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Discussion: Tips for the perfect effect engine

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Hello everybody! :)
by reading the forum from time to time, I got the impression that a couple of users are not familiar or 100% satisfied with the effect engine of zerOS. Maybe I'm wrong with my impression (let me know), but I would like to take this occasion to talk with the other FLX users (or other zerOS-consoles) about possible improvements.
The current effect engine has a scientific approach in the sense of how it works. Mainly it is based on mathematical functions to chance fixture parameters. This makes it flexible and powerful. On the other hand, this seems to be less user-friendly and intuitive than the effect engines of zero88's competitors.
In my opinion, an effect engine has to give the designer or operator a very easy and effective way to select and configure often used effects. E.g. a rainbow, moving a couple of fixtures in a wave, or a fly in / out. Let me use this examples to show what I mean:
Rainbow: The build in rainbow effect-palette does not include the primary colours red, green and blue alone. There are only mixed colors with at least two primary colors active. This is caused by the underlaying waveforms. From the designers point of view a rainbow should go like this: From red to yellow, than reducing the red part going to green, than keeping green on and increasing blue going to cyan and so on. It's very hard (if not impossible) do to exactly this with the currently used waveform-based effects.
Moving fixtures in a wave: Select a couple of fixtures, apply a sine effect to tilt and wonder: All fixtures are moving equal. Where is the sinewave? Hidden by an zero-offset. This could be easily fixed (and is no problem at all for experienced users) by applying an offset using Shift+<Wheel>. Imagine the selected fixtures are part of a truss-circle - so we would like that the first fixture exactly follows the last one to get a closed, stepless wave. I found it very hard to find the correct offset value in such cases. Sometimes, I used half an hour for that before I finally give up...
Fly in/out: In this case, we have to sync different attributes and have to care about the moving speed of the fixture: First the fixture has to go to the top tilt value with zero intensity. Than we should wait a moment so that the fixture can perform the movement (this is important!). Now we can open the shutter and move to bottom, close the shutter at bottom and repeat. Synchronisation between the waveforms for the different attributes is hard to reach. Wait between steps to let the fixture move is not possible.
Possible improvements:
  • Use intuitive units for effect parameters: Speed in BPM or Hz, Offset in degree, Size in %. There are no units at all currently. Thus it's hard to get an understanding of what the effect engine is doing.
  • Implement a function to automatically spread the offset between all selected or a specific # of fixtures
More improvements could be made if the approach is changed:

 

  • Don't limit effects to waveforms: E.g. self (or build-in) step patterns could fasten the programming of chasers. Develop new creative approaches for creating effects. Think from the designers point of view (often this couldn't be done by programmers)
  • Provide build-in effects not only as palettes, but also as a quick solution for often needed exercises: Fly in, Fly out, Rainbow - all those effects where it is not possible to do them perfectly with waveforms, because parameters are depending on each other and so on. Those effects should be configurable with different parameters - depending on which parameters it could be possible worth for the designer to have influence on
I hope you understand this post as constructive criticism - this is my intention.
All in all I'm glad to use the FLX. Especially I really appreciate that you are interested in your users needs. This is why I wrote this - hoping to initiate a step in the FLX's way to be the perfect lighting console.
It's not in my nature to write long (and complicated) texts in english language. I hope you could easily understand my intention and that Google Translator hasn't fooled me. ;)
At last I'd like to invite every user to participate at this discussion.
Best regards ;)
Jan

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Hi Jan,

 

I've been partly waiting to see if other people will reply to this (sadly they haven't) and partly waiting until I had enough time to look into this in more detail.

 

I 100% agree with everything you say. However, we've got a vision to take this much further, implementing something that covers everything you mention above but makes it even easier, simpler and more visual.

 

I'll try and get some mockups over the next few weeks, but before that, I'd be interested to see what others (and yourself) would suggest if we scrapped the effects engine completely and started again!

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I've been partly waiting to see if other people will reply to this (sadly they haven't)

 

Jon - it's "partly" :P because we've been plotting against you on the quiet!

 

As you know I've also discussed the effects engine with you (certainly in respect of RGB) and also posted in other related topics here. However, JW, and Lufferov in http://zero88.com/forum/topic/7770-understanding-effect-waveforms/ have captured the details in a much clearer and complete form than I ever have/could!

