PDA

View Full Version : 2014. A vixen3 year or switch to something else?



burtonmadness
01-05-2014, 12:52 AM
2013 Christmas was my first year blinking lights et al.

I decided to take a risk and learn Vixen3 rather than take the "safe" route and go with Vixen2.

I had no pixels (this year) and I'm relatively thick skinned to crashing programs to a point. I'm not a windows man (spent most of my working life on Linux), but found Vixen3 to be a good work in progress.

Next Christmas, already committing (with enthusiastic wife) to put 72x 0.6m pixel strips on our fence, coroplast columns on the front so medium-heavy pixel usage (compared to some).

So my question is following:

1) With the integration of xLight + Nutcracker being a little tighter than Vixen
2) HLS being used a little more with megatree pixel users
3) The state of Vixen3 this year.


Unless a roadmap for Vixen3 is enlightening, myself and I think others may be looking to switch and I would like a good reason why I should, and why I should not.

BTW: Kudos to all the developers of HLS, xLights, Nutcracker and of course Vixen for their endeavors in this hobby.

/BM

Blackbeard
01-05-2014, 05:35 AM
A great post. I'm anxious to see some informed replies. I've been away for a while, so I've got a lot of catching up to do. Your #1 above confuses me a little. I thought xLights was a scheduler and Nutcracker was an effect-for-pixels generator for sequences. Seems a lot are using it as a replacement for Vixen.

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk

bolwire
01-05-2014, 08:25 AM
Just a few things I would like to toss in here. Vixen 3 made a huge leap forward this year. Most of the development team, myself included used Vixen 3 for our show this year, so it was a chance to look at things as a user and not so much a developer. Things were learned and bugs were found. Most of those have already been resolved code wise but the team was not looking to introduce a new version in the middle of showtime where the issues were not show stoppers.

In general I think people will always end up using what they feel comfortable with. I can't say that I've ever given up on a program that I felt comfortable with just because of some issues that a fix was on the way for or I couldn't work around. In the end each of the programs make our lights blink. The front end feel is the major player. It wouldn't matter if there were a program 100% bug free, if you didn't like the look and feel of it, most would switch for that reason alone. Just my input. Great work and thanks to the rest of the V3 dev team as well as all of the other lighting software guys and gals who have out so much time and effort into their products for others to enjoy.

James

jcarney
01-05-2014, 12:01 PM
I ran vixen 3 this year as an upgrade from 2. While there were minor hiccups it worked well. This was also my first dive into a pixel mega tree and that was the part of the show that ran the most consistent. I was pleased and will be sticking with it.

As a side note I did try HLS mid summer and the model just didn't work for how I prefer things. This was really a personal preference not a lack of HLS.

Aurbo99
01-05-2014, 01:01 PM
I ran Vixen3.0.1.11 this year.

-It did exactly what it was supposed to do, and when with no crashes, fatal exceptions or hangs.

-a few sequencing/color/object issues to be sorted out in the next 10 months, but nothing that prevented me and my family from sequencing a total of 17 songs in less than 5 days.

Only thing I can think of is that we on the Dev team need to get more user documentation and how-to's to lower the display setup/preview setup learning curve.

DaveJZ
01-05-2014, 01:36 PM
I took a look at others.. and then I downloaded Vixen 3... As a user standpoint and use Vixen 3 looked to be more user friendly... I did not run a show this year with three but plan to in 2014 for the same reason as you.. When I get a final direction of my display this year I will work with Vixen three more and see if my initial thoughts are correct.. It will be a waiting game

pcmom
01-17-2014, 05:18 PM
We've used Vixen for 6 years now and in that time frame we've only had 2-3 years where it has run flawlessly with no crashes. We made the jump to pixels this year and ran V3.0.10. We love the interface and the ease of sequencing but we had nothing but problems with the scheduler. We'd love to know or have a rough idea of some of the changes planned for this year. We've been loyal Vixen users but we're ready to have a show that we don't have to babysit the software every night, kind of takes the fun out of it. Especially with the render time, there were several times we went down for 30 minutes and that makes people not want to come back. We're looking at other software options but if Vixen can become stable then we'd love to stay where we are. This year we had a small display with only 2900 pixels and 25k incans. For 2014 we're hoping for 2-3 times the pixels so need software than can handle that with 12-15+ sequences.

