Product icon Help book icon Video Mill : User's Guide

Automator - Automation Manager

Automator main window

The Automator allows you to author automation Scripts composed of automation Steps. Then run them with the Script Run Controls buttons. The Automator window is composed of a list of Scripts (left hand column), a run progress bar, a set of over-sized Run controls buttons and a panel that shows a summary description of the current selected Script.

See the Automation Overview section for details on how Scripts work and a list of automation Steps types.

Script Run Controls buttons

These buttons (Figure 1, label F) have the same behavior as the associated Actions menu items.

The Progress Readouts information is displayed above the progress bar. The progress bar indicates Step progress for the Script -- how many steps have executed so far.

Progress Readouts
    (Figure 1, label D)
  • Step number executing - The currently executing Step and number of Steps. (ex. Step 2 of 9)
  • Step name - The name of the Step that is currently executing.
  • Playback Time Readout - Format, Minutes : Seconds / Duration
    • Toggle Time Readout Type - Toggle playback time readout between Current Playback Time Position or Time Remaining by mouse clicking on the time readout text.
    • Position - Current playback time position.
    • Remaining - Playback time remaining in the media. When showing remaining time, the time is prefixed with an hour glass symbol(). (ex. 2:00/3:00)
    • Duration - Total media duration (time length).
  • Total Time Effective - This shows the total effective expected run time for the Script. It calculates the total of sequential Step times, Delays, Script Repeat setting and considers any Offset Timed Steps. (Figure 1, displayed in the Script summary panel)

Automator Control Panels

  • A. Main Menu
  • B. Toolbars
  • C. Script List Selector Panel - A selection list of all Scripts.
  • D. Progress Readouts - Readouts of current playing Step, time remaining and duration.
  • E. Progress Bar
  • F. Run Controls - Script execution buttons.
  • G. Steps List Selector Panel - A list selector of the sequential steps in the script. Double-click on a Step to Play it. See actions associated to the Steps List Selector in the Actions section below.
  • H. Script Description - Details of the script contents.
Figure 1.  Automator window
Figure 1. Automator window
  • Select a Script - Select a Script via pop-up dialog. Useful when the Scripts List box panel is not visible.
  • Save - Saves the Media List including automation Scripts.
  • Exit - Closes the Automator window. Any Scripts running when you close the window will continue to run.
  • Export Selected Script to M3U Playlist - The selected Script is Exported to a M3U Playlist. Pops up a File Save dialog so you can specify the save folder and filename. It will prompt to Replace if the filename already exists. You can specify the path type to use (Absolute vs Relative path) -- see Playlist Option > Export M3U Playlists with Full File Paths.
  • Quick Export: Multiple Scripts to M3U Playlists - This Quick Export allows you to export multiple Scripts in just a couple clicks. It will prompt you to select Scripts to export. It does NOT popup a File Save dialog. Playlists are saved to the folder specified when you last saved using the File Save dialog (menu item above). For duplicate filenames, it will do a simple file replace without prompting you for permission.

M3U Playlist Export

When Exporting to a M3U Playlist, ONLY Play steps are added to the playlist. For full details on Video Mill support for Import/Export of Playlists (M3U/M3U8/WPL), see the File menu page. You cannot export to WPL -- that format is import only.

Edit Script menu

The Edit Script Menu has the following functions. Some edit funtions use an Automator 'clipboard' similiar to the Windows clipboard, but they do not affect the contents in the Windows clipboard. The list is renumbered for edit actions add, delete or move items in the list.

  • Edit Script - Loads the selected Script into the Script Editor.
  • Create Simple Playlist - Creates a Script of Play Steps. You are prompted to pick the Media Items to play. You can then edit it like any other Script.
  • View Script Description - Shows the description summary of the selected Script via pop-up dialog.
  • Change Id - Changes the Id of the selected Script. A dialog is popped up so that you can enter the new Id. You should read the section on Ids before using this action. Turn on (check) Show Ids in the Report Options then run a Media List Report to see all current Ids.

    Notes: Each Script has an internal unique Id. Two Scripts may have the same name but will have different Ids. You can expose the Ids from the Media List window The Report Options dialog (usually only done for diagnostic reasons).

