Tech Talk: Video in the World of Lighting – Part 2

Written by Mike Graham, product manager for CHAUVET® Professional

Mike Graham looking pensive in front of MVP™ panels.

When we left our heroes, they were sitting at the front of a theatre trying to decide — to pixel map or not to pixel map? Ideally, you want to do both, but let’s hope that this decision was made weeks ago during pre-production. The Wall took three years to produce. Most of us don’t have three years to produce a show. If I went to the management of CHAUVET® and said I would need three years to produce LDI, they would laugh me out of the room. We need the ability to quickly and effectively get our content out to the stage. This is where LED Studio, Art-Net, Kling-Net, and a whole lot of Ethernet with Neutrik® NE8 connectors come into play. By combining these software platforms, we can easily control a whole stage of products that use various protocols to speak the same language. With the CHAUVET® MVP™ Media System outfitted with ArKaos MediaMaster Express™, you can manage your pixel mapping of DMX fixtures and all of your video products all in one source. Combine this with a lighting controller that can send and receive Art-Net communication protocol, and now you can completely control everything under one network roof. I am not going to go into how to hook up the system in this tech talk. The interconnection of the system depends a little on what you want to accomplish and a lot the scale of how big you want to go. Again, I recommend checking out the ArKaos manual and the manual of the controller that you are going to be using to trigger your show. The simple fact is that, yes, you can make your show pop with what you have available in front of you. The reason that you want so much control is to ultimately make it easier to program your show. Here are a few tips on ways to do some pre-production setup that will save you a ton of time onsite.

1. Know what you’re “looking” for. Unlike normal show programming, when you are planning out video, you want to have all of your “looks” in the can. In the “video” tab, “looks” stands for video clips. You want to show up with your clips ready and filed. This means that you will really need to know what you intend to do on this show. I highly recommend a blog that some guy wrote called “Zen in the Art of Entertainment Lighting.” It’s a three part series and applies to this conversation.

2.  Accessibility is the key. When you file your video clips, make sure that they are done in such a way that you can quickly access them when you need to. In ArKaos MediaMaster Express™, you can set up your folders for specific songs. You also have 64 visual presets per page with 64 pages at your fingertips. You can easily set your clips on each page and have each individual page can be a song or scene of its own. You can also have up to eight layers of video running at the same time. Since you can also tell the video preset where on your playback surface you want your video to show up, having these eight layers really handy. Since ArKaos MediaMaster Express™ was designed for the lighting professional, it is stunningly easy for us to use.

3. Keep your eye on the plot. While you are getting all of this set up, have a sketch of the show plot that you are working with. Honestly, it can be napkin CAD, or the finest of visualizers, but have that sketch handy while you are working on setting all of this up. That sketch needs to include all of the elements that you want to send video content to.

4. Finalize your fixture layout and DMX address scheme. When you are setting up your pixel mapping, this is absolutely critical that the DMX addressing is correct and done before you start working on this.

5.  Save early and save often. Goes without saying, but just sayin’.

6.  Keep your products in mind when you are choosing clips. Keep in mind that low resolution and high contrast clips will look much better than high resolution and low contrast clips on higher pixel pitch. Big looks with simple content.

Whether you are planning on busking, pre-programming and operating live, or using time code, you should now be just about ready to load in.  What to expect on show site?

… That is for another day.


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