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Playback of visual content.. best solution?

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Eric Steinberg
Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Aug 28, 2007 at 6:30:51 am

Hello!

I am a video producer/editor/motion graphics artist, and most of the work I do is motion graphics using Adobe After Effects. Most of the work I have done in the past has been for TV and other non-stage screens. So naturally I am a rookie regarding stage events.
This week I landed an exciting job where I'm going to create visual content for a large screen which will be projected on stage behind a choir ("choirsinging/electronica/world music-ish") during their performances. I'll do just about everything in After Effects. The choir will be going on tour and they


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andy stinton
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Aug 31, 2007 at 5:27:12 pm

For all of my events I use an Roland product (DV7DLC or PR-50) however neither of these are HD. Roland is coming out with an HD presenter but will be in the region of $10,000 .

My question to you is ,are you taking the projectors and screens on the road or are you thinking of picking up equipment locally? The downside to HD is the large distance backstage that you will need to rear project. In fact looking at how you are going to project ( front or rear ) may be the answer to the format that you use and thus the playback.

Personally HD does not seem practical for the variety of venues that you will be playing.

Personally I would never, repeat never, use a DVD player as a method of playback with a variety of cues in the show just to damn unreliable.




Andy Stinton
Corporate Video
Live & Stage Events
Business Practices


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ThomasLeong
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Sep 2, 2007 at 4:30:13 pm

Have a look at Wings Platinum Advanced or Pro versions. These are basically the single screen versions of the higher priced Multi-display version.

Both versions will do HDTV res if your pc's graphics card supports the higher resolution required, and if your pc (high-end laptop or Shuttle PC for portability) can process the pixels required at 25fps.

Additionally, pause cues and other cueing markers are a feature useful for what you want.

Thomas Leong



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andy stinton
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Sep 2, 2007 at 11:26:59 pm

Thomas , what is the price of the software ? I take it you also need one of their controllers?




Andy Stinton
Corporate Video
Live & Stage Events
Business Practices


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Bob Bonniol
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Sep 3, 2007 at 1:30:37 am

Andy,

I don't know if Stumpfl has a "controller" as in tactile control surface for wings. It works along the model of one PC per display, plus a PC running the interface Software. This is the defacto controller. It's a vary powerful timeline based cueing interface.

Last time I checked, street price US for Wings Platinum varys... I think you can get the control software and one display client software for about $3300. I think each extra display node's software is around $1500. This is exclusive of the cost of the host computers, which need to benefit from really good graphics cards. I thing Stumpfl (like Watchout from Dataton) also markets discounted packs, like the Master control software, plus 5 nodes for a given price.

I know that you guys are a rental house, so investing in this kind of system is not a bad idea. If your are doing a lot of big blended projection backdrops, then wings is a GREAT way to go. If most of your stuff is one or two display channels, with an occasional blended thing, then I would begin to sway towards a media server like Pandora's Box or Green Hippo's Hippotiser.

Cheers,
Bob


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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ThomasLeong
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Sep 3, 2007 at 2:26:11 am

Just to add to Bob' comments -

One Master node can do a two-screen soft-edge blend with the Pro version of Wings with dual-mon capable 3rd party graphics card in a Shuttle PC. Even the old ATI 9600 series will do it. But like I mentioned in the other reply, the timeline/controller interface is not visible during Presentation Mode.

Hardware-based or software-ware based is a decision only the buyer can make. Stumpfl has recently come out with media servers with embedded XP and Wings Platinum pre-loaded and, if I'm not wrong, digital signage software included. It is a 1U rack-mount unit called SC Media Engine.

Thomas




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ThomasLeong
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Sep 3, 2007 at 1:56:42 am

Hi Andy,

If by 'controllers', you mean their SC Master and SC Net units, they are not required for most presentations using any version of Wings. Only the software with a USB dongle is required. The SC Master controller and SC Video Player are only required for fixed installations when one does not want a pc present, but want to present from compact flash instead (MP3 audio, and MPEG-2 videos only though). SC Net units are extensions for various things like multiple RS-232, more DMX, open/closed contacts, and many other fancy things - more for complicated Show Control extensions.

