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Thread: To the laser show software companies

  1. #1
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    Default To the laser show software companies

    To the laser software people:

    I realize that it takes a lot of work to create software to produce laser shows. But, software that plays back laser shows is quite simple. So, I understand why it costs a lot of money to buy the various show creation software.

    But what about people who don't want to create shows? What about people who just want to watch them? Why not create some cheap software that does nothing but plays back shows.

    Also, why not create an industry standard show format? Although the ILDA format is not intended for that, it is pretty close to being what is needed. Why not enhance or base something on it with music time cues and frames? And, if you are worried about people stealing the shows then just add an encryption layer to the show file.

  2. #2
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    Hi carmangary,

    I don't know which DAC you use, but if you use the parallel port DAC there is some free softwares to play back shows, for example Norm's Laser Show. If you use the USB/ethernet DAC, the manufacturer can supply their own play back program, for example I know that Riya equipment is always supply with their own play back program for free. So I think there is no need to write this software because it is already available.

    Also, why do you say the ILDA format is not intended for industry standard show format? I think this is the purpose, but I agree this format is a bit old and ugly now. It does support frames, but there is no support for timing (you have to add up the points for every frame to know the time). Maybe this standard can be updated now, but I think this should be the job of the ILDA working group better than one company.

    Kind regards,

    sonaluma

  3. #3
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    I use the Moncha DAC. It works with the Moncha software. It has a feature to play back 20fps ILDA files. It also has a feature to create shows. But, the shows that are created can't even be exported to ILDA files so I can't give them to my friends who have Norm's software or Mamba, or any Pangolin software. Some apps will let you export to an ILDA frame stream but even that doesn't cut it because any timing is lost and it is wasteful because of dupilicate frames, etc.

    In my opinion, the ILDA file should be ditched, as far as this goes, and a show format created. I think Bill from Pangolin even said the ILDA file was never intended for this use. There is no need to have all of those crazy different formats and color tables. Just use RGB and put it in something easy to parse like XML. Add a framerate to the file and create a table of frames and time cues and an audio file and it's done! It could even be expanded to support multiple scanners if needed. Of course, this means that the show files might be big but in this day of 750GB harddrives and flash 8GB USB sticks that is not a problem.

    This doesn't prevent companies like Pangolin who have DACs with on board processing from using all of their power. It just means that if they want to export the show to the generic standard format, they have to preprocess the frames and store them in the new frames.

    As far as ILDA taking the lead on this goes, that would be nice, but standards committees are pretty slow at getting anything done.

    Laser show parts are dropping fast. You can get brand new 15K galvo sets with DMX for $80 from China. 30K sets are down to $250. Lasers are dirt cheap now. It wont be long before someone comes out with a USB DAC for next to nothing. It won't be long before a single color scanner can be had for $200. The only thing that hasn't gone down in price is software. If the professional laser show software companies don't jump on some cheap software then some hobbyist group is going to create it (a la DivX, MAME, etc).

  4. #4
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    Hi carmangary,

    Agree that the crazy formats and colour tables need to go. These would have been sensible when the format was developed ~8 years ago, but as you suggest, the technology has come a long way since then! 8 bits for each of red, green, blue, intensity stored in an XML file would be ideal.

    However, there are several problems with saving the show file as output points: the show file becomes specific to a particular scanner speed (also, scanners can be described better than the arbitrary PPS rating), and it is impossible to specify a frame rate because the frame rate is variable (it depends on the number of points in each frame).

    A better solution would be to save geometry, not output points. This way, it would be possible to specify a fixed animation frame rate, and the playback software can generate the best output points, with variable frame rate, for any type of scanner knowing the geometry and the scanner parameters.

    I think that creating speed-independent geometry and characterizing scanners with multiple parameters will become especially important as new and different types of scanners emerge which behave very differently to conventional galvos (e.g. http://www.mirrorcletech.com/).

    We are developing software based on these and some other principles which we believe will be revolutionary. But don't become too excited yet, because the estimated time to market is 3-4 years and the software is not targeted for the hobbyist market.

    We welcome free software for the hobbyist market, and we are happy to contribute some ideas. We are considering ways to make a free version available, however it is very difficult to find a balance between a free version which is useless for hobbyists and a free version which is usable for commercial purposes. I am not aware of any other laser show software company which even attempts to do this.

    Kind regards,

    sonaluma

  5. #5
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    Geometry based plotting sounds pretty cool but if it isn't aimed towards the budget user then it doesn't really solve the problem I presented. I think the traditional point based way is fine for now.

    As far as the problems you presented, well, they aren't really problems at all. You can match any frame to a frame rate by varying the number of points displayed per second and by repeating the frames within the time slice. So, a frame of 10 points or 1000 pts can be matched to 20 fps. There only becomes a problem if the number of points is too high but that can be avoided for the most part. I use this technique in my software and it works well. There is sometimes flicker in the tough frames but for the most part the output is flicker free.

