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3-way vertical split screen project

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Tim McCain
3-way vertical split screen project
on Oct 28, 2013 at 4:20:18 pm

Hello!

I just started a project for a client that needs a 'slideshow' of his catalog for a trade fair. I've never done a project like this so I would like to get some good info and tips before starting to work on this project.

I'm going to receive a hi-res PDF of the catalog. The client will have 3 screens (1920x1080) set up vertically. He wants the slideshow to be split on these 3 screens. The client wants to receive a .mov file that he's going to playback with VLC (on a laptop...?). For the screens he's going to work with a Samsung LFD Wall (UE46A). Does anyone has some experience with that?

I've also created a test project in AE 1920x3240. Ive tried to render a file in Quicktime (H264) but AE gave me an error that I can only render 1920x2000 max. So I went and used Animation codec. The 30sec slideshow became 5GB. Do I seriously need to send a file that big to the client to playback with VLC. The slideshow is going to be around 5min. That's aprox 50GB....?
I've also rendered it in Motion JPG? That 30-sec file became 2GB.. A bit better but still... I played it back with VLC and it didn't play that smooth. I have a Windows i7 3.2GHz with 16GB RAM and NVidia Quadro 4000 graphic card. SO I can image how it is going to look on a laptop...

Can you guys give me some advice because I'm a little stuck from here...

Please let me know what you think!

Thanks.


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Thomas Leong
Re: 3-way vertical split screen project
on Oct 29, 2013 at 3:49:50 am

Hello Tim,

I don't envy you with a naive client who thinks vlc can play a fullscreen video without borders over 3 display panels. I've tried, but vlc defaults to one display. It can be stretched over 3, but vlc borders remain very visible. And this is using a desktop with a reasonably older highend AMD HD6970 graphics card capable of 4 simul outputs.

The Samsungs you mention have a built-in media player, but I'm not sure if it is capable of spreading one big file over multiple monitors. There seems to be a "Network Box" that can be fitted at the rear and perhaps it is this that will link over multiple monitors (info is in the download manual...have not read it thoroughly...just a glance so far).

With licenced media players such as Dataton Watchout, AvStumpfl Wings, Renewedvision Pro Presenter or ProVideo Player, etc., playback over multiple monitors is what they are designed for, and present little problems except for the $$$$ amount required. Rental would be cheaper.

Your best bet at this juncture is to work closely with the people supplying the Samsung monitors and playback player to the client. Find out their exact needs (file type, codec, 1 large file or split into 3?). After Effects can split the composition into 3 files in its output module, but playback will require sync, which the paidware are capable of. Else look at multiscreener from zachpoff.com and/or syncmaker pro.

good luck!



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Tim McCain
Re: 3-way vertical split screen project
on Oct 29, 2013 at 8:15:25 am

Hello Thomas,

thank you for the reply and info! I thought this would be a tough one xp... The Samsung screens can be connected to each other and by using Samsungs MDC software. You can set them up as you want.. But you're right about the playback part. I've already created a testfile (30sec = 2GB .MOV Motion JPEG A codec) and send this to the client. This was the best codec to maintain quality and have an acceptable size.. It's stil huge though!

I've also asked for their supplier. I'll see if they'll want to give that info to me. They did ask me to deliver for VLC. So I suppose that's what I'll do if they don't give me anything..

Do you have any advice for me on the content creation part? Export codecs, etc.. to limit file size?

I'll keep you informed.

Tim.


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Thomas Leong
Re: 3-way vertical split screen project
on Oct 29, 2013 at 10:54:55 am

Hello Tim,

The main problem with content creation is that the playback is in vertical format. This gives rise to PAR (pixel aspect ratio) problems, as well as the fact that most, if not all codecs don't deal well with 1920H x 1080W. They are designed for 1920W x 1080H.

Dataton Watchout has an easy way to deal with this. With AvStumpfl Wings, it takes a bit of rationalising and configuration to get around the problem.

I hope your test sample output works well at 1920H x 3240W.

Thomas



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Tim McCain
Re: 3-way vertical split screen project
on Oct 29, 2013 at 11:00:43 am

Hi Thomas, ok but my question is how to 'professionals' create content for a multiscreen project? Is it not done with after effects? Or are there other software that are made for that?


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Thomas Leong
Re: 3-way vertical split screen project
on Oct 29, 2013 at 11:30:46 am

Yes, After Effects would be, by far, the primary production tool for multi-display creation work for professionals. I presume you use it too?

Thomas



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Tim McCain
Re: 3-way vertical split screen project
on Oct 29, 2013 at 11:32:17 am

Yes if course! :) But how do they render a usable project without split screen? Or is it normal that these kind of projects are several tens of GB big?


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Thomas Leong
Re: 3-way vertical split screen project
on Oct 29, 2013 at 12:16:57 pm

Multi-display work is not for web playback. So usually, I dare say, file size is not important owing to the price and capacity of external hard disks available. What is important is the ease/smoothness of playback without hiccups, and the quality on screen.

Ease/smoothness of video playback is largely dependent on the codec used and the cpu muscle, since de-coding the video is largely the job of the cpu. From what I know, h264 is a cpu-intensive codec for playback, wmv and mpeg-2 less so. Needless to say, lossless codecs such as uncompressed, Quicktime's animation, etc are almost impossible for hd resolutions (I've not tried Photo JPEG).

