The Architecture of Fast Video Cataloger

h1>Introduction

Here is a very high overview of the technology we have used to build Fast Video Cataloger. The goal has always been to provide a video content management system for Windows with great performance.

Main application

The main application is written in C# using Visual Studio and the .NET framework. We use a lot of async/await for threading as wait as background workers and explicit threading. C# is generally pretty efficient, and we have access to most of the windows system using the .Net framework. We have had quite a bit of performance issues with garbage collection and quite a few tricks to work around these performance issues.

User interface

The user interface in Fast video cataloger is done in WPF and a few extra UI components. WPF uses DirectX internally, and DirectX uses graphics hardware for rendering. We have made quite a few optimizations to handle huge video collections with good performance.

Scripting

The scripting interface uses CSScript and we expose the API through some abstract interface classes as well as the direct WCF interfaces. You can extend Fast Video Cataloger with C# either by loading the scripts in the console windows or by creating actions that link to C# scripts.

Encryption

Video encryption uses Aes encryption and we hook the filesystem to be able to work on a stream level.

Web Browser

WPF has a web browser component but that uses internet explorer. The browser window is a hosted Chromium web browser, CEF sharp.

Video player

WPF has a video player component but that one has pretty bad performance and does not support all video formats. The video player in Fast video cataloger is custom for FVC and is written in C++ and uses a DirectShow filter graph to play videos. C# allows us pretty easy access to interface with c components. We build the graph manually to avoid the common issues where a system has badly configured filter priorities (Select the player from preferences). We support a few different renderers that you can select from the preferences.

Video indexer

The video indexer is custom for FVC and is written in C++. We use a custom DirectShow filter graph with a few custom DirectShow filters for the capture. The video indexer subsystem is something we have developed for over 10 years. It contains quite a lot of “special” code to handle errors and all sorts of broken files and codecs.

Video database

The video database engine is SQLite and we have built a custom WCF interface. Locally the WCF server is run as a separate process and the main application communicates through a memory pipe or TCP/IP.

Server

When running the Fast video cataloger server the WCF component is hosted as a Windows service and communicates with the game over TCP.

Conclusion

You can download a trial version of Fast video cataloger

Video web search in Fast video cataloger

I will show you how to access the web browser in Fast video cataloger to easily integrate a web search with your video catalog. In Fast video cataloger 6.31 we opened up the integrated web browser in Fast video cataloger for scripting. If you are on an older version please update to the latest version from our download page or click the upgrade button in the program.

Web browser window

The web browser is what you see when you click on the view button and Help.

Click the help button to open the web browser.

Here is how it looks with just the script console and the web browser open in Fast video cataloger.

Script console and web browser open.

Scripting the browser

IScripting has a new member function GetBrowser(); that will get you the top-level interface to the integrated chromium web browser. The complete interface is documented on the cef GitHub site. To load a web page to the browser window you simply need to call Load() and give your URL as argument.

To get the underlying browser object and access the dom model you can call GetBrowser() to get and IBrowser object. The IBrowser interface has a MainFrame property of type IFrame and from here you can get access to execute javascript. That is outside the scope of this text, let me know if you are interested in more example on how to use that functionality.

Google search

You can do google searches by giving the right arguments to the google URL. http://www.google.com/search is the root URL. Search arguments are passed as q=[search terms]. Search terms need to be separated by a + sign. There are plenty of extra arguments to customize your search, for example, as_filetype=[file extension] to search for a specific filetype or as_sitesearch=[site URL] to search only at a specific site. In this example, I will only use the basic search query but you can easily expand on it to fit your needs. Remember to use & between arguments if you want to send more than the q argument y.

The search sample

We start by getting your current video selection. Then we fetch the VideoFileEntry for that selection using the VideoCatalogService interface. This is very similar to most other samples. Then we do a bit of string manipulation. Spaces in the Google query should be separated by + so we replace all spaces and also all _ as they are probably meant as spaces in the title. Last we check if the title has a “.” in there somewhere and get rid of everything after the . as that is probably a file extension. Now we have the string we want to search for. We need to pass this to google as q= so we put that in the query string.
Next, we get the browser with GetBrowser() and then call Load() with the Google base URL and the search query.

Script Code

Copy-paste the following into the script console to use the selected video title as a search term on google. Click Run to execute the script.

using System.Runtime;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using VideoCataloger;
using VideoCataloger.RemoteCatalogService;
class Script
{
  static public async System.Threading.Tasks.Task Run ( IScripting scripting, string arguments ) { 
  var selection = scripting.GetSelection();
  List selected_videos = selection.GetSelectedVideos();
  if (selected_videos.Count>0) {
    var cataloger = scripting.GetVideoCatalogService();
    var video_entry = cataloger.GetVideoFileEntry( selected_videos[0] );
    string title = video_entry.Title;
    title = title.Replace(' ', '+');
    title = title.Replace('_', '+');
    int extension = title.LastIndexOf(".");
    if (extension!=-1)
      title = title.Substring(0,extension);

    string query = "q=" + title;
    var browser = scripting.GetBrowser();
    browser.Load("http://www.google.com/search?" + query);
    }
  }
}

Serve videos from a web server

With Fast video cataloger, you can serve videos you have in your catalog over a web server. This will let you share a video catalog with someone and give them super fast search and access while keeping all the large videos on your web server.