  • Undo Cut - Restores a previously cut Script from the Undo stack.
  • Delete - Deletes selected Script from the list. Deletes cannot be restored and are not placed in the clipboard or on the Undo stack.
  • Cut - Deletes selected Script from the list. Replaces the contents of the clipboard and saves the cut item on Undo stack.
  • Copy - Copies selected Script into the clipboard.
  • Paste - Pastes a Script from the clipboard to the Script list at the selected position. The list is renumbered. A sequential index number is added to the end of the Script Name to make it unique.
  • New Script - Adds a new Script to the Script list at the selected position. The new item will be populated with the current Default values.
  • Move Up - Moves selected Script up the list by one position.
  • Move Down - Moves selected Script down the list by one position.
  • Move to Top - Moves selected Script to the Top of the list.
  • Move to Middle - Moves selected Script to the Middle of the list.
  • Move to Bottom - Moves selected Script to the Bottom of the list.
  • Refresh All Scripts - If you change a Media Item name in the Media List Editor or make other changes that can affect Step time durations, you will have to refresh scripts so that the steps reflects the changes. Total Time Effective is recalculated.

Move Script tool bar button behavior
  • Move Up One - Click Move Up button.
  • Move Down One - Click Move Down button.
  • Move to Top - Hold down Ctrl key while clicking Move Up button.
  • Move to Bottom - Hold down Ctrl key while clicking Move Down button.
  • Move to Middle - Hold down Shift key while clicking either Move Up or Move Down button.

Edit Script tool bar

Edit Script tool bar

Buttons (Figure 2, from left to right): Save Media List, Edit Script, Delete , Cut, Copy, Paste, New Script, Move Up, and Move Down.

Figure 2. Edit Script tool bar
Figure 2. Edit Script tool bar

Script List Item Selection tool bar

Script List Item Selection tool bar

These buttons move the list selection cursor to change the current Script selection in the Script List (Figure 1, label C). This tool bar is useful when scaling up tool bar size for using the program as a touch screen interface. Buttons (Figure 3, from left to right): Previous Script, Next Script, Page Up, Page Down, Focus Script List panel.

Figure 3. Script List Item Selection tool bar
Figure 3. Script List Item Selection tool bar

See the separate page for details on Script Groups.

The View menu items are listed on the Automator - Tablet and Touch Screen Operation page.

Works with Action Apply-To Mode. (some Actions)

Script Actions
  • Run Script - If the selected Script is already running, the request is ignored. If the Script is NOT running it will be started. And it will start execution at the Step index of the selected Step in the Steps List Selector (Figure 1, label G).
  • Run Multiple Scripts** - Starts two or more Scripts running at the same time. You are prompted to select the Scripts to run.
  • Run Script at Step(x) - Starts the selected Script to run at a Step that you pick via pop-up dialog. Only sequential steps are selectable (ie no timed steps). If the Script is already running, it is restarted at the selected step.
  • Stop - Stops the selected Script. Media Screens are not Unloaded (closed). If fading is in effect, Media Screens will fade-out to the stop.
  • Pause - Pauses the selected Script and any playing Media Screen videos that were started by this Script are paused.
  • Resume - Resumes the selected Script and any paused Media Screen videos that were started by this Script are resumed.
  • Stop Script and Unload Screens - Stops the selected Script. And any Media Screen(s) loaded by this Script will be unloaded. Even if fading is in effect, Media Screens will stop abruptly as a result of the Unload.
  • Script List Selection
    • Select Previous Script - Selects the Previous Script in the Script List panel (Figure 1, label C).
    • Select Next Script - Selects the Next Script in the Script List panel.
  • Halt All Running Scripts - When clicked, all Scripts currently running are stopped.
  • Stop All Scripts - When clicked, all Scripts currently running are stopped including the scheduler Scripts.
  • Unload All Media Screens - When clicked, ALL Media Screens currently loaded are then unloaded. It doesn't matter which Script loaded the Media Screens.
  • UnLoad Multiple Screens - Unloads a selection of Media Screens. You are prompted to select the Screens.
  • Volume - These volume changes apply only to Media Screen(s) that were started by this Script.
    • Volume Bump Up - Media Screen Volume is bumped Up by the Percent(%) specified in the Media Item Options.
    • Volume Bump Down - Media Screen Volume is bumped Down by the specified Percent(%).
    • Volume Mute Toggle - Media Screen Volume is toggled between Mute and Un-muted.
  • Stop All - When clicked, all currently playing media is stopped including Scripts, the Scheduler, and items in the Media List editor.
  • Pause All - When clicked, all currently playing media is paused including Scripts, the Scheduler, and items in the Media List editor.
  • Resume All - When clicked, all currently paused media is resumed including Scripts, the Scheduler, and items in the Media List editor.

Note on Volume Bumps - The current volume is reported on the status bar when clicking either Volume Bump button. If more than one Media Screen volume is changed, it will show the volume of the last Media Screen that was changed.

