LED Pixel Mapping

Craig Hauber

Active Member
I have been tasked with creation of 4 LED Christmas trees for a small upcoming Christmas tour. Producers sent me links to examples that they liked, YouTube videos, articles and ads. It's been several months of following that spiraling rabbit hole and learning a whole new (to me) aspect of lighting effects.
I now have the trees built. 1000 LED's each and 6 Universes each. Got all the wiring, networking and Art-Net all figured out and have several different software packages up and running to generate looks and sequences.
My main issue now is that none of it seems to have been designed by people that know nothing of theatrical stage lighting, the whole direction I was led down seems to be intended for hobbyist Christmas light displays in people's front yards. The effects I have come up with look amazing, and everyone is impressed and happy with the results. However I see no way to harness the looks we've created and make a "go button" cue-stack that is "minion-friendly" for following the script and having all 36 performances happen somewhat consistently!
The one program that the producer likes the results from the most is called "xLights" and is seems to be the primary system for the hobbyist Christmas light display community. For being open-source, it is quite impressive -and it's slinging 24 Universes of active data smoothly without glitching or lagging at 30fps. It's based on making sequences that accompany a recorded song you load into it.

The second program I've been running is by Enttec and works great too, but maps video over the LED's but doesn't do the individual pixel level animation that the producers really like. It uses a remote-by-DMX control method that allows you to use 24ch of the lighting board to run the pixel system as though it was one large lighting fixture. This works easy enough to quickly build your library of looks and not eat up the entirety of tech week with this one effect! Too bad it doesn't generate all the looks they want.

So after my long rambling build-up, my questions are:
Does anyone have any experience with this kind of effect in a scripted show?
What is the industry standard software for pro theatrical stage LED pixel control?
-I would be happy with the Enttec software myself and it's usability, but what do I know, I'm just a minion on this project!

Any insights from all of you regarding this would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks much
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
I have been tasked with creation of 4 LED Christmas trees for a small upcoming Christmas tour. Producers sent me links to examples that they liked, YouTube videos, articles and ads. It's been several months of following that spiraling rabbit hole and learning a whole new (to me) aspect of lighting effects.
I now have the trees built. 1000 LED's each and 6 Universes each. Got all the wiring, networking and Art-Net all figured out and have several different software packages up and running to generate looks and sequences.
My main issue now is that none of it seems to have been designed by people that know nothing of theatrical stage lighting, the whole direction I was led down seems to be intended for hobbyist Christmas light displays in people's front yards. The effects I have come up with look amazing, and everyone is impressed and happy with the results. However I see no way to harness the looks we've created and make a "go button" cue-stack that is "minion-friendly" for following the script and having all 36 performances happen somewhat consistently!
The one program that the producer likes the results from the most is called "xLights" and is seems to be the primary system for the hobbyist Christmas light display community. For being open-source, it is quite impressive -and it's slinging 24 Universes of active data smoothly without glitching or lagging at 30fps. It's based on making sequences that accompany a recorded song you load into it.

The second program I've been running is by Enttec and works great too, but maps video over the LED's but doesn't do the individual pixel level animation that the producers really like. It uses a remote-by-DMX control method that allows you to use 24ch of the lighting board to run the pixel system as though it was one large lighting fixture. This works easy enough to quickly build your library of looks and not eat up the entirety of tech week with this one effect! Too bad it doesn't generate all the looks they want.

So after my long rambling build-up, my questions are:
Does anyone have any experience with this kind of effect in a scripted show?
What is the industry standard software for pro theatrical stage LED pixel control?
-I would be happy with the Enttec software myself and it's usability, but what do I know, I'm just a minion on this project!

Any insights from all of you regarding this would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks much
@Craig Hauber How many "cues" do you need in your stack?
@jfleenor Have you anything to suggest??
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

Amiers

Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.
XLights is a great tool for Christmas light
Integration and combining that with its xScheduler you can control it from a console. Here is a thread back when they were talking about it. They are pretty friendly over there if you ask them to make a fix or suggest something it maybe become a thing.


Here is a nice little king video on it as well.

 

rsmentele

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Fight Leukemia
I would suggest looking at Onyx control software by Obsidian Controls. One free universe of output for free, but you can license up to 128 universes.
https://obsidiancontrol.com/
The effects engine, DyLOS was created just for this.
Full Disclosure, I work for Obsidian's parent company, Elation, but I have grown to really like the software over others I use consistently when at area venues (Eos)
 

Craig Hauber

Active Member
@Craig Hauber How many "cues" do you need in your stack?
@jfleenor Have you anything to suggest??
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
It is a musical review and variety show so probably an average of a dozen cues per scene with 18 scenes over 2 acts.
We actually aren't touring with lighting and just using each venue's system. If we were, I would just use my basic QLC+ software running static LED par washes and 6 s4 specials via Art-Net.

Right now I can run that QLC+ on the same PC as the Enttec ELM pixel software and pipe the DMX internally between the 2 applications and it works quite solid. They also have some kind of newer EOS product they could use if they want

I am meeting with production tomorrow and going to show them everything I have come up with and if they can be convinced to go with my current setup then all will be great.
But they had their hearts originally set on sequences I can only generate right now with xLights so maybe laying out all the logistical issues I've encountered may make them reconsider for this year (we've only a month left before tour starts) But I still will need a more guaranteed solid solution for future productions.
And we still have to deal with the issue of properly trained minions to run this even for this year's tour. They also have to deal with I-mag and projections at the same time -and sound of course.

