GET READY FOR AWESOMENESS – Epix Tile 2.0 Video!

Ok, wait — stop, stop for a minute, because you have to check out this video.  It is two minutes long.  Afterwards, you will know a great piece of pixel mapping equipment called an Epix Tile 2.0, which goes along with the Epix Bar 2.0 and Strip 2.0 in the EPIX family of pixel products.

All of these things make a portal of dancing light that you can add anywhere — add them to your night club wall, as a centerpiece in a venue, in a building’s lobby where you want to catch the attention of the audience and show them that your organization has a creativity and poise that pushes beyond the competition…  just watch the video, yeah?

Didn’t I tell you?!  Have a great day, everybody!

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CHAUVET Professional Trains Customers in Mexico

Our own Product Engineer for CHAUVET Professional Danilo Oliveira traveled to the offices of Chauvet Mexico in Lerma to provide training on ArKaos software to about 40 customers in order to learn more and do awesome things with products like Nexus 4×4, Nexus 2×2, Nexus 4×1, video panels PVP S5 and PVP S7,  EPIX Strip 2.0 or EPIX Bar 2.0 — all pixel-mapping products. Here is our engineer in action and a full house of customers paying attention to the professor:

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CHAUVET® Professional ÉPIX™ Fixtures Rock with Luke Bryan

Once again, CHAUVET® Professional performs flawlessly in a high-profile tour: 130  ÉPIX™ Strip and 16 ÉPIX™ Bar fixtures are used for their pixel-mapping abilities in the vivacious design for Luke Bryan’s Dirt Road Diaries Tour 2013. The ÉPIX™ Strip and ÉPIX™ Bar lights have an imposing effect above a video wall on stage and above the audience from a square-shaped truss. The CHAUVET® Professional lights were controlled via ArKaos Kling-Net protocol, for fast and easy assignment. Here are some great shots:

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Tech Talk: How Many Languages Do You Speak?

Mike Graham, comfortable in the spotlight.

Written by Mike Graham, product manager for CHAUVET® Professional

As a protocol droid, C3P0 is fluent in over 6 million forms of communication. As a lighting industry professional, I feel like we need to be competitive with that number. I’m not saying that we need to be able to speak and understand so many languages, but we should know how to speak to our ever-expanding range of gear.

The beginning of DMX

So, let’s back up a bit. DMX was standardized in 1986. That is to say that USITT required all of the lighting and controller manufacturers to speak the same language of control. All was good in the world (for the most part) as all lighting controllers spoke with all dimmers and lights. This still remains true, as DMX is still the standard. And as a whole, I think that we all speak DMX relatively well. However, it has gotten a lot more complex for the lighting industry professional to just speak DMX, and on just one type of controller.

Disclaimer: If you are lucky enough to be on a sit-down gig and only have to use the (insert console of choice here) to operate the same rig every night, then you can stop reading now. However, if you are planning on doing anything different in your career, then keep reading.

Accessible software

At this past LDI, I saw something that I never thought I would see. I saw not one, but at least three of the major controller manufacturers release a widget that would allow any user to download some software to their computer for less than $100.00, and to be able to use a full universe of DMX for their extremely professional PC version of the full-size controller. This tells me that the controller manufacturers are coming off the hilltops and trying to win over the masses of users. This also tells me that as one of the mass, I had better learn all of these platforms and speak the programming language well enough so that when I show up to a job, I can easily work any one of these platforms.

Pixel-mapping Nexus™ 4x4 works with DMX, Art-Net and Kling-Net protocols.

Along with the controllers becoming a little more cost conscious, I have also seen a rise in fixtures that will work directly with Art-Net. Art-Net is essentially the TCP/IP version of DMX. This protocol allows the control platform to output on a total number of DMX universes only limited by the processing power of the controller itself rather than the amount of DMX outputs that are present on the back of the board itself. CHAUVET® Professional is releasing its first fixture that will allow direct input of Art-Net: Nexus™ 4×4. By allowing direct input of Art-Net, building large matrixes of color-changing array fixtures like the Nexus™ 4×4 becomes much easier. This is because not only do you assign the DMX address to a fixture, but you also assign the universe number. This means that Fixture A can be Universe #3, DMX address #38, and Fixture B right next to it can be Universe #15, DMX address #54, and the CAT5 cable can go directly from Fixture A to Fixture B. There is more to it than that, but again, it is another language that we need to be able to speak.

ÉPIX™ Series of pixel-mapping fixtures speaks Kling-Net.

Past DMX, we have video languages. At Chauvet we have two distinct languages for video: LINSN and Kling-Net. LINSN is a language that is used to communicate between (in our case), the MVP™ Media System, the MVP™ Driver, and the video panels themselves. We use this language as it is designed to transmit huge amounts of information over a CAT5 cable to the video panels themselves. In video control, this is the first part of the communication to make sure that the panels are properly configured. Next is configuring the media server to play back your video content how and when you want it to play. There are a few options for this; do you want to use time code? Then SMPTE or MIDI is the key, if you want to have direct control from your lighting desk, that is an option as well as you can always use Art-Net and in some cases, straight DMX for that purpose. Again, that is a minimum of understanding at least four different languages right there.

