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Setups for running multiple projectors and multiple sources for theatre

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Jason Howell
Setups for running multiple projectors and multiple sources for theatre
on Aug 20, 2010 at 7:23:17 pm

Hello Forum-ites!

I am looking to pick the collective brains of this community to help me with a question I have about using multiple sources on multiple projectors for live theatre.

I'd like to know what you think is the best chain of software and hardware to run semi-complex (3 sources and 3 projectors) to extremely complex (6+ sources over 6+ projectors for example).

The idea would be to use one or multiple computers to do this. There is software for theatre that helps run sound, lights and video (QLab on Mac and Show Cue System on PC) and if there was something even better that you know of, I'd love to hear about it!

Basically, I'd like to know: "If you were going to run a multi-media production and wanted to do awesome things with projections, what would you use?!"

I know this is a vague question, but I'd like to know what the creative community thinks.

Thank you,
Jason


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Tom Sefton
Re: Setups for running multiple projectors and multiple sources for theatre
on Aug 20, 2010 at 8:52:33 pm

I would always say Dataton Watchout for something like this.


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Thomas Leong
Re: Setups for running multiple projectors and multiple sources for theatre
on Aug 21, 2010 at 9:58:05 am

Hi,

I have used AvStumpfl's Wings Platinum to run a 3-screen show for live theatre. Sources were not live though, and comprised of mainly still pix and video, the latter being the more complicated since a scene would run +/- over different runs of the show, and I was required to dissolve from 3-screen video (3 clips) to another 3 clips of video everytime, over 35 nights. The 'Mixed Group' feature of Wings came in handy for these situations, and performed flawlessly once sufficient time had been pre-allocated for the out-going video clips (Group A) and the in-coming clips (Group B). Pre-designated Function keys then allowed me to fade from Group A clips to Group B clips, or Group C, etc and vice versa. For safety (F keys were too small on my laptop), I bought a programmable Genovation RS-232 keypad that sent serial signals to Wings via serial USB, to trigger the 'mix groups' fade over - a'la a remote control pad to the application.

Another possible software is MXWendler though I have not tried it myself.
http://www.mxwendler.net

Thomas Leong



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Walter Soyka
Re: Setups for running multiple projectors and multiple sources for theatre
on Aug 23, 2010 at 7:41:30 pm

I'm another Dataton Watchout user, so that would get my vote -- but Thomas has been diligently pressing me to evaluate Wings. I think either package could suit your needs.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Michael Easparam
Re: Setups for running multiple projectors and multiple sources for theatre
on Sep 30, 2010 at 12:30:32 am

Qlab is great, and can handle up to 8 outputs. The nice thing about Qlab is that it can play audio at the same time, up to 48 tracks. This is the main reason many shows use it, and the video can be timed based on the audio tracks playing. It has very elaborate cue lists.

Since you are doing live theater, you may also want to look into a solution that allows lighting to cue the video along with their other cues. Media servers like Martin's Maxedia and Green Hippo's Hippotizer are both great solutions for video playback that can be controlled via DMX. The Maxedia Broadcast is fantastic!

Watchout and the like are great, but it's a big mess if you've got a whole slew of operators running different systems. Personally, I haven't seen Watchout used at a non-corporate type event in years. They all use media servers now. I've programmed multiple shows that have mixed format screens, extreme wide screens, etc with up to 20 Maxedias linked together. Easy as pie, and fairly affordable.


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Daniel Brodie
Re: Setups for running multiple projectors and multiple sources for theatre
on Dec 1, 2010 at 5:17:22 am

Well, I can tell you for sure that the standard for high end productions in theatre is Dataton Watchout. I have programmed five shows on Broadway that use Watchout, including Rock of Ages, Lombardi, and The Pee-wee Herman Show, all currently running. In addition, Sondheim on Sondheim, which used 54 screens and 10 HD Streams was also used Watchout. Women on the Verge of a Nervous breakdown uses Watchout, the off-broadway show Spirit Control used Watchout. All of this stuff is from 2010.

Other solutions exist, for example American Idiot uses Green Hippo Hippotizer, and Fela! uses the uva d3 system, but Watchout is a large and current presence in professional theatre. The case is certainly not that "they all use media servers now."

One final note on Qlab. Qlab is not a great solution yet. It is fine for small productions with tight budget limits, but it is not ready for video on a large scale. For audio, there are plenty of Broadway shows that rely on Qlab. One interesting thing that people do with Qlab for video is use one computer as the cue stack, and send MIDI commands to additional computers running Qlab that playback video, one for each video source, sort of like a manually pieced together Watchout system.

Daniel Brodie
http://brodiegraphics.com


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