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Automated Sequencing: The Easy Button for Animated Displays Alan Sielbeck – Lipton Lights.

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Presentation on theme: "Automated Sequencing: The Easy Button for Animated Displays Alan Sielbeck – Lipton Lights."— Presentation transcript:

1 Automated Sequencing: The Easy Button for Animated Displays Alan Sielbeck – Lipton Lights

2 Who Are You? Why do I care? Owner of Safe Network Solutions – IT Background – Seek repeatable, teachable processes – Can we replace manual efforts with automated ones? Video Editing / Audio background – Started mixing sound at church when I was 10 (1989ish) – Worked with NLE systems since 1997

3 So show me this video… /2011TechnicalVids.aspx /2011TechnicalVids.aspx

4 IT Dork, Have you even made a display? First display in 2008 – 32 channels – Found lots of frustration with current solutions – Used LOR initially – Lots of things missing in light animation that have existed for years in NLE Display in 2009 was “Holdman Enhanced” – 224 channels? Display in 2010 was my last non-pixel-based show – 256 channels? 2011 was 4,166 channels and I was in TROUBLE!

5 Why go to automated processes? As channel counts grow, available time does not Current sequencing techniques do NOT scale Practical limit of < 1,024 channels prior to pixel based lighting?? Display size is generally linear in terms of time to sequence…

6 Channels vs. Time (100s of seconds)

7 Why go to automated processes? I found when sequencing using traditional methods, the following formula held true: – seconds X channels = time to sequence – 3 minute song is 180 seconds – Show with 256 channels is 46,080 seconds to complete (12.8 hours) I jumped from 256 to 4,166 channels when I moved to pixel-based display elements

8 Not a perfect solution… Even with the advanced editing features of LSP… – LSP is being aggressively developed – there are occasional hiccups – I struggled with copy and paste with HIGH channel counts – Even the advanced features cannot overcome thousands of channels I found that automating video to the LSP timeline was INCREDIBLY powerful and REPEATABLE!

9 What’s Needed? 1.Light Show Pro ($79? REQUIRED) 2.Video Editing Software (I used Vegas) ($79?) 3.Audio editing software (NOT required, but HIGHLY recommended) Audacity $0, Sound Forge $59? 4.Divx Pro (Not required, but HIGHLY recommended) ($30?) 5.Xlights (Free) 6.Creativity (luckily Vegas Video can help!) ** Audio editing – 8 of my 10 songs were shortened to run 2 – 3 minutes on average. Most audience members would prefer a couple minutes of each song, and you’re probably tired of editing that 5 minute song at the 3 minute mark!

10 Come on, what are the pitfalls? 1.The latest version of LSP can still struggle with large shows and LOTS of timing marks 1.There are workarounds – myself and others can help 2.Don’t be afraid to push the envelope 3.Grouped pixels for SSCs will help GREATLY 2.LSP will sometimes use funny math if you aren’t careful with your transition settings 1.Verify your video frame count / transition frame count 2.Make sure transitions start at the VERY beginning of your sequence if piecing together multiple sequence files to one Xlights file 3.Make sure transitions start at the VERY end of the previous transition if you are not having to piece together multiple sequence files

11 Come on, what are the pitfalls? 1.LSP Transition Limitations: 1.500 frames MAX – this means you’ll render multiple transition files for your video 2.The more timing marks, the longer the render will take (transition number 3 will take longer than number 2) 3.Match the number of frames in your source video to the transition!! 2.Learning video editing skills will take a little practice 3.No matter what, the quantity of channels can exceed design specifications of all editors, lsp included 4.Sequencing with video CAN be less precise

12 So that video earlier… not exactly Christmas Lights. /2011TechnicalVids.aspx /2011TechnicalVids.aspx

13 How does it work?


15 How do I do it? 1.Create custom Video(s) 2.Automate the video(s) to your LSP timeline 3.Splice the sequence files together (if necessary) 4.Playback / Export to Xlights / Conductor / LOR

16 Start with a new project in Vegas


18 Change Project Settings Click Project Click Properties Video: 640 x 480 Frame Rate: 20 Field Order: None Save the template

