RISE | 2015 Easter Production
This year for Easter our arts team decided to try our hand at an interactive video. We had seen examples of this online, such as the Enra - Motion Graphics Performing Arts group. We thought this could be a very cool medium to share the gospel in a compelling way. It allowed us to expand our imagination and talent in ways we had never done before. James Pusey came up with the script and vision for the production. Here is a Link to the Script. The first thing we did was to create a mock-up (animatic) video to see how it would look. Here is a Link to the Animatic. Aaron Hewitt is our