Step Actions
  • Play/Replay Step - The selected Step is played (or replayed) from its start. The selection is from the Steps List Selector (Figure 1, label G).
  • Stop Step - Selected Step is stopped.
  • Next Step - Script execution advances to the Next sequential Step. If Next is clicked when the last Step is playing, it will end the Script.
  • Previous Step - Script execution advances to the Previous sequential Step.
  • Jump to Step(x) - Script execution advances to a selected Step. You select the Step via pop-up dialog.
  • First Step - Script execution advances to the First sequential Step.
  • Last Step - Script execution advances to the Last sequential Step.

Step Actions Notes: 1) The selected Script must be running for any of the step actions to be performed. 2) Step actions above apply only to sequential Steps. Offset Timed Steps are ignored.

Actions Warnings

*Step Advance while a Fade is In-Progress

Warning Warning - Advancing steps (with Next, Previous, First, Last, or Jump to Step buttons) while a fade effect is in progress can produce unpredicable results. Fade effects include: AutoFade-In, AutoFade-Out, or Cross-Fade. Wait for the few seconds until a fade completes before clicking any of the Step Advance buttons. If you do this by accident you may end up with two videos partially faded into each other and both likely paused. To resolve this, click the Replay Step button and the video should start its play.

**Run Multiple Scripts Simultaneously

Warning Warning - If you start multiple scripts simultaneously and they include Play Steps, you should ensure the following settings: 1) Set Screens Mode to Multi-Screen; 2) Do NOT use Load Templates; 3) Do NOT use Cross-Fade Mode. Otherwise, Play Steps will be competing for a single Media Screen and when one Play Step executes it will cancel another. In some cases, the automator will prevent a second script from running if it is known to cause an error condition.

Steps List Selector

The Steps List Selector (Figure 4) is an active control. It has some behaviors associated to the actions above.

  • When you click the Run Script button, it will start executing at the selected Step.
  • If you double-click a Step, it will begin executing. (Script must be currently running)
  • If you select any Step, then click the Play Step button (Figure 6), the selected Step will Play (or Replay if the selection is the same as the current playing step).(Script must be currently running)
  • Only sequential steps are listed in the Steps List. (ie no timed steps are listed here)
Figure 4. Steps List Selector
Figure 4. Steps List Selector

Run Script tool bar

Works with Action Apply-To Mode.

Run Script tool bar

Buttons (Figure 5, from left to right): Run Script, Stop, Pause, Resume, Stop and Unload Script, Halt All Running Scripts, Unload All Media Screens.

Figure 5.  Run Script tool bar
Figure 5. Run Script tool bar

Step Actions tool bar

Step Actions tool bar

Buttons (Figure 6, from left to right): Play/Replay Step, Stop Step, Previous Step, Next Step, Jump to Step(x), First Step, Last Step.

Figure 6.  Step Actions tool bar
Figure 6. Step Actions tool bar

Volume tool bar

Works with Action Apply-To Mode.

Volume tool bar

Buttons (Figure 7, from left to right): Volume Bump Up, Volume Bump Down, Volume Mute Toggle.

Figure 7.  Volume tool bar
Figure 7. Volume tool bar

  • View Automator Log - Show the contents of the Automator log file which contains Step execution time stamps and any detected error messages.
  • Reset Automator Log - Resets the log clearing all old messages.
  • View Running Scripts - Pops up a window listing all currently running Scripts.
  • Generate Report - Generates a Media Plot report or all Media Items and Scripts . The Report Options dialog allows you to specify the detail level of the report.
  • Validate All Scripts - Analyzes all Steps in all Scripts for potential errors or Script logic issues.
  • View All Loaded Screens Dimensions - When clicked, it pops up a dialog showing screen Dimensions of all loaded Media Screens. The Media Screen Window Dimensions (includes Window Title bar and Window borders) and the Media Screen Rectangle Dimensions (Video Viewing Rectangle) are shown. When the Window Title bar is hidden, the Window Dimensions and Media Screen Rectangle Dimensions will be the same values. This also displays screen coordinates for all extended desktop displays.
  • Actions Shortcuts - The Actions Shortcuts are intended to facilitate operation of the Automator by a remote control device.
    • Select Current Actions Shortcuts - Pops up a list of all Actions Shortcuts definition. Select the one you want to use for your remote. Actions menu items are reset with these Shortcuts.
    • Manage Actions Shortcuts - Opens a list of your Actions Shortcuts. You can: Add new Shortcuts; Duplicate existing Shortcuts; Edit existing Shortcuts; or Delete Shortcuts.
    • View All Actions Shortcuts - Shows all Actions Shortcuts settings via pop-up dialog.

