Managing Youtube playlists on Serviio

Today I enhanced my Serviio DLNA server hosted on my Synology DS412+ diskstation to show videos of my Youtube playlists on my connected TV’s. I installed the Youtube online content plugin (Youtube.groovy, version 29.12.2012) in the NAS /volume1/public/serviio/plugins folder. I stopped and restarted the Serviio server in the NAS package center to activate the plugin.

The next step was to install the chrome extension Serviiotube in the Chrome browser which allows to add videos and playlists in the Serviio Online Resources Library from the Youtube webpage.

Serviiotube in Youtube

Serviiotube in Youtube

The resulting source page in the Serviio webconsole is shown hereafter :

Serviio Console, Online Resources

Serviio Console, Online Sources

Shiva & VisualEyes

Last update : July 24, 2013

SHIVA : Anatomy of a VisualEyes Project

SHIVA : Anatomy of a VisualEyes Project

VisualEyes is a flash-based authoring tool developed at the University of Virginia to weave images, maps, charts, video and data into highly interactive and compelling dynamic visualizations.

The project was started at the Virginia Center for Digital History with continued support from the University of Virginia’s Sciences, Humanities & Arts Network of Technological Initiatives (SHANTI). SHANTI promotes innovation at the University of Virginia through the use of advanced digital technologies in research, teaching, publishing and collaborative engagement.

The online VisualEyes edit-tool VisEdit is available at the VisualEyes website. The latest offering from SHANTI is SHIVA (Interactive Visualization Application), a first HTML5 tool  that makes it easy to create interactive visualizations. MapScholar is another HTML5 tool to create visual narratives using historical maps, media clips, and other visualization techniques.

After a beta trial, the full version of SHIVA Visualization was  released mid July 2013. The login page for registrated users is avaialble at the Shiva website.

Bill Ferster is the VisualEyes Project Director. At CTTE (Center for Technology and Teacher Education) he directs the PrimaryAccess Project, which enables middle and high school students to create digital documentaries using primary source documents online, and won in 2009 one of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) 25 Best Educational Websites award.

Managing thumbnails on the Synology Photostation

Last update : September 16, 2013

To upload photos or videos to the Synology Photostation, you can use five different tools. In all cases, thumbnails for photos and videos are created in several resolutions at the upload process.

1. Synology Assistant


Synology Assistant

The Uploader feature has been removed in version 4.3-4206, released on 27.8.2013.

2. Synology Photostation Uploader

Synology Upload Tool

Synology Upload Tool

Version 1.0-038, released on 27.8.2013, only supports bulk uploads (source is a folder).

3. Photostation Album Charger

Synology Album Upload Tool

Synology Album Upload Tool

4. Synology Filestation Charger

Synology Filestation Charger

Synology Filestation Charger

5. Windows Explorer in local network

Windows File System

Windows File System

The two first tools (Synology Assistant and Photostation Uploader) are more efficient because the CPU of the computer is used to do the conversion and the thumbnail creation, whereas the CPU of the Synology Diskstation is used in the three other ways.

The free software ImageMagick is used by the Synology Diskstation to handle images and thumbnails.The Synology DMS 4.2 system (and later) create several thumbnails for each photo or video uploaded in the Photostation (shared system folder photo). These thumbnails are saved in a hidden folder named @eaDir, created in each album folder. Subfolders with the name of the photo or video, including the extension, are created inside the @eaDir folder. Such a subfolder contains the following thumbnails :

DMS 4.2 – Photo Station 5

Photos :

Filename Max width or height (pixels)

Videos :

Filename Max width or height (pixels)

DMS 4.3 – Photo Station 6

Photos :

Filename Max width or height (pixels)

Videos :

Filename Max width or height (pixels)
SYNOPHOTO:THUMB_XL.jpg video original

Display of thumbnails

The short dimension of the thumbnail is calculated with the aspect ratio of the original photo or video. If the video is rotated (metadata Rotation=xx), for instance by using an iPhone, the thumbnails are also rotated and displayed as expected. Metadata are not saved to the thumbnails.

