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Export For Multiple Screens?

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Danielle Warren
Export For Multiple Screens?
on Sep 23, 2011 at 5:44:01 pm

Hi there. I'm working with a new client cutting some promo spots. They also want me to cut something together that will play on 3 HD TVs (not sure of the exact specs, but typical HD plasmas) all next to each other in their lobby. What they want is for the same shot to play across all 3 screens; so basically 1/3 of the shot on one screen, 1/3 on another etc.

I've never worked with something like this before and have no idea how to do that. My first thought went straight to how weird that will look because from original 1920x1080 footage, it will be stretched across let's say 1920x3 by 1080. I know I have seen this in bars where they play sports like this, so it must be possible, but I'm completely lost as to how it would be done once the piece is cut.

Is this something done in FCP? After Effects? Helps is very much appreciated as they are a new client and I don't want to let them down! Thanks everyone!

(I also put this question in the FCP forum, didn't know where to ask for the help!)


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Thomas Leong
Re: Export For Multiple Screens?
on Sep 23, 2011 at 7:09:59 pm

There are 2 aspects to this:
1. Production; and
2. Playback

Production
AfterEffects can be used for Production, though you'll have to think of ways to fill a (3x1920) 5760x1080 with a 1920x1080 footage. That's what we call an output or screen ratio of 3:1.

Ideally, such productions from the start would have been designed and shot for the output format. Try and convince your clients that 1:1 does not fit into 3:1. Well it fits, but there is a lot of space around.

If they want the 3:1 filled edge to edge, you would either zoom in A LOT (and cut off a lot of top and bottom in the process) and ENLARGE the pixels as well, or STRETCH the original a lot making objects/subjects distorted. Things like landscapes could be stretched, but people and round objects would look wierd. Depends on the footage. You could could think PiP and multiples of it, or have different views of the same subject matter montaged or PiP'ed over the 3:1 format. These are storyboard and production problems best left to Creative and Art Directors. It's a different ballgame.

Playback
Probably the most cost effective solution are 3 units of Brightsign HD210 or the HD210W (wireless) version and a router or Ethernet hub. If the HD210W, then a wireless router is a better partner. Relatively cheap, small (to attach to the back of each HD TV), and keeps sync over the 3 units, all day ,everyday. Fool-proof as well - just power up, and the 3 units will run soon after loading and sensing each other. There is a video at the Brightsign site for syncing multiple units.

If the client decides to keep to 1:1 and repeat it over the 3 units, then you only need one Brightsign player and a DA (Distribution Video Amp) to repeat the 1 input to 3 outputs. This is usually wired, but if wireless is required, depending on the installation requirements/limitations, then the router way with 3 Brightsign units as mentioned above is still possible.



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Danielle Warren
Re: Export For Multiple Screens?
on Sep 23, 2011 at 7:32:00 pm

Hi Thomas,
Thanks for your reply.

The screens they want to show this on are already there and setup, so would they need the 3 units of Brightsign HD210 or the HD210W (wireless) version and a router or Ethernet hub? I don't understand what these are for if you are playing the same thing on multiple screens.

But the info you gave is very helpful, especially since they did NOT plan on this in pre-production and I'm not sure it will look good at all. I don't even really understand why they would want to do it this.


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Thomas Leong
Re: Export For Multiple Screens?
on Sep 23, 2011 at 9:11:55 pm

[Danielle Warren] "would they need the 3 units of Brightsign HD210 or the HD210W (wireless) version and a router or Ethernet hub? I don't understand what these are for if you are playing the same thing on multiple screens."

Think this link to MultiSynch with the Brightsign units should explain it better.



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Bruce Wheaton
Re: Export For Multiple Screens?
on Oct 10, 2011 at 4:06:20 pm

As a side note, 3 butted 1920 x 1080 images makes a 5.333:1 screen, not a 3:1 screen. You might refer to the setup as a 3 by 1 screen, but it's probably important to bear the actual aspect ratio in mind.

Bruce

Regards,

Bruce Wheaton
http://www.synchromeshDDR.com


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Walter Soyka
Re: Export For Multiple Screens?
on Sep 23, 2011 at 7:27:52 pm

I'll add that it's important to know the exact amount of space in between the displays (possibly including the bezel) if you want a truly seamless display. To accomodate this negative space, you'll end up working slightly wider than 5760x1080.

While FCP doesn't support a resolution this high, it can still be useful for the offline edit of your material. You can finish in After Effects, which does support this resolution.

If the project is video-only (no AE motion graphics or effects), consider Premiere Pro, which can handle an arbitrary resolution this large, and wouldn't require an AE finish.

Danielle, there's quite a lot to read on this forum if you search for "multi screen" or "multiple screens" -- including more production tips and additional playback system options.

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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Danielle Warren
Re: Export For Multiple Screens?
on Sep 23, 2011 at 7:34:51 pm

Thanks Walter. Your reply is really helpful.

So when you say that FCP is useful for the offline edit, do you mean I would edit the piece in FCP, then export normally, then bring into After Effects and re-export in the resolution size needed for the three screens?


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Walter Soyka
Re: Export For Multiple Screens?
on Sep 23, 2011 at 7:54:37 pm

[Danielle Warren] "So when you say that FCP is useful for the offline edit, do you mean I would edit the piece in FCP, then export normally, then bring into After Effects and re-export in the resolution size needed for the three screens?"

After Effects is a compositor and effects system, not an editor, so it's not the best tool for the job for cutting a video piece. Work out the timing of your edit in an NLE like FCP, then finish the job in AE.

Simply scaling your footage up 300% will hurt both sharpness and composition.

You may be better off treating the screens separately with your video footage (i.e., running three separate, synchronized edits; for example, the center screen caries the story while the side screens carry B-roll) and integrating them with graphics or high-res photography.

There are both creative and technical challenges in doing multi-screen well, and it certainly helps to plan for it at the shoot.

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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Danielle Warren
Re: Export For Multiple Screens?
on Sep 29, 2011 at 12:54:31 pm

Thanks everyone. In the end the client must have realized how difficult this would be because I just ended up editing a piece that will be shown on each screen individually. Luckily it was a rush job so I don't think they had the time to really do much else.


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Thomas Leong
Re: Export For Multiple Screens?
on Sep 29, 2011 at 3:57:48 pm

Good to hear the job went through for you, albeit in a different form.

In preparation for the future, and potential for other multi-screen jobs, I would recommend you download Dataton's Watchout 5 and play around with it to discover its power, potential and ease of usage. Without a licence (USB dongle), the software as the "Production PC" cannot go online ('talk') to the "Display PCs" and therefore output to full-screen. But you can see your work on the "Stage Displays", and everything else works without restrictions.



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