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Author Topic: Where to get started with Projection Mapping  (Read 2082 times)

Tim Weaver

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Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« on: January 20, 2021, 12:52:44 pm »

Sorry Mods. Wasn't sure where to put this, but it is kind of a "advanced production" thing so feel free to move it wherever.


First things first. I'm a humhead that also can do a fair lighting show. Projection is something I've never worked with.


At the Church, my boss and I are brainstorming new ways to really get some "Wow factor" into some special events and for the youth especially. I remembered the projection mapping craze of a few years ago and thought we could use that to have live actors interact with elements on the stage which would be PM'd onto a polygonal surface. Think Moses talking to the burning bush. We could actually have a burning bush on stage which could "talk" back by enlarging or changing color or intensity or whatever.


So I'm going to start this journey of figuring out how to do the projection mapping, and my boss (former graphics guy for espn) can supply the 3d animations.


For those that do this, what wuold you say is the easiest PM software to learn? Also what do I need to keep in mind if I eventually want to trigger PM events, audio, video, and lighting cues all at once? I'm assuming that most of these things would accept a midi input or some type of show control?

Is it difficulr to use multiple projectors on the same scene? I would like to use at least 2 projectors but could eventually see myself using 4 or more. Eventually I would like to use the entire room as a projection element. I could make locust swarms in the aisleways for example.


Anyway, point me towards the "best path" to get started on this.

Thanks
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2021, 04:19:09 pm »

Just typed in 'projection mapping tutorials' in Youtube, and a few popped up.
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Scott Carneval

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2021, 07:35:03 pm »

I'm just getting my feet wet with projection mapping, but check out www.Lightform.com

I'm not sure where the product ranks as far as beginning/intermediate/advanced, but it seems really easy to use and the price point is great (under $1k).

Also if you search Lightform in Youtube there are some really great videos.
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Rich Wirz

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2021, 07:43:00 pm »

I have a good friend who designs and implements theatrical projection mapping.  He is a big fan and user of Isadora. It can create multiple stages and control multiple projectors, I believe control sound and lighting cues, has a ton of video tutorials and a good forum for help and support.  Might be a little more program than what you are looking for - but it's worth a look see.
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Joris Jans2

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2021, 02:53:35 am »

Sorry Mods. Wasn't sure where to put this, but it is kind of a "advanced production" thing so feel free to move it wherever.


First things first. I'm a humhead that also can do a fair lighting show. Projection is something I've never worked with.


At the Church, my boss and I are brainstorming new ways to really get some "Wow factor" into some special events and for the youth especially. I remembered the projection mapping craze of a few years ago and thought we could use that to have live actors interact with elements on the stage which would be PM'd onto a polygonal surface. Think Moses talking to the burning bush. We could actually have a burning bush on stage which could "talk" back by enlarging or changing color or intensity or whatever.


So I'm going to start this journey of figuring out how to do the projection mapping, and my boss (former graphics guy for espn) can supply the 3d animations.
hi tim,

cool idea. but i would say, especially in the beginning: KISS (keep it Simple, Stupid).
video/projection, especially when never done before, has i high learning curve. let alone mapping.
in essence, projection is nothing more then a video beamed on a (flatish) surface in essential. that should be your starting point. when projecting on odd shaped surfaced, you will have to mask/blacken everything which falls outside the desired projection surface.

Quote
For those that do this, what wuold you say is the easiest PM software to learn?

i would say that would be something like Qlab, or even simpler: just a media player.

Quote

Also what do I need to keep in mind if I eventually want to trigger PM events, audio, video, and lighting cues all at once? I'm assuming that most of these things would accept a midi input or some type of show control?
also: Qlab, but again: KISS. start projection as a stand-alone unit, and go from there. you can add audio, lighning cues at a later time.

Quote
Is it difficulr to use multiple projectors on the same scene?

 it depends. but in generally: YES. it all depends on what you are trying to accomplish. alignment is key here.
you want, especially in any crossover area, to have your pixels exactly "stack" on top of each other. physicls play an important role here. a projector 2 inches "off" compared to another one will make it impossible to align the 2 correctly. if you need to stack 2 projections 100% on top of each other for more light: hire a bigger projector. if you need to do that for redunancy... i don't think it's this essential at this moment.

Quote
I would like to use at least 2 projectors
why?
Quote
but could eventually see myself using 4 or more.
.
Quote
Eventually I would like to use the entire room as a projection element. I could make locust swarms in the aisleways for example.

big goals, by the time you can accomplish this you will be, roughly, at least a 100k into this project.

