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George Socka
Stumpfl wings how is it
on Jul 7, 2005 at 12:01:02 am

Based on a mention here earlier, I will likely purchase wings and put it on 2 or 3 PCs to create an inexpensive (349 euros) multi screen projection system. For a one man operation Inexpensive is the key word. But. Does it work reliably? Can you count on it to work in front of an audience? How good does its edge blending work ( I assume it does that)

TIA


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Bob Bonniol
Re: Stumpfl wings how is it
on Jul 7, 2005 at 12:16:17 am

To start with, Wings is highly reliable, and proven in production environments. It does high quality blending, as good as Watchout, or any other blending solution out there. It is with this latest software version, possibly the highest quality, best multi screen software out there.

You are very much lowballing cost however. 349 Euros will barely buy even one license, and if you are serious about wanting to do 3 processors, you'll need three display licenses and one control license. That is probably around 3200 Euros right there. Wings (like watchout) requires robust platforms to work on, with high end graphics cards. You can't just load it on any old PC and get reliable results. So figure another 1000 (and I'm lowballing here) per platform: 3 display nodes, and a control node = another 4000 Euros. Total cost for a reasonable 3 screen system: About 7500 Euros when you're all done with cables, monitors, remote monitoring solutions (KVM), networking components, etc. Thats not including projectors, VDA units for feeds to projectors, screens, etc.

Not trying to be discouraging, but you really have to understand what this costs to do reliably and right.

Good Luck,

Bob Bonniol

MODE Studios
http://www.modestudios.com
Contributing Editor, Entertainment Design Magazine
Art of the Edit Forum Leader
Live & Stage Event Forum Leader
HD Forum Leader


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Thomas Leong
Re: Stumpfl wings how is it
on Jul 7, 2005 at 6:53:16 am

I'd like to...er...correct one fact and add others re Bob's comments on Wings.

First, the Master can also be a Slave for playback. This saves one licence cost, compared to Watchout.

Therefore, for a 3-processor/3-screen Display, you only need a minimum of 3 licences, not 4, where the Master/Control is used to program/preview the timeline, etc...then when ready for multidisplay playback, just hook up two slaves, and use TCP/IP addressing of Displays 1, 2 and 3 (addressed to Master PC1, Slave 1 PC2, and Slave 2 PC3), saving one licence. Of course, if one can afford it, 4 licences is the ideal way to go, keeping the Master as Master.

Additionally, for final presentation purposes, the recommendation is to render the whole timeline to video files and put them into Presentation Tracks in the timeline. These tracks take precedence over all other visual media tracks, unless manually switched off. Presentation Tracks therefore essentially contain rendered videos split according to the Display assigned. This way, the playback PCs are merely playing back video files (AVI, WMV, or MPEG2), and these do not put much stress on today's PCs.

The Master (as Slave) is still present running the timeline during presentation where 'Markers' for pause, run, jump to a position, etc...will still control the presentation, and the main audio will be played from the Master's output channels.

Furthermore, I understand that PCs with different configurations could be put together to run a Wings multidisplay show. Not substantially, way out configs, but there is no requirement for all PCs to be absolutely identical. Apparently, Wings will cater for the differences even during realtime preview in multidisplay mode as long as the Timeline's Synchronisation is set to Audio inside Wings' timeline settings (a default option actually).

What this also means is that IF you do not require realtime 3d rendering for preview on the slave PCs during programming, these Slave PCs do not need to be fitted with the higher end 3D graphics cards (eg. ATI Radeon 9600 and up). Lower setup and playback costs! The onboard graphics will suffice (eg. Intel Extreme Graphics, etc) as long as you have suffient RAM to share...since onboard gfx almost always use shared RAM.

A production house from Singapore has such a setup (using onboard graphics) currently running in the Singapore Pavilion at the World Expo in Japan, morning to night.

Thomas Leong


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George Socka
Re: Stumpfl wings how is it
on Jul 7, 2005 at 1:01:31 pm

It gets clearer now. The price list the dealer here in The Great White North gave me does not identify multidisplay Master and Slave Modules as separatly priced features, which led me to arrive at that low cost. Sort of: Here is a great deal on a car - Oh you want wheels as well? I had always expected to budget for computers and computer hardware. Thankyou for your feedback.


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Bob Bonniol
Re: Stumpfl wings how is it
on Jul 7, 2005 at 4:27:10 pm

Thanks for the info on the master/slave combo Thomas... I had forgotten that WIngs could do that.

In speaking with Frederik from Stumpfl several weeks ago, he did acknowledge that it was possible to have mismatched slave nodes (in terms of config) and as you say, the system does adjust for this, but that less than optimum playback (depending on the media) might result, so his recommendation was to make sure that the system components were more or less consistent.