Skunberg
01-17-2014, 06:41 PM
Your already using Vixen 3, I'd say stick with it. The only issue I see that would drive you to other software is if it won't work with Nutcracker. This is why I stayed with Vixen 2.1 this year and if they don't have a way to introduce Nutcracker effects by May or June I will have to pass again. Maybe move on to something else :-( On side note if they make it work with Nutcracker that would give people another scheduler option thru Xlights. This may help the developers if scheduler problems are too hard to find or too few people having issues to justify the time to find a fix, etc.

derekbackus
01-17-2014, 07:31 PM
A roadmap is a good idea. We have a lot planned for this year. A lot of it is in our JIRA (bug and feature tracing) system, but some of the changes have just been discussed on the developer board. We've got changes coming to the core, preview, sequencer, scheduler and nearly everything else. We are planning huge performance improvements and will continue enhancing the functionality with a bunch of little changes and some larger changes. There are plans to add exporting to Raspberry Pi and perhaps xLights. We've also been in discussions with Sean and the Nutcracker crew with some ideas on how to more easily and quickly add changes to Nutcracker to Vixen 3.

I've created a starter roadmap, but only put a couple things in it. When the team gets a better handle on what we're planning for this year and the time-frames, we'll be sharing it with everyone.

Right now, the dev board has been mostly quiet. We all took a break a few weeks before Christmas and are just now rested after putting up and tearing down our displays.

daytimer
01-19-2014, 08:06 AM
Why you should switch: If you were uncomfortable with the functionality of the software or unhappy with the performance.

Why you shouldn't switch: You have already made the first big step and learned how to use the newer version. Nutcracker effects are built in to Vixen 3. Yes, there were a few glitches with the software, but there are glitches in all software. All-in-all, I feel the Dev team did an excellent job addressing issues, figuring out work-arounds for critical issues and made a good decision to not introduce a new version halfway into the season which could have introduced other issues.
This year was my first with pixels. While it was a huge learning curve, the easiest part of it was the sequencing. Especially when I made the decision (already in the show season) to replace a failed static sign with a scrolling pixel one. I was surprised how quickly I was able to sequence it in to Vixen 3.
All software has issues. That's why they issue updates and patches. It can be frustrating, but don't let that be the deciding factor. Software issues can be fixed. Try each one, see what you are most comfortable with and go with it. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!

derekbackus
01-19-2014, 08:17 AM
Why you should switch: If you were uncomfortable with the functionality of the software or unhappy with the performance.

As far as Vixen 3... The MAJOR push early this year is going to be on performance. I don't think this will be an issue next year.

On the other hand, if you don't like the way it works, we're not going to change that. We like the way it sequences and, while we are going to have improvements (major and minor) in the sequencing interface, it will not significantly change.

Macrosill
01-19-2014, 09:47 AM
Thank you for the updates from the Dev Team. I sequenced in V3 this year and was impressed. I look forward to all the enhancements and improvements 2014 will bring to V3. Keep us posted as the development continues through the year.

jchuchla
01-19-2014, 05:17 PM
The biggest reason to switch from v2 (or LOR or HLS or V+) is the change in how you sequence. The grid and timeslices are gone. Vixen 3 is free form sequencing. You don't work in terms of what actions the actual devices perform, we work in terms of what you want to achieve. This may sound like small differences, but they're huge. It makes the software far more flexible than any of its predecessors.
Now with that being said, there certainly is work to be done. We need to provide the tools to fully leverage this power. As many people already said here, it's very fast to sequence in V3. And we can make it even faster with better shortcuts and tools.
As Derek mentioned above performance is high on our priority list. There's two areas that we'll be working on. First and foremost we'll be working on streamlining the core engine to make it more memory and processor efficient. That should help speed up sequencing. The second area of work is to develop a second format for 'playback'. We're well aware that the old traditional formats are far more efficient to playback than our new format. So we'll be working on improving our existing format for sequencing, and adding a new one optimized for playback. This new playback format will be specific to vixen3 but it will be timeslice based so it should be easily converted to other formats so it can be played back on other platforms like xlights or FPP.
I haven't heard of any one having problems with the scheduler or sequencing this year. Sure it had some missing features. But nothing was broken. Pretty much all of the problems and issues were related to performance or overloading the system. Even pcmom's issues above weren't scheduler issues. They were issues with the core. Our core improvements this year, along with the new playback format should clear that all up.


