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Advice - Rather Long Post

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Brian Charles
Advice - Rather Long Post
on Apr 25, 2011 at 10:20:46 pm

For several years I've done the motion graphics for local awards ceremonies.

The presentation formats are similar, for example:

1) The name of the award appears then the video stops
2) As each nominee is revealed, the video stops after each one.
3) The winner is revealed and the video stops.
4) The next award title is revealed.


The Start/Stop is controlled by an AV person since they must monitor what is happening on stage, the presenter may linger on one or another of the awards, each winner's acceptance speech will differ in length etc.

In the past this was managed by a Flash-based video player which we scripted to stop at specific cue points in the video (F4V files in the end).

An on-site AV technician would press a key on the computer keyboard to advance to the next segment as required. Segments are set to stop or loop as they end.

This method had worked exceptionally well for the past 5 years, until now.

This year, I discovered that the old Flash Player required updating to run on Windows 7 (or shudder Vista). It seems that Windows 7 and the new Flash player don't like this any longer. The presentation (1280x720) does not go full screen, even though the command to do so is in the ActionScript. In addition, Windows 7 plays the video slowly and sometimes crashes as its preloading the videos. I won't bore you with the gory details but the Flash Player is loading a list of 50 videos from an XML file. There are 45 awards in the show, each with 3 nominees.

Of course, XP and the Mac have no issues at all, though the Mac only works with a player generated by Flash CS5.

The venue for the next awards show is using a Windows 7 system, and will not allow any other hardware to be used.

Does anyone know of any alternatives to the Flash Player, that would allow the same degree of control over the video (auto-stop at cue points, looping when set to etc)?

Prior to Flash, I used Director (any one remember Director?) and it worked, though Flash proved superior.

I've cross-posted this in the After Effects and Live Events forum.



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Walter Soyka
Re: Advice - Rather Long Post
on Apr 26, 2011 at 4:42:41 pm

I'm surprised to hear aboit the Flash troubles. I'm sure you've already been troubleshooting this, but I'd think that solving the problem on the Flash end would be most straightforward. Director is still kicking, but I don't know anyone using it anymore.

Why on earth would the venue dictate the playback device, ignoring creative or technical requirements? It doesn't sound like they are being very supportive of their end client at all.

I'd normally recommend Dataton WATCHOUT for a project with the requirement of freely looping media within a structured timeline, but I'd worry about trying to use it with such a "helpful" vendor.

Search this forum for "playlist" -- some other posters have made software recommendations in the past. In a pinch, you might try PowerPoint 2010 -- it supposedly has much improved video playback over previous versions.

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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Brian Charles
Re: Advice - Rather Long Post
on Apr 26, 2011 at 7:00:46 pm

Thanks Walter. The venue AV techs are difficult to deal with, I'm caught between them and my client who just "wants it to work".

I'll keep looking for a solution.



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Walter Soyka
Re: Advice - Rather Long Post
on Apr 27, 2011 at 4:02:49 am

Brian, I wish I had a better answer for you. Contact me off-forum if you want me to try your Flash app on one of my Windows 7 machines to try to rule out a specific configuration issue.

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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Tom Sefton
Re: Advice - Rather Long Post
on Jun 20, 2011 at 2:38:20 pm

I know its pretty basic but would a powerpoint show offer similar reliability for playing video files back with looping, click to start etc....?

Failing that - I would also heartily recommend Watchout by Dataton.


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Thomas Leong
Re: Advice - Rather Long Post
on Jun 20, 2011 at 4:30:40 pm

Not sure if this is too late for your event, but Wings Platinum Pro version (which is single-screen only; one licenced USB key; works in Windows 7) will work well in this situation using its :

- Asynchronous mode to loop any audio or video media even when timeline is in Pause mode;

- Show Control Panel with pre-determined buttons for the venue's technicians (i.e. they do not see the timeline and other functions; they see only the Control Panel and buttons in full-screen mode when the program is loaded.

- Multiple timelines and Jump to a Timeline feature wherein one timeline is created for each Award, and at end of each Award, a 'Trigger' on the Marker track is created to jump to another Timeline which holds the material for the next Award.

- Alternative to Multiple Timelines and Jump Triggers is to use one Timeline with Pause markers, where the material at this Pause points will loop using the Asynchronous Loop feature. Next 'spacebar' or programmed Play button on the Control Panel continues to the next Award, etc.

Download demo is available from AvStumpfl.com, and I can provide further help or even a sample timeline demonstrating the above features if you wish. The Pro version is not that expensive...maybe around the US$1K mark.

Alternatively, Dataton's Watchout 5 has just been released and it appears to have some great interactive and remote control features, but I'm not sure of the new price.

Lastly, Venue Magic also allows pre-programmed control via assignable buttons and/or a Playlist with WAIT (for manual trigger) feature. For video output, you would need the DMX+AV version with MSRP of US$999 for the USB-keyed version but there may be offers for less at some sites. (I've applied and been approved as a dealer for Venue Magic, but I'm not set up for internet sales, so getting it from someone else more local to you would be advisable)

Thomas Leong



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