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Thread: Announcement: New laser show software available: Procedural dynamic frames, Much More

  1. #1
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    Default Announcement: New laser show software available: Procedural dynamic frames, Much More

    Happy Memorial Day Weekend, everyone! One of the things that has been keeping me busy lately, besides graduation, is a new exciting pro-level laser show software I have been working on, called LaserShow Xpress (LSX) which is officially publicly available, starting today. This is a full-featured show software suite with a frame editor, multi-projector timeline, MIDI (novation) style control capability, a full color and animation control suite, a live interface, and more.

    The software is built around a simple principle: build features (such as true color ILDA export, powerful interface, full abstract generation, and universal DAC compatibility) that the user community wants, and they will come!



    The background:
    As a hobbyist, years ago I was offered a deal on a version of Laser Design Studio (LDS) in trade for a custom laser module. Seeing its price and capability, it was a no-brainer and I was happy to experience my first 'pro' level show software at a fraction of the retail cost. Over the years since then, despite its power, the many oddities and limitations it had began to grate on me, and the author had seemed to loose interest. Eventually, the opportunity to create these improvements myself presented itself, and after a lot of development and hard work improving what was already pretty powerful software, here stands LSX today.



    New features:
    There have been over 125 new features and fixes added to LDS Pro, and the list keeps growing. One of the exciting new features (to me) is the ability to control, manipulate, and define frames in real-time using arbitrary mathematical expressions and scripts. The complete real-time generation and control offered here with regards to frames, color, and movement - and with input sources such as music, MIDI control surfaces like the Novation Remote Zero SL, and the mouse - I have not seen in any other laser show software, except Digisynth. Don't worry, if you aren't comfortable with math, there are many presets and more are being created all the time.
    Usability improvements were a primary concern, and with the help of C Favreau and others (thank you!), LSX is getting easier to use all the time. Improvements such as drag-and-drop DAC selection, a better organized setup menu, non-modal context-sensitive editing dialogs, full event group cut, copy, paste across timelines and shows, help pop-ups local help buttons, and the ability to 'Undo' are some of the things that make the use of this software more of a pleasure than a pain.



    Depth:
    The features of this software are broad and deep. While the pro version comes with over 100 shows, for those that are interested in creation, give yourself some time to learn all of the features and capabilities of the software. Your investment will be rewarded with the ability to make amazing shows. Not every aspect, such as dynamically evaluated expressions, need to be mastered right away, or even at all. The animator and frame drawing tool bring you simple animation capability just a few clicks away. The feature list is so long, I won't bother to list it here, let's just say that users of other pro software here on the forum were very impressed, and found several things LSX could do that theirs could not.



    Versions:
    My goal with versioning - Lite through Pro - was to set feature levels such that any user would have the same art creation capability (no color limts, abstract limits, track limits, etc) but the higher levels would get you more 'pro' required features such as more projectors and advanced features such as target worlds and show protection/encryption. With this goal, even inspired hobbyists will have the chance to create the same caliber artwork as the pros. The full Leveling list is available on the purchase page.



    Animations:
    If you have ever looked at a static frame and wished you could move it and twist it while spinning it and stretching it, and recolor it all live to an amount determined by a slider(s) in your hardware MIDI controller, LSX is the software for you. If you've ever wished for the ability to synchronize your animations to a visualization of the music which shows volume AND pitch, LSX is the software for you, too. If you've created a cool animation effect and wanted to save it to a preset for later use on other frames, LSX has you covered. If you've ever wanted to apply a single animation set to sets of frames all at once, including a live abstract, you can do it with LSX. If you've ever wished to use an unlimited set of animation effects, even of the same type, of different effective timeline lengths, all applied and added together simultaneously, join the LSX users group and you'll be satisfied!



    Pricing:
    LSX is offered at a loss-leader introductory pricing rate for the first 30 days. During this break-in time, development will continue and I'll put out updates on a regular basis as user feedback comes in. Each license can be tied to a dongle, RIYA controller (recommended), QM controller (in testing), or computer. As with ILD SOS and LaserCam, updates will be issued as they are created and tested, and you'll receive an email informing you of the new update availability and what's in it. Please don't wait to join the fun, the sooner I get your feedback, the better LSX can get.



    Support:
    There are help buttons in various places in LSX to assist you and clarify operation in complex areas. Please read these! There is also a user manual and tutorial videos under development. I could use help with these, please contact me if you are interested. I have also created a support forum for LSX intended to be the best place for your questions to be answered, and also the best place where you can share your presets, animations, and shows:
    http://lasershowforums.com
    Also included in that forum are sub-forums where DAC compatibility (listed by name) and use can be discussed, as well as your projects. Everyone is welcome to join, not just LSX users.

    Sorry this ended up getting so long. Feel free to ask any questions and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.

