Multiple Screen Sync Question
I am an indie musician and I need help understanding how to build a setup that will allow me to sync 4 video screens playing prerecorded video at the same time live music is being played. I need a simple way to trigger the videos to all play at once. A different set of videos is intended to accompany each song. The videos need to sync perfectly with each other and the music being played as they are tied in to the performance.
Does anyone have advice of how this can be done on a budget (20k or less)? Ideally I'd like to be able to control everything myself on stage from a single computer. Any and all hardware, software recommendations are appreciated.
Also, does anyone have recommendations on good roadworthy projectors and screens to use? Ideally I need to put together a traveling rig that can be setup quickly on a variety of medium sized stages.
It looks like you need a MIDI-compatible multi-display software. Check out Wings Platinum 3 at http://www.avstumpfl.com. I'm not familiar with MIDI especially since I'm not a musician. So download and install the full version of the software. Without a licence, it will run in Demo mode, good enough for initial evaluation. In the Help files, search for 'MIDI', and see if those features are of use for your purposes. I'm confident it will start all your 4 videos on cue all the time, everytime. But I'm not sure if any software can maintain the videos in perfect sync with the live music while it is being played as this would imply that the speed/framerates of the videos be variable!
BTW, for MIDI support, Wings will require the Show Control Module added to the Multidisplay version. This pushes up the cost of the licence a bit, but the Show Control Module is only required for the Master. The Slaves will auto inherit what the Master has.
A possible advantage of Wings Platinum is that it has a feature which the competitors do not have, and that is allow you to make use of the dual-head graphics cards in each slave pc to output two discrete videos. This saves one piece of hardware (PC unit), and one licence. (For your 4 videos, and if the Master is also used as a Slave in playback presentation mode, this means only 2 licences and 2 PCs to run 4 videos versus 5 PCs and 5 licences in the standard configuration (1 Master + 4 Slaves). However, it also depends on the videos you intend to run. If each is fixed in duration, and compresssed into an MPEG-2 file, then today's PC with their Core2Duo CPU and mid-end graphics cards with dual-head outputs will run 2 videos without hiccups. More complicated videos that require multiple mixed tracks with Picture-in-picture processing, etc...are best kept to one pc, one licence per video, with the Master being the fifth PC with its own licence.
An alternative is http://www.vvvv.org which is a 'toolkit for realtime video synthesis. It seems to have MIDI support as well.
There are Mac solutions too but I'm not familiar with them and am not sure if they support MIDI.
For multi-projection, the above 2 and Dataton's Watchout software work on the principle of Master Server PC controlling client PCs (also called Slaves/Display PCs, or plain nodes). Communication between all is via simple TCP/IP static addressing and a cheap switching hub. Except for the Master, each slave outputs to a projector via the graphics card. Note that in most cases, the coding of these software uses Microsoft's Direct X technology and as such requires any graphics card installed to work overtime, all the time, rendering output in realtime. What this means is that onboard graphics chips may not function well and you would generally need a mid- to high-end graphics card installed on each slave pc. That said, if your videos are not complicated with 3D textures, etc...i.e. basically just plain MPEG-2 or WMV videos, some users have used on-board graphics purely for playback with little problems (eg. those with GMA 900 and later graphics). 1 GB RAM for playback (slaves) is sufficient. The Master will probably do with 2GB and more.
As for hardware, others may be able to suggest hardy projectors and screens for travel.
PC-wise, you may want to consider reasonably equipped laptops, especially those with 3rd party graphics cards included, such as those from ASUS, HP, ACER and the more expensive Toshibas. Not the high-end gaming ones, the mid- ones will do...especially if they have the Intel Core2Duo CPU and ATI or nVidia graphics. One big advantage of a laptop for travel is that the LCD monitor, keyboard and mouse is included, saving packing and unpacking time....plus cabling. Laptops, however, will not allow dual-head output to the projectors. Cloned output yes, but not 2 discrete outputs. It is a cost versus convenient balancing act.
may also do. Not familiar with it, but you can add a MIDI communication module to it, video module, and operator console module, etc. Suggest you write to them with what you require, and see if they have a solution for you.
This guy used Bluelight from Innovate Show Controls for the Midi/DMX part and
Arkaos VJ software for the video, plus the Matrox TripleHead-to-go unit -
There is a program out there by a company named Renewed Vision. Their product ProVideo Player allows you to do multiscreen video content very easily and very reliably; it's even MIDI trigger-able. I did the same thing this spring. Took the software out and did 8 screens of content with custom song animations for about 10 songs. You can check it out at http://www.renewedvision.com
I meant to add also that what we did was have a guy with in-ear monitors listen to the click track from the drummer, and so he would fire accordingly. I've also seen it done that the video is built with the click track for audio so that one can fire both at the same time. Click is definitely the only way to maintain perfect sync. There were some songs that we attempted to moderate speed as no click was used by the band, but it's definitely not the way to go.