FAQs: Capture and Playback

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Capture and Playback

Q: Does your solution support multiple HDMI capture cards? What is the upper limit on the number of simultaneous inputs?

Userful supports Blackmagic DeckLink capture cards. The Userful system can handle multiple input cards, limited only by the number of PCIe slots you can fit into your Userful host. You should contact us with details of your project if you intend on using multiple cards ahead of time.

Check our list of supported capture cards.

Q: How can I use Userful solution to broadcast LiveTV on multiple screens or Video wall?

You can broadcast LiveTV channels by plugging Supported Capture Cards to Userful host. If you need to broadcast more than one channel, you need to purchase a capture card with multiple ports.

Q: When it is preferred to use Hardware Capture source over Desktop Streamer (VNC) source?

Hardware capture method is preferred over other sources in the following use cases where:

  1. Latency is not acceptable (the software encoding and network transport of VNC adds 1-3 seconds of latency).
  2. Network streaming of the external source within the LAN is seen as a security risk.
  3. Users can not install VNC server software on the source device (e.g., a locked-down desktop image or media player, or devices that are regularly changing or not controllable).
  4. Users don't want to install and configure the VNC server software on the device.
Please visit Capture Sources for more details.

Q: Can I mirror my laptop to a video wall in a conference room?

Yes. However, if you are switching between different laptops throughout the day, this is not a recommended use case as HDMI capture settings may need to be changed with each laptop due to variances in output resolution and color space.

Q: My media player does not have an HDMI output, how can I run it to a video wall?

While the vast majority of modern media players support HDMI output, contact us with your needs and we may be able to advise on the best approach. It is also possible with some Content Management Systems to integrate their player software directly into Userful.

Q: How can I connect an external media player (PlayStation, Xbox, Apple TV, Chromecast, Laptop) to the video wall?

Install a supported capture card, configure the source and connect any non-HDCP source directly to the capture card. For more details, visit How to Capture Multiple External Devices.

Q: How can I update firmware for the Blackmagic Capture Card?

To update firmware:

  • Open the terminal and type in the following command to check the firmware version (sudo or root privileges are required through out the procedure):
  $ sudo BlackmagicFirmwareUpdater status 

The output looks something like:

 0: /dev/blackmagic/io0 [Intensity Pro 4K] 0x85 OK 

Status "OK" represents latest firmware. If the command returns “PLEASE UPDATE”, type the following command and reboot the system:

  $ sudo BlackmagicFirmwareUpdater update 0 

where "0" represents the capture card number

Q: Is there any lag time between capture and playback?

There could be a negligible lag time (i.e., 30-100 ms) depending on source media type, size of the video wall, capture cables etc. However, it can be minimized by lowering the refresh rate of the individual displays.

Q: Do you support external Apple / Windows / Android / Playstation players?

A broad range of external devices can be connected to the Userful host via a capture card. Plug the device directly into the capture card to play the content. Please note that HDCP encrypted content playback is not supported.

Q Can I connect an existing matrix switch to the video wall?

Yes, simply plug one of your “output” HDMI cables into the HDMI capture card in the Userful host. The video wall would then become one of your switched outputs. For new installations, it is worth considering building a Userful host with multiple capture cards and using the Userful host to replace your matrix switch altogether.

Q: Why do my displays freeze when I map more than one display/video wall to a single source?

Due to limitation of the capture cards, only one process can access a single input at a time. To playback a single source on multiple displays/video walls you must use Mirror Groups.

Q: Do you support “HDMI Extender over CAT5e/CAT6” to capture external device(s)?

Yes. If the distance between the captured external device and the Userful host is long, you can use HDMI Extender to avoid long distance HDMI cables and HDMI Extender Repeater. We have tested a couple of HDMI Extenders over CAT5e/CAT6 (e.g., D-HDMI-EP30 and D-HDMI-EPNP) it works fine with our solution for a distance of upto 30 meters. The HDMI Extender come in a pair (i.e., transmitter and receiver), the transmitter unit will be connected to the external device and the receiver unit will be connected to capture card installed in the Userful host. A pair of CAT5e/CAT6 cable is used to connect the two units.

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