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Playback multiple avi files simultaneously

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Stewart Bourke
Playback multiple avi files simultaneously
on Oct 10, 2009 at 11:35:06 pm

Looking for some advice on playbacks of multiple avi files.

Windows user - Mac out of the question at present.

I am looking for a simple solution which will allow me cue up 3 or 4 avi video files, and start them playing back at the same time. Using a laptop, a matrox tripleheadtogo and three projectors I want to play the three (different) avi files on the three projectors at the same time. Cost is an issue - local amateur production - and this is the first go at making this work....

Many thanks for any suggestions at all - even if it is to say it won't work!!...

Many thanks

Stewart Bourke







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Tyler Hockett
Re: Playback multiple avi files simultaneously
on Oct 11, 2009 at 1:19:12 am

In Quicktime Pro ($30), you should be able to go to View>Play all movies.

Check it out first though - I'm on a mac, I'm just assuming that feature works on PC's too.


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Stewart Bourke
Re: Playback multiple avi files simultaneously
on Oct 11, 2009 at 2:01:22 pm

Tyler,

Thanks for the info. It does appear to be supported under Windows as well, and it may well be what I go for. Having looked at the website for it I was hoping for something that was a bit more 'dedicated' to playback control for multimedia productions (without the costs associated with some of the professional software I have seen out there).

A lot of the VJ software seems to handle this type of thing - but only for two tracks - not three - and I need 3 as a minimum.

Would anybody have come across any other applications that would handle this type of thing?

Many thanks


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Walter Soyka
Re: Playback multiple avi files simultaneously
on Oct 12, 2009 at 2:51:49 am

[Stewart Bourke] "I was hoping for something that was a bit more 'dedicated' to playback control for multimedia productions (without the costs associated with some of the professional software I have seen out there)"

It's a niche market, with high performance and high reliability demands. There are some really great products in this space, but they all cost (and are worth) money.

I don't have a solution I could propose to you that wouldn't carry these costs, but I can describe a couple gotchas you should be aware of -- I know this doesn't answer your question, but hopefully it will be helpful.

The TripleHead presents itself to as a single, very wide monitor to the computer, so the system only treats it as one monitor (not three). Anything that attempts to use a full-screen mode will take over all three channels. Your playback software would need to effectively place your videos in 3 side-by-side windows on the second display.

A single laptop will probably struggle playing back three channels of high resolution video (or six channels, if you need to dissolve). Most professional systems would use one computer or playback device per output channel. You will need to make some tradeoffs -- highly compressed video files will be easier on the disk subsystem, but harder on the processor. Lightly compressed video files will be easier on the processor, but harder on the disks. Either could cause dropped frames.

What will you do when the movies aren't playing, or when you're transitioning from one movie to the next?

Finally, I always recommend running a redundant live backup of a playback system during a live event, so that a computer crash doesn't ruin your evening.

Good luck with your event!

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



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Stewart Bourke
Re: Playback multiple avi files simultaneously
on Oct 15, 2009 at 6:57:17 pm

Walter,

Thanks for the advice - especially re the triplehead.. I can see actually how this is going to be tricky to line up the videos, especially if I want them to float across screens in time...

If I wanted to have three separate outputs I guess I would a video card capable of driving three separate output, each one with its own individual media showing. Would you have worked with any specific video adapters you could recommend? Ideally, I would probably need one which drives four (!) outputs - three channels used for the three projectors for the show, and a fourth which is used for controlling everything...

Thanks again..

Stewart Bourke


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Walter Soyka
Re: Playback multiple avi files simultaneously
on Oct 16, 2009 at 12:58:09 pm

[Stewart Bourke] "I can see actually how this is going to be tricky to line up the videos, especially if I want them to float across screens in time... "

This adds another layer of complexity. Setting aside how you want to do this for a moment, can you describe what exactly you want to see on the screens and what kind of control you want to have live?

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



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Stewart Bourke
Re: Playback multiple avi files simultaneously
on Oct 18, 2009 at 8:51:50 pm

Walter,

Many thanks for the advice so far....

Here is what I am trying to achieve:

The show is for a local school, and we are looking to introduce some video images to support the acts.

The stage will have three screens - one on either side, and one above it in the centre.

I plan to use the screen setup in three ways depending on the act:

1. Each of the three screens will show an independent video. I suspect this will be the most challenging technically. The three videos will need to start together, but each video will have different content.

2. The second requirement is to have the same video running on the three screens simultaneously. Here I could either run the same video out to the three projectors, or else run the same video three times – one for each projector – but I guess unless they are proper synchronised it might not look great.

3. The third requirement is to have a live feed of the show up on the two outer screens – some of the kids are small and so for these acts we will project from a camera being used to tape the show to allow people at the back see them.

So, any suggestions as to how best to achieve this would be most welcome.

Many thanks,

Stewart Bourke





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Walter Soyka
Re: Playback multiple avi files simultaneously
on Oct 19, 2009 at 3:33:59 pm

Stewart,

This is going to be challenging without the budget to afford the professional hardware and software usually used for three-screen events--unless I have misunderstood your previous post.

What do you have in the way of video distribution and switching to handle all these sources?

Revisiting your TripleHead idea, you could play your three-screen sync video from a single laptop if you create a single movie with the three channels side-by-side. In 3072x768 mode, the TripleHead only pushes about 15% more pixels than full-raster 1920x1080 HD, so a high-spec computer, judicious video compression, and lots of testing could veriify smooth playback. It's far from ideal, but it could work.

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



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Stewart Bourke
Re: Playback multiple avi files simultaneously
on Oct 21, 2009 at 7:52:15 pm

Walter,

Thanks for the feedback. Unfortunately i don't have a budget - it is only a school show and I am probably trying to be a bit ambitious... I do not have any playback equipment - but I do have access to some decent PCs etc, and was planning to use them.

I will make some detailed tests with the triple-head and see how it looks...

Many thanks for all your suggestions.

Stewart Bourke


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Thomas Leong
Re: Playback multiple avi files simultaneously
on Oct 13, 2009 at 5:00:21 pm

Check out Multiscreener for Windows.

It is freeware. The original was for Mac, but it seems an unsupported version for Windows has been released since I last visited :

"MultiScreener (updated June 29, 2009)
Free Multi-Screen Playback

MultiScreener is a set of freeware applications that synchronize the playback of Quicktime movies on multiple computers, using a local network to tie them all together. (It can also sync multiple movies on the same computer using multiple monitors.)..."

Thomas Leong




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Eric Lagerlof
Re: Playback multiple avi files simultaneously
on Oct 26, 2009 at 11:38:16 pm

This response may be too late, however...

Sometimes what seems like a great idea, like running three different videos at the same time, can be difficult, even irritating for the audience to watch. If the video content is familiar to you and not the audience, they've got a lot more to try and ingest and process. They have to decide which video to concentrate on and, in the process, might feel like as they watch one they might be missing out on the other etc, etc.

Just a thought.


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Stewart Bourke
Re: Playback multiple avi files simultaneously
on Nov 2, 2009 at 10:41:22 pm

Eric,

Quite the contrary - timing is good... thanks for the opinions - and frankly I have been starting to worry about this in recent times as the footage starts to come together. The show is not until early December, so we still have some time, and this very topic is being looked at again later this week...You are correct - we want to focus on the kids in the talent show, and so maybe lots of different images on multiple screens may be a bit too distracting... It is really down to finding the correct balance...

Stewart Bourke


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