Using Channels With ScreenCloud: Scheduling Content & Using Zone Layouts

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by Santino Scibelli
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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?

2. How to use channels and schedule content

3. Channel settings and features

4. Add a channel to your screen

 

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1. Why use channels?

Channels function similar 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. You can learn more by visiting ScreenCloud's blog post "Why Use Digital Signage Channels?" by clicking here.

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 example, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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 support@screencloud.com

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ii) Selecting a color: use the color-selector tool to pick a color to represent the channel. 

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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".

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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 switching into a landscape and/or portrait mode. If you'd like to review which devices support switching between orientation modes with ScreenCloud, please click here.

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2.5. Once you've selected your orientation mode, select "Create Channel". 

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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:

 

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 settings panel on the right-hand side of your screen. Click on "Add Content" to access the Media Picker.

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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. 

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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 "Everyday", 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. 

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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 they run on the 24-hour military clock, and the calendar selector tool for setting up a start to end date range for this piece of content:

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  • 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.

 

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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.

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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 on the zone layout previewer.

 

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You can now select from pre-set templates available for zone layouts and click "Continue".

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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 support@screencloud.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). 

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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.

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  • 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.

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You can also set a brand preference for 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.

Delete confirmation:

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Duplicate the channel:

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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.

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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.

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  • 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).

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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. 

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    • 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.

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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.

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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 channel selector to the right of any screen by selecting to choose a channel you'd like to display. 

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4.3. The channel is now live on your digital screens!

You can also check out how to cast any content using ScreenCloud for immediate screen takeovers by clicking here.

 

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 support@screencloud.com or give us a call at our toll-free support line at +18885575335.

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