Some playback systems, in particular Dataton Watchout, scales very well, so much so that some people have produced at almost half the required resolution (eg. half of 1920x1080), and used Watchout to scale it up to fill the 1920x1080 fullscreen, or multiples thereof, and reported little loss of visual quality. So check with the playback equipment supplier if this can be so for your project.

Thomas



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Tim McCain
Re: 3-way vertical split screen project
on Oct 29, 2013 at 12:42:10 pm

Hi Thomas,

owkay! So if I understand it good it's possible (if the suppliers equipment supports it if course) that I could make this comp at 960x1620 and use the multiscreen hardware to scale it up and fill the screen (1920x3240)?

Thanks again for the helpfull info! :)


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Mark Suszko
Re: 3-way vertical split screen project
on Oct 29, 2013 at 2:19:21 pm

Would this be a case where it would be easier to format one large video in AE and use the triple-head-to-go card on a PC for the play-out?


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Walter Soyka
Re: 3-way vertical split screen project
on Oct 29, 2013 at 2:34:00 pm

[Tim McCain] "owkay! So if I understand it good it's possible (if the suppliers equipment supports it if course) that I could make this comp at 960x1620 and use the multiscreen hardware to scale it up and fill the screen (1920x3240)?"

I would not recommend that you work at half-res. Even if you ultimately display at half-res, I think you'd be better off producing the content at full resolution and scaling it in post if need be.

At a trade show, people get close to the monitors. Personally, I would not recommend displaying at half-resolution to your client, either.

It's my recommendation that you should not let the client dictate the playback solution, because it's not their job to know what they need. We should be providing them with production advice, not the other way around.

If the client wants synced video across three monitors, then he will need at a minimum a TripleHead2Go as Mark has suggested. Other solutions include networked digital signage units like BrightSigns, or Dataton WATCHOUT as Thomas has suggested. I am a long-time WATCHOUT fan and now that WATCHOUT supports driving multiple displays from a single computer, a WATCHOUT rental may be an economically competitive choice for your show.

Signage systems and WATCHOUT will prefer pre-split video -- that is, one 1920x1080 video per output.

If you are working with a TripleHead2Go, then you'll want to rearrange your finished work from 1x3 HD (1920x3240) to 3x1 HD (5760x1080) for output. If you do consider scaling, you might consider stepping down no further than 720p -- in other words, work at 1920x3240 (one wide by three high), and output to 3840x720 (three wide by one high).

If you're looking at a single source like the TripleHead2Go, PhotoJPEG can be a good choice, and you can realize significant file size reduction by adjusting the quality slider. You can probably drop it into the 80s or maybe even a bit lower, depending on content, before noticing unacceptable artifacts.

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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Tim McCain
Re: 3-way vertical split screen project
on Oct 29, 2013 at 2:51:51 pm

Hi Walter,

thanks for the info! I've just had contact with the client. For his trade show he's working with another 'supplier'. That's actually a company that build stand on trade show. They're also responsable for the video. The client sent a my test file and we'll wait until tomorrow. If there is no feedback I'll get the change to contact him personally.

It's probably not going to be watchout because the supplier had his own equipment. I will wait for his feedback before doing something else.

@Walter: what do you mean by rearranging the finished work? They's going to be set up vertically under each other. Not horizontally... Can I still use the Triple2Go?

I've tested the JPG codec again at half res and it worked smoothly. So basically if I have a pc with more performance the highres file should be fine..?


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Walter Soyka
Re: 3-way vertical split screen project
on Oct 29, 2013 at 2:57:19 pm

[Tim McCain] "@Walter: what do you mean by rearranging the finished work? They's going to be set up vertically under each other. Not horizontally... Can I still use the Triple2Go?"

The TripleHead presents itself to the system as one wide monitor, and then splits its output across three standard outputs. In other words, it can tell the computer it's a 5760x1080 monitor, then spit out three unique 1920x1080 outputs.

If your 1920x3240 comp looks like this:

A
B
C

Then you'll want to create a 5760x1080 comp and insert that tall comp into it three times, so it looks like this:

ABC

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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Mark Suszko
Re: 3-way vertical split screen project
on Oct 29, 2013 at 2:52:09 pm

Walter, is the triple-head approach complicated by how his client wants the screens turned on their sides? Or do you adjust or that in the AE comp somehow? I'm just a curious observer but would like to know for future personal reference.


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Walter Soyka
Re: 3-way vertical split screen project
on Oct 29, 2013 at 2:59:30 pm

[Mark Suszko] "Walter, is the triple-head approach complicated by how his client wants the screens turned on their sides? Or do you adjust or that in the AE comp somehow? I'm just a curious observer but would like to know for future personal reference."

I thought they were still landscape orientation, just stacked vertically.

If they were portrait displays, you could compensate by pre-rotating in Ae. (I like to produce two versions, one for clockwise and one for counterclockwise rotation, just in case the install doesn't go as planned...)

One consideration with portrait displays is that if you are working with an interlaced signal, the interlacing will now be vertical instead of horizontal.

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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