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Thread: Crazy thought/idea?

  1. #1
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    Default Crazy thought/idea?

    You guys may view this as outside the scope of what you would want to do, but had a crazy idea that I could see being very very useful to the userbase. Inspired by wishing I had the functionality recently, but then seeing a similar feature used in a few videos specifically related to light display layout, planning and scale. If I had any idea how to approach building this, I would, but definitely don't. When I'm adding props or changing layouts, or trying to get the spacing and light size accurate, sure, I can ballpark it and it will work. And while certainly not suggesting super accuracy or a drafting/cad level, I think it's a feature that would be used quite a bit and even bring in new users. I guess the functionality is dependent on what the development ntails.

    I got the idea watching a few videos where people were using some kind of software with a house image to plan and design the show layout. You could already do that in Vixen kind of with the preview or even ms paint, drawing on a picture. What stood out is that they were dragging out lines along certain rooflines and areas, and when they terminated the line, they would have a rough length or estimate of that line as it would be at full scale. I figure it must have been some kind of cad or design/modelling software based on that, but not sure. This serves so many possible needs.

    Something like this in the vixen preview, you could draw stuff to actual scale with a few clicks or a target dimension (as in real life full scale dimension). Or more specifically, you could iterate and test different looks accurately. How would a 10 foot tree look with my sequence vs a 14 footer? Even rounded or rough dimension accuracy could be the difference in seeing how an effect will actually look versus the guess. Comparing how something looks when spaced at 2" vs 4"? This is just a few stupid examples since this is already getting long, but I could honestly think of dozens of ways it could be useful.

    Yes, these are things that can already be done, but require quite a few steps and fussing and calculating. Vixen is obviously a sequencer, not a surveyor tool, but people could get the added benefit of for example, figuring out how many nodes they need to get from a-b, figure out where to run and inject etc.. None of that requires any extra functionality, just a perk.

    What I was wondering, is the ability possibly to draw a line or model something, and have the preview window be able to give you a rough dimension based on the background image. Here's the part I have no idea if it's extremely complex or easy. Background pictures can be taken from any number of distances, making a universal ability like this impossible. Even if the dimension part of it is a no go, is it feasible to be able to draw a line or distance that maybe covers a known distance on the image of the house, thereby giving Vixen a rough understanding of scale? Like you draw a line along your window for example, you tell vixen the input of window is 36" real life scale. Vixen treats that line exactly like a traditional map scale. 1" on screen=36" real world scale, a 2" object on screen is actually 72" etc... And from that reference ability, whatever comes out of it as a viable feature. One consideration wouldn't just be the size of the image when the line is drawn, but that people can zoom in and out. So I guess it would have to factor the zoom into the scaling, but it already does a pretty good job adjusting the layout proportionally to match the image zoom.

    If there is a reason why this is a bad idea or can't be done, please let me know. I'm interested in looking into this area of development, so I would love to understand the technical factors at play

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Crazy thought/idea?

    This would require information in the 3rd dimension.

    A 10' tall tress next to my house is going to appear very different than a 10' tall tree curb-side.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Crazy thought/idea?

    Where did you see this software? It sounds very interesting.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Crazy thought/idea?

    It sounds like xlights.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Crazy thought/idea?

    It did at first to me as well, then the mention of it measuring the distance came up. I'm interested in what software it is.
    Live, Laugh, Love.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Crazy thought/idea?

    Though xlights doesn’t measure anything. It doesn’t know how long the line is, but it does know how many lights are on it or what the shape of it is.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Crazy thought/idea?

    I'll sleuth around see if I can't find out. I'm almost certain it is NOT xlights. From what I could tell, it felt like it may be some kind of design or modeling software, but not a super advanced professional only kind of thing.