DMS 4.2 – Photo Station 5

The photo-thumbnails are displayed as follows :

Application Qualité Mode simple Mode détaillé Info Agrandissement Vignette Diaporama
DSphoto+ Normal S S S L S L
DSphoto+ High M M M XL M XL

The video-thumbnails are displayed as follows :

Application Qualité Mode simple Mode détaillé Info Videocover Vignette
DSphoto+ Normal S S S L S
DSphoto+ High M M M XL M

DMS 4.3 – Photo Station 6

The photo-thumbnails are displayed in M-size in all list-, time-line-, mosaic- and info-views, independent of the quality setting (normal/high) in DSphoto+. The photos are displayed in XL-size in the enlarged- or slide-show-views. The sizes B and S are used in other Synology multimedia apps like the multimedia server. The video-thumbnails are also displayed in M-size for overviews and in the original size (XL) for viewing.

Replacement of thumbnails

Sometimes it’s necessary to replace the automatic generated thumbnails, for example if the thumbnail for a video is not representative. The replacement can be done with the Synology web console. One problem is the character : in PhotoStation 5 which is not supported in filenames in Windows systems. Thumbnails created before an update to Photo Station version 6 contain such characters. A temporary name for the uploaded file can be changed in the webconsole with the command

> mv old_name new_name

in the correspondent folder (mouse support in the web console). The change can also be done in the command line interface (CLI) with the Putty client. It’s necessary in this case to change the directory with the command

> cd ../volume1/photo/album_folder/@eaDir/image_folder
> dir
> mv old_name new_name

It’s important to check if the read-write properties of the changed files are set to 755, otherwise they should be modified with CHMOD.

The cover pictures for an album are located in the @eaDir folder at the same level as the album folder. Inside this folder are subfolders with the same album names, containing a file SYNOPHOTO:ALBUM.cover. It’s a text file with the filename of the cover photo, nothing else. If no cover photo is defined, the first image in the album is used as default cover. If a movie is selected as a cover image, the filename of the video is listed in the SYNOPHOTO:ALBUM.cover text file.

A second file SYNOPHOTO:ALBUM.sort is in the same @eaDir folder. A content example is shown below :


The following list provides some links to webpages with additional informations about this topic :

Media Centers (MC), Media Managers and online media databases

Ember Media Manager

A Media center, also called Home Theater PC (HTPC) or Home Cinema, refers to a home entertainment system that seek to reproduce a movie theater experience and mood, with the help of video and audio equipment, in or outside a private home.

A list of some renowned media centers is shown hereafter :

A Media Manager is  an application that catalogs your media and writes images and metadata to the directory the media is stored in so that the media center can access that data in order to display the correct information for the media files. Most media centers do have some sort of scraper built in to look for media matches in Internet online media databases. Media Managers usually provide extended and more reliable tools to catalog your media.

A list of some renowned media managers is given below :

The most renowned online media databases usually scraped by media centers and by media managers are listed herafter :


Serviio DLNA media server

Last update : May 8, 2013

Serviio is a free media server allowing you to stream media files (music, video or images) to DLNA renderer devices on your connected home network. Serviio is based on Java technology and therefore runs on most platforms. A pro version was launched in July 2012 when the 1.0 version was released.

The relevant features of Serviio are :

  • streams audio, video (SD & HD) and image files in their native format or transcoded in real-time
  • streams content from online sources (RSS feeds, live audio/video streams, web page content, …)
  • streams your PC desktop
  • includes a plugin system, based on the Groovy language, to support streaming from non-trivial online sources or to create playlists
  • supports different editable renderer profiles
  • supports external subtitles

Serviio uses a priority-based metadata extraction to describe your media files :

  • embedded metadata into the media files
  • locally stored metadata files (.nfo sidecar files)
  • scraped online metadata

The performance and high quality of the Serviio DLNA server has been documented by the fact that Sony UK first recommended Serviio for Sony devices and recently licensed Serviio to create their own customized Homestream server. Sony started the DLNA initiative in 2003.

Serviio is developed by the freelance Java consultant Petr Nejedly (alias ZIP). The current version 1.2.1 was released on March 22, 2013. Serviio is supported by a strong on-line community, active on the main forum and on the numerous sub-forums. There are also various third party tools available, for example a web user interface in php or AJAX, consoles (ServiiDroid, …), a database for storing information about online sources (ServiiDB).

Patters created a DSM package to install Serviio on a Synology NAS.

Here is a small list of some other DLNA servers to allow you to compare the Serviio features with other projects.