Our second video-based language at Chauvet is Kling-Net. Kling-Net allows matrix configuration of specific Kling-Net enabled devices, such as the ÉPIX™ Series and the Nexus™ 4×4 with ArKaos MediaMaster™ and MediaMaster™ Express software. Kling-Net is another TCP/IP based software that unlike Art-Net, which uses a static IP address, uses a router to assign an IP address to each fixture. Once the fixtures are addressed and configured in the Kling-Net mapper, you can switch the output back to MediaMaster™ and have content playing back in no time. Again, a few more languages to speak.

As I have been saying all along over the past several years of Tech Talk, education outside of your comfort zone is really important. I have brought up eight different protocols and languages here, and I didn’t even touch on RDM or ACN, but this barely scratches the surface. The point is that it is critical, now more than ever to be reading, downloading, and playing with different kinds of controllers and protocols every chance you get. The lighting world is no longer just lights and hasn’t been for a long time. And I can guarantee you that it is just going to get more and more complex.

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CHAUVET® Professional Booth Stands Tall at InfoComm 2012

Maybe it was the impressive 30-feet height, or the colorful light and music show that ran every half an hour, or the 300 fixtures lighting in harmony the 20-by-40-feet space. Or, might have been all of the above that drew hundreds of visitors to our booth at this year’s InfoComm show in Las Vegas.

“I think it was the best booth we have ever done overall, as far as design and execution,” said Mike Graham, product manager for CHAUVET® Professional. “It was well planned and everything came together smoothly.”

We launched the new line of trussing called TRUSST® and we announced new fixtures, like PVP™ S7 high-definition video panels, VID™ 100 video drape, Q-Spot™ 360-LED and Q-Spot™ 460-LED moving yokes, COLORado™ 1-Quad IP wash light and WELL™ 2.0 wireless wash light. Our ILUMINARC® brand of fixtures suited for the architainment industry saw the addition of two new luminaires, the Ilumipanel 40 IP and Ilumipod 18g2 IP.

The booth was built around a large video wall, made of 142 video panels of various resolutions. A walkway of 38 Legend™ 412 and Legend™ 412 VW pixel-mapping moving yokes visually guided visitors to a tall wall made of 66 MVP™ 18 and 28 MVP™ 12 video panels, and 48 PVP™ S7 high-definition video panels. The panels, ÉPIX™ Bar batten-style pixel-mapping fixtures and VID™ 100 video drape ran with ArKaos MediaMaster Express™ software.

ÉPIX™ Bar lights placed vertically formed a luminous crown on the semi-circular truss, also loaded with Q-Spot™ 560-LED and Q-Wash™ 560Z-LED fixtures. Framing each video section  were COLORado™ Zoom Tour lights, COLORado™ 2 Zoom Tour and COLORado™ 1-Quad Tour wash fixtures. Twenty-three COLORdash™ Accent VW discreetly lit the display pieces of truss from the TRUSST® line.

Lighting Designer Alex Ares programmed the entire rig with a grandMA console and used about 180 cues. “I think it was one of the best looking booths at the show,” Ares said. “And it worked as a perfect example of what you can use in small tours.” Ares has been the lighting designer for the TV show “Duets” on ABC, the Country Music Awards (CMA), CMA Music Festival and more.

The video content for the seven-and-a-half main show was created in-house, by CHAUVET® Video Production Specialist Todd Murray. “We wanted the show to be raw and edgy, and to give the viewer different looks during each segment of the video,” Murray said. “The music was carefully selected to match every segment, and aimed for a concert-like experience, more than a technology-based booth at a trade show.”

Enjoy the video loop and light show which ran in the CHAUVET® Professional booth:

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Tech Talk: Video in the World of Lighting – Part 1

Mike Graham looking pensive in front of MVP™ panels.

Written by Mike Graham, product manager for CHAUVET® Professional

Now, more than ever, having elements of video in staging is really popular. If you look at successful shows like Roger Waters’ The Wall, U2’s 360 Tour, any of the WWE shows and television shows like The Voice, American Idol, or The X Factor, you can clearly see that video elements are here to stay. Follow these guidelines to gain a better understanding on why and how you should use video elements in your show:

1. Build according to a scale and end result. While having video onstage is really cool, one of the tricks is to know how to use it, not overwhelming your design. Keeping an eye on the scale of your design is critical. It is really easy to let video products dominate your stage, and the key here is to know what your desired end result is. You can still use 100 MVP™ panels from CHAUVET® Professional, but making them blend in and become part of the show can be challenging. Since video wall deign is also part of the scenic design, it is important to work closely with the scenic designer and/or the client to see what their intents are. Sometimes, they might have an idea that is not going to fly and it will be your job as the expert to steer them in the right direction. An example of this would be a client wanting to do high-resolution graphics on a lower resolution screen. It is your job to make the client understand that in order to make the video wall look like a high-resolution painting of New York City in “Death of a Salesman,” then using the MVP™ 37.5 may not be the answer and they will need to switch up to the MVP™ 18 or MVP™ 12. On the other hand, if you are looking to show lower resolution graphics such as monochromatic shapes, water effects, line art, or flame, then the MVP™ 37.5 is ideal.