    I should mention, the video thing, that was simply what got me thinking. From what I could tell, they were using the functions intended for something different, and repurposing it for planning a trim layout. So they would (key word ROUGHLY/ESTIMATE) a distance by drawing a line, oh ok that's this many pixels at this spacing. Oh what if we ran it with this other section, tries drawing the two lines, does the quick math based on combined distance, "ok, that's 100 nodes so we can use one string exactly for these two spots". I'm just giving you a really shitty play by play of what I remember roughly being the way they were using it.

    Either way, of course there is probably a laundry list of if's and but's or scenario's where this measurement tool would need more data or more complexity. The 3d dimension being the biggest one I can think of. But my suggestion or request is could we do or test a simple "map" scale tool. With the knowledge that it shouldn't be relied on for perfectly accurate anything. Setting a known dimension that you have measured and drawing a line or marking it to help create the reference of xyz screen distance=xyz real life scale. We can test it out in the dev builds and use it as a starting point. There's so many ways this could be used or useful, but that could be expanded if the dev team feels it's worth it? Again, I'm a geek who loves to tinker, but I am brand new to even considering development. If I'm throwing out ideas or "solutions", if they are stupid or problematic, please feel free to clarify.

    For example, the 3d depth factor with this. Well, even though I don't believe it's actually affecting anything yet, I know there is z depth "order" data setting integrated into Vixen. Sure, it's not actual distance, but the ability or thinking about having z axis depth information integrated into vixen is at least under consideration. Currently relegated to z1 -z10 most to least depth to do something with 3d rendering I believe. But I don't know what the status is of that.

    Thinking of this as someone who plays with modeling software and photoshop. Defining a few known axis can help potentially. Like if you want 3d depth factored in, you would need define the distance on that z axis. Either from home to bottom of picture, or between props of different depths, I have no idea yet. I do know that currently, If I want to manually get an estimate, I could let's say measure the vertical distance of a window as presented on screen at the current preview and zoom size. But then I would have to extrapolate something like 50mm on screen for vertical part of window = 46", so every 50mm of measured distance with the preview as is would be roughly 92" real scale. And then I would have to manually measure anything with a ruler on the monitor and do the math to extrapolate the value. Not hard, but a lot of steps that are a pain and time consuming. could be simplified greatly I hope. If I was using the same thing to try and hit a target value or known/desired size or distance, it would be great if that feature at least gave me a ballpark estimate of what that distance is at the current scale for when I'm dragging out a prop or line or whatnot

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Crazy thought/idea?

    funny you bring this up now. I just brought a similar conversation up with the vixen team a few days ago. 3D modeling is a must for something like this. Until we have that, any measurements you'd get from a flat photo would be skewed and not close enough to be useful. The vixen preview is already actually a full 3d viewer. We just have it locked into a single straight on view of the front plane. The coordinate system is also already a 3d system. We just don't use the 3rd axis for anything yet. None of the effects work on anything but a 2d plane at present.
    One of the biggest blockers to a proper 3d system has been the fact that most users wouldn't have the capability to create an accurate 3D model of their house and yard. That seems to be changing. I recently found an app that allows you to take 8 photos of your house and it builds an amazingly accurate 3D model of your house. And one that's very dimensionally accurate too. More than good enough for our purposes. So now it appears that barrier is going away, we may need to revisit full 3d support.
    That being said, we do try to keep our focus on being a sequencer, and not a display design or documentation tool. But I could see some pretty simple fields added to the preview setup interface that could give you real world dimensions of the props you're drawing.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Crazy thought/idea?

    Maybe this goes the opposite direction, but there could be a string variable for distance between pixels (1", 3", 10" ...), and from that Vixen would give you the "length of the string". Then if the user knows the length of the roofline (for example) that he has to cover, he can adjust the # of pixels to get the string to the correct length. Yes any of us should be able to do the simple math for that, but just putting it out there.
    Matt

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Crazy thought/idea?

    Iíve used MagicPlan in the past and it does similar to what you describe. But I think what you are requesting requires a 3D view. I love the idea though.


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