--Jon Chuchla--

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Akentut
01-19-2014, 05:36 PM
My 2 cents. This was my first year. VIXEN 3.0.10 ran flawlessly. My one hiccup was windows automatic update that shut the system down. Yeah, I know I should have turned it off. I ran 6 songs, and over 3500 LED's and one Renard SS24. I did have an issue with schedule, but that was my error for not backing up when I upgraded versions. Myself and my neighborhood was ecstatic that I did this and they enjoyed it for 30+ days. First reason I choose Vixen was it's FREE. Second reason was this website, and the members, that were more than helpful in getting me up and running. I thought it was an easy program to learn (yes I did start with ver. 2). I've already got my E682 (2 of them) and have played around in vixen with pixels (1200 WS2811s) all over the floor and feel the jump to pixels will be an easy transition via Vixen. Also I won't have an issue learning something new. But maybe I'll incorporate xLights.

So look out next year. I'll keep the 3500 LEDs, and add as many pixels as I can handle over the 2 E682's (maybe another one if I need it).

Macrosill
01-19-2014, 10:03 PM
The biggest reason to switch from v2 (or LOR or HLS or V+) is the change in how you sequence. The grid and timeslices are gone. Vixen 3 is free form sequencing. You don't work in terms of what actions the actual devices perform, we work in terms of what you want to achieve. This may sound like small differences, but they're huge. It makes the software far more flexible than any of its predecessors.
Now with that being said, there certainly is work to be done. We need to provide the tools to fully leverage this power. As many people already said here, it's very fast to sequence in V3. And we can make it even faster with better shortcuts and tools.
As Derek mentioned above performance is high on our priority list. There's two areas that we'll be working on. First and foremost we'll be working on streamlining the core engine to make it more memory and processor efficient. That should help speed up sequencing. The second area of work is to develop a second format for 'playback'. We're well aware that the old traditional formats are far more efficient to playback than our new format. So we'll be working on improving our existing format for sequencing, and adding a new one optimized for playback. This new playback format will be specific to vixen3 but it will be timeslice based so it should be easily converted to other formats so it can be played back on other platforms like xlights or FPP.
I haven't heard of any one having problems with the scheduler or sequencing this year. Sure it had some missing features. But nothing was broken. Pretty much all of the problems and issues were related to performance or overloading the system. Even pcmom's issues above weren't scheduler issues. They were issues with the core. Our core improvements this year, along with the new playback format should clear that all up.


--Jon Chuchla--

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Thank You.

P.S. When can we expect these changes to be released? Feb 2014? I need 10 months to sequence, uhm, I mean achieve. :)

jchuchla
01-19-2014, 10:05 PM
Hard to say. And I'm probably not the best to talk about it. But I think may or June is more realistic. But don't hold me to that. We're just now getting regrouped after the holiday. And some of what we're talking is a lot of work.


--Jon Chuchla--

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Jachip
02-22-2014, 09:03 AM
I feel that some people are never happy. Thanks to you and the V3 team for all the time you guys and girls put into this and for sharing it for FREE for the rest of us to use it for FREE so in my view if I have few issues at hand and who cares it is FREE I have paid 100's for programs and spent hour's on the phone fixing them. So thanks for all the time that you guys put in to this.
Sorry!!!!! New to this form and was posting about something said and I guess reply is not the right key.

FIRECOP252
02-22-2014, 10:45 AM
I feel that some people are never happy. Thanks to you and the V3 team for all the time you guys and girls put into this and for sharing it for FREE for the rest of us to use it for FREE so in my view if I have few issues at hand and who cares it is FREE I have paid 100's for programs and spent hour's on the phone fixing them. So thanks for all the time that you guys put in to this.
Sorry!!!!! New to this form and was posting about something said and I guess reply is not the right key.

Jachip,

I don't necessarily think the OP is "complaining" as much as maybe looking for opinions from others. I know sometimes people post things that sound like complaints but in fact are only looking to get an opinion on with direction to go with the next years show.

I do agree with you that for a free program you cant beat where Vixen has come from. All of the programs in their own right are best for certain people. Some people have loved the V3 and some the HLS and others the XL/NC. I have played with all three in 2013 and I found that I will be most comfortable with XL/NC. The ease of setup and sequencing drew me to it. I played with V3 and that would probably be my second choice BUT I am the same when it comes to issues. Once I have spent months working on a show and sequencing I want to just sit back and relax in December and If I have software issues I can not do that. For this reason and some other small reasons I have decided to use the XL/NC. HLS, to me is more for computer savvy people, I myself do not understand software enough to use it.

