Create Digital Signage Playlists with SmilControl.

In this tutorial we will cover the creation of digital signage playlists in SmilControl CMS. Of course you need access to our CMS. You can here or just contacts us.

We will show you how to create a simple master playlist and assign it to a player. Furthermore, we will address the different insertable playlist elements. We will also explain the differences between playlist modes such as Master, Internal, Multizone, etc..

Digital Signage Playlists

We organize our media content at SmilControl into so-called playlists. In abstract terms, these are “folders” or “containers” that store media elements such as images, audio and video. Furthermore you can nest our playlists. This enables you to clearly structurize your presentations. Digital signage playlists differ from conventional playlists, e.g. in the VLC player or in Winamp, because they contain a lot of additional information. For example, how often individual elements can be repeated, at what times certain media can be played and much more.

The Playlist Overview

Playlists Overview
Playlists Overview

The Playlists menu item takes you to their overview. All playlists for which you have permission are located there. You can filter and sort them by name and mode/type. In addition, editing functions such as copying, deleting, multiple nesting, etc. are available there.

You can create a new playlist by clicking on the green plus sign, which will take you to the property editor.

The Property Editor

Here you can set names and properties. You can assign a SmilControl playlist to the following mode/type:

  • Internal
  • Master
  • Multizone
  • channel
  • External

Internal

These are the “normal” nestable playlists, which are not assignable directly to any player.

Master

Master Playlist
Master Playlist

This type is assignable to one or more players. You can fill a “Master” with content like an “Internal” playlist, but it is not allowed to nest it. In addition, you can use a “Master  playlist” also in a zone of a multizone playlist.

The advantage:
Some customers automatically change the display scheme several times during the day. Our pharmacy customers, for example, make extensive use of this. They use their daily presentation also outside the opening hours as part of the emergency service display. While the currently open pharmacies in the nearby area are displayed full-screen, the the program continue to run in an overlapping zone at the bottom right. This eliminates the need to maintain the main program twice; in a day and night presentation.

Multizone

Multiple Zones
Multiple Zones

This playlist divides the available screen space into several areas. As already mentioned in the previous paragraph, they may even overlap.
When you select the Multizone mode, a setup appears below, in which you define the position and dimensions of the zones. This is either relative in percent or absolute in pixel values. A mutizone playlist can also be directly assigned to one or more media players.

Channel

This is not important to you at the moment and we only mention it here for the sake of completeness. Channel playlists are like internal playlists, but we use them as manually updatable channels in the channel management. Only administrators have the permission to process this playlist.

External

In this case, the “list” only contains an Internet address for digital signage playlists in the form of SMIL indexes on external servers. A SMIL index is what the player finally gets from the CMS and includes all playlist information. Here this is explained in more detail.

Creation

In order not to go beyond the scope of this introduction, we will concentrate here on creating a simple master playlist. Click on “Master”, enter any name and save the new list. Next, you will see the content editor. Now you can assign media elements to the newly created playlist.

Note
This is just a shortcut for newly created playlists. If the playlist already exists and you have changed its name, for example, the CMS not redirect to the content editor after saving. In this case, you reach the playlist overview. You can access the content editor from there by clicking on the playlist name.

The Content Editor

The editor for content maintenance has two areas. On the right side is the vertical list of the current editable playlist. To the left is an area which displays the insertable elements.  You can usually drag’n drop them from left to right into the playlist. We categorize these elements into 4 groups:
Media, external media, playlists, templates and channel subscriptions.

Media

Content editor
Content editor

Here you will find content (pictures or videos) that you uploaded to the media pool or someone made available to you. If you click on the “Media” menu item, a threaded list of the directories in the media pool to which you have access appears. The optional search field allows to hide directories from view to save space. A click on a directory name displays the media of this directory that can be used for playlists.

External Media

This allows you to insert media items that are not hosted on the SmilControl servers. These could be, for example, websites, web streams or any pictures or videos on the Internet. For the category “external media”, you must enter a network address. For example. https://smil-control.com or a stream like rtsp://184.72.239.149/vod/mp4:BigBuckBunny_175k.mov. If your device also has video inputs such as composite, HDMI-in or similar, you can also set this here. For example, to display the program of a TV channel within your presentation. This has proven itself in the gastronomic sector during sporting events. The “external media” function gives you a great variety of freedom. For example, you can also refer to company-internal videos within your Intranet, that may not be accessable from the Internet. If your media player (which is the standard) is on your local network, it can reach this address.

Playlists

At this point you have the possibility to add internal playlists. Of course, if there are any available. With the help of the search field you can find insertable “internal” playlists and drag’n drop them into the playlist as usual. This way you can nest playlists at theoretically any levels and structure your presentations in a variety of ways. You could also delegate responsibility for content maintenance, for example, to different people. Theoretically, the hierarchy of layers is limited only by the player hardware. However, experience shows that it becomes more difficult to keep track of the situation from level 4.

Templates

Available templates are displayed via this link. There are two types of templates: image templates and Web templates (HTML5). Web templates can only be displayed on appropriate devices. Usually all newer digital signage players should be able to display HTML5 web pages. Once a template is in the playlist, you can customize it using the “pencil icon” with text, images, and videos (Web templates only). For example, you can create a current daily offer for a product. We have provided some templates for demonstration purposes. Contact us as soon as you need specific templates in your CI for your signage project or want to create them yourself.

Channel Subscriptions

This category of playlist elements includes edited content. These can be automatically updating news feeds, local weather, pharmacy emergency services, etc. As soon as you drag a channel into a playlist, it will be subscribed to and your presentation will receive regular updates.

Providing the Master Playlist

Drag some content to your master playlist. The SmilControl CMS plays digital signage playlists from top to bottom. You can rearrange the playback order using Drag’n Drop. The “trash can icon” deletes the corresponding element and the “wrench icon” opens a dialog box for further options. Since these options are very extensive, we will take a closer look at the different settings in a future tutorial. To activate the new playlist, press the red button “Save changes”. The button will change its color from red to gray. Your playlist is now ready for play.

Assignment to a Media Player

You can find the player overview under the menu item “Player”. If there is a player with a valid license, you can assign a master or multizone playlist to it. Click on the pencil button and type a letter that appears in the name of the playlist in the new editing field. In the screenshot “Assignment of Digital Signage Playlists” you see a playlist called “Master” and another named “Multizone”. As soon as we type “M”, both are available. Click on the desired playlist in the so-called dropdown. This immediately assigns the list to the player.

Assignment of Digital Signage Playlists
Assignment of Digital Signage Playlists

A hint! If the desired playlist does not appear there, please check in the playlist’s property editor whether “Master” is actually set.

After a 15-minute period at the latest, your player should recognize the new assignment, download the content and start playing it.

Once you assigned a playlist, it is not possible to delete it or change its mode for security reasons. Of course, you are able to change name and continue to add and edit content.

We hope that this introduction helped you to create digital signage playlists.
If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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