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Author Topic: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?  (Read 6791 times)

Loren Aguey

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DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« on: September 19, 2012, 12:09:52 pm »

Were upgrading our setup at the club. On the way is an X32 and we'll be purchasing a new desktop PC that will run Reaper to track the bands that ask for it.

As for lighting, I'd really love to run DMX software on this same PC with a touchscreen and have an all in one solution. Reaper itself, is very lightweight and doesn't tax CPU or memory much at all even when recording up to 32 tracks. It has been rock solid for me on an old ass dell laptop with 3g ram and core 2 duo processor. It doesn't even break a sweat with Reaper.

However, I'm not familiar with how much processing DMX software uses. I'm considering one of the free options like Freestyler or MagicQ + the enttec dongle.

Ideally we'd have a dedicated lighting PC but if we're gonna do that I'd probably just get a Show designer 1. But I've worked in clubs with touch screen setups and as for running sound and lights at the same time I've come to prefer that over a hardware controller.

Another thing is that more often than not the sets won't be recorded, only when bands ask and are willing to pay, which is maybe 15% of the time. So usually it'd just be the DMX software running, and some music playback in between sets.

The PC I'm considering has 12g ram, i5 3.1 GHz processor. I really don't imagine that this would be too much on the system, but was maybe thinking that perhaps DMX software and audio software don't play nice with each other...not sure. Absolute worst case scenario would be the PC locks up and we'd lose lighting or they'd do something weird, but we can always keep the basic elation controller we have now as a backup.

Has anyone done something similar?
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Thomas Bishop

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Re: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2012, 01:30:20 pm »

As someone coming from a remote/live recording background, I would highly recommend against using one system for everything.  But the only way you'll know for sure is by testing the rig yourself.  Get the computer, set it all up, arm every track, and give it a test run.  Then you'll know exactly what to expect.
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Scott Wagner

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Re: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2012, 02:27:37 pm »

There's a lot more to running multiple software packages on a single computer than RAM and CPU.  Let's not forget interupt and port conflicts, things that require different versions of the same libraries, etc.  You have to test to be sure.  Personally, mission critical applications get their own dedicated machine.  Computers are cheap - why risk it?
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Scott Wagner
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DanGlass

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Re: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2012, 07:29:33 am »

It can physically be done but like Scott said there are alot of other factors to consider. Even if after testing you discover that they can both live on the same PC and run together you also have to consider that anytime you will access one of them you will have to intewrupt the other.  Meaning that even though the recording software will be running in the background any changes that need to be made will most likely mean that the lighting guy will have to stop for a moment while you work on it and vice versa.  I would definetely run them on separate PC's if for no other reason than if you have an issue either software or hardware based you wont shut down both systems.  I would hate for the recording software to have a port conflict that will then shut down your lights till it is resolved.  when choosing your lighting control software I would say +1 on the MagicQ.  It has a small learning curve but once you put in the time for setup you will have an easy time running them.
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Loren Aguey

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Re: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2012, 08:29:41 am »

All valid points guys thanks. However the lighting guy in this case, is me also.

Perhaps we can get another smaller desktop that does only lighting and run a KVM switch or something because two monitors in the booth would be a bit much. And it appears the hardware requirements are pretty minimal.

Thanks guys. As for MagicQ, can the UI be made suitable for a touch screen? Not a fan of mousing lights at all.
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2012, 10:12:23 am »

All valid points guys thanks. However the lighting guy in this case, is me also.

Perhaps we can get another smaller desktop that does only lighting and run a KVM switch or something because two monitors in the booth would be a bit much. And it appears the hardware requirements are pretty minimal.

Thanks guys. As for MagicQ, can the UI be made suitable for a touch screen? Not a fan of mousing lights at all.
The MagicQ UI is extremely suitable for a touch screen - it's the same software they use on their physical desks, which are touch screens.
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DanGlass

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Re: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2012, 03:53:36 pm »

It is very touch screen friendly.  You can also assign keyboard shortcuts for playbacks for additonal ease.
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Loren Aguey

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Re: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2012, 01:25:03 pm »

It is very touch screen friendly.  You can also assign keyboard shortcuts for playbacks for additonal ease.

Good to know thanks.

I also just noticed that Chamsys makes their own USB dongle. Would there by any benefit to using that one over the Enttec or would it not really matter?
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DanGlass

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Re: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2012, 06:49:02 am »

The dongle choice depends on how much DMX you need to transmit.  The Enttec dongle works great but can only be assigned to universe 1 (or A) no matter how many you have.  For most people this is perfectly fine but if you ever need to send more than one universe you will need a Chamsys dongle. 
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Thomas Bishop

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Re: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2012, 11:12:50 am »

I have two Chamsys MagicDMX Full dongles and one Enntec unit.  I like the Chamsys because it's small, compact, and light weight.  I added a short tail with a 3 pin XLR so I don't have to use an adapter with it and I always have an option.  If you need more than one universe Chamsys makes a two universe interface: http://chamsys.co.uk/dualdmx
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Loren Aguey

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Re: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2012, 05:18:12 pm »

I have two Chamsys MagicDMX Full dongles and one Enntec unit.  I like the Chamsys because it's small, compact, and light weight.  I added a short tail with a 3 pin XLR so I don't have to use an adapter with it and I always have an option.  If you need more than one universe Chamsys makes a two universe interface: http://chamsys.co.uk/dualdmx.

I've decided to go for the Chamsys MagicDMX Full dongle to keep it all in the family so to speak. I also like how it doesn't require any additional drivers.

It's a small club and I won't need more than one universe.