Quote
Anyway, point me towards the "best path" to get started on this.

Thanks

for me, i'm on the Coolux / Christie Pandora's Box "boat". it's extremly scalable, which would be a big plus for your plans. Qlab is easy and low cost to learn but with plans this big, you will soon run into limits with qlab. that is were Pandora's box starts (along with many others i don't have experience with).

feel free to ask whatever you want, i've some time on my side.

Joris
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Tim Weaver

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2021, 01:24:39 pm »

Thanks Joris. I think there's a miscommunication on using multiple projectors. I'm not stacking them for more output. I want to cover multiple areas/angles of the room. Left/right walls, main floor, and 2 or 3 pointed towards the stage for different angles on 3d objects.

I do realize what kind of learning curve I'm up against, but I'm specifically going to work on the projection mapping and show automation portions of this project. I have a guy to do all the graphics, and another guy that can do the video infrastructure. There will likely also be 3 large led screens integrated into this along with the projection.

The ultimate goal would to be able to have an entire room where graphic elements could seamlessly fly around the room.
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Tim Weaver

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2021, 01:26:06 pm »

I have a good friend who designs and implements theatrical projection mapping.  He is a big fan and user of Isadora. It can create multiple stages and control multiple projectors, I believe control sound and lighting cues, has a ton of video tutorials and a good forum for help and support.  Might be a little more program than what you are looking for - but it's worth a look see.


Thanks, i'll give it a test drive.
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Jerome Malsack

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2021, 05:58:26 pm »

big question here also will be one computer control out to 2 or 4 projectors with individual software control of the projections and the mapping.  Software will need to divide the graphic into four projections that each have a specific target .   this could become 4 computers controlling 4 projectors. 
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2021, 06:05:36 pm »

big question here also will be one computer control out to 2 or 4 projectors with individual software control of the projections and the mapping.  Software will need to divide the graphic into four projections that each have a specific target .   this could become 4 computers controlling 4 projectors.

Q Lab, anyone?
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Tim Weaver

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2021, 08:39:32 pm »

big question here also will be one computer control out to 2 or 4 projectors with individual software control of the projections and the mapping.  Software will need to divide the graphic into four projections that each have a specific target .   this could become 4 computers controlling 4 projectors.


If thats the case, then so be it. We are swimming in old computers and projectors. Although most of these mapping softwares seem to be able to control as many displays as the host computer can handle.
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Tim Weaver

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2021, 08:42:14 pm »

Q Lab, anyone?

I'm going to try to do it with propresenter, but thats a new function for PP from what I understand. I will jump straight to qlab if PP doesn't work. We don't currently own qlab.
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Lee Douglas

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2021, 11:44:19 am »

Tim,

Please follow up here or start a new thread journaling your progress with this!  Lots of pictures! I've seen large scale PM on buildings and on the last Roger Water Wall tour (that was impressive), but I'd love to see how you scale it down for your uses.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2021, 04:02:46 pm »

I'm going to try to do it with propresenter, but thats a new function for PP from what I understand. I will jump straight to qlab if PP doesn't work. We don't currently own qlab.

You can rent licenses!  About $10/day for all the features, IIRC.  Your workspace is saved and will be fully functional when opened with a license; i.e. nothing changes in your file, only the ability to fully use it.
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Joris Jans2

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2021, 08:25:24 am »

Thanks Joris. I think there's a miscommunication on using multiple projectors. I'm not stacking them for more output. I want to cover multiple areas/angles of the room. Left/right walls, main floor, and 2 or 3 pointed towards the stage for different angles on 3d objects.
ah great, that clearifies. i think with this number of (independend) video outputs you'll sooner then later run into the limits of what Qlab is capable of. also, Qlab is like the spider in the web when it comes to video, all the videostreams come from 1 source: the laptop/mac running Qlab.
larger scale video-software run with decentralized processing units as you can say so, so you have 1 unit to program your show on, and then several "nodes" that do the actual video processing & output for (a number of) projectors.

Quote
I do realize what kind of learning curve I'm up against, but I'm specifically going to work on the projection mapping and show automation portions of this project. I have a guy to do all the graphics, and another guy that can do the video infrastructure. There will likely also be 3 large led screens integrated into this along with the projection.

