This article will go through the purpose and functionality of using "Channels" to dynamically manage, schedule, and showcase your content across digital screens using ScreenCloud. Channels are now where scheduling, zoning, and theming content lives in ScreenCloud. Please note, if you're having any challenges while using Channels then click here to view ScreenCloud's Channel Troubleshooting Guide.
This is useful for being able to schedule out multiple pieces of content and playlists for your screens, monitor dates and times set up for coordinating media, and maximize how you use digital signage.
We understand how managing multiple pieces of media one by one can become a challenge, Channels help overcome this with a seamless and intuitive approach to strategizing how and when to display your media. You can learn more by reading ScreenCloud's blog post on "The Power of Using Digital Signage Channels for Your Audience" here.
Table of contents:
1. Why use channels?
Channels function similarly to a TV channel, giving you the ability to group and organize content in a meaningful way, by theme, usage, department, topic, or any other way you'd like.
This is useful for digital signage in the following scenarios:
- Giving teams the ability to control their own channel and put up unique content
- Easily make mass changes by changing the channel across multiple screens at once
- Control and add your branding with channels using custom themes
- Channels contain playlists, links, apps, and more to showcase with flexible control
- Set up zone layouts to split your screen and display multiple pieces of content simultaneously
For instance, an organization creates a channel that has different playlists or pieces of media scheduled to run on certain days of the week. The channel can also be divided into zones (i.e. split sections of your screen) layouts so that one section of the screen can display Playlist A, while the other part of the screen displays Playlist B.
You can also use channels to give every team a voice, for instance, if you have multiple offices you can provide a corporate playlist that each office can add to their own channel, giving them the power to mix content from headquarters with departments or location-specific messaging.
Example A - Location-Based Channels
Example B - Department-Based Channels
Each playlist can also be scheduled to run at specific times and date ranges per zones (i.e. the split sections of the screen). Please note: pre-set templates for zone layouts are available for you to choose from when you set up channels.
2. How to create and set up a channel
2.1. Get started by visiting the "Channels" section from the left-hand navigation of your ScreenCloud account.
2.2. Select "Create New Channel" to select a template and enter a name for your channel.
If you click "Edit" you can either select a color or upload an image to brand your channel template. For example, this is useful if you'd like to upload a graphic or logo to segment between different organizations, teams, or locations you're managing in your ScreenCloud account.
i) Image upload: please note and refer to ScreenCloud's supported file types for more information on image files supported here if you have any trouble uploading an image or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
ii) Selecting a color: use the color-selector tool to pick a color to represent the channel.
2.3. Select "Done" and then click on "New Channel" to prompt the text editor for you to put in your own, unique name for the channel. For example, below it's been renamed to "Office Channel".
2.4. Select "Continue" and you'll be able to choose the screen orientation you'd like the channel to display in. You can choose between landscape (by default) or portrait mode, please note that your content will only play in the orientation chosen.
This also depends on if the hardware you're using to run ScreenCloud's digital signage app supports both landscape and/or portrait mode. If you'd like to review which devices support switching between orientation modes with ScreenCloud, please click here.
2.5. Once you've selected your orientation mode, select "Create Channel".
3. Channel settings, features, and sharing
There are a handful of useful features and tools you can use here to begin building, testing, and sharing your channels.
Table of contents:
- Add content using the media picker
- Scheduling your media using channels
- Select zone layouts to split your screen into sections
- Edit your channel settings
- Duplicate or delete channels
- Preview your channels
- Publish changes live or discard changes
- Edit or make changes to existing channels
- Setup custom resolutions
- Add transitions
- Share channels between spaces
- Use the "Background Audio" zone to add music
- Fill Zone or Fit to Zone
- Automatically change zone layouts to full-screen mode
To learn how to take over any of your screens with a channel immediately, please visit here for instructions on casting channels using ScreenCloud.
Add content using the media picker
When you first create your channel, you're greeted to screen with a prompt to "Add Content" along with the settings panel on the right-hand side of your screen. Click on "Add Content" to access the Media Picker.
Media picker: using the media picker, you can select between any of the playlists, media you've uploaded, links/websites added, or apps that have been installed on your ScreenCloud account. This gives you the ability to select any range of content you'd like.
Toggle between Playlists, Media, Links & Apps in the sidebar to choose which content to upload.
Scheduling your media using channels
You can set up content to run on specific a specific day, time, or date range you'd like. You can also set a piece of content to be a priority.
i) Schedule days, times, or a date range: any content you've imported from the media picker you can customize specific ranges for how and when the content displays. By default, the content is set to "Every day", you can click on this area to use the channel scheduling tool.
Any days of the week that are shaded in blue indicate what has been selected for when the content is scheduled to play.
Any days of the week displayed or are selected by clicking the day you'd like to turn off from displaying on the screen will display in white.