2. Incorporating video walls in your show. It is very important to know how to rig the walls into the show. Are you going to fly them, or do they need to hook into a floor support system? Perhaps, you want to bolt them directly to a wall, which is very easy with the MVP™ system; but you have to think of this in advance, not on the job site. If you are going to fly the panels, the easiest way to make sure that you can get your panels lined up with no off-center gaps is to hang a pipe below the truss before you hang it, or just use batten pipe in the first place. Trying to hang panels directly onto truss is a serious pain in the tail because every place you want to put a clamp, there is a truss support in your way. This is especially true when you are trying to hang a wider wall. The wider you go, the more likely you are to hit a support. For using a free-standing ground support, we suggest sections of support every four feet and mounting your clamps directly to the back of the panels. Make sure that you have enough counter balance on the floor stand. I strongly suggest using truss base plates for this method of hanging. For bolting to the wall, making connections can be tricky. You should keep a few inches of offset between the wall and the panel, which will allow you to easily make connections between panels for both control and interlocking. This will also make panel maintenance possible.

3. Addressing and controlling video panels. Now that you have decided how many panels you are going to need and how you are going to install them, it is important to think about how you are going to control them. The simple fact is that the video wall is not completely unlike any other lighting element. It needs to know where it is and what it is supposed to do. With the MVP™ system, we use the LED Studio software to tell the walls where they are and what they are doing. We can create multiple walls (called screens in the software) and make them in any shape that we want them to be in. Essentially, it’s like pre-visualization in lighting. We can build up the entire system before we even get to the job. In this software, we choose how many panels are in a particular screen, then we tell each panel what number it is, how many pixels it has, and how it is connected to the panels next to it. If we are doing this before the show, make sure that when you get to the show, you plug the panels in exactly how you laid them out in the software, or you are going to have a messed up looking wall. If you are doing this onsite, typically you build the show file after you set up the wall. The key here is to be consistent to how you are cabling the signal to the panels. Don’t choose to snake left to right on one set and zig-zag up and down on another. While it is not impossible to configure the software this way, it does make it much more time consuming than it needs to be, much in the way that not grouping your lights properly only leads to a long night of programming. After you have your addressing done, it’s time to make sure that your screens are all in the right place on your monitor. (I’m not going to go into screen positioning here, for that, we have manuals online and also offer training at our office if you purchase a system.)

4. Display content on your video walls. So, the panels are up, configured and positioned. Now what? A good idea is to throw some content out to the screens, right? There are several ways to get content out to the screens. You can use LED Studio to put up video from any number of file extensions. It will play back anything from a .wmv file to an .avi format. This is ok if you don’t need any other control except to play a video loop over and over again. This is also fine if you are using a video processor to bring in content from a DVD, live camera, USB, or just about any other source of video you can think of. Like the man said, “If your computer monitor supports a video source, so does the video wall.” But let’s say that you need to have a lot more control over what is happening on stage. Is it possible to choose video clips as easily as rotating a prism in a moving light? Absolutely! If you are using s software package like ArKaos MediaMaster Express™, it is fairly easy to control your content output right from the controller. The great thing here is that you can use anything from a super high end lighting controller like an Avolites desk or grandMA, to the most basic of fader controllers like an Obey™ 10. With the higher end desk, you can run Art-Net from the controller to the MVP™ Media Server with ArKaos MediaMaster Express™ installed and then treat it like any other fixture. For something simple, you can use an open source DMX to Art-Net converter and use the Obey™, or just use Midi control. Assign a DMX address (or midi note) to each video clip fader and now it acts like any other fader on a lighting control desk. You can fade it in, snap it on with a bump button, program it in as part of the show, or anything else you would like to do with it. With the vast amount of parameters that are editable for each clip of content on each individual fader, you have more control over your creativity than you ever thought possible. Furthermore you can still input a camera feed from your signal processor (or any other video source) over ArKaos MediaMaster Express™ and again treat it like any other clip on a fader. You can still add all of the effects and positioning that you could on any other fader. As a shameless plug, I would highly recommend checking out ArKaos’ YouTube channel and see a lot more about how cool and incredibly easy to use their software is.

So now you are sitting at the front of the theatre with this video system staring back at you. Intermingled between all of those panels are Legend™ 412 moving head lights, COLORDash™ Batten TRI linear fixtures, PiXPar™ 24 pix battens, and COLORado™ Batten 144 Tour lights. Now you wonder: do I want to integrate all of this under one large pixel map and run my content over the entire set, or do I want straight DMX control and program each pixel? Or, perhaps I want both?
… See you next month

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