19 Start Creating Your Video

20 Right-click – Insert Generated Media

21 Soft Clouds? Why Not!

22 Let’s change those colors…

23 And let’s Animate it… (Keyframe 1)

24 And let’s Animate it… (Keyframe 2)

25 Now let’s look at the media!

26 Ok, good start, but let’s soften the into… The music sort of fades in / ramps up. I like to match the visuals to the music… – We could just fade up the whole frame from black to simulate a smooth fade in of all colors

27 Let’s Soften the Intro… Position Mouse at upper-left corner of meda Click and drag to the right to fade in…

28 We’re cooking with Gas now… We’ve created a 5 second clip we can use with animated clouds The colors in use are black and white The clouds fade at a moderate speed from the upper right to the bottom left We’ve also added a fade-in to match the music Let’s add that special something…

29 Let’s add a transition…

30 Gradient Wipe, Nebulous…

31 Drag on top of the Fade In

32 Now play the media…

33 Let’s add something else… Let’s add a burst of color on the drum hits Let’s also have that color burst fade out very quickly

34 Right-click – Insert Generated Media

35 Select Sony Solid Color Choose Red Close the box

36 Position the color burst The clip is 5 seconds – shorten it Position to last for 1 drum hit…

37 Copy the color burst Click on the first color clip and hit Ctrl-C Click Cursor where you want to paste – Ctrl-V Create a new copy of the source media

38 Adjust the color bursts… Adjust duration Add Fades…

39 Playback your creation…

40 Notice we’re building a library…

41 The library is powerful… Each piece of generated media we created has been added to our media library We can copy and paste “new instances” of EVERYTHING – You don’t have to recreate those soft clouds from scratch – You can change the color combinations of your generated media for Brand New effects!

42 The library is powerful… You can layer effects on top of each other… – There is a difference between “Black” and “Transparent” What if your clouds were transparent with a Black Background? Combine this with the solid colors we created earlier…

43 Transitions are powerful… Consider using transitions to generate some truly complex patters – Take a simple solid color – Combine with a clock wipe – Generated effect could be a wipe that changes color in a circular pattern across your entire show…

44 A screen shot of Vegas for O Come Emmanuel

45 A second look… Watch the source video again – See how many of these effects you could create yourself after the short demo – Which effects are duplicated with only the colors modified? – Which effects do you think you could find in Vegas? – What do you think is the most challenging part? – (Hint, 100% of this video is done with generated effects in Vegas)

46 The Full Source Video… This is not posted, but a link to the technical videos will show you the idea / source in a PIP window /2011TechnicalVids.aspx /2011TechnicalVids.aspx

47 Your masterpiece is complete in Vegas Video, now what??? We need to render it into an LSP friendly format – Remember 500 frames MAX! – 450 frames is 30 seconds at 15 fps I chose DIVX as this was the format of all of the other transition videos in LSP Render it with the project frame size and speed

48 Let’s render 30 seconds of O Come… Mark the portion in BLUE

49 Project, Render As…

50 Let’s look at my render settings… Note “Render loop region only is checked We’re not saving any metadata We don’t want to stretch the video…

51 Let’s look at my Video settings… We’re rendering project settings for frame size Field Order: None Frame Rate: Choose the best setting and match your project

52 Let’s look at my Audio settings… Don’t bother… LSP doesn’t read the audio from your file – you’ll be adding the audio back in LSP You only add data with Audio…

53 Render!

54 Open LSP and load your template

55 Add your new transitions Drag the pink star to your channel layer (I typically create a layer that encompasses all channels) I find it helpful to create 1 folder per SONG UNCHECK Generate Effects Now (we’ll generate later) Verify duration and Frames Select MAP to Stage for all transitions

56 Transition Settings

57 And generate our effects…

58 The size of the data With 4,166 channels, I realized HOW antiquated the old way was – 30 second exports to LMS / LOR format were between 160 and 200 MB in size – An average song could be upwards of 1.2 GB in LOR file format altogether – XLights converted those 200 MB segments to 7 MB. The efficiency of the file format is one of the reasons it’s such a fast playback solution. SO why mention this?

59 What to do if you get memory errors? (Hopefully addressed?) One of the biggest hurdles you may face is the memory footprint of LSP as your transitions are generated Timing marks add lots of overhead LSP will slowly consume more and more memory until approximate 1 GB is in use as effects are generated If you exceed the memory allowances, you’ll start to experience unexpected results.