    Links:
    The Sale Page
    The New Support Forum
    Last edited by drlava; 09-30-2013 at 05:43. Reason: Typos

  2. #2
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    I've had the LSX "PRO" upgrade for a few weeks now for informal testing. It is, for lack of a better word, WICKED. If your striving for a different artistic "look" this software will generate it. Color range is just phenom.

    The ability to apply inline math in real time to a frame or function or show allows for a unprecedented flexibility. If your tired of your timeline based shows looking the same time after time, this software can take you to new places using the Novation/Midi inputs.

    Right at a time I was considering ditching lasers, as I could only see a very expensive upgrade path to my two decade old "industry standard" control package, this came along and rekindled my interest. Now I see it as a compliment to what I already use.

    I requested a few minor changes to various functions, and Dr Lava was very considerate and fast in adding those changes.


    Even if you don't use the math, there are enough stock functions to apply to keep you busy for a long, long time.

    Setup was painless. I'm running it on a old IBM P40 laptop and have no problems obtaining good output.


    Steve
    Last edited by mixedgas; 05-27-2011 at 20:45.

  3. #3
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    Any chance of getting some YouTube footage up showing the interface and output in action?
    suppose you're thinkin' about a plate o' shrimp. Suddenly someone'll say, like, plate, or shrimp, or plate o' shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconciousness.

  4. #4
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    Very intersting.. Will the software work with a Medialas USB Hyperport DAC?

    Nice work Dr. drlava

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    Smile LSX is definitely worth a close look!

    Like Steve, I, too, have been beta-testing this software that Andrew has been working on, and I heartily agree with Steve's assessment. This software is *very* cool.

    The timeline interface will be immediately familiar to just about everyone. And if you want, you can start building a show right away using the built-in effects. Unlike most other timeline interfaces, LSX has no real limit on the number of frame tracks, or the number of effects you can add to a single track. This makes it easy to build up complicated effects by grouping lots of simple ones together.

    But to really unlock the power of this software, you need to delve into the expression editor that is part of the effects properties window. There, you can create *extremely* complex effects by entering mathematical equations that will perform intricate transforms on your frame file as it is rendered. You can even write short segments of pseudo-code into the expression editor, and the software will execute this code (almost like a subroutine) each time the effect is triggered.

    What can you do with all this? Well, in theory you could program an entire laser show, complete with beams, fans, tunnels, abstracts, and other atmospheric effects, using nothing more than a single ILDA frame consisting of just 1 point. In practice, I haven't gotten that far yet, but I can see how it could be done.

    What I have seen is a short series of expressions that can turn a simple white circle into an undulating, rainbow-colored, wavy rose curve that modulates through several iterations in time. And remember, this is just an EFFECT applied to a frame. We haven't even talked about the built-in abstract generator...

    I've only just scratched the surface of this software, and I plan to spend more time experimenting with it in the future, but I can tell you now that it is *very * powerful. Even if you already own a high-end software suite, LSX is still a valuable tool to add to your collection. The procedural-driven effects allow you to modify simple ILDA frames into complex and unique frames that you can then output as ILDA frames to be used in other software.

    Now, there is one small down-side to this software. Because it is so powerful, many of the advanced features will take you a while to learn how to use. There is a definite learning curve associated with LSX, and I'm still on the steep side of that curve myself. Andrew has added a number of help files to guide new users through the software.

    If you're used to Mamba Black or Quickshow, understand that this will be a big step up, both in power and complexity. It's going to take you some time to get the hang of things. I suggest that you start small, and work with the built-in effects for a while until you master the basics of the user interface.

    Here is a screenshot of the main interface:



    Click on the picture to get a larger image.

    The astute observer will observe that the interface looks a lot like the old Laser Design Studio software. It also closely resembles Phoenix. The reason for this similarity is that all three packages share parts of the same code base. But Andrew has added a large number of features that you won't find in LDS or Phoenix.

    Andrew's software is also considerably more stable than either LDS or Phoenix - at least based on my tests. (I've downloaded the demo version of Phoenix twice, and both times it crashed often enough that I decided it wasn't worth my time. I've also seen LDS crash more than once at past SELEM's.) By contrast, LSX only locked up on me once - during the early days of beta testing - and Andrew fixed that with a quick update.

    Adam

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    Is there going to be a demo version available? (I.e. No save; no laser output etc...)

    Genuine question: How does it compare to LD2000 + Showtime?
    - There is no such word as "can't" -
    - 60% of the time it works every time -

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    Looks VERY cool!!

    How soon do you expect to have a full (BASIC level) release ready for the QM2000?
    RR

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    Sweet.....

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    @drlava

    I was just stumbling around on your ordering page wanting to place an order, as a few questions arose during the selection process.

    Selecting the software license is clear, except for, how does future upgrading look. For example if I get the basic now can I upgrade to the pro later or do I have to pay the full pro-license price?

