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Media Software: EG, affordable MBox, Catalyst, etc.?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by JSFox, Dec 6, 2006.

  1. JSFox

    JSFox Active Member

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    Not really lighting, but perhaps fits better here than FX.

    I'm looking for some cue driven software (PC or MAC) that will allow me to project a variety of generated images. Something similar to PRG's MBox or HES Catalyst/DL2 (just a bit more affordable). Is anyone aware of anything like this?

    Thanks,
     
  2. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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    What is the end result your trying to do? I've had good results just using power-point hooked up to a projector. Put a black slide in-between the content pages. You can in-bed movies if you wish (for instance, a movie that will take up the entire page).

    For more of a video-playback effect, for a show which we had recorded content in addition to live stage action I had a DVD player. When I edited the video segments (in iMovie, by the way) I put in 5 seconds of black in-between the clips. I then created chapters that started one frame before the actual content (so the image is still black). It was then a fairly simple matter of pausing the DVD, hitting next chapter, then pushing play when the content was required.
     
  3. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    When you say a variety of images, do you mean you want several sources to be projected at the same time through one projector ? or are you wanting to drive more than one projector with only one image ? I know there is a version of a software similar to Catalyst for driving seeveral projectors at the same time which is much less expensive. I'll check with my Vidiot freinds at Nike and ask them for some reference.
     
  4. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    It is really a question of how much control you want and how much you want to spend. The DVD route is a viable option, if you can get one that turns off the on screen display. The computer option works rather well. The best thing to do would be to go with a watchout system with dayton, but they get rather pricey. If you want to do the powerpoint thing, I suggest office 2007 (you can get a free demo of it right now, its in Beta 2). Mediashout is another option that works very well.
     
  5. JSFox

    JSFox Active Member

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    Thanks all. There are two capabilities we're after. One is to be able to project images onto a projected surface (EG, a rotating cube is projected onto the screen and I want to be able to then key still or moving (including live) images onto the surfaces of the cube or onto the background). The real trick though is that I want to be able to control the image via a cue. EG, on a cue I want to be able to morph the cube into a sphere.

    Over the weekend I was playing with a friends Axon and DL2 system. We built a desert scene and then on cue the desert scene exploded into a garden oasis. On the next cue a gopher popped his (her?) head up out of a hole and on the next cue all of the flowers burst open. All CGI based cued to a live song.

    Can't afford and Axon or DL2 (or Catalyst Express or MBox for that matter), but I'd guess there are similar packages with fewer features that are a bit more affordable. The only way to do this with video would be to have the band on click. Unfortunately I've yet to be succesfull getting actors in a play to say their lines to a click...
     
  6. SHARYNF

    SHARYNF Well-Known Member

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    Interesting ideas. Obviously the high end expensive systems are designed to do just this but you are looking at 10's of thousands of dollars.
    I'm always interested in coming up with low cost solutions to simulate high production value type of effects. SOOOO here are some suggestions

    If you want to do this in real time, then you really have to look at a video mixer. the type of effects that you want to do, ie 3d effects mean that you need to go with the latest equipment. Obviously the high end studio mixers have this with multiple effects units but at the reasonable level (under 10 grand) the Panasonic Mx70 with the 3d card should be able to do this and you probably could rent one, you would have your sources could be live or pre recorded you then cue up the transition effect and then when you want you execute it. Since you are not looking for all the multiple screen capabilities of break the image down to multiple screens etc you probably would find this solution practical but not overly cheap.
    http://catalog2.panasonic.com/webap...emId=68674&catGroupId=37051&surfModel=AG-MX70


    It also is possible the the Newtek Tricaster systems might also be able to do this but again you are still looking at about 10 grand by the time you get the software/hardware and the pc to run it. http://www.newtek.com/tricaster/index.php

    On the other hand IF you could move away from the need for a live feed you might be able to use something like Sony Vegas Video, and have your effects and clips all worked out in advance, and use the external monitor facility to project it.

    It is a little tricky trying to get it to work all on one system, So what what I have done is to have two pc's running vegas and have each feed into a video mixer I use a MX50 but you could use a MX30 which sell for about 700 dollars, you then have your original footage say of the rotating cube running on one system and then on your other system you would have the footage that takes your keyed or overlayed or inserted image and have that cued up.

    You take your original footage and have it playing with a loop set up on the time line so that it keeps looping, you then have your effect footage set up so that it begins at a position of the cube that you can match to (this is the hard part since one system cannot really automatically trigger the other) and you then manually start the effects clip playing at the point where the two images match (does not have to be exact) and at the same time. you use the mixer to transition over to that feed.


    If you only had one pc and no mixer, it is Possible, but tricky to have all your footage on one time line you then set up a loop for your original footage so it keeps looping and then when you want the transition, you have a pre rendered transition on the time line right beginning after your end of the loop you then move your loop point so that it now covers the transition effect footage and it plays, and you then stop the playback at the end point.