I can tell you that in troubleshooting big blended systems, it makes it so much easier to know that the nodes are all the same. It eliminates whole sets of considerations (oh my, does this mobo have the same bandwidth to the display bus... you know I seem to remember that THIS node has slower memory do you suppose that has anything to do with it... Ooops the Ghost backup for the slave node that I have with me is for the Dell type slave, not the HP type... This ethernet card seems to have different drivers, damn)... You get the picture.

George, in terms of pricing models, all the multi display systems seem to price out per display node. The exception is with some of the more lighting based media servers (Hippotizer, Catalyst, etc) that can run up to two outputs per unit. I've heard tell that the Hippotizer may roll out a 4 output (based around the new Nvidia quad card/mobo) sometime later this summer. Market price on a single Hippo or Catalyst still ranges between 15k and 30k so that is a costly option as well when you get right down to it...

Cheers,

BB


MODE Studios
http://www.modestudios.com
Contributing Editor, Entertainment Design Magazine
Art of the Edit Forum Leader
Live & Stage Event Forum Leader
HD Forum Leader


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Thomas Leong
Re: Stumpfl wings how is it
on Jul 7, 2005 at 5:17:44 pm

Bob,

I agree that one should ideally have matched units for the reasons you gave. However, it is still good to know that non-matched units are still ok with Wings, other things being equal...because one may start with a basic setup of 2-3 displays, then add more units later rather than having to buy from scratch again. In a limited budget environment (like with Asian clients!) that is an alternative. Not all of us get paid in US$, Euros or Yen! :) [Don't laugh too hard, but back in '98, I was 'paid' in US$10,000 equivalent of shampoo, talcum powder and trousers!...the client was going bankrupt, and asked us to drive the van to his backdoor before the bank came!]

George,
There is a cheaper version of multidisplay based on PCs, Visual Basic 5, and a dongle for each node. It is made in England by a good friend of mine. Its main weakness is that it is not frame accurate...i.e. sync between nodes drift over time and could be anything like a second or more out at the end. So, if the production you are planning does not require exact frame-sync (such as 3 related non-panoramic videos in a 3-screen config), this may suit. Not exactly sure of costs, but I think it is about 400 British pounds per node inclusive of PC, Win98, the VB5 application, and the dongles. Let me know, and I'll put you in touch. Far as I know, there are two sets currently running - one at a small museum here in Malaysia on the first Prime Minister of my country, and the other at the Malaysian Pavilion at the current World Expo in Japan.

Thomas





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Thomas Leong
Re: Stumpfl wings how is it - alternative is...
on Jul 13, 2005 at 7:56:37 am

George,

I just remembered a shareware version of multiple display playback - Syncmaker Pro - you could try. Merely plays media on multiple displays from a playlist, not really a production software like Wings and Watchout. But if you have After Effects or Digital Fusion, Combustion, etc...you could create the Master config in these, and output the splits as individual media files for playback from a playlist.

Thomas Leong.


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George Socka
Re: Stumpfl wings how is it - alternative is...
on Jul 13, 2005 at 9:07:19 pm

Wings is getting past the budgets that I had hoped for. I downloaded Synchmaker a while ago but never tested it. 4 questions - how is edge blending - can an element move across the panorama from projector to projector like a crawl - can the play list be changed on the fly - the last will come to me



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Thomas Leong
Re: Stumpfl wings how is it - alternative is...
on Jul 14, 2005 at 11:20:21 am

George,

Syncmaker won't allow seamless panoramas to move across monitors since it plays, from a playlist, separate videos. I can think of only one way to make it work that way...and that is via After Effects where in the Master Comp, you move the various media elements across the whole pano, then render each portion out as such to individual files, and just let Syncmaker call up the videos to play simultaneously. The edge-blend would have to be rendered into each video file (trial and error to discover the required blend...yikes!)

Not sure about changing the playlist on the fly. First thinking is no, 'cos to change, you'd have to be able to access the playlist, and that would mean the monitor playing the video has to switch over from the media player to the playlist....unless a dual mon setup is used and the primary mon is used for media playback and the secondary mon is used to monitor/change the playlist/Syncmaker app, which is how I've setup my Wings Platinum.

Budgetwise, Wings is still cheaper than the hardware options. Think one Master and one Slave will work out at over Euro2,200+ for multidisplay work, excluding the PCs and other hardware, and Euro3,300+ for one Master and two Slaves, versus (I hear) 20,000British pounds to buy a 1-input 3 output Spyder that would allow one to project a 3-screen show (and this excludes having to produce the whole blended show in After Effects).

Thomas


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George Socka
Re: Stumpfl wings how is it - alternative is...
on Jul 14, 2005 at 11:15:46 pm

I found more details about how it works on their site and have a better understanding of exactly that issue.



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