What are the time and date formats of schedules?
After sorting which days of the week for your content, you can set up if you'd like the content to also display at a specific set of time(s) or date ranges. You can set this up by entering new time slots. Please note, depending on your web browser region locale that the time slots will display differently. For example, EN-US will display the clock in AM/PM and the date format is MM-DD-YYYY. EN-UK will display in 24-hour military time and the date format is DD-MM-YYYY.
- Specific date only: you have the option to coordinate content for a specific date instead of using the weekly schedule picker. This is useful to manage content for upcoming events, holidays, socials, and more.
- Set the content as a priority: the schedule you create for that piece of content with this switched on will override any other schedules during that same period of time automatically. This is useful if there's a specific piece of content of importance on the channel you're looking to display at selected times. For example, this could be useful for holiday messages or important notices.
Once the content is set as a priority, it will trigger a red status indicator to keep you notified of this as a reminder that it'll be the content displayed for any dates or times booked for the content to run.
Please note, setting multiple pieces of priority content will cause all of the content to play chronologically from your channel and override playing other content set at the same time. For instance, if you set an MP4 video to play for five minutes at a specific time (e.g. 8 am-815 am) but have other priority content to play at the exact same time then the system will play all of the content in sequential order. The feature works by playing through all of the priority content set at the same time, it is also possible to run out of time before reaching the target content depending on the time allotted in your schedule.
What are the notification features of the scheduling tool?
- Schedule warning conflicts: the smart scheduler will notify you if there are any conflicting schedules or bookings while coordinating your channel. For example, you will receive a notification that states "Conflicts with another date" as showcased in the screenshot below.
- Greyed content (expired content): once content is no longer scheduled to play, or has been set up to expire automatically from your Media Library, it will display as grey on your channel schedule. This is a feature to help keep track of what content is no longer relevant or has passed from its coordinated time to display on your digital screens.
- Redundant date notification: the scheduler will inform you if you have selected a date range for an item that has also been scheduled to run every day of the week. For example, you will receive the following message "This date is redundant when it's set to play every day" as showcased in the screenshot below.
Select zone layouts to split your screen into sections
- Screen layouts can be selected and used at the channel level to split your screen into multiple zones. While viewing the channel builder, visit "Layout" in the right-hand menu and select the zone layout previewer.
You can now select from pre-set templates available for zone layouts and click "Continue".
Please note: not all of the services from ScreenCloud's App Store have the ability to automatically resize or work in smaller/altered zone layouts that aren't full-screen. To learn more click here to view which apps are supported in different zone layout options.
If you select "Custom selected layout", you're greeted to a CSS custom code editor that can be edited to adjust the pixel sizing of your zone layout. Our team is currently working on resources and support guides for how to use the CSS editor to customize layouts, though we recommend using our pre-set templates as these have been designed to be most optimized to use for digital signage. Feel free to reach out to our support team at email@example.com if you need any assistance with using this feature.
- Switching between editing zone layouts:
Once you select a zone layout, you can switch between the zones while editing your channel to assign specific media to that section of your screen. For example, if I've selected a two-zone layout, I can switch between them respectively to edit and add content using the media picker (e.g. Zone 1 to edit one portion of the screen, Zone 2 to start editing the other portion of the screen).
Edit your channel settings
Visit the right-hand channel tool and select the "Settings" option.
From here, you can change the cover template of your channel. This prompts you to select a color or upload an image you'd like to use as the display cover for your channel.
You can also theme and brand your channel by clicking on "Theme" and selecting any you've created from https://studio.screencloud.com/themes. Please visit our instructions for the version two platform on how to theme or brand your digital signage content here.
- Set a default theme: you can also set a theme you've created as the default that will automatically brand the content across all of your channels. This can be done within your "Theme Settings", and then you can select "Always use default" in your channel tool.
You can also set a brand preference as a default channel for all of your screens automatically. Please note that only the owner and administrators of a ScreenCloud account have the ability to do this at https://studio.screencloud.com/organization.
Duplicate or delete channels
In the upper-right-hand corner, you can click the three horizontal dots as a drop-down menu to either duplicate or delete a channel. Please note if you delete a channel, you'll receive a confirmation notice before it's completed and the data is lost for the channel set up.
Duplicate the channel:
Preview your channels
Once you've set up your content and schedules in your channel, you can select the play icon at the top right corner of the channel tools to preview how the content displays live. You can also access the "Preview" while hovering over any of your channels while visiting the "Channels" section of your account.
Please note, the preview feature only displays what is scheduled to display on the screen at the time set up. If some of your content is scheduled for a week's time, you won't see this in the Channel preview until that time period has been reached. You can also preview any content in the media section individually.
- From the channel previewer, you can use the toggle bars at the bottom left-hand corner of the screen to shuffle through the content you'd like to test. Additionally, you can click on the "Full HD" drop-down menu to view and experiment with different display resolutions.