Since the price of Wings Platinum would vary between dealers and countries owing to duties, etc. and owing to me not wanting to step on their respective toes, I can't divulge prices in a forum. You can contact me privately for my purchase price at tleong49 at streamyx dot com. Hope you understand. Generally though, the Advanced version is about 60% odd the price of the Multidisplay version. For the US, best to contact mastermindcontrol.com Stumpfl's distributor. Not sure about Canada though. Direct from Austria maybe.

Wings Platinum is a powerful piece of software for live and permanent presentations, and with the new packaging in the form of Wings Platinum 3, the modular complications of version 2 have been dropped. The Multidisplay version is of course more versatile and without much limits. But the Pro or Advanced versions are pretty comprehensive for single screen shows. Additionally, with the Pro version, two-screen shows with each screen running its own discrete video, or stereo shows are possible. This feature uses the dual mon capability of most graphics cards and laptops. In this config however, the timeline is not visible when in Presentation Mode (F5).

Thomas
http://multidisplays.freeforums.org



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Eric Steinberg
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Sep 3, 2007 at 8:01:59 am

Thanks for all your advise so far. I will look into the Wings Platinum solution, although it may end up being slightly over budget..

Kind regards,
Eric


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ThomasLeong
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Sep 3, 2007 at 11:44:53 am

The price indications that Bob gave were for the Master + Slave Multi-display licences. The Advanced and Pro versions of Wings are for single screen fullscreen output only (or if using a laptop, then primary for the timeline/controller and secondary fullscreen output to the beamer. Price is far lower than the Multidisplay version....probably in the region of US$1K +/-.

To get a better idea, download the demo version from Stumpfl's site, and in the Help Files under 'Versions and Modules' is a table listing all the differences between versions. The Pause feature is available under both the Advanced and Pro versions (under the 'Presentation' heading in the Help Files.

If you do not need fancy 3D rendering (eg. for digital visual effects), a laptop with Intel's on-board GMA graphics will do the job. The 3rd party graphics card is required for power users. Try the demo. If it works on the laptop you try it on, the purchased version is no different....just a licence number and the USB dongle to unlock the output, etc.

A hardware alternative is the HD600 (SD video) or HD2000 (HD video) from rokulabs.com. Both are Compact Flash based MPEG-2 players, and its scripting feature allows you to program a playlist. Not sure if the script allows you to pause/start the various videos in the playlist though. You could ask at their users' forum - http://forums.rokulabs.com/viewforum.php?f=19

Thomas







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Eric Steinberg
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Sep 4, 2007 at 7:28:30 am

Thanks, yes I see now that the price is not bad at all. I'll try the demo and look into what playback hardware to use. A laptop sounds great, but wouldn't I also need an external raid or something to ensure that the drive speed is fast enough for HD at a very low compression? If I for instance make the videos WMV at 1920 x 1080, and with the quality very high / high bitrate, wouldn't it be a little too demanding for just a laptop..? I will be having advanced, heavy motion graphics, but everything will be prerendered as videoclips.

Kind regards,
Eric


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aLexx
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Sep 4, 2007 at 8:51:45 am

While we are doing a lot of Presentations with wingsplatinum, a really powerful solution, I want just to add a more simple solution, if no other outputs like dmx, serial controls or switches are needed.
We were very successfull with an laptop and premiere pro 2, directly playing from the timeline. Output is the 2nd display (overlay, quadro FXnvidia 1500M graphiccard) Video is a progressive 1280x720 Cineform video. Simple for start/ stop, great quality and reducing all windows in ppro2 (just timeline and Prvwindow open) works very safe. (Laptop is an older mobile HP workstation with Centrino Duo and 2gig RAM)


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ThomasLeong
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Sep 4, 2007 at 4:14:30 pm

I agree. For 1920x1080p, you would need a Core2Duo 2.xGHz CPU and RAID 0 as a minimum.