Thanks again Ron, you're always so helpful!
 

Craig Hauber

Active Member
XLights is a great tool for Christmas light
Integration and combining that with its xScheduler you can control it from a console. Here is a thread back when they were talking about it. They are pretty friendly over there if you ask them to make a fix or suggest something it maybe become a thing.


Here is a nice little king video on it as well.


Thank you much.
Now exploring this. Hard to pin it down as it seems like it's youtube videos only and sporadic forum mentions but no specific site for xSchedule and very minimal regarding it in the xLights documentation.

-I'm weird in that I find Youtube videos insufferable when all I want is a nice article and manuals to read, but if that's the modern way I had better get used to it I guess.

This may be the way to solve my immediate problem so I'll sit my currently "headless-chicken ants-in-pants" self down in front of the PC for hours of Youtube

-Thanks again for this lead.
 

Craig Hauber

Active Member
I would suggest looking at Onyx control software by Obsidian Controls. One free universe of output for free, but you can license up to 128 universes.
https://obsidiancontrol.com/
The effects engine, DyLOS was created just for this.
Full Disclosure, I work for Obsidian's parent company, Elation, but I have grown to really like the software over others I use consistently when at area venues (Eos)
This looks great.
Hard to tell browsing through the website, but is Dylos bundled in the Onyx software or is it a separately licensed product in addition to it?
Does it also require Onyx/elation hardware or can I run standalone off PC hardware (sACN, Art-Net etc..) with just the USB licensing dongles?

This looks like a great way to pursue this in a professional and commercially viable way.
I love my open-source community supported softwares as a hobby, but for enterprise grade projects It is worth the cost just to have someone pick up a phone when assistance is needed. (sans Youtube videos!)

Thank you for the link and info.
 

Amiers

Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.
Yeah I hear that. When I saw the 49 mins I laughed and didn’t watch it and continued to make my post.
 

rsmentele

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Fight Leukemia
This looks great.
Hard to tell browsing through the website, but is Dylos bundled in the Onyx software or is it a separately licensed product in addition to it?
Does it also require Onyx/elation hardware or can I run standalone off PC hardware (sACN, Art-Net etc..) with just the USB licensing dongles?

This looks like a great way to pursue this in a professional and commercially viable way.
I love my open-source community supported softwares as a hobby, but for enterprise grade projects It is worth the cost just to have someone pick up a phone when assistance is needed. (sans Youtube videos!)

Thank you for the link and info.
Yes, DyLOS is a completely integrated effects engine. No additional license or download needed, other than the free content that we have available.
 

Craig Hauber

Active Member
There is a pixel mapping engine included in the ETC Eos family, so if you have the universe count, you could run it there.
We have a Nomad setup available, I would need 24 universes. Is that even possible? (And would a universe expansion license from ETC wipe my budget for the next 4 years?)
They also have a new ETC console of some kind (button/knob panel and 2 monitors) that's in a venue not being used in the off-season
-on a quick browse of the ETC site it looks like an ION XE and doesn't look like it will run the full LED setup alone, but could obviously work fine as the DMX controller remote for the ELM system.

It would be whatever the operator is most familiar with.

Right now I'm testing using the free QLC+ software running on the same machine that's also running the ELM using Art-net through the loopback interface. It seems to be doing OK, only limited by my current skill level, but if that software package can run it then just about any commercially available console (hard or soft) would work. Again something the operator is already comfortable with would be a good place to start.

Thanks again for all the helpful replies, this actual build is progressing along nicely and I'll post results soon.
 

sk8rsdad

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Fight Leukemia
It's possible to run 24 universes on Nomad. Getting a license upgrade to support it would be a challenge. Nomad licensing caps out at 12 universes. ETC might be willing to license 24 universes by special request.

If you don't need to control every pixel independently then it's possible to squeeze a lot of pixels into 12 universes by sharing addresses. Many pixel drivers support grouping and clustering. Some pixel drivers support record and playback, storing sequences on an internal SD. Playback can be triggered by DMX, using 1 or 2 addresses to select the sequence and control play, pause, stop, and sometimes rate.

It's also possible to trigger a secondary pixel controller or media server from Nomad using one of its supported protocols.
 

Apmccandless

Active Member
I have used Chamsys MagicQ for pixel mapping. It runs 64 universes for free (artnet output). You can create a Cue stack that is wait for go or follows predetermined timing. It also features auto marking for moving fixtures. If you have a little money for a wing ($1000 or so) you can have a physical GO button. Otherwise you can use a mouse or touch screen to operate. The onboard pixel mapper will take gif's and video files I used it to run an trade show display with pixel tape a little over a year ago and it is still running strong.
As an added plus if you are using house lighting Chamsys does Fixture Morphing, so you can write the show with one type of fixture and morph a new fixture into it without having to completely rewrite your cues. It takes a little tweaking to make it work perfect but it does save time.
 
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