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Synchronize 24 to 36 screens

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Pat Ford
Synchronize 24 to 36 screens
on Oct 15, 2007 at 3:11:49 am

I am working on a project which will employ 24 to 36 screens/monitors. The method must be very cost effective. SyncMaker has caught my attention. Has anyone used it with this many displays? Do you have any other suggestions? This is the first foray into multi screen work; need a helping hand or two.


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Bob Bonniol
Re: Synchronize 24 to 36 screens
on Oct 15, 2007 at 6:00:43 am

If you are talking about 24 to 36 screens that will be playing identical content, then you need a single source and several distribution amplifiers. These come in numerous I/O flavors.

If you are talking about 24 to 36 screens which will play discreet, synchronised content, perhaps forming unified palette, but each individual, then honestly you are describing a fairly enormous multi screen gig.

If it is a temporary installation, or a one off event, you should seek out a local AV vendor with deep experience in this and rent a system. Watchout from Dataton, Wings Platinum from AV STumpfl, Spyder or Montage from Vista systems, Encore from Barco, are all extremely flexible and robust systems for multi screen display. I cannot stress enough that the number of screens you are talking about makes this a considerable task, and to be brutally honest no solution is going to be cheap or uncomplicated.

If it is a permanent install, any of the above systems will of course serve, but again, the price tag will be substantial. I can imagine several more DIY approaches if this is an arts based situation, which might involve using MAX/MSP Jitter, VVVV, or perhaps Isadora in combination with multiple platforms (I'd recommend MAC) running Matrox Multi Head adapters, and sync'd via a master unit with a MOTU Midi Timecode generator. In this case you could even avail yourself of the free software QLab, which can sync to Midi and run any form of multimedia.

And lest we forget, authoring content for an installation this size will in itself be a challenging task.

If this is a commercial gig, I recommend retaining an experienced AV equipment company to provide, install, and program gear, as well as hiring an experienced content creation company (with multi screen experience) to work under your direction in the creation of content.

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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Pat Ford
Re: Synchronize 24 to 36 screens
on Oct 15, 2007 at 6:38:20 am

Bob

Thanks for your quick response.I'm sorry I did not make my needs more clear.

The installation is to be a temporary entrance to a building. It will be a substantial exhibit, roughly 23,000 square feet. The exhibit will be in operation for a few months.

Overview of exhibit. There is a welcome/entrance area. This will be followed by four separate ares with each having its own theme. The welcome area will have several screens/displays and each theme area will have 3 to 4. Size of displays is not set. (and is subject to some dispute. heh.)

The project managers want the all screens to be coordinated as an aid to traffic flow. (It is estimated that there will be 5,000 persons per day.) Frankly, I am not so sure each area needs to be coordinated with the others. It would be much simpler to sync just the 3-4 screens is each area. The content will only play several minutes in each area. It seems to me that traffic would take care of itself. But I am not an expert in this regard.

The content will be non-narrative...that is, a story is not being told in the normal sense. There will be only images and music which relate to each of the four areas.

Thanks again.


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nicholasrivero
Re: Synchronize 24 to 36 screens
on Oct 30, 2007 at 4:57:13 am

I would agree with Bob on the qLab idea. I read on Figure 53s site about how a guy synced multiple rooms of audio in perfect sync with qLabs "wall clock trigger" in which it reads the Mac's system time clock (which can be atomically synced) to play mutiple machines in perfect sync by telling them to all start playing at a certain time. I think that you might need the $20 pro-control upgrade to do this though.
You could also do the Midi Show Control sync with qLab but I believe that it would set you back $150/node for the pro-midi license, I believe.
I would also say that ProVideo Player by Renewed vision would do the same thing but would set you back $500/node which I'm guessing is above your price range but alows much more playback control and also offers features like tiling and grid/collage mapping (http://www.renewedvision.com).


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Ryan Hodges
Re: Synchronize 24 to 36 screens
on Dec 28, 2007 at 12:51:06 am

if you want them all the same i would suggest you do what we do for our video distrbution at our church. use cat5e to make a home run from each monitor to a central station where you have cat5e cctv splitters you can get from blackbox. to convert just use any of the hundreds of video converter you can by online (svideo, vga, dvi, component, etc). blackbox has all of this but you can find the svideo and composite video converters cheaper at svideo.com. the splitter have 8 outputs and a loop out so you can just loop as many splitters as necessary. we use 8 splitters and everything works great. just use something like renewedvision.com's pro video player or even windows media player if your a PC person and play whatever you need to play.



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