Media Servers in the Technical Production Industry are essentially high spec computers that are used to playback video files.
They are sometimes built from standard PC components and others manufactures also produce versions of the software that can be run on PC’s and MACs. Where they usually differ physically to your average PC is the power and number of outputs on the graphics cards as Media Servers are designed to be capable of playback of multiple movie files to multiple displays.
Other physical attributes include video inputs such as DVI or HD-SDI input cards. These are included so that live cameras or computer sources can be plugged in and manipulated before sending to the screens. Media Servers often include DMX connectivity so that shows may be controlled from a Lighting Console.
The software used is all about video and manufactures often like to shout about the number of high resolution video layers that can be used simultaneously. Media Servers can be extremely expensive because of the quantity and quality of the hardware components as well as the continuous R&D in the software. Big names in the world of Media Servers include Coolux Pandora’s Box, Hippotizer, D3, Catalyst and Avolites.