I know I'm swerving my own topic but after downloading and checking out this software, I realize I have a long learning curve ahead.

My only programming experience is on a Showdesigner 1 controlling 8 Trackspots and that was several years ago. I have experience operating Light Jockey but none programming it.

I've seen a few tutorials on youtube, and I will definitely be frequenting the Chamsys forums and of course the user manual. But by any chance does any one know of a good recourse, or any other tutorials to learn this software from the very basics on up? For starters it will be about 20 led par cans and movers will probably come later.
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DanGlass

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Re: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2012, 07:06:12 am »

Good decision.  I think that you have already found the best tutorials available online.  Dont get overwhelmed with the setup process, take your time.  Once you get through the setup it will be smooh sailing from there.  I was talking to them the other day and they have just started up a Chamsys USa office based in Florida.  After LDI next month they are planning to start having training classes with the first ones potentially in NYC.  No dates have been set yet and it is more of a "stay tuned" situation.  I am based in Philadelphia so if you really get into a jam just contact me and I can try to help you out.  I will private message you my contact info.
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Thomas Bishop

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Re: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2012, 03:13:51 am »

Yep, it's a fairly steep learning curve.  That's my only complaint.  Start with the basics and realize that they just took the console and stuck it on a computer screen.  I know just enough to get by with the shows I use it for, so if they have those training courses I will definitely attempt to attend. 
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Jerome Malsack

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Re: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2012, 02:47:46 pm »

If your OS is high enough.  window 7 Business.  You could look at virtual machines that would reduce the conflicts. 

also by splitting a quad core into 4 individual.  You can send one to cpu, two to recording and the last one to lights.

You might also be able to have a smart usb hub asigned into the virtual and providing 4 to 7 ports to that machine.  If you virtualize the recording the same could be done there too. 
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Jano Svitok

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Re: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2012, 03:20:16 am »

I'm afraid virtualization adds another layer and thus may increase latency, although I don't have tested it. AFAIK there's no support for firewire virtualization, only USB.

I'd stick with setting CPU affinity for the particular recording program, and maybe virtualize lights so that if lights crash, they don't take recording with them.

You can start with one computer, without fancy stuff like virtualization, monitor CPU/disk load and buy another if you find that one computer is not enough...
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2012, 09:22:12 am »

I'm afraid virtualization adds another layer and thus may increase latency, although I don't have tested it. AFAIK there's no support for firewire virtualization, only USB.

I'd stick with setting CPU affinity for the particular recording program, and maybe virtualize lights so that if lights crash, they don't take recording with them.

You can start with one computer, without fancy stuff like virtualization, monitor CPU/disk load and buy another if you find that one computer is not enough...
32 tracks of audio isn't a CPU concern, and neither is lighting software.  Conflicts between the applications could potentially be an issue, and Hyper-V may very well help with this. 

One thing to note is that with newer (Windows 7/Server 2008) machines, even the "local" instance is run on the hypervisor - just like any other guests, so there's no performance advantage of keeping the recorder on the local instance.

The hardware constraint would very likely be the hard drive - the recording software needs continuous access to the disk so that buffers don't fill up and audio is dropped.  Multiple applications accessing the drive at the same time may disrupt the HDD's availability.  Add a second hard drive and use that as the recorder destination and I believe you'll have reasonable success.

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Loren Aguey

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Re: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2012, 06:42:11 pm »

32 tracks of audio isn't a CPU concern, and neither is lighting software.  Conflicts between the applications could potentially be an issue, and Hyper-V may very well help with this. 

One thing to note is that with newer (Windows 7/Server 2008) machines, even the "local" instance is run on the hypervisor - just like any other guests, so there's no performance advantage of keeping the recorder on the local instance.

The hardware constraint would very likely be the hard drive - the recording software needs continuous access to the disk so that buffers don't fill up and audio is dropped.  Multiple applications accessing the drive at the same time may disrupt the HDD's availability.  Add a second hard drive and use that as the recorder destination and I believe you'll have reasonable success.

Just an update: Although I agree a dedicated lighting PC would be better, the boss has just spent a lot of money on new lights and sound so for the time being I'm gonna have to roll with just one for both.

So far, its been fine. And TJ you're right, the CPU and ram usage with both running is almost non existant. 1.5 GB of ram (out of 12 GB available) on average, which is what the OS uses at idle anyway with nothing running. CPU never goes above 15% and usually is between 1% and 5% with both programs running.

In terms of conflicts, short of the computer not crashing I can't really tell if there is any potential issue between Reaper and MagicQ. I'm not really sure what virtualization is and how it would help me in this case, I'll have to read up on that. Regarding the hard drive, that's an interesting point. But how much of the hard drive is lighting software really using?

Hopefully I'm not speaking too soon, but so far all is well with the new setup. And I've got a basic handle on programming in MagicQ, mostly due to me being the really annoying new guy with a million questions on the Chamsys forums.

Also for anyone else starting from scratch in Magic Q with zero programming experience on a computer like me, the tutorials on onstagelighting.co.uk were immensely helpful. Much more so than the manual for grasping the basics.

Particularly this one:

http://www.onstagelighting.co.uk/training-tutorials/magicq-pc-intro/

And this one: Which even though it walks you through setting up conventional dimmers, most of it still applies to my LED setup, and significantly improved my workflow after going through it.

http://www.onstagelighting.co.uk/training-tutorials/magicq-tutorial-getting-started/
« Last Edit: October 21, 2012, 06:44:38 pm by Loren Aguey »
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: DMX software + multi-track recording. Too much to ask from one PC?
« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2012, 06:42:11 pm »


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