The ultimate goal would to be able to have an entire room where graphic elements could seamlessly fly around the room.
i'd suggest take a look at this, i think this does exactly what you will want it to do. Qlab is, for several reasons, not sufficient enough.
https://www.christiepandorasbox.com/showcase/
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Andrew Henley

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2021, 12:26:31 am »

I'm just getting my feet wet with projection mapping, but check out www.Lightform.com

I'm not sure where the product ranks as far as beginning/intermediate/advanced, but it seems really easy to use and the price point is great (under $1k).

Also if you search Lightform in Youtube there are some really great videos.

I have a Lightform LF1 unit, it's great for something quick and dirty, without spending a lot of time on fine tuning the map. Some good built-in effects as well. It would be a powerful processor if I took the time to properly program.
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Tim Weaver

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2021, 06:36:56 pm »

Just as an update to this. I'm still soldiering on. I have the corvid right now (I'm fine) so I'm spending 2 weeks at home.

It looks like MadMapper does essentially what Pandoras Box does but on a less than commercial-sized budget. MadMapper runs on a central computer and functions as the head end. You can then use MiniMad devices (a specially constructed Raspberry Pi) to connect to the projector or screen and it drives the display. You can have as many MiniMads as you want, and each MiniMad hosts it's own media locally. So the Central computer can take in cues in the form of almost anything, then trigger all the minimad devices in sync where they will play the media through a video map so that the projected image is wrapped around the object you want illuminated.

Pretty cool system MadMapper is 400E and each MiniMad is 200E. So not crazy money, and super scalable. Works with Midi, ARTnet, sACN, Syphon, all the stuff.

I'm still researching, but this seems like the best "Prosumer" way to map a large area with multiple video devices that all need to cooperate. Although it's not really Prosumer. It's been used in some big installs.
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Joris Jans2

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2021, 03:05:00 pm »

that looks really cool, i'm gonna dive in to that next week also, i guess :)
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Tim Hite

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2021, 05:26:00 pm »

Resolume has free trials with just a watermark on the output and will do what you are asking.
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Russell Ault

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2021, 01:37:57 am »

[...] Pretty cool system MadMapper is 400E and each MiniMad is 200E. [...]

I mentioned MadMapper to a colleague of mine who has researched this sort of thing extensively over the last couple of years, and he mentioned another similar system that is open-source and designed to run on off-the-shelf Raspberry Pis called PiWall.

-Russ
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Eric Eskam

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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #19 on: June 15, 2021, 01:55:28 pm »

For those that do this, what wuold you say is the easiest PM software to learn? Also what do I need to keep in mind if I eventually want to trigger PM events, audio, video, and lighting cues all at once? I'm assuming that most of these things would accept a midi input or some type of show control?

Is it difficulr to use multiple projectors on the same scene? I would like to use at least 2 projectors but could eventually see myself using 4 or more. Eventually I would like to use the entire room as a projection element. I could make locust swarms in the aisleways for example.

I saw ProPresenter mentioned earlier in the thread, but there didn't seem to be much detail so I can fill in some more.

We recently did this and have had excellent results.  I'll have to go back and get some more pictures, but ProPresenter 7 makes it pretty stinking easy to set up.  They also changed their licensing model to an annual license with a discounted renewal - but all the modules are unlocked.  You don't have to pay past the first year, but you also no longer get updates.  You can resume the license if you need updates, but it's at full price - obviously to encourage renewal every year.  Pro 7 is a rewrite - Windows and Mac have feature parity.  Since you tend to get more hardware bang with buck with Windows, our new boxes have been Windows and have worked great.  We still have some Macs in the mix and they work well too.

Pro7 can also send MIDI cues (used to be a separate module) and one ProPresenter machine can control others too (used to be the master control module).   So our main machine can trigger the lighting desk, as well as control the ProPresenter instance that handles our environmental projection.  One operator can control - or at least trigger - it all.  I haven't got all the bugs in that worked out yet but it's next on my list.  I'm not sure if the old Master Control Module functionality is there yet; it was one of the few things that didn't make it over from Pro6 when Pro7 was first launched.  But the MIDI control is there and it works a treat.  If it's not there yet, I would imagine it will be by the end of the year.  Pro7 was a rewrite and it shows - much improved and a lot more stable than previous versions.