 

So just to add support to JW above with his observations and suggestions and also to Lufferov's post, where I see you've already noted that you're working on a new interface to this aspect of FLX, which is great news.

 

Regards,

Kevin

I'd be interested to see what others (and yourself) would suggest if we scrapped the effects engine completely and started again!

 

Yes please and noting I don't have pins for fingers :lol: so some slightly more touchable button areas would also be nice - and also being able to map the screen to the external monitor where the mouse could be used!

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I've been partly waiting to see if other people will reply to this (sadly they haven't) and partly waiting until I had enough time to look into this in more detail.

 

Thanks for your response, Jon. I was afraid my post could have annoyed you - now I'm glad it hasn't. :)

I've written a lot about this, maybe it was to much for somebody to read and participate.

 

I 100% agree with everything you say. However, we've got a vision to take this much further, implementing something that covers everything you mention above but makes it even easier, simpler and more visual.

To be honest I hadn't the impression you (and the zero88 team) has realized that there is strong need to rework the effect engine before your reply. Therefore this are very good news. I'm looking forward to get a more detailed impression on your vision.

 

I'll try and get some mockups over the next few weeks, but before that, I'd be interested to see what others (and yourself) would suggest if we scrapped the effects engine completely and started again!

 

You have an abstract of my wishes and ideas in my post above. Of course I could write even more, but in my opinion this doesn't make much sense.

Suggestion: you try to get some mockups for us or you could mail me an alpha release of it (so I can try how it feels "live") and then we give you our opinion, ideas and improvements. Is this OK for you?

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Jan - did you ever get any alpha code to have a play with? I'm interested if there has been any progress with the development of the Effects Engine for FLX - I don't recall seeing anything in any of the recent Betas.

 

I know the Zero88 team have (it appears!) been busy with the new FLX S24/48 desks and this should be good for the longevity of the FLX brand. However I'm eager to see some of the much promised and much awaited features that have been raised and discussed on this branch of the Forum actually make it into the released software, e.g. Correllian fixture library, Effects Engine. My reading of some of Jon's comments looks like the team have been a bit stalled resolving Solution compatibility issues and trying in vain to continue FROG2 support. Hopefully these are now out of the way and there will be more traction on the FLX wavefront and maybe a more predictable schedule?

 

Let's hope that Jon and Ed come back from PLASA enthused and motivated to bring us both great new ideas and solid fundamentals over the next months!

 

A rallying cry not a criticism...! :P We all want to love this console unashamedly - but the Forum has been relatively quiet for some weeks even months now, especially the generally active contributors - and I'm hoping that user's aren't drifting away...

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Jan - did you ever get any alpha code to have a play with? I'm interested if there has been any progress with the development of the Effects Engine for FLX - I don't recall seeing anything in any of the recent Betas.

 

I know the Zero88 team have (it appears!) been busy with the new FLX S24/48 desks and this should be good for the longevity of the FLX brand. However I'm eager to see some of the much promised and much awaited features that have been raised and discussed on this branch of the Forum actually make it into the released software, e.g. Correllian fixture library, Effects Engine. My reading of some of Jon's comments looks like the team have been a bit stalled resolving Solution compatibility issues and trying in vain to continue FROG2 support. Hopefully these are now out of the way and there will be more traction on the FLX wavefront and maybe a more predictable schedule?

 

Let's hope that Jon and Ed come back from PLASA enthused and motivated to bring us both great new ideas and solid fundamentals over the next months!

 

A rallying cry not a criticism...! :P We all want to love this console unashamedly - but the Forum has been relatively quiet for some weeks even months now, especially the generally active contributors - and I'm hoping that user's aren't drifting away...

 

Hi Kevin,

 

Yes we have indeed been busy with! However as you know ZerOS 7.9.3 will be coming soon for FLX.

The Effects engine hasn't been overhauled for this update, however it has had some new features added to make it simpler and quicker to use.

 

In ZerOS 7.9.3 you will notice there are some preset "Offset" buttons along the top of the Effects screen. These can be used to quickly offset effects across individual fixtures, or groups of fixtures. The ability to fan offset across your lights remains (holding SETUP + EFFECT to set the fan mode, and then holding SHIFT + dialing the offset encoder to fan)

 

Kind regards

Edward

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