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Suggestions for concert projections

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Dene Wilby
Suggestions for concert projections
on Apr 18, 2009 at 8:07:55 am

Hi all

I work for a band and for the past few years we've had a pretty makeshift system for getting our visuals out on stage.

Basically, the system is:

3 DVD players
3 Mixers

Which send a feed to 3 projectors onto 3 screens. I create the footage on a 2160x576 (pal) canvas in After Effects and cut Left / Centre / Right in Premiere.

Therefore, I have 3 DVD's which I trigger with the same remote to give the effect.

However, we have never been able to mix live, that would require 6 DVD players and a 3 input / 3 output mixing desk. But anyway, even if we could get a desk like that it would be a bit of a pain to set up.

Anyway, my question is, is there any computer software that we could use for this? I still want to use 3 projectors but could we, say, use a Mac/PC with 3 graphic cards each feeding a projector but preview and mix on the hardware?

Does that make sense? Hope so ;-)

Cheers

Dene



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Kris Anderson
Re: Suggestions for concert projections
on Apr 23, 2009 at 3:55:18 am

I've seen this around the traps....

http://www.renewedvision.com/

Seems to work quite well and can easily run on iMac or Mac Mini.


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Thomas Leong
Re: Suggestions for concert projections
on Apr 23, 2009 at 6:28:01 pm

Hi,

Though I have not used Renewedvision's products before, I have looked at the info provided at their website and I do not see the capability to feed LIVE video into the Master, let alone the mini-Mac slaves! You would need a video capture card on each Slave to do that. I, therefore, have my doubts that renewedvision's products can do what you require. However, it can substitute your current 3 DVD players playing out to 3 projectors since playing/mixing video FILES already stored on the hard-disk seems not to be a problem for renewedvision.

The alternative is from Windows-based applications, of which there are two - Dataton's Watchout, and AvStumpfl's Wings Platinum. Both operate based on the Master-controlling-multiple-Slaves principle, same as renewedvision's. Both are proven products worldwide.

Using either Watchout or Wings to include LIVE video in your 3-screen presentations, you would need a Video Capture card in each of the Slave/Display PCs. If you wish to see the video on the Master as well, then the Master PC will also need a capture card. All capture cards would be fed by a distibution amp such that the same video signal is output to all 3 screens at the same time, or you may have the Live Video feed as a PiP (picture-in-picture) and travel across the 3 screens. If you have multiple cameras, then an external Vision mixer taking in the various camera feeds is required before its output is fed to the distribution amp. Add the monitors, and you are looking at quite a bit of equipment, and personnel. If you want each screen to have its own discrete LIVE Video material, i.e. mix it up between the 3, then I'd suggest a Matrix Video Switcher instead of the distribution amp. However, monitoring the matrix in the Master PC would be complicated...probably requiring a capture card in the Master that can take 3 or more inputs (Osprey has such a card if I'm not wrong!). Both Watchout and Wings allow you to select and use from 1 to 8 Video inputs if the capture card has the multiple input feature.

I would suggest keeping it simple for starters, and use a distribution amp feeding the LIVE material to all 3 screens. Later, you may then think of matrixing the whole thing, when budget allows.

Osprey's video capture cards are popular, but only S-video and composite inputs are available, if I'm not wrong. Datapath's RGB cards are much more expensive than Osprey's but Datapath cards allow a computer's XGA output to be captured as well as video signals...something to bear in mind if you intend to include Powerpoint presentations in your multi-screen presentations.

Thomas Leong



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Thomas Leong
Re: Suggestions for concert projections
on Apr 23, 2009 at 6:39:57 pm

Yet another alternative is hardware-based, eg. the Spyder from vistacontrol.com
Many configurations, probably the 6-in, 5-out model...but be prepared for serious $$ as I hear they are not cheap. But for travelling, it is probably reduces you to one case rather than distribution amp + 4 PCs (1 Master + 3 Slaves, no spares!...though the Master can be a turbo'ed laptop with video in capability.

Thomas Leong



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Walter Soyka
Re: Suggestions for concert projections
on Apr 23, 2009 at 11:27:36 pm

Watchout (and Wings, I think) work on a timeline model, so you won't get program and preview.

ProVideo Player would be more in-line for triggering cues like you describe, but you'd have to build a network of multiple machines to do what you're looking for.

Spyder is a beautifully-engineered and incredibly powerful system, but for your application, the price tag will shock you. You could consider renting instead of purchasing, and look into a cheaper rental like a ScreenPRO Plus, but it's not plug and play, and training will be required.

Since you have asked for a software solution, you should probably research VJ software, like Arkaos or VDMX, which is purpose-built for what you're looking to achieve. Perhaps one of these supports multiple outputs.




Walter Soyka, Principal
Keen Live, Inc.
Presentation, Motion Graphics & Widescreen Design
RenderBreak: A Blog on Innovation in Production



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Thomas Leong
Re: Suggestions for concert projections
on Apr 25, 2009 at 9:58:22 am

Yes, both Watchout and Wings are timeline-based software. BUT, both can also be operated on a peudo-event based method.