60 What to do if you get memory errors? Additionally, if you’re wanting to use XLights to play your show, you’ll be forced to convert to LOR format first. I found with 4,166 channels, you run into memory issues beyond approximate 70 seconds of video if using 15 fps timing / frame rates when exporting to LOR Here’s your workaround!

61 30 second segments! Render all video transitions as 30 second segments in Vegas Video Use an audio editing program to generate exactly 30 seconds of audio – If helpful, I can generate 30 files of silence for you – from 1 to 30 seconds Open LSP, new musical sequence, point to the empty audio file Import your channel config template Render your 30 second clip

62 30 second segments! Export your 30 second segment as LOR / LMS format Open XLights and convert your LMS file to XLights Lastly, use Frank’s handy, dandy XLights file combiner script to re- create 1 XLights file These steps may be more automated in 2012 as tons of dev work is in progress from LSP and XLights

63 Note… With the upcoming conductor / advancement of xlights, one or both of the previous steps may soon be obsolete due to upcoming enhancements to LSP. Stay tuned!

64 Tips to make your life easier… Edit all your songs in one big file – Remember, the media library with your generated effects is POWERFUL Once you’ve created one effect, it’s easy to use for other songs if you’re using the same file for all videos Add about 1 minute of empty space between each song. Often I’ll copy and paste generated effects I know I want to use for a particular song in the blank space Don’t discard a cool looking effect just because it doesn’t fit into the song you’re working on! Save it for later!

65 Tips to make your life easier… Don’t need crazy resolution – I used 320x240 in 2011 – Might bump to 640x480 in 2012 – FORGET HD for this – use low res and save yourself time!!! LSP uses Divx for the existing transitions – it’s small, compact, and good enough – Most of my clips in 2011 were 2 MB per Minute

66 Tips to make your life easier… Match your video frame rate to your Transition frame rate – If using Xlights, frame rate cannot exceed 20 fps – Your transition frame rate will have a direct effect on the size of your sequence files – Less than 10 FPS and you’ll notice some jerkiness to the sequence. I’d recommend 15 – 20 as a practical number

67 Tips to make your life easier… Keep an eye open for product enhancements and features – In 2011, some significant memory addressing issues had to be sorted out – I will post my EXACT workarounds for anyone who encounters issues related to using this method Use R, G, B colors for ALL video / generated media!! Eliminate unintentional purples, pinks, and yellows!

68 Tips to make your life easier… Add a photo of your house to the background of Vegas – you’ll start to get a feel for what it will look like Beware of differences in dimming curves between incandescent and LED lights! If you can’t adjust for the light curves, you’ll get some unexpected results!

69 Tips to make your life easier… If you have a multi-core computer: – Create your songs and add the video transitions to LSP. – DO NOT GENERATE the transition effects yet!!!! – Open a new instance of Light Show Pro for each core on your computer minus 1 (if 8 core, you can open up to 7) – Load each segment / song with the appropriate transition – Right-click on the transition line and generate in multiple instances simultaneously!

70 Tips to make your life easier… Re-evaluate how you’ve drawn the channel elements in LSP – Think about how the elements will be automated with video – Consider using diagonal lines and markers – For megatrees, consider either a matrix if using pixels OR a series of vertical lines if using standard Christmas lights – (isn’t a megatree a cone, and isn’t a cone really just a misshapen rectangle / square? And isn’t a rectangle / square perfect for matrix presentations? – If you do windows like me, use a matrix for every window – If automating a Bethlehem star, consider drawing small dots / lines at 3 separated places at the top of the screen?

71 Tips to make your life easier… Change the auto-save defaults – If your show is taking a long time to generate the transitions, remove the auto-save “feature” – If auto-save triggers during a transition generation phase, your transition will not actually render correctly. – Also, if you run out of memory during a process (odd pop-ups, random error messages, etc.) do not save your file, just close and re-open.

72 Rods and Cones PIP /2011TechnicalVids.aspx /2011TechnicalVids.aspx

73 Special Thanks! Thanks to RJ at DLA and Lone Star Holidays for hosting us! Thanks to David for developing LSP – without the amazing automation capabilities, it would have been impossible to have created my show last year!! –

74 And… Done. For more information: – – – sielbear handle on LSP forums – sielbear handle on

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