    • Add pre-configured profiles
        If you have a remote controller designed for Windows Media Player or PowerPoint, these items will add a preconfigured Shortcuts profile for the device. You can make further edits to this Shortcuts definition if desired.
      • Add Windows Media Player Shortcuts to Actions - Adds a Shortcuts definition for a Windows Media Player remote device.
      • Add PowerPoint Shortcuts to Actions - Adds a Shortcuts definition for a PowerPoint remote device.
      • Add Video Mill Shortcuts to Actions - Adds a Shortcuts definition to Actions Shortcuts for Video Mill default actions shortcuts. Useful if you want to swap back to Video Mill default actions without having to close and restart Video Mill.
  • Ad Hoc Shortcuts - Similar to Actions Shortcuts, these allow you to link a specific Media Item or Script to a shortcut. See separate Ad Hoc Shortcuts page.
  • Window Focus - Allows you to focus an app window (Media List Editor, or Automator). It makes the window active so it can receive remote controller key signals.
  • Menu Items Shortcut Keys - These items manage the shortcuts that appear on the Automator menu items.
    • View Menu Items Shortcut Key Summary - Shows the current active Keyboard Shortcuts settings for all Automator menu items -- via pop-up dialog.
    • Remove All Menu Item Shortcuts - Removes all Keyboard Shortcuts from all Automator menu items. Useful when a Keyboard Shortcut is applied to an Automator menu item and you want to use it for an Actions menu item.
    • Reset All Shortcuts to Program Defaults - Restores all Automator menu items to the program default Shortcuts. This requires a program restart to take effect.

Tools tool bar

Tools tool bar

Buttons (Figure 7, from left to right): Generate Report, View Automator Log, Reset Automator Log, Validate All Scripts, View Running Scripts, View All Loaded Screens Dimensions.

Figure 7. Tools tool bar
Figure 7. Tools tool bar

These items change the behavior of the Automator when running Scripts. They are generally useful for running the Automator by wireless remote controllers.

Menu items

Setting EoM2N and AM2NS

Here's how to set EoM2N and AM2NS to give the Automator common app behaviors.

EoM2N AM2NS Automator Behavior
checked checked EoM2N(checked), AM2NS(checked).
Emulates a Standard Media Player (example WMP, Windows Media Player). Total automation mode. Will play a sequential playlist of videos or images from start to end by simply starting a Script.
__ __ EoM2N(un-checked), AM2NS(un-checked).
Emulates a Slide Show Presentation Program (example Power Point). Manual operation mode requiring the user to push the Next (or Previous) button to advance through a "slide" show. Click the Play Step button to play the current Step.
checked __ EoM2N(checked), AM2NS(un-checked).
Like the Slide Show Presentation mode above. User controls when the focus advances by clicking the Next button. But when you advance to the next Step, the Step will automatically Play. (Useful for some remote controllers with limited control buttons)
__ checked Like the Slide Show Presentation mode above, except focus automatically moves to the next Step when the current playing Step ends. Then the user starts the Step by clicking the Play Step button. (Useful for some remote controllers that do not have Next/Previous buttons)

Warning Warning - When running the Automator in Cross-Fade mode , both EoM2N and AM2NS items MUST be checked or you will not achieve the desired fade effect.

Slide Show Setup

To make Video Mill behave like a slide-show app (similar to MS PowerPoint), there are multiple settings that need to be modified. The Behavior > Slide Show Setup menu item automates the setup settings for you. It will ask several questions about how you want your slide show to look/behave then make the appropriate settings. It configures Video Mill to use a Full Screen Load Template (Global Load Template). This setup could affect scripts already in progress, so it is best to do this when no automation is running.

Questions asked
  • Target Display - You pick the display where you want the slides to appear. If a Full Screen Load Template does not exist for that display, one will be created. The template is set as the Global Load Template.
  • Cross-Fade Slides - Decide if you want slides to cross-fade one into the next.
  • Timed Slides or Manual Advance - Timed slides advance automatically at a set time interval. You are prompted to set the interval. If you pick Manual Advance, you will use the Automator Next Step button to advance between slides.

Settings Changed
  • Cross-Fade Mode.
  • Global Load Template (current).
  • Load Template Mode set to Global Only.
  • Default Image and Text Screen Duration. (in Media Item Options)
  • Automator Behavior - EoM2N and AM2NS set to true. (see above)