    It is possible, takes a lot of concentration and playing around but you can get some great effects.

    Vegas video sells to schools for under 300 dollars, you would need a decent pc in most cases you best system is a firewire out to a camcorder and use the camcorder analog output to your display this keeps everything on your desktop off the video screen and keeps your graphics card and the video out seperate.

    I have done this when you want some wild title effects or introduction clips to show on the projected screens during a live concert, and with concentration and coordination you can do some pretty advanced stuff

    The advantage of Vegas is that it will allow you to import and match clips from just about anything. So we have used animations from Maya for instance along with video clips, power point etc. We have used some of these techniques to simulate a big network sports type broadcast for player stats etc. As long as you don't need the feed to be live, it works well. If you need live input to the 3 d effects than you need an effects engine with your mixer, and you are pretty much back to the first two options

    Sharyn
     
  7. ziggy

    ziggy Member

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    You could check out

    http://www.arkaos.net/

    not quite a powerful as Catalyst or Hippo servers, very popular here in Europe. You can buy just the software and run on your own PC. Also download lighting software MagicQ PC from ChamSys

    www.chamsys.co.uk

    and you can control the server with DMX over Artnet and get thumbnails of all the graphic content on screen to make programming easy. (MagicQ PC is fully functional free software that works with many DMX interfaces. Makes a good moving light controller if you need it, the full desks are becoming popular here in Eruope. They say they make their money on selling the hardware control wings so the software is not crippled in any way)

    There is also Pandoras Box from Coolux

    http://www.avl.be/coolux.htm

    more powerfu but not as easy to program, and you have to buy the system with PC.

    Ziggy
     
  8. SHARYNF

    SHARYNF Well-Known Member

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    Great suggestions Ziggy

    I have not see that software running, how sophisticated are the effects? can you super an video clip on a surface and rotate it? page curls etc. I've seem some of the systems that allow for great clip manipulation, and multi screens and transistions, but I would be interested to see what effects it can support

    Are you using the midi version or the dmx version of the software? The dmx version is more expensive, but gives the integration ability with the console. Can you explain the setup to run both on the same machine? or different machines? iF have the two systems together, the media server looks just like an other dmx device? but can be connected via the network ip connection internally, and then just use the ethernet to dmx converter?
    I did not see any pricing on the ethernet to dmx converter???

    SHARYN
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2006
  9. ziggy

    ziggy Member

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    It is quite powerful. Can play multiple streams of video on layers, layers can each be given effects, such as mapping on to surfaces, then the layers can be combined or used to mask each other. Not seen a page turning effect yet, the software is quite complex and may well be able to do it, an email to them will give you an answer.

    We tried using a Strand 520 with DMX into two Arkaos video servers using USB Pro adaptors but very difficult to program and use. We then downloaded MagicQ and run this on separate PC (so not to interfere with video playback on one of them). We connect over the network using artnet protocol. The network allows MagicQ and Arkaos to exchange data like thumbnails making programming very easy and quick. The ability to see the output of each layer as well as final output on screen and select between servers makes life so much easier. Follow the link on Arkaos site to see how Chamsys control the software.

    In the end we bought a Artistic License Artnet to DMX interface(about 300 euro) to go with MagicQ ( supports 6 universe output) and ran all the lights from it, about 700 channels in total. We have ordered a Maxiwing to go with MagicQ to make the PC software easier to use, to give us real faders/ buttons / encoders, but waiting for delivery (might be time to retire the 520).

    Suggest you download the software from both companies and have a play to learn the functionality.

    Ziggy
     
  10. JSFox

    JSFox Active Member

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    Ziggy, thanks for the links! I hadn't even thought of using VJ software for this (Not that familiar with the VJ world anyway).
     
  11. SHARYNF

    SHARYNF Well-Known Member

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    Looks really interesting. I talked with their tech support, and while there is dmx support from standard console, I have to agree having a system that has the support built in would make things much much easier.

    I wonder if in a lot of cases it might be worth not going with the dmx version, and just keep the two systems completely independant. I guess it would depend on how much your shows are preprogramed

    SHARYN
     
  12. digitaltec

    digitaltec Active Member

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    You know, as much as the Catalyst and Maxedia is cool and all. Honestly if your on a tight budget whats wrong with just running Quicktime files from your laptop. I understand that you want to be able to trigger the effects from the console and all that fun stuff but really how hard is it to just use a small switcher and route everthing through your laptop. You can just edit the videos and put say some dead time at the begining and then say you have a bunch of cues coming up but you know you can trigger your laptop at 10 seconds before go then thats what you do.

    This is what I used to do in High School before the Catalyst even existed.

    I dont know just an idea. I would not run it through a DVD player, to many things can go wrong there. Believe me. We tried that on the cruise ship even though we have a Catalyst. Never understood that one.
     

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