    The DAC selection is a little confusing, due to the word “bundle” in the selections drop down. What do these bundle selections lite, basic and pro consist of? Does that mean if I get a basic software license and I want one of these RIYA DACs that I would have to get the basic DAC version/bundle?

    cheers!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by danielbriggs View Post
    Is there going to be a demo version available? (I.e. No save; no laser output etc...)

    Genuine question: How does it compare to LD2000 + Showtime?
    Daniel,

    I'd say for a serious user, they compliment each other. Fords and BMWs both do the function "Automobile" and do many of the same things the same way, for there is no other way to do the core function of "Automobile" which is to drive down the road to move people from A to B. So the core functions you would expect are there. LDS was a fairly mature product. However there are differences in ride, feel, power steering, braking response etc. Both programs are sophisticated, both can do many of the same things.

    Its difficult to compare.



    On the other hand, I can, in LSX, create many effects I need from a point or line, and not need to use the math expression evaluator to do it, there are very flexible built in tools to just that. They then become reusable events. Where it gets interesting, is once you copy your "creation", you can edit it and modify it independently at other locations in the time line.

    So its apples and oranges, both can do the job, if your hungry.

    LDS is a mature product in many ways. It has/had some interface quirks which made it less then intuitive. LSX has the user interface quirks removed and many other improvements. It flies in spots where LDS stuttered.

    There is content with the system. It comes with a good collection of beam shows. A few graphics shows. It has a set of tutorial shows to learn from. It has a demo graphics show which is mindblowing.

    Music sync is right on the money. Preview display is very good.

    When I bought LDS, and when I first played with it at SELEM, the impression was this: colors were fantastic, user interface was crap and slow, and it crashed fairly often, as Buffo said. Accessing everything was a confusing mess of left clicks. At SELEM many Pango users viewed it as having potential, but not quite there yet. Andrew listened and watched that session. Andrew has recoded the core, switched it to a better compiler. it now runs very smooth and fast. He switched it over from a weird mouse usage to the Windows standard. He's greatly improving the help files.

    LSX is a whole new animal. Its not crashing, the user interface looks very similar in screen shots, but is very, very, different in use. With a 3 Button mouse, its a breeze to use. Much more information is available at once, there is less hopping between screens in LSX compared to LDS.


    Steady feature improvements arrive as experienced Laserists get their hands on the package. I've spent a few half days up in Cleveland. Dr Lava is doing a great job listening, then applying suggestions. The day before yesterday I called him with a issue, and he spent a hour on the phone with me, as we went through the new features, and then I asked for improvements in Masterbeam, which is the simple real time console. Five hours later I got a download and a phone call. Masterbeam was improved. Suggestions were acted upon when they were reasonable. I'm not the only Laserist making contributions, I keep seeing refinements leap in.

    As Adam said, the learning curve is a little steep. If your already used to "Showtime", you will feel right at home, however the seemingly unlimited "tracks" and "events" and "effects" in LSX will take a while to get used to. LSX is a little different in that, unless you tell it otherwise (Easy) everything on a time line track applies to all time line tracks above it. You can have more then three effects acting on a event. You also do not need "reset track" commands, you can't "stick" a event.

    But guess what, if you have never used either LSX or Showtime, both have about the same learning curve.

    There is a significant difference in philosophy. In LSX you create a show and build your world around it. You don't need to go to Masterbeam to do some of the things which "Live!" does, you can just turn on a Midi keyboard or a virtual on screen midi keyboard and assign keys to events on the existing time line. So you can have a show play to music, as a classical laser show, and then turn right around and use it in a club as a manual effects console or under external MIDI or DMX.

    So, is LSX better then LD, or is LD better then LSX? Its highly subjective.

    Both LSX and LD are now so complex that there is no way a manual can cover everything. That has long been the case with LD, I think manuals stopped with LD400 running on Amiga way back in the day. So just like LD, as LSX gains a user base, it will be better and better. LD/Showtime pro users tell me it takes about 2 years to fully utilize all the features of the software, and this will be no different.


    LSX and LD are marketed in two very different ways. Differences between a low end LSX package and a "Pro" LSX will be hard to spot by a beginner, where there is a marked contrast in differences between Intro, Basic and Pro in Pangolin products.

    Will there be a battle for hearts and minds, yes. LSX will force innovation in competing products. Competitors will counter, and we as consumers will get better tools. That is how capitalism is supposed to work.

    Steve
    Last edited by mixedgas; 05-28-2011 at 07:17.

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    DrLava:

    The introductory price appears to be a tremendous value particularly for the hobbyist.

    I built my own laser scanner with a sound card DAC (after spending about 4 to 6 months reading through the Photonlexicon's forums and threads). I am currently using Spaghetti software, however, I have longed to be able to create graphics. The next level up appears to be QuickShow, however, I have not been able bring myself to justify the $595 price.

    As for licensing, in your introductory description there appears to be an option to tie it to a dongle, controller or the computer. When purchasing from the website, how can I select the dongle licensing option?

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