How to host video from a web server

Hosting your videos from a web server can be a practical solution if you need to share a catalog without having to distribute your videos files. A video catalog is usually relatively small (on the order of a few gigabytes) and easy to distribute while the video files can easily take up terabytes of space. If a user has the catalog local it can be searched and browsed quickly. Then when the user finds a video and wants to play it, only the relevant part of the video is served over your web server.

Web server

To set up this workflow you will need to have a web server installed. Windows come preinstalled with IIS but it will need to be enabled. You can enable it through the “Turn Windows features on and off” that you can reach via clicking Windows key + R key and type appwiz.cpl in the run window and press enter. Now you see the Program and Features part of Control Panel and on the left-hand side click on the “Turn Windows features on or off” link and you will see a long list of features. Locate Internet Information Services(IIS) and check that checkbox. Once you click OK windows will take a while to set your IIS server up. When it is done you can navigate to localhost from your web browser and access your IIS webserver.
Another great free web server is the Apache webserver.
In general, we have to refer to the developer of the software on how to install and configure their web server. There is more than plenty of information about it available online.

www root

Once you have your web server setup and configured you need to find the root from where files are served. If you are using IIS this will normally be “C:\inetpub\wwwroot\” and on Apache it will be something like “C:\wamp\apache2\htdocs\” (using the highly recommended Bitnami wamp distribution ). All videos you want to access over the webserver must be below this root folder.

Please note: Not all video formats can be read from an HTTP server, especially old formats that can be problematic. We recommend that the videos you place on your webserver is in mp4 format.
That was the preparation. You should now hopefully have a working web server and videos in the www root of your webserver.

Configure Fast video cataloger for serving videos over http server

The next step is to go to Fast video cataloger and on the info screen click the “Use hosted videos” button.

Where you find the option to configure hosting through a web server

This brings up the configuration wizard and is an easy step by step guidance. In the first dialog, you enter the www root of your web server. Remember that if you are using IIS it might be “C:\inetpub\wwwroot\” and on Apache it might be something like “C:\wamp\apache2\htdocs\”.

In the second field enter the URL of the server as seen when you access it through a web server. When you are running on a local server this would be http://localhost/ or http://127.0.0.1/. You have now configured Fast video cataloger to recognize your web server. The open button is a good way to test it is set up and running.

play video through web server.

Adding videos

Next, you add the videos from your www-root to your catalog. Do this the same way as usual from the add videos window. When you click on one of your added videos you will notice that the path to the video will be something like: [WebServer]\video_indexer.mp4

When you play this video the path will be converted to your www root and played. This is very similar to how special folder work.

To load the video over the webserver you will need to go into the “Use hosted videos” dialog again and check the “Enable loading over http” checkbox.
If you play the video after that it will be loaded through requests to your webserver. This specific setting is saved in the catalog so if you share your catalog with someone else the [WebServer]\video_indexer.mp4 will resolve to the same URL for them as well.

Note: Fast video cataloger works most efficiently when you have your videos and images locally. Only host through a web server if you don’t have direct access to the files.

Fast Video Cataloger 6.30 supports video metadata

Fast video cataloger 6.30 is now available with new support for video metadata. Download from our download page

metadata written to video files

We now support writing New option to save out metadata inside the video file. This option will save basic metadata like keywords, descriptions, and ratings into the metadata section of the file. This will make it available in Windows properties of the file. This also means that it will be available for Windows search. Please note that this type of metadata is not supported by some of the older video containers but it should be supported by modern formats like mp4. This option is disabled by default but can be enabled from preferences on the metadata tab.

.nfo metadata next to video files

We have added a new requested feature to write out .nfo file next to the video file. The nfo file will contain basic metadata like keywords, description and ratings in the Kodi format. This option is only recommended if you want to share the metadata in the catalog with another media manager. It is disabled by default and can be enabled from preferences. If the video file already has a .nfo file it will be updated with the data from Fast video cataloger.

video metadata preferences

video metadata settings

More shortcuts

It is now possible to assign shortcuts to show and hide Windows. No default shortcuts are set for these, but you can assign them if you have a need. We still recommend using layouts in most cases.

Bug fixes

And we have continued to fix reported bugs. Import videos can now handle special folders correctly and can detect if a video has been imported already. I.e. if you import videos already in the target catalog they will be skipped. If you had the playlist window undocked and floating and then tried to change the order of playlist items the program crashed, this is now fixed.

Attract windows

Atract windows in Fast video cataloger is a way to rediscover your catalog. The attract windows display content from your video catalog automatically as different slideshows. There is an attract window for your actors, for your companion images and ofcource for your videos.

We took the name from old arcade games that had an attract mode where they console played the game itself trying to attract players. So the purpose of these windows is to let you discover your entire video catalog. Perhaps for inspiration or perhaps just as a nice “screen saver”.

Here are is a short summary of how you can configure the preferences for your attract windows