23rd June 2008 under Ideas

Automating TV Broadcasting - "SQLite saves the day!"

To graduate in my school one has to work on a graduation project. For my project I decided to build a TV broadcast automation system. What exactly was this system supposed to do? Well, the whole idea was to build some sort of media player which played video's as it has been scheduled to. It was also supposed to keep a log of the media files played. The system I came up with was quite interesting. It did all that was required of it and even more. It had the ability to place logos on the screen, scroll text along the bottom of the screen and also automatically give information about the currently playing media file such as flashing a tag saying "Now Playing" as the video is playing. Cool eh!

Architecture of the System

Well the system was very simple by design but extremely difficult to implement. It featured a database backend which allowed the storage of the schedules and other related data. This database was powered by either MySQL or SQLite. It also had an FFMPEG based library (that I wrote) which allowed for the decoding of the media files and its playback. As far as operation was concerned it had simple user interfaces through which the user could configure the system. In order to compose the video I used SDL and took advantage of its overlays for some acceleration. I think using openGL would have been a better choice here but I was way too deep in development when I realized this. I also used SDL and PortAudio for the audio access. There was a simple DSP engine put in place just for audio mixing. I wrote that one too. It featured a plugin system so that the DSP engine could be expanded. Well so that is pretty much all you need to know about the internals of the system.

What next

For the future, I am planning to release the code as a basis for a new open sourced project. I am just cleaning out the code and removing some shortcuts I had to put in place just so that I would have a working system for my presentation. Although these shortcuts work, they would be a huge hinderance to development in future as I can forsee that they would make the code very difficult to maintain. I must say that this release could be any moment from now. I have a few things on my hand I want to complete then I would give this thing full attention.

For now you can just enjoy the screen-shots and fantasize.

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