We have three 4:3 native Mitsubishi's that we got on close out - mainly because they are something like 8K lumens.  We primarily got them because they are bright and relatively cheap; for us resolution wasn't as important for environmental/background projection - but brightness was.  They have dual bulbs which is nice - if one bulb dies hopefully the other will keep working long enough to change 'em both and in the meantime it just gets dimmer.  I can't wait until LED walls get cheap enough to finally ditch projectors :p

One thing to pay attention to is the amount of control you have *in the projector* for geometry correction.  Luckily these Mitsubishis aren't bad - other than having to wire the remotes into them since you can't set IR codes and assign each remote to each projector for wireless control (and the built in web interface requires an ancient version of IE we no longer have anywhere near our network), so wiring the remotes as needed is mandatory to have predictable control for setting them up since they are right besides each other.  Thankfully we have our own lift so plugging in the cord (just a bog standard 3.5mm headphone extension cable; same for most projectors I have seen).  The bulk of your set up work will be with the projectors getting them to map to your walls and line up with each other.  If you have straight walls it will be fairly trivial.  We don't - we have angled walls on the sides that were rather challenging.  One of our pastors spent a few evenings tweaking the crap out of them and he got them pinned to the space really well.  Way better than I thought we would be able to.  If you are patient and persistent you can achieve amazing results.  Better projectors with better controls will make complex mapping of the projector to your physical space a heck of a lot easier, but unless you happen to find someone who owns the exact model you are considering and you get to ask them very pointed questions good luck trying to divine what's going to be a good projector or not as far as this control goes.  Same about being able to assign remotes to individual projectors.  Heck manuals don't often surface this information easily. 

Anyway once you have your projectors mounted and displaying where you want them to, you overlap each projector slightly - we did about 10% of the two side projectors with the center projector.  Then the fun begins in ProPresenter.  In the Edit Screens you create a new Screen consisting of three monitors (we use NDI - more later; but can be physical outputs on a video card - whatever you need), one for each Projector. We settled on 1080p30 since we will rarely show video, and even if we do it won't be high motion.  For us this is background imagery - it's not supposed to be distracting :)  Pro Presenter will show the three screens with bars where the projectors overlap.  You click on those bars and from inside of there you control the edge blending.  We didn't mess with much other than the width.  It took some trial and error before we got results to where you really don't see the blend.  The first time we started, we didn't spend that much time with the projectors lining them up - big mistake.  Get the projects as close to perfect BEFORE you start messing around with the software and you will be a lot happier in the long run.  Lesson learned - there are no shortcuts!

And that's pretty much it.  They have a pretty good tutorials here: https://renewedvision.com/propresenter/tutorials/

Edge Blending is in the Advanced Configurations section, but you might want to watch the one on configuring screens in the Basics section first so that screens section makes a bit more sense.  Around 2:35 he goes over creating an NDI screen/source.

We have a large, center screen for slides, lyrics, etc. and the environmental projectors overlapped with that screen - obviously not really desirable.  Thankfully ProPresenter supports masks - just create a new mask, insert an object closes to the shape of what you want to mask (for a screen we just inserted a square object), set the object fill to black (mask everything) and then with some pretty easy trial and error was able to size/position the mask to keep the environmental projection off of our main screen, but instead surrounding it.  One downside to masks with Pro6 and earlier - every time you launched ProPresenter you would have to remember to turn the masks back on.  With Pro7 they introduced Looks - and as part of a Look you can have a mask automatically applied.  Simplicity itself (once you know what it's called and where to find it!).  BTW you can go nuts with masks they can be whatever shape(s) you want, and if you change the transparency it takes effect in the projectors.  A 100% black object masks that portion out entirely.  50% transparent would show the projection at 50%.  Colored boxes in the mask are similar to applying a color filter, etc. You can compensate for different surface textures/reflectivity by using transparency/colors, for example.  If you can't quite get your projectors to square up with your physical environment, you can also use a mask to lop off those bits too.  It's pretty wild.

For those who are still with me and might be curious about NDI:

For connectivity to the projectors (and everything else for that matter) we are migrating to NDI.  ProPresenter 7 has native support for NDI and its amazing.  We are using Birddog Flex 4K Out (https://bird-dog.tv/flex-overview/)  connected to the environmental projectors.  The nicest thing about NDI - no need for physical video outputs.  If you want to have 30 screens, as long as the computer has the grunt to do it (and you have at least a 10Gb network connection), however ProPresenter tops out at 5 screens per output.  I've driven 7 simultaneous NDI outputs in ProPresenter from a Ryzan 6 system with no problems.  Granted only one was edge blended; the rest were for things like stage displays, screens with special formatting for the live streaming like lower bandwidth lower thirds only - however you can comfortably get around 6 1080p60 streams on gigabit ethernet with NDI - but I wouldn't push more than that.  Thankfully 2.5, 5 and 10Gb ethernet has really come down in price - or if you have managed switches you can LAGG ports to double/triple up - whatever you need.  NDI doesn't consume nearly as much bandwidth as I assumed it would.

