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Thread: Thoughts on a standard for multiple projector shows - Pangolin Projection Zones.

  1. #1
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    Question Thoughts on a standard for multiple projector shows - Pangolin Projection Zones.

    Hey folks;

    SELEM 2010 is coming up, so I've been working on a couple new beam shows for the event. And like Aaron, I'm starting to play around with multiple-projector shows. No, not running the same show simultaneously on several projectors, I mean actually planning the show from the beginning to run on multiple projectors, so that sometimes only a few of the projectors are actually producing any images. You can create some very dramatic effects this way.

    However, there is a problem. You never know how many projectors you'll actually have to work with when you get to a Laser Enthusiast's Meeting. You might have 5, or 6, or 7, or maybe 9 or 10. But how will they be arranged? What is the optimal layout for set of projectors, and what is the best way to assign zones to tracks when creating the show so that you'll have maximum flexibility later on when running it?

    I should also point out that this only really applies to Pangolin users, since it deals specifically with zone assignments, which other controllers may or may not have.

    My thought process went something like this: Most of the LD-2000 users (including me) are running the intro package, which means we've only got 8 tracks to play with. So it seems logical to split them into three groups: Center, Left, and Right. That is, the first two tracks will be assigned to all "center" projectors, while the next two tracks will be for the "left" projectors" and the next two tracks will be for the "right" projectors. This leaves two open tracks at the bottom that can be assigned as needed.

    Note that the assignment of projectors to specific tracks is done indirectly by using projection zones. You tell each track which zone(s) to output to. Then, when you link multiple projectors using the .net software, you have to assign the other projectors to their own zones.

    Note also that the track-zone output settings are scene-specific. That is, if you have a new scene, you can change the zone assignments for each track in that new scene so that they are different than the previous scene.

    Now, the reason I decided on just 3 groups is that it's less complicated than trying to do 4, or 5, or more groups of projectors, and it gives you the maximum amount of flexibility when assigning projectors to those groups. At most LEM's, we usually have at least 4 Pangolin systems networked together, while the upper limit is probably around 12 or so.

    Here's what I mean by assigning projectors to groups: if you only have 3 projectors, it's easy. You have one in the middle, one on the left, and one on the right.

    But if you have four projectors, then you have one in the middle, one on the left, one on the right, and one left over... Where does the 4th one go? Why, in the middle, of course, next to the first one.

    If you have 5 projectors, you have one in the middle, two on the left, and two on the right.

    If you have 6 projectors, you have two projectors in each position. (2 middle, 2 left, and 2 right.)

    7 projectors? Well, you could do three on each side and just one in the middle, but I think most people would rather put two in the middle, and three on each side.

    The point is, how do you set up the zones in Showtime so that the show will play correctly no matter if you have 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or more projectors? Is there a common way of assigning zones so that this will always work out correctly? And I think I've found that way:

    Remember we have 3 groups - Center, Left, and Right. Center is tracks 1 and 2. Left is tracks 3 and 4. Right is tracks 5 and 6. Now, we need to assign zones to those tracks.

    Set the center tracks (1 and 2) to output to the following zones: 1, 8, 13, and 21. This corresponds to the logical projectors 1, 4, 7, and 10 using the standard Pangolin assignments, but remember that this can be changed.

    Set the left tracks (2 and 4) to output to the following zones: 6, 11, 14, and 22. This corresponds to logical projectors 2, 5, 8, and 11.

    Set the right tracks (5 and 6) to output to the following zones: 7, 12, 20, 23. This corresponds to logical projectors 3, 6, 9, and 12.

    Now you can make your show. You have three groups (or areas) that you can send frames to. Center, left, and right. Build the show with the understanding that when it's displayed, there will always be at least one projector in each group, and if there are more projectors available than you have groups, during the setup you can move the projector assignments around to balance them equally.

    To set up a show for display with 3 projectors, you map zones 1-5 to projector 1, zone 6 to projector 2, and zone 7 to projector 3.

    To set up a show for display with 4 projectors, you do everything the same as for 3, except that the 4th projector goes on zone 8.

    5 projectors? Do everything like you did for 3 projectors, but now your 4th projector doesn't go on zone 8 (because that would put it in the middle, and you want it on the left). Instead, the 4th projector goes on zone 11, and the 5th projector goes on zone 12.

