dead easy, mate

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

4. Streaming live broadcast video

The first thing to simulate on your IPTV system is live TV that can be tuned into, and this can be done in two ways. The first is easy, the second is either painful or expensive. Live broadcast IPTV needs to be multicasted 24-7 over the IP network, as unicast is too inefficient. We will be streaming live TV from our video server.

For each channel, we need to broadcast a five minute looping precaptured video clip to a multicast IP address. For this, we can use the free VLC player, or the industry standard WinSend, created by Pixstream. The clip itself ideally needs to be previously encoded in MPEG-4 H.264 AVC, and formatted into an MPEG-2 transport stream.

However, VLC being the Swiss army knife it is means we can convert open virtually any video file and encode it on the fly as we are broadcasting. Open your video file, and use the advanced options in VLC to stream the output onto the network as UDP, using a multicast address such as 235.5.5.5 to a random port (such as 10201).

You can test if the stream is being correctly outputted by opening the same network stream with another copy of VLC on another computer on the network. Do this for as many channels as you require. Once they are broadcasting, the set-top box will be able to tune into the multicast stream just as VLC does.

The more advanced way to provide live broadcast TV (such as Freeview) over an IP network is to convert MPEG-2 video received from a DVB receiver (a TV tuner card, for example those made by Hauppage) into multicast format, which is known as IP encapsulation.

The painful way is to code your own encapsulation program using the vendor's SDK, and the expensive way is to buy industrial hardware that does it for you (for example, Exterity, Anevia etc).

5. Preparing VoD content

Making DVD quality video across your network is split into two separate parts – getting the video files into the right format, and secondly, setting them up to stream from a video server.

The bad news is that there isn't a free or open source VoD server that you can use to exactly simulate what would happen in a commercial service. Your video material will need to be pre-encoded in the same way the live multicast video is.

Software encoders from vendors like Elecard, MainConcept Cyberlink and Nero will easily compress video from most formats (MPG, AVI, MOV etc) into MPEG 4 H.264 AVC, but they will additionally need to be encapsulated in an MPEG-2 transport stream for delivery over the network. The free open-source Media Coder program produces excellent results.

Video is very temperamental and requires state control, unlike typical web protocols such as HTTP. RTP (real-time protocol) and RTSP (real-time streaming protocol) were designed to provide VCR-like controls for IP networks, and most, if not all commercial VoD servers use these technologies for delivering quality-assured video.

A lot of set-top box manufacturers have adapted their hardware to be able to simulate VCR-like features using HTTP so video can be streamed directly from a web server like Apache. We will use a combination of both to stream files ending in .mpg.

The main choices for serving video on-demand over our IPTV network are the open-source Helix Server and Darwin Streaming Server, both of which come in Windows flavour, but can also run on Linux. We also have a trial of the Elecard RTSP server that can also be run on either OS. If your own network is set up to use Windows Media, you can happily and easily unicast and/or multicast video from a Windows Server PC running the free Windows Media Server.

Once the video files have been pre-encoded, they need to be placed in the directory on the video server that has been allocated as the storage folder, as well as mirrored in the Apache web directory allocated on the web server. Almost all the RTSP servers have a web-based configuration panel and will need to index/identify each file for streaming.

Once these are in place, test the RTSP capacity of the server by opening a network stream to them in VLC, and once any problems are corrected, your IP set-top box will play them using its inbuilt API.

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Oracle reveals 32-core, 10 BEEELLION-transistor SPARC M7
New chip scales to 1024 cores, 8192 threads 64 TB RAM, at speeds over 3.6GHz
Microsoft: Azure isn't ready for biz-critical apps … yet
Microsoft will move its own IT to the cloud to avoid $200m server bill
Docker kicks KVM's butt in IBM tests
Big Blue finds containers are speedy, but may not have much room to improve
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
Gartner's Special Report: Should you believe the hype?
Enough hot air to carry a balloon to the Moon
Flash could be CHEAPER than SAS DISK? Come off it, NetApp
Stats analysis reckons we'll hit that point in just three years
Dell The Man shrieks: 'We've got a Bitcoin order, we've got a Bitcoin order'
$50k of PowerEdge servers? That'll be 85 coins in digi-dosh
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.