Watchout has its conditional layers, programmed loops and standby mode together with conditional and F-key jumps to anywhere in the timeline. Wings has its Control Panel wherein F-keys and/or buttons can be programmed to also jump to anywhere in its timeline. Additionally, a video clip in Wings can be assigned an Asynchronous Loop property whereby the video will play in a loop whilst the Timeline is in Pause mode. From here, one can jump to any other part of the timeline (perhaps to another video) on an F-key/button press.

A Live Video feed can be similarly programmed in the Timeline to go on and off screen via pre-programmed F-keys or virtual on-screen/off-screen buttons.

As for Live Video Preview before sending it to the Slave/Display PCs, agreed there is no preview within the software. One would have to use the traditional hardware vison mixer and monitor for this before switching the feed to the distribution amp and Slave/Display PCs' capture cards. In any case, one camera is rarely used in a live environment these days. So the multiple cams would have to feed a Vision Mixer first anyway. This traditional method is actually a safer method, as it would take a different crew to operate cameras, angles, takes, mix, etc. The person doing the projection can then concentrate on what goes on screen, especially in a multi-screen multi-projection scenario.

Thomas Leong



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Dene Wilby
Re: Suggestions for concert projections
on Apr 30, 2009 at 11:06:39 am

just a quick thank you to you guys, this all looks very promising. I'm going to sit down this weekend and have a good look through all the suggestions.

Just got back from 3 shows in Europe and the sooner I can throw out the current system the better.

Cheers

Dene



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Mike Golding
Re: Suggestions for concert projections
on May 4, 2009 at 3:20:00 am

You can download the demo software for Watchout from dataton. It is a full working download with the only limitation being on the output side. Without the usb key it won't output the signal from the display computers but you can get a good feel for the software prior to.

The Spyder solution is a good one as well if you can afford the money but considering you are looking at a 344 at a minimum, that isn't cheap even on a rental.

Another solution to look at would be Playback pro from dtvideolabs.com which is cheaper than Watchout and when used with simple sync can be a multi channel software solution.

Are both the dvd players and cameras outputs the same (i.e. component)? If so, a simple solution might be a router with machine control

Another solution to look at would be the Hippotizer from Green Hippo. Very robust and versatile units that are used both by touring shows and permanent installations.

Just some thoughts...feel free to ask any ?s that come to mind. I use all of the above for various projects.

Goldie

MBP 2.4 4GB Ram/FCS2
Power Mac Dual 1.8 G5/5.5GB Ram/Radeon 9600/FCS2
Aja io hd for MBP/ Aja io LA&LD for G5


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Thomas Leong
Re: Suggestions for concert projections
on May 9, 2009 at 2:59:56 pm

Dene,

If you are still researching your options, found this for the ArKaos GrandVJ software -
http://forum.arkaos.net/viewtopic.php?t=5531&sid=341ed51dc6c101e284faacdf33...
Total price seems reasonable for one laptop, one software licence and one Matrox TripleHead2Go box. Can pack all into one carry case too, excluding cables.

For live video input however, with a laptop, you will need to research into Express Card type Video Input options, or USB options. Not sure of video in quality though. Else only a desktop (Shuttle PC series?) will allow you to add a 3rd party Video Capture card.

Additionally, try specifying your search here -
http://www.softwarevj.com/vj_software_detective.php

Best of luck,
Thomas Leong



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Bob Bonniol
Re: Suggestions for concert projections
on May 22, 2009 at 6:17:43 pm

There are plenty of costly ways to do this... Wings, Watchout, Hippo, Pandoras, etc... In big arena situations I generally gravitate this way (my usual weapon is Hippo HD in that case).

But I have been recently rocking a 3 screen rig very cheaply and super effectively in one off situations.

My hardware platform is a Mac Octacore. I have also run this rig off my Mac Book though.

I utilize the Matrox Triple Head Digital edition. I feed it with one of two pieces of very robust (and cheap) VJ software apps: Livid Union, or Resolume 3 Avenue. Both apps are priced between $500 and $800 dollars. Resolume can run HD footage really well with a slick new CODEC they have developed. Both apps can use the combined res of the Matrox. Resolume affords more layers (I've successfully mixed 12 layers of simultaneuous 1080 footage to the outputs).

You would just have to digitize your content and get it on the macs. Resolume is also available for PC if that's your flavor. Note of interest: Resolume just won an Award from Live Design Magazine for best new live media server of the year. Interestingly the last product that won that award was Pandora's Box which costs $40,000+. Resolume is under $1k. I love the march of progress !

Best,

Bob Bonniol



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


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Luke McElroy
Re: Suggestions for concert projections
on Feb 3, 2011 at 1:00:44 am

What a great conversation... I personally use Renewed Vision Products and the TripleHead2Go... it gives me all the flexibility in the world and allows you to change things without much preparation. I have used watchout before, but the issue comes in that if the band chooses to switch the order of a couple of songs one night, you're up a creek.

I also thought it would be good to share this site for content for TripleWide displays... http://www.triplewidemedia.com it's brand new but I think it is the beginning of us being able to use content that is the correct aspect ratio but doesnt have to be custom.

Hope it helps.

Luke


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