    6 projectors? Just like 3 above, and then #4 goes on zone 8, #5 on zone 11, and #6 on zone 12.

    7 projectors? Just like 6 above, and then the last one (#7) goes to zone 13.

    Here's a pair of tables to make things a little clearer:
    Code:
                      Groups (tracks)
           Left (1&2)   Center (3&4)    Right (5&6)
    Z          6            1              7
    O         11            8             12
    N         14           13             20
    E         22           21             23
    
    
       # of           Group Assignments Projector # (Zone #)
    Projectors  Left                         Center                     Right
         3      2(6)                         1(1)                       3(7)
         4      2(6)                         1(1), 4(8)                 3(7)
         5      2(6), 4(11)                  1(1)                       3(7), 5(12)
         6      2(6), 5(11)                  1(1), 4(8)                 3(7), 6(12) 
         7      2(6), 5(11)                  1(1), 4(8), 7(13)          3(7), 6(12)
         8      2(6), 5(11), 7(14)           1(1), 4(8)                 3(7), 6(12), 8(20)
         9      2(6), 5(11), 8(14)           1(1), 4(8), 7(13)          3(7), 6(12), 9(20)
        10      2(6), 5(11), 8(14)           1(1), 4(8), 7(13), 10(21)  3(7), 6(12), 9(20)
        11      2(6), 5(11), 8(14), 10(22)   1(1), 4(8), 7(13)          3(7), 6(12), 9(20), 11(23)
        12      2(6), 5(11), 8(14), 11(22)   1(1), 4(8), 7(13), 10(21)  3(7), 6(12), 9(20), 12(23)
    The key, as I see it, is to build the show with the mindset that certain tracks are always going to output to a certain "side" of the room. That is, a certain group (Center, Left, or Right) of projectors. That's why the zone assignments for each track in the first table are important. If you build every show the same way, then when it comes time to assign projectors to zones, you'll know where to put the next projector to have a "balanced" show.

    I hope this makes sense to some of you. I've spend the better part of the last two hours working this out, and I think it's correct, but I could really use a reality check here. If it is correct, then I suggest we use this standard for any multiple-projector shows we plan to bring to SELEM this year. It will certainly make the setup job a lot easier if we can agree on a standard.

    Adam

  2. #2
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    I'm sure this is more straightforward than my brain is telling me now at 23:45 Sunday, following a weekend of raving and misbehaving but....




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  3. #3
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    Smile

    Hehe... Yeah, it took me a while to figure it out too, and I agree that my post is probably rather hard to follow if you haven't thought about the problem before.

    Part of the reason that it's so convoluted is that Pangolin has a standard convention for zone assignments that leaves gaps in the numbers. Zones 1-5, plus 9 and 10, allong with 15 -19 are typically all assigned to projector 1. That's why the numbers aren't sequential for the the other projectors.

    As for the order of adding extra projectors to a show, I just wanted to come up with a system that would have a good balance of projectors in each of the three groups (Center, Left, and Right).

    Does that help? Or did you head asplode again?

    Adam

  4. #4
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    6:50am, just leaving for work; absolutely Adam.

    When I looked at your chart last night it did not compute; it could have been Chinese, now it looks logical.

    Just goes to show why you shouldn't attempt certain tasks when tired.
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    Recklessly interfering with Darwinís natural selection process, thereby extending the life cycle of dim-witted ignorami; thus perpetuating and magnifying the danger to us all, by enabling them to breed and walk amongst us, our children and loved ones.





  5. #5
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    Thumbs up

    That is an awesome break down Adam! Definatly a great way to start a standard.

    Since my Basic upgrade 8 tracks feels limiting though; sometimes 16 tracks is too few for what I want to do. I would like to dedicate one or two tracks to beam effects on zone 3 and also originally went with the 5 scanner layout to have center, left, right, upper, and lower zones. Unfortunatly this could not be realized at FLEM; SELEM is the true testing ground. Too bad it is only once a year.

    I have been thinking lately that the best way to make a show is around your venue that should usually have the same layout. Making a generic multiprojector show will always be difficult because it will never fit everyone's desired layout.

    I do think it is a wonderful idea to get everyone thinking about making multiprojector shows from the start of the show creation. I found that when I started to think about it this way, I started to imagine making shows for concerts, not just partys or clubs.
    Love, peace, and grease,

    allthat... aka: aaron@pangolin

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