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CL2 Stage Tools

From ConduitWiki

Conduit Live + Stage Tools is a comprehensive toolset for creating video shows and many kinds of installations that deal with live video. Everything you need to design and run video performances is included.

  • Combine visuals from live cameras, pre-recorded media, realtime effects and editable subtitles.
  • Control the system with a handy cue list, or using external devices through industry-standard hardware protocols.
  • Use accelerated graphics algorithms programmed in JavaScript for unlimited flexibility.
  • Output images on up to nine projectors from a single Mac.

Of course all the baseline functionality of Conduit Live is included, so you're also getting a video capture and compositing application in the same package.


Equipped with Stage Tools, Conduit Live can be used like a lighting console for realtime video effects and playback. Practically everything in Conduit Live can be programmed using cues: slider and color picker animations, effect changes, image load/play/pause controls, etc. Sequenced together, cues make up a complete show that's very easy to run. With Stage Tools, a single video operator can easily and reliably run a complex show with multiple video outputs and any combination of live and pre-recorded video material.


Contents

Getting Started

Looking for a quick hands-on tour of Stage Tools? Please see Conduit Live: Getting Started with Stage Tools

What's included in Stage Tools

Stage Tools consists of a total of 10 components. Three of these are new windows with special user interfaces. There are also 7 node widgets that can be used within a Conduit Live project.

The windows are accessible by the Tools menu. They are:

  • Stage Tools Cue List - cue list editor
  • Stage Tools Info - floater window that displays show status
  • Live Titles - titling editor

The node widgets can be found in the Node Widgets section of the Project window. They are:

  • Audio Input
  • DMX Source
  • Live Titles
  • Perspective Warp
  • Playback Control
  • Stage Tools Trigger

There's a vast amount of creative control setups that can be built by combining these node widgets. Some examples:

Using DMX Source as the input to a Conduit Effect node widget, a stage light controller can be used to drive visual effects parameters, followed by a Perspective Warp to correct the distortion from a projector installation.

Audio Input connected to Stage Tools Trigger could be used to perform specific Stage Tools cues when a signal is received over a regular audio line connection. Audio Input also performs spectral analysis, so the cue could be triggered only when something occurs on a specific frequency band (e.g. a high-pitched sound).


Stage Tools windows

Designing cues in the Cue List window

The Cue List is where you design the cues that make up a show. The cue list is built up from cues that get triggered during the show.

The simplest kind of cue list would be something like a PowerPoint presentation: each cue simply shows a new image or video clip. (In fact, you can create this kind of cue list automatically from a PDF file using the options available in the Cue List window's Tools menu.) More commonly, it's not enough to just show a sequence of images. Using the Cue List, you can add more complex operations like effect changes, slider animations and delayed image loads.

A single cue in the cue list can contain an unlimited amount of operations, and they can be timed at will. This gives a tremendous amount of freedom in constructing cues, and makes it possible to design complex shows in such a way that the person who runs the show doesn't need to understand the inner workings of the system at all.

Typically cues are triggered by user interaction, for example a video operator pressing the Advance to next cue shortcut key. However it is also possible to trigger cues automatically or from hardware input. This can be done using the Stage Tools Trigger node widget, or even from custom JavaScript programs.

For more information, see Cue List window in this manual.

Using the Info window

The Info window is designed to be the "dashboard" to watch when a show is actually running.

It shows the current cue, the next cue, and their descriptions. Typically the description would be something that tells the operator when the cue is meant to occur, for example: "lights go out, Jane enters stage and says 'Hello'."

(The description is entered in the yellow box in the Cue List. First select a cue from the list, then type the description in the yellow box.)

There are also two clocks which can be used to keep track of how long the show has been running. The clocks can be hidden by clicking the "Show Clock" checkbox.


Node widgets in Stage Tools

Audio Input

Captures audio from the system's default input device, which can be the internal microphone, Line In jack, or a 3rd party device. You can select the active sound input device in System Preferences > Sound.

This node widget has three outputs:

  • Output 1: raw audio data (data is of type 'video').
This is a one-dimensional video stream that contains the latest audio data waveform as floating-point values.
  • Output 2: min/max/average values (data is of type 'value').
A list of numbers which represent the minimum and maximum values in the incoming audio. These can be interpreted as the dynamic range of the sound. For example, a loud clap will temporarily increase the maximum, and a constant background hum will prevent the minimum from ever going to zero.
The first two values in the list are min/max computed as a running average computed over a short period of time. This value has a falloff, so it looks better for controlling something like image brightness, as it won't "flash" on and off instantly.
The other two values in the list are min/max computed only from the most recent sound data.
  • Output 3: frequency bands (data is of type 'value').
These values represent frequencies of the audio spectrum. The first values are bass and the last values are the highest frequencies.

DMX Source

Outputs values received over a DMX512 connection commonly used for stage lighting and effect installations. This allows for Conduit Live to be controlled together with stage lights.

An USB adapter is required to provide the DMX->computer connection. The only supported adapter is Enttec DMX USB PRO. To purchase this device, please see Enttec's web site at www.enttec.com.

Live Titles

Live Titles is a tool for displaying live-operated text, e.g. theatrical subtitles. It's possible to apply styles to text blocks. This allows for multiple layers of text with color, placement, rotation and drop shadows.

During the show, advancing to the next title is accomplished with a shortcut key. This allows for convenient operation, as regular Stage Tools cues and titles can be advanced separately.

For more information, see Live Titles.

Perspective Warp

Warps the input image in perspective. The perspective can be computed from corner points. Typically, this node widget is used in combination with On-Screen Points, which allows you to pick four points in the Viewer. The Perspective Warp node widget will then map the video within those corner points with correct perspective applied.

Alternatively, the corner points could be the output from an Animation Curves node for an animated warping effect. (Using the Script Widget, it's also possible to write custom JavaScript programs that can operate on input data, and then pipe the script's output into Perspective Warp.)

For special applications, you can also supply a custom perspective matrix (an array of 16 number values that determines how the input image is warped).

Playback Control

This node widget offers a feature known as "fader start" for video clips. You can specify that a movie will start playing when a specific slider (or other value) goes over a given treshold. When the slider goes back down, the movie will stop playing.

This is highly useful for building setups where the same slider controls image opacity and starts the video playback.

To control values with sliders, connect the Slider Bank node widget's output to Playback Control. The names and values of the sliders will be displayed in the Playback Control node widget, allowing you to select which slider affects which movie clip.

The control values don't have to be sliders. You can also connect any other node widget that outputs a value, for example Audio Input or DMX Source.

Stage Tools Trigger

This node widget triggers Stage Tools cues based on input. The trigger occurs when the input value crosses a specific treshold; for example, when a MIDI slider is moved above 10%.

This node widget can be used either to activate a specific cue each time the trigger occurs, or to advance to the next cue in the list. The latter mode may be particularly useful to run a live show based on input from a DMX light controller, or other hardware trigger.


Continue reading: Back to Stage Tools User's Guide contents