- You can also switch between your zone layouts (only if you're using multiple zones) and use the right-hand menu to select a preview for any piece of content from the channel. For example, you can switch to a different zone layout displaying different apps and shuffle between them to preview (i.e. Selected "Office Clock" from the "Currency" app).
The previewer also gives you information on the type of content is displays at the bottom of the screen. In this example, it's displaying "Office Clock" and categorizing it from the app store as a reference.
Publish changes live or discard changes
From the top right-hand menu of your channel, you can select "Publish" to finalize and push any changes you've made to a channel live automatically. You can also discard any changes before publishing your channel live to double-check or add/remove any new pieces of content by selecting the downward arrow on the "Publish" button, including the last date and time this channel was published live.
- To publish changes: click on the yellow "Publish" button. This will load a check-mark and turn grey once the content has been confirmed to go live. Please note, once this happens, you can't revert or discard the changes made using the menu option. You'll have to remove the changes made manually.
- To discard changes made before publishing a channel: click on the right-hand drop-down arrow from "Publish" and select the "Discard changes" option.
Edit or make changes to an existing channel
Visit the “Channels” section of your account and click on any of your existing channels. From here, you'll be presented with the Channel Preview. You can click on "Edit Channel" from here to edit the content assigned to your channel and zone layouts.
Setup custom resolutions
Custom resolutions give you the ability to customize your resolution parameters. It provides the flexibility to add almost any resolution for your end-display digital signage device. You can learn more about setting up custom resolutions with ScreenCloud by clicking here.
You can control transitions between content for each zone layout you're using for a channel. You can activate this feature while customizing a zone from the right-hand toolbar by turning the "Enable Transition" toggle on. Once this is turned on, you can use the drop-down to select a transition effect, set duration in seconds for the effect, and set a transition color using the color picker tool if you'd like as well.
Please note, if you're using zone layouts then transitions need to be added for each zone. You can do this by using the zone selector to switch between sections of your screen and apply transitions as you see fit. For example, if you're using a two-zone layout (Main + Footer) you would have to switch to the other zone to enable transitions for your content.
Share channels between spaces
You can share any Channels created between Spaces (i.e. a collection of screens, content, and media between teams) that are segmented in your ScreenCloud account. You can do this by clicking on the "Share" icon while viewing, previewing, or editing your channels to set permissions between Spaces (i.e. teams) that can access Channels you've created. This is useful for collaborating and sharing information between members of your organization.
You can click the "Share" icon wherever available in your "Channels" section to set sharing permissions. Please note, only account owners and administrators have full rights and privileges to set permissions.
You can also click on the "Share" icon while previewing or editing a channel.
Use the "Background Audio Zone" to add music
You can use a hidden zone in Channels to play music while displaying content to your digital screens called "Background Audio". This is useful for playing tunes, audio, and media alongside your content. This feature supports MP3 file uploads or apps (i.e. YouTube, Vimeo) in which you would like to play the audio from in the background of your display.
Please note due to general autoplay policy restrictions on web browsers that the sound might not play automatically while previewing from your account. The audio will play correctly on your screens.
For example, you can click on the drop-down menu to switch between your zones and see that "Background Audio" is available. This allows you to switch between different sections of your screen to set up and schedule content for the zones. While switched to "Background Audio" you can select "Add Content" to begin adding MP4 videos or streaming apps to this zone which will play the audio.
Fill Zone or Fit to Zone
You can adjust your channels, and zone sections respectively, to fill or fit images used. For example, you can use the Fill Zone or Fit to Zone feature for scaling how your images display in a zone layout. Please note that this option only displays once you've added content to your channel.
i) Fill Zone: this fills the entire zone layout with an image.
ii) Fit to Zone: this scales the image in accordance with the zone and dimensions. As you can see in the image example below, the image is not expanded or stretched to fill the entire zone layout.
Automatically change zone layouts to full-screen mode
If you have set up multi-zone layouts for your channels, you can also set up the full-screen switching feature to change your screen from a split to a single-zone automatically. This is useful if you would like to focus on any content in full-screen mode and then resume playing any of your content in split-screen as scheduled. This is exampled in the animation pictured below. To learn more about full-screen switching please click here.
4. Add a channel to your screen
4.1. Once you've published your changes or finalized the updates for your channel, visit your Screens section.
4.2. Use the drop-down to the right of any screen by selecting to choose a channel you'd like to display. Click "Browse more" to prompt the media picker.
4.3. Select "Channels", then click the channel you'd like to use and press the yellow "Confirm" button to set the channel to your screen.
4.4. The channel is now live on your digital screens!
If you have any additional questions on using ScreenCloud's Channels feature, or any other questions or feedback about ScreenCloud, feel free to reach out to our support team at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at our toll-free support line at +18885575335.