    Also, each player can have settings that are optimized for the hardware. The frames don't have to be played back as provided. Blanking points can be added or removed and even further optimization can be done if desired. The frame only needs to specify the necessary coordinates for the drawing. The player software can take care of making sure the frames are displaying on the hardware. Moncha software does this to some extent already. It completely strips out blanking data from frames and adds its own blanking data based on user settings.

    Obviously you can't make a frame with 3000points work well on a 15kps scanner so there would have to be some assumption that everyone will be using a 30kps scanner set or greater. At the rate the Chinese are lowering prices on these things I don't see that a problem, though.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by carmangary View Post
    Geometry based plotting sounds pretty cool but if it isn't aimed towards the budget user then it doesn't really solve the problem I presented. I think the traditional point based way is fine for now.
    I am suggesting the geometry-based frames for consideration for a standard show file format. The idea is independent of any implementation, so it's not targeted towards any particular user or software. The simplest way to store the geometry would be as a list of points, and it sounds like your software already treats ILDA frames in this way.

    Kind regards,

    sonaluma

  7. #7
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    Default moncha ilda

    hey carmangary i found a way around moncha not outputing ilda
    it can be done in a few clicks download fiesta2 software and install
    do your drawing in moncha draw save it open the folder with that file in right click the file change the end bit from mdf to qzr open file in quazar then export to ilda it works for me and i dont have moncha i just played around with the software i do want to buy it as soon as i get enough money tell me how good is it compared to fb3

  8. #8
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    You can save Moncha Draw files directly in ILDA format. No need to do what you did. But, you can't open an ILDA file in Moncha Draw. Oddly, you can open them in Quazar.

    But, that really isn't what I was getting at. If you create an entire show in Moncha or Fiesta you can't play it back elsewhere. You have to play it back with Moncha or Fiesta.

    It's kind of silly. A rock group can create a song using some nice instruments, fancy sequencers, and a high end sound board they can plop it on a CD that can be played back on a $50 CD player. No need for me to buy all of their musical instruments and production equipment. Why should someone who just wants to enjoy a laser show have to pay for all of the production software? How many people on here own copies of Delphi, Visual Studio, etc to run their computer programs?

    It will be interesting to see which company enters the consumer markey first - maybe it will be an entirely new company or just some hobbyist. We already have someone on here creating an USB DAC - and Norm is currently working on one, too. If someone creates some freeware for those that doesn't suck then that would really open the door to the hobby guys.

    I don't think guys like Pangolin are going anywhere. They'll always have places like Disney with huge budgets to buy their stuff. But, the stuff they are currently selling doesn't fit into a consumer market. The FB3 is close but it is still proprietary and doesn't have an API currently.

  9. #9
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    Default moncha ilda

    do what i said backwards that works ok i converted some of my ilda files so i could edit them in moncha
    i know what you mean though that seem toapply every where with all sorts of software
    Last edited by badger1666; 12-30-2007 at 05:31. Reason: forgot somting

  10. #10
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    Hi Gary,

    Just one question: Exactly how much would you like to pay for a Laser Show Player type device?

    That is the main question.

    Over the years, we have produced several different kinds of Laser Show Players, including our CD2000, which can be seen here:
    http://www.pangolin.com/LD2000/cd2000player.htm

    We have something else that we call a FlashLITE which is a stand alone board that can easily be configured to playback laser shows, and this product can get down into the $100 range if quantity is even moderately high.

    Anyway, the main question is -- what price would people be willing to pay? Second question is -- do you want to pay out of the PC, or stand-alone?

    We've been in this business for 22 years, and I can tell you from experience that laser show players do not sell well. The reason is, people always want "more".

    For example, over the years we grew the features of our CD2000 due to people wanting more features, and in 8 years we only sold... 100 pieces. With FlashLITE, despite the incredibly low price (even for very high quality that is always the hallmark of Pangolin), we have not sold very many of these at all.

    So frankly, I have my doubts about a laser show player-only type device, whether stand-alone or PC-based. People will always want more and more and more. And once you get into "more", well, you are into something like and LD2000 Intro system, or Flashback system, or (god forbid) something from a competitor .

    But anyway, sure, I'll bite... how much were you thinking about paying for such a thing?

    Best regards,

    William Benner

    PS: Gary, you and I should get into a private conversation about our many forrays into the "consumer" market... (none of which went anywhere, despite the last one involving big companies such as Intel, Logitech and Quiznos). We actually have a patent pending on a small playback system and complete laser projector which we showed at LDI 2004. We've done amazing work in this area, yielding amazing performance and an amazing pricepoint, and yet... no bites...
    Last edited by Pangolin; 12-31-2007 at 14:38.

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