Local display of presentation source when no content channel on MCU?
Equipment: TC7.1.1, C60, C90, MSE8510 (in SD Mode, no content channel enabled):
I'm hoping somebody knows away around this bizarre issue:
When there is no content channel enabled in the MCU, the codec will not hold the presentation content on the local screen. When the Presentation button is pressed, the presentation source shows up momentarily on the local display and then the codec switches back to full screen view of far end video, and the presentation source is not sent to the far end. The only way to send the presentation source is to select it directly, without pressing the Presentation button, but in that event the local monitor only shows the far-end video in full screen, so the local participants can't see the presentation source.
There is only one layout available in the "Layout Control" menu (whatever default layout was configured), and selecting it has no impact at all. The local screen still shows only far-end video, and there is way we've found to display even a PIP of any local source, or more practically, a full screen view of the presentation source with a PIP of the remote site.
The only way we've found to allow the near-end participants to see the presentation source is using maximized self-view, but this is extremely awkward and doesn't address the needs of the participants. It requires pressing the layout button on the TRCV remote, which brings up the Layout Control menu and the on-screen softbuttons. The user must then select "Show Selfview" from the Layout Control menu, then press the layout button again and select the softbutton that enables "Maximize Selfview". Then they must press the layout button again to hide the Layout Control menu (which obscures content). And still, the participants can't see the far-end video while viewing the local presentation source. This is also true with the main camera source. It is possible to toggle between maximized selfview and maximized far-end video, but only while the Layout Control menu is on the screen, and you can't see both near-end and far-end at the same time. Regardless, that whole button dance is not viable for typical users, and the results are inadequate.
Changing layout families doesn't have any impact.
Enabling a content channel on the MCU resolves this to an extent, but it's often not an option.
The MXP line had a very simple function for swapping self-view with far-end video while keeping an active PIP of one or the other, without encountering any onscreen menus.
The C-series seems to offer no way to do this. It seems incredible to me that a codec could be so hobbled when used in a single display mode. If that's the case, why is there even a single display mode option?
If you're using SIP for these calls, than typically when an endpoint tries to send content and the device it's sending doesn't support a dedicated content channel, the endpoint should send the content and video in a combined stream over the main channel. If you're using H323, well you won't get anything (I think). You can read up on the content settings for the MCU in the admin guide here, starting on page 198.
What protocol are you using when calling to/from the MCU, H323 or SIP?
How do you have the MCU configured to handle content (Settings > Content)?
Also, why don't you want to enable the content channel on the MCU?
Thanks for the reply Patrick. The behavior you describe is what I expect, but that's not what the C-series endpoints are doing. And in fact, an MXP H.323 endpoint in the same conference will send presentation video when the Presentation button is pressed. All endpoints can see it, and on the MXP, the local layout is controllable so we can see both the presentation and far-end video on a single display. I simply turn on the PIP and then toggle the Selfview button to swap back and forth.
I've tested this with SIP and H.323 on the same C-series endpoints. I've also added and MXP (h.323) and Jabber Video endpoint to the same conference. Results don't change with protocol or changing participants.
The MCU has content enabled globally, but turned off in the conference. "Send Content as Video" is enabled globally. The content channel is turned off in the conference because it emulates what we see in the real world. We don't own or control the majority of our remote sites or other MCUs we connect to. Sometimes content is supported, sometimes not, and end users are frequently unfamiliar with their own equipment. When it works we use it, but it isn't always possible.
Keep in mind that the issue is local video display behavior when no content channel is available in the MCU. What the endpoint does when a content channel is available isn't really relevant. We're ok with the fact that we can't establish a content channel because we can send that "content" video by selecting it as a video source. But we can't see it on the single local video display without using selfview mode (with the problems described in my OP).
This morning I tested an H.323 point-to-point connection between the C-series and a 1000mxp (H.239 is disabled on the 1000mxp). In that mode, pressing the Presentation button on the C-series remote is successful, the C-series sends the presentation source along with the main camera in the default layout (small pip of camera over larger window of content), even though there is no content channel. In other words, it behaves the way you'd expect.
It seems the connection to the MCU is affecting the behavior of the C-series.
We always have the content channel enabled on our conferences, but I did some testing with our secondary MCU as you have configured, and I was able to reproduce your results where the endpoint would try to send content, but essentially fail because of the lack of dedicated content channel.
I tried several different configurations on the MCU, and without anyway on the endpoints to disable H239 or BFCP to make the content be composed into the main video channel. I can confirm from past experience, that if an endpoint that doesn't support a dedicated content channel will receive content via the main channel from the MCU. It seems that the MCU will not accept content from an endpoint without the content channel. With that said, without a way to disable the content channel on the endpoints from what I can tell, I don't see a way to achieve what you'd like (unless I'm missing something on the endpoint). I'd suggest you contact your Cisco Rep and see about getting a feature request open on the endpoints for the option to disable the content channel (again, unless it's there and I'm missing it).
Thanks for going to the trouble, it's good to know it's not unique to us.
I just tested a point-point H.323 connection from the C-series to a Tandberg 6000 classic (h.239 disabled), and the C-series handles it the same as it does with the MXP, no problem.
So the problem isn't with the MCU refusing to establish a content channel, it's with the way the C-series handles that, which is apparently different from disabling H.239 on an endpoint. Makes me wonder if there's a setting on the MCU itself that might resolve it, but we're not finding it (or it doesn't exist).
The limited and awkward, menu-driven self view functions of the C-series exacerbate the problem.
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