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Reasonable Alternative to Watchout?

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Alexander Lucas
Reasonable Alternative to Watchout?
on Jul 3, 2009 at 4:09:21 pm

Hi there -

I work for a A/V installation company and we use Watchout primarily for all of our multi-display shows. I have been frequently less than pleased at some of the reliability of the setup - which admittedly could also be some hardware issues - as well as the frustratingly uncreative way in which it creates shows.

Now I know people in this forum have suggested other products before, but I wanted to see if anyone could suggest specifically a product that was like Watchout in price (or less) but was a little more options-rich in terms of content creation. Main thing too that we would need in a product is screen-shaping. It was the main reason we started with Watchout, and we would hate to go to something else that did not have that and have to rent a separate screenshaping hardware.

Most of the time currently we either make smaller, less exciting shows directly in Watchout, or we make dynamic presentations from After Effects and render out WMVs for Watchout.

We are mainly a MAC creative shop, though most of our AV equipment tends to be Windows based. We are open to either solution - and even Linux if it suited our needs.

Thanks,

Alex



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Walter Soyka
Re: Reasonable Alternative to Watchout?
on Jul 5, 2009 at 3:04:53 pm

Hi Alex,

I understand your frustration with the creative options in Watchout, but I think you'll find that all the solutions in its class have similar weaknesses; they are essentially media servers/compositors, rather than content creation tools. I've found Watchout to be pretty stable, though—what sort of reliability issues are you having?

AVStumpfl makes Wings Platinum, a product very similar to Watchout—perhaps this is the product you were asking about before. I think you'll find its architecture, strengths, and weaknesses are quite similar to Watchout's.

If you haven't used Watchout 4 yet, you should check it out. There are some big improvements over v3 in content creation, including compositions, auxiliary timelines, and show control. Timeline layering has been inverted, too, so items on the top layers of the timeline are composited on top of the image, just like in Photoshop and After Effects. Version 4.1 is expected to include blend modes. If Dataton ever added a titler, that would go a long way to addressing my frustrations in designing Watchout.

That said, my Watchout workflow is pretty much the same as yours—a lot of After Effects, a little bit of Watchout. I haven't found any standalone product that gives me the power of AE in realtime, synched over multiple displays.

One option that's not commonly suggested is Apple's Quartz Composer, a node-based visual programming language. It's used to make all of Apple's screen savers, iChat effects, and iMovie effects and transitions. It's probably not suitable for structured storytelling, but it could be an option if your content is eye candy. It's very powerful, realtime, and network-aware, but I've found the learning curve to be pretty steep. Also, I'm not sure it will address your screen-warping without additional programming.

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



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rajesh udagatti
Re: Reasonable Alternative to Watchout?
on Sep 6, 2009 at 9:47:22 am

Hi

Is watchout 4.1 is having bend options...

Can we add HD video on to timeline... Is there any limitation..

Rajesh


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Walter Soyka
Re: Reasonable Alternative to Watchout?
on Sep 7, 2009 at 1:05:12 pm

I wasn't quite clear on what you meant by "bend options" -- if you mean geometry correction or image warping, yes, Watchout does that.

Adding HD video to a Watchout timeline is no problem, provided that your display computers can handle it. Watchout's capabilities scale with your hardware. Either WMV or MPEG2 are preferred for video playback.

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: Reasonable Alternative to Watchout?
on Jul 5, 2009 at 4:06:33 pm

Since you have Macs, you may want to look at Max5 previously called Max/Msp/Jitter

For Windows, vvvv is an alternative.

Sorry, don't have experience with either - too deep for this old brain.

Then too, if you have reliability problems using Watchout due likely to hardware issues rather than Watchout as you said, you'll probably have similar issues regardless of which software you switch to. Best to sort out your hardware issues first 'cos WO is pretty reliable from many other users' opinions. In fact from what I've heard, reliability was and still is Dataton's first priority in any released versions of WO.



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Mike Golding
Re: Reasonable Alternative to Watchout?
on Jul 17, 2009 at 12:39:21 am

What version of Watchout are you using for this? What additional features are you looking for to be in Watchout or another program?

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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Nicholas Rivero
Re: Reasonable Alternative to Watchout?
on Jul 18, 2009 at 4:55:49 pm

While it is a bit "simpler" in operation and functionality, have you checked out Renewed Visions' ProVideo Player? It runs on Mac OS and is incredibly stable, I've been using it for years. http://www.renewedvision.com/pvp.php

//nick


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