They are all GREAT programs and Sean, Joe and The V3 Dev team have all done tremendous work with them. With that said I think you will see some changes coming in the software BUT it may not be what you necessarily are looking for. So for that reason you have to take a moment and decide which direction YOU want to go.

smeighan
02-23-2014, 09:49 AM
A great post. I'm anxious to see some informed replies. I've been away for a while, so I've got a lot of catching up to do. Your #1 above confuses me a little. I thought xLights was a scheduler and Nutcracker was an effect-for-pixels generator for sequences. Seems a lot are using it as a replacement for Vixen.

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk


Nutcracker version 1and 2 were in 2012, they were a web based tool. In February 2013 Matt brown ported all of nutcracker into xlights.

Why? Speed. The nutcracker version 3 code is up to 1000 times faster at generating effects as compared to previous versions (snowflakes took 300 seconds in version 2, 20 ms in version 3).
Xlights is so efficient that my 24,000 channel show uses 110 mbytes of memory and 30% of a single CPU. This efficiency is all due to how Matt brown created the architecture.

Find the latest xlights/nutcracker code at
Http://nutcracker123.com/nutcracker/releases

We are currently at version 3.3.2

Thanks
Sean

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

Sparkey
04-30-2014, 07:55 PM
Greetings all.

First off because I know email/messages can some times be misinterpreted (and I can be blunt) I mean no offense to anyone. I appreciate all the hard work that has been put into the VIXEN software and really appreciate it that you allow me to use it! Having said that, I have used VIXEN-2 for years now and love it but VIXEN-3 (3.0.10) does not have any actual documentation and I'm quite frustrated - it is not as intuitive to me a V2 was. The V3 "examples" I find are just someones video of lights flashing or for limited steps for an older/different version. I respectfully suggest that the developers take a breather on coding and work on some written documentation. And yes "I am willing to help". I would be willing to do a PDF writeup if someone in the development team will walk me through the processes and answer my questions. Then I will turn my documents over to that person for approval before posting them. If there is already some documents for the current V3 (3.0.10) and I have missed them I would sincerely appreciate information on how to get it.

So on to the question: V3 or something else? I care about how my show looks. 2014 will be my first year with Pixel lights and it takes me some time to program a show the way I want it. If I can't get V3 figured out soon I'll need to switch or not do pixels and I really want to do pixels.

Thank you to all,
Sparkey.

jchuchla
04-30-2014, 08:28 PM
First of all I want to take a moment to say where we are. Many of you have noticed there have been no builds since Christmas. That's simply because some of the team has life getting in the way. There's new jobs for some new babies for others. As a team we've always said that we won't let the vixen project get in the way of family life. The project has come to a point where we need to make a few big changes under the hood to make things better (in many ways) for subsequent versions. Unfortunately due to the complexity of the code, there's only a few guys who can get that part done. And those are the guys who are otherwise busy at the moment. The project is not abandoned, just a bit stalled at the moment.
That being said it's still a very usable software for many people. There is documentation. It's at vixenlights.com. It's not great, but that a a work in progress too. It's in a quasi-wiki format. Feel free to write up pages for sections you think are weak or missing. Send them to me and I'll review and post as appropriate. There may also be out of date sections that haven't been updated with the code. If you find those let me know and we'll get them fixed.
Thanks for your interest and support of the project.


--Jon Chuchla--

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

algerdes
05-25-2014, 10:46 AM
I had a professor in grad school with a very interesting take on technology and getting it into the hands of the people: "To become an expert, use it and then write about it." As I want to become very good at Vixen 3, I will also throw my hat in and volunteer to do documentation.

I must first put it into practice, so must ask two things:
1. What is the latest version and where do I get it?
2. Where can one follow the development group? Not to get in the way, but just keep an eye on what is happening and what is being actually planned.

bolwire
05-25-2014, 03:51 PM
You can find the latest release, which is 3.0.10 at http://www.vixenlights.com, under the download section.

The dev group can be followed at http://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/vixendev


Hope this helps,
James

algerdes
05-26-2014, 03:47 PM
Thanks. That is the information I was missing.
I'll get started right away.

BTW, I did find quite a few items scattered around that were great in helping me understand V3. At least now I know the "missing link" actually exists. [patching] Now to practice! :-)

Skunberg
05-26-2014, 04:54 PM
Vixen 3 looked like it wasn't going to be ready so I didn't use it last year. This year I'm going to use FPP so it looks like I won't be able to use it again this year.

Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk

Keebler
07-04-2014, 06:22 AM
I switched to XL/NC 3 years ago and haven't looked back.
then last year was the birth of the FPP and it BLEW me away with the timing and speed.
the latest versions of XL/NC and FPP are proving VERY awesome.. well worth the consideration.

Roterhead
07-04-2014, 11:36 AM
The modeling aspects of V3 (for Pixels) are so powerful it really makes so much sense for more complex props. Yet, the newly added modeling aspects of XL/NC work well for other props.

I would really like to see V3 be able to export into a format compatible with the FPP. I heard this is on the dev list, however the road map is murky to say the least.

sparky588
07-04-2014, 12:14 PM
I hate abbreviations what is FPP and XL/NC. I also am disappointed in the lack of documentation on V3 but I do like V3

Sent from my KFTT using Tapatalk

algerdes
07-04-2014, 12:16 PM
I'm excited at all the new possibilities in each of the sequencers, but am trying to balance older methods with the new pixel stuff. With 350+ channels of controlled light strings, and now adding a pixel based megatree, pixel window borders, pixel house boards, etc. it is a lot to take in. (And yes - I need to go to the Pi as the show machine.) Which of these sequencers will do the trick in combining both worlds? Vixen 2 was the old method. I am trying to learn Vixen 3, but it is slow going. Perhaps another?

Any and all advice will be considered. Thank you.

arw01
07-04-2014, 12:21 PM
Fpp is the Falcon Pi Player, software (kind of an understatement) that uses a $35.00 Raspberry pi to run your shows and even video with your shows

Nutcracker/Xlights is NC XL they used to be separate programs, but are now combined. More of effects based on "manually entered" time values, not like a horizontal grid with fixed timing.

Alan

arw01
07-04-2014, 12:25 PM
Sticking with LSP 2.8 this year, the rewrite is postponed for release and there was a bit of hiccup with the license server recently.

Going to use a lot more video to mask the lights and control the lights themselves. Angus40 made me up a roving spot lights that I can use in LSP to mimic an effect I saw in a Madrix video. I've learned a little Corel VisualStudio and have made up a few dozen different transitions to use with my pixels and standard lighting props in lsp. It's directional based macros can make it very easy to have directional based effects on the whole display, single items, groups of items, etc.

I love the layers and macros in there, add a new prop, draw it on the visualizer, add those channels to an existing layer re-render the macros and you have updated your sequence.

Hopefully we will see some enhancements in the next couple of months to use for the halloween and christmas season, but I've already started on halloween sequences and trying to pick out the videos to use and combine that in with the projector I picked up from the group purchase last month.

Alan

sparky588
07-04-2014, 12:44 PM
Thank you

Skunberg
07-04-2014, 02:11 PM
V3 won't have any real documentation till its done.

Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk

burtonmadness
07-04-2014, 02:43 PM
Just for the record ;-) I'm not complaining about Vixen3.

Every app has its idiosyncrasies and bugs. Building a display takes several years of acquiring the knowledge and the physical parts to make blinky/flashy entertaining.

For me, the electronics part is my focus, to help me resurrect those skills, and simply need s/w to not have too many issues. Since I'm building up several pixel based elements and already prototyped sub-sequences in Vixen3, I think I will be sticking with this for 2014.

I'm grateful for the community and open source s/w that people are spending their spare time to develop these apps.

/BM

Roterhead
07-05-2014, 02:39 AM
I'm grateful for the community and open source s/w that people are spending their spare time to develop these apps.

/BM

Here here!

algerdes
07-05-2014, 11:42 AM
"I'm grateful for the community and open source s/w that people are spending their spare time to develop these apps."

Could not say it any better. Thank you!

komby
07-06-2014, 12:31 AM
V3 won't have any real documentation till its done.

Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk

While it's not traditional "documentation". These videos are a must watch for anyone thinking about v3
http://www.vixenlights.com/vixen-3-documentation/video-tutorials/

burtonmadness
07-08-2014, 09:17 PM
Just a thought going into sequencing season, whenever any of us request assistance, when we get a so!ution from others or scuttle throung on your oiwn we create a mini tutorial for those who cannot follow the flow, from the textual description.

/BM

jchuchla
07-08-2014, 09:22 PM
That's exactly where most of the tutorial videos come from. Though I'll admit that most of these quick support responses come from smartphones when we're not near a computer to make videos.


--Jon Chuchla--

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk