NEW FEATURE: Video Dropbox Application

By on December 19, 2010

A new video “Dropbox” application, created in collaboration with Clemson University, can be useful for a variety of applications across your institution! 

We’ll be refining and integrating this into Ensemble Video over time, but we wanted to share what we have now, since it may be useful to many in our community.

The new Ensemble Video Dropbox Web application was first used to enable video submissions for a Clemson University video contest that was part of Clemson’s 2011 Martin Luther King celebration.

From the Clemson University 2011 Martin Luther King Celebration Web Site:

“The MLK Planning Committee invites Clemson University students to participate in the 2011 MLK Celebration video contest.  … This year’s theme is Honor. Celebrate. Live. To capture the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. we are asking for a 3-minute video that focuses on the importance of service in the community. This initiative is to educate and inspire the Clemson community to make a difference in the world.”


The Dropbox application was developed with Nathan Long and his colleagues in Clemson’s Teaching and Learning Services department. Nathan provided valuable input on features and functionality, and also assisted with testing.

“This application gives us ultimate flexibility with uploaded video content; allowing any video content to be uploaded from a webpage into a department in Ensemble without any extra administrative overhead  …  it gives us yet another way to easily use Ensemble for video management at Clemson.” - Nathan Long, Multimedia Systems Analyst

The new Dropbox provides institutions with an easy way for community members to submit videos for instructional purposes, contests, or showcases. If you want to deploy it at your institution, drop us an email at

Dropbox User Interface

When users go to the Dropbox application, they see a simple form for submitting a video.


At the top there is a dropdown so users can pick the appropriate dropbox for their upload (administrators can configure multiple dropbox locations, see below). Users enter name and email address (required), and information about their submission in the “Content Information” section. Then Browse for their video file, and click on Upload. When users click Upload, the video is uploaded and a notification email is automatically sent to the “owner” of the dropbox.

Dropbox Administrator Interface

The Administrator interface is where your system administrator can set up drop box folders, email settings, and customize the user interface. Here is a brief explanation of the sections of the Admin interface:

Drop Boxes: Add, Edit, and configure one or more dropboxes. Specify a name for the dropbox that will appear in the user interface dropdown, a path for where the video will be written after it’s uploaded, whether or not to use the email notification feature, and select an email template if that option is selected.


Email Templates: Customize the email address and the email text of the notification email. Seversal variables are available to customize the information in the email that will be sent to the dropbox “owner.”


Email Settings: This is where you configure the email server for your institution.


 Application Settings: Enter contact name, contact email, and descriptive information that will appear in the About section of the Dropbox application. You can also style various elements of the User Interface in this section.


Ensemble Video Watch Directories and Transcoding with Rhozet Carbon Coder

To automatically import submitted videos into an Ensemble Video department library, your Ensemble Video Organization or System Administrator will need to create a Watch Directory Media Source for any Ensemble Video Department that will be receiving content from a dropbox.  In most cases you’ll also want to let users submit video in a variety of formats, and have their videos automatically transcoded to a common format, like MP4/H.264 encoded for a specific bit rate. The typical video flow for this is as follows:


Follow these steps to set this up:

1) Configure a dropbox to write to a folder that is accessible to the Carbon Coder server via local drive or UNC path.


2) Create a folder on the destination Media Server (e.g., Wowza Media Server of Flash Media Server) for transcoded content, and create an Ensemble Video Watch Directory Media Source to point to that directory.


3) Use the Carbon Admin program to configure a Carbon Coder Watch Folder that monitors content in the dropbox folder and writes out the transcoded MP4 files to the media server directory that Ensemble Video will be “Watching” via Watch Directory Media Source.

Here is the simplest case, where you have Carbon Coder, Ensemble Video, and your media server software are all installed on the same physical or virtual server.

Carbon Coder Watch Folder (drobox):


Target Folder (output folder on media server, Ensemble Video Watch Directory):


If Carbon Coder has to access the dropbox folder on a remote server via a UNC path, the Carbon Coder “Nexus” service must be configured to Log in with an account that has permissions to access that remote shared folder. Same is true if Carbon Coder output file is on a separate server. For more on the Carbon Coder Nexus service, see the Carbon Coder Server/Admin User Guide.

Be careful with this. If you change the login account for the “Nexus” service, Ensemble Video integrated transcoding, which automatically transcodes uploaded video files, may break if the new account doesn’t also have permissions to the Ensemble Video upload folder.

Using a Single Carbon Coder Watch Folder for Multiple Dropboxes

If you are going to make extensive use of the new “Dropbox” application, you can use a single Carbon Coder Watch Directory to automatically transcode content across multiple dropboxes by using turning on the “Watch Sub-Folders” Advanced setting in the Watch Folder-General Properties form.


Make sure you also check “Apppend Source Sub-Folder to Target Path” so that transcoded files are written to separate folders on the media server. These folders can then be tied to separate Ensemble Video Watch Directory Media Sources for the various Ensemble Video Departments that the Dropbox application is designed to feed. With an Ensemble Watch Directory Media Source Template, you can make it very easy to set up these Media Sources in Ensemble (for more on that, see the Ensemble Video System Administrator and Organization Administrator Guides available at the Ensemble Support Portal).


The new Ensemble Video “Dropbox” application let’s your Ensemble Video system administrator easily configure a dropbox folder so students, colleagues, or other users can submit videos that will be automatically accessible in your media library once they’re uploaded.

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