If you don't want to fuss with NDI you can go individual outs from a video card, or you can use the Matrox Triple Head 2 Go to split one output into multiples - ProPresenter has supported that forever and Pro7 still does.  We decided now was as good a time as any to go pure digital since we recently added some Briddog PTZ NDI cameras to up our live streaming game.  Churches also get their control software for free which is pretty good.  Pair it with OBS and it's amazing what you can do on a shoestring these days.

RenewedVision has *really* upped their game when it comes to monitor support in Pro7 - its the way I always thought it should have worked.  We have NDI outputs for our live stream - we have several set up with different text only/lower thirds layouts with transparency for lyrics during music - they just grab the one they need for the OBS scene they are using, or the OBS operators can grab the same NDI stream the main projector uses when they want to show the full screen in stream as a picture in picture (say meeting note slides during the message) or full screen (say when playing a video).  NDI is very flexible - you can have as many active looks/NDI sources as your computer and network will support. 

I tested playing the NDI PTZ cameras back through our BirdDog Flex Outs and I think there is less latency than the HDMI camera/ATEM setup we tested.  I was pleasantly surprised at just how good it was for being an "inferior" solution to SDI - ha!

The only "gotcha" to NDI for me was sussing out the logical flow.  I kept looking for a way to connect ProPresenter directly to the Flex 4K Out's - but NDI doesn't work that way.  There are NDI Sources and things that consume those NDI sources to do something with them - our Flex Outs to convert NDI to HDMI for the projectors, our OBS computer to consume various NDI streams to stream cameras/content as needed, etc. 

ProPresenter is a source the same as our NDI PTZ cameras.  As soon as you fire it up, ProPresenter registers the 3 (or how many you have defined) NDI "screens" on the network.  You name them when you set them up in ProPresenter.   Then you go into the interface for the BirdDog Flex (or whatever is converting NDI to HDMI for you) and pick which screen from ProPresenter you want it to show.  For OBS, to use an NDI source you create a media source with the named NDI source you want to work with. 

Once it clicks that you have to create a source from something like ProPresenter or an NDI camera and *then* you consume those sources wherever you want to use them NDI is pretty simple to work with. 

The downside is this model can make management of mapping a lot of NDI sources with boxes like the Flex Out a PITA - but that BirdDog control software churches get for free from BirdDog I mentioned helps you organize and manage at least the BirdDog boxes so you don't have to log into the web interface of them individually.  You can basically create a customized matrix switcher in any layout you desire and then their control software will go out and program those boxes for you on the fly with a click.  It's very, very slick once you get over the typical learning curve for any new technology - in my opinion NDI has a pretty shallow curve once you orient yourself to their approach.

Also beware cheap NDI boxes.  The Birddog boxes were on backorder much of last year so we picked up a few Deltacast Neos - https://www.deltacast.com/products/ndi-to-hdmi-converter but with COVID never got around to messing with them, especially once we were able to get our hands on the BirdDog Flex 4K Outs. 

The Deltacast boxes are utter garbage.  Very high latency, poor video quality and unstable as all get out.  Video will randomly freeze then unfreeze.  Occasionally you get weird whole screen purple/pink flashes.  Didn't matter if they were pointed at ProPresenter or the BirdDog NDI PTZ cameras.  If I had a projector with a deltacast up at the same time as a projector with the BirdDog pointed to the same NDI camera the BirdDog was buttery smooth and just about realtime.  There was a VERY obvious lag/jerky behavior with the Deltacast.  Maybe they just need a firmware update - I dunno, I haven't messed with them much since we were able to finally get the BirdDog Flex's.  I'm glad we didn't fire up the Neos before we got the BirdDog boxes or we probably would have dropped NDI - they are that awful.  The Birddog kit, so far, is extremely solid.  Working WAY better than I had hoped. 

Oh one more NDI tip - if you want a matrix view of multiple NDI sources (more useful for cameras than, say projectors - then again being able to preview what would be on projectors without having to fire them up can be handy) OBS does a great job of that too.  I spent time searching for a solution - found a couple of paid programs dedicated to creating NDI Matrix displays and almost pulled the trigger; then had that proverbial head smacking moment - why not just use OBS.
And for those not familiar - OBS - Open Broadcast Studio: https://obsproject.com
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Re: Where to get started with Projection Mapping
« Reply #19 on: June 15, 2021, 01:55:28 pm »


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