Windows Media Center, wtv, dvr-ms

WTV is the default container format used to record television shows in Microsoft Windows 7 Media Center. It’s the successor of DVR-MS, the format used to record television shows in Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition.

WTV’s video encoder supports encoding to H.264 1-pass CBR Baseline profile up to 1.5 Mbit/s, 640x480pixels at 30 frame/s, and the audio encoder supports low complexity AAC stereo at 44.1 or 48 kHz sample rate and 96, 128, 160 or 192 kbit/s bit rate.

WTV files can be played with the Windows Media Player on windows 7. An integrated conversion tool in the Media Center allows to change the files to the DVR-MS format which can be played on the common video players like VLC and analyzed with the common tools like Infomedia.

A TunerFreeMCE for the Media Center is available from Milliesoft.

A converter from wtv/dvr-ms to mpeg – mpeg2 – avi – divx – mp4 – mpeg-2 is available from DVRsoft.

Playlist formats : m3u, pls, xspf and others

Last update : June 16, 2012;
M3U is a file format to store multimedia playlists. It was first used by Winamp. PLS does the same, but is a more expressive format than basic M3U, as it can store  information on the song title and length (this is supported in extended M3U only). With PLS version 2, playlists also include a PLS version declaration.

iTunes, QuickTime Player, Real player, Winamp, XBMC, XMPlay, VLC media player and many other programs play PLS files without any extra codecs.

Xiph.Org Foundation, a non-profit organization that produces free multimedia formats and software tools, created in 2004 the XML Shareable Playlist Format (XSPF, called spiff) for sharing the kind of playlist that can be played on every personal computer or portable device. The home of XSPF is the website

XSPF is supported by the DLNA server Seviio. The playlists handle not only audio, but also video or other multimedia files.

VLC Media Player

Last update : June 12, 2013

VLC  Media is the favorite media player for most people because it plays everything they throw at it without problems with the included codecs. VLC can do the following things (see contribution on Instant Fundas) :

  • Rip DVDs with the integrated basic DVD ripper
  • Record videos during playback (View>Advanced Control)
  • Download YouTube and other online videos by grabbing the URL of the YouTube video page (Media>Open Network stream). In the latest version (1.0.2 Goldeneye) you must replace “swfArgs” with “SWF_ARGS” in the youtube.lua file with a text editor to make the youtube videos running.
  • Play RAR files with zipped videos even if the RAR file is split into several files
  • Play in ASCII mode (Tools>Preferences>Video>Output>Color ASCII art video output)
  • Listen to online radio (Media>Services Discovery>Shoutcast radio listings)
  • Convert Audio and Video formats (Media>Convert/Save)
  • Enhance your player with new skins
  • Stream your Linux/Windows/Mac Desktop as video

VLC Media Player can not cut videos from the GUI, only with the command lines.

VLC Remote Control for iPhone

After 485 million downloads of VLC 1.1.x versions, VideoLAN and the VLC development team presented VLC 2.0.0 “Twoflower”, a major new release, on February 18, 2012. VideoLAN, a French non-profit organization, is a group of people, that produces and distributes free and open source software for video and multimedia purpose, released under Open Source licenses. It started as a student project at the French École Centrale Paris but is now a worldwide project with developers from everywhere and dozens of millions of people using VideoLAN’s software.

VLC is the official name of VideoLAN’s main product, often named VLC. VideoLAN Client is an ancient name of this product. VideoLAN Server (VLS) is an outdated streaming solution developed by a separate group of people.

The current version of VLC is 2.0.5. It supports now DLNA and works fine with the Serviio DLNA server (see contribution on the Serviio Forum). A remote control for the VLC player to run on iOS devices is available from Hobbyist Software. The log files are displayed in the Tools > Messages window if verbosity is set to the value 2 (debug).

With VLC, cuttingt videos is very easy. Launch VLC media player and activate advanced controls located under the view menu. You will see four extra buttons above the normal play/pause button. You will not cut the video, but rather record the segment using the built-in VLC recorder. First seek the position you want to start your recording with the frame by frame button, then press the record button and the play button. The background color of the record button will change to blue. Press the record button when you want to stop the recording. The clip will be automatically saved as an MP4 media file in your Videos folder in Windows. A prefix “vlc-record-date-time” is added to the name of the original videoclip.