However, Alexx's idea with ppro2 is worth investigating also.

For laptops with built-in two hard-disks that can be RAIDed, look at those from Toshiba.

Alternatively, use an e-SATA connection via Expresscard 34 to connect to a 2-disk External Enclosure such as -
http://www.cwol.com/serial-ata/siig-expresscard-esata-raid.htm
or
http://www.cwol.com/serial-ata/external-sata-solutions.htm
or
http://www.granitedigital.com/catalog/pg53_satahot-swapbackup.htm

Thomas



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andy stinton
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Sep 4, 2007 at 4:32:29 pm

I must admit I


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Eric Steinberg
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Sep 6, 2007 at 7:36:17 am

Thanks for your 2 Canadian cents! :-)
I have a question about your comment about HD possibly not being the best choice: I would think that if we want the quality to be as good as possible, HD would be better than SD..? I don't undertand why HD would be a bad thing, could you please explain?

Kind regards,
Eric


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andy stinton
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Sep 6, 2007 at 4:54:32 pm

HD is not a bad thing. You YoHD is of course vastly superior in terms of quality .

My concern is the equipment you will be using on site. HD screens by nature are bigger than SD screens and require larger projection distances. You said that


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Eric Steinberg
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Sep 7, 2007 at 6:24:46 am

Ok, I understand now. Thanks for clearing that up!
I think I have a solution: I'll just make additional downconverted versions in SD, so that they can choose to use SD when neccesary. They will (unfortunately) probably be renting different equipment from time to time.
I have been going back and forth so many times now how to do this, and right now I'm leaning towards playing it from the timeline in Premiere Pro on a high-end laptop with a raid and a killer GFX card. I agree that Wings Platinum may be overkill for this. Besides, I really need to start creating content soon, and not just do research on delivery systems. So, my plan is: Create all versions in both 1920 x 1080 HD and 720 x 576 anamorph widescreen SD. Get a powerful laptop with 3 disks (1 for OS and 2 in a RAID for video), great GFX card and Premiere Pro installed, and just play back from either a HD or an SD timeline in Premiere. Does this seem like a good solution, or are there any pitfalls I haven't considered?

Kind regards,
Eric


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Andy Stinton
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Sep 7, 2007 at 4:04:04 pm

[Eric Steinberg] "So, my plan is: Create all versions in both 1920 x 1080 HD and 720 x 576 anamorph widescreen SD"

Okay hate to be a pain but are you relying on the projector to


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Eric Steinberg
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Sep 11, 2007 at 11:32:04 am

No, I would rely on the "unsquishing" to happen at the PC level before it reaches the projector, and still show it on a 16x9 screen. Shouldn't that work?

Eric


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nicholasrivero
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Oct 30, 2007 at 2:03:15 am

Check out ProVideo Player. It's a Mac based video playback program. It sits at $1000 a master copy which runs on secondary computer displays, IE you can use a mac pro/macbook pro with a secondary output, or you can get a node license which is $500 and runs in full screen mode basically.
The cool thing is you can run a $500 node using a mac mini and remote control that node via ethernet.
We've been using their software for a while now.
It works great on a 2.0 Core2 Duo Mini with 1 gig/ram. If you use the HD-DVD H264 10.3 Mbps compression in Compressor it plays great and looks really good at 720 res.
We run 5 node licenses on Mac Minis and a MacBook Pro as a master controling it over cat5 or 802.11G.
Seems like it should do what you want. It also does things like tiling, speed control, color correction, shuttling of course, and it can do grid/collage mapping of content across multiple displays.
Works great, runs verrrry well.

Check it out at...
http://www.renewedvision.com/pvp.php


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Mediabay
Re: Playback of visual content.. best solution?
on Sep 26, 2007 at 3:55:48 pm

Hi Eric,
If 720p works for you, or 1080i, then you might consider this JVC player. http://www.pro.jvc.com/prof/attributes/features.jsp?model_id=MDL101546
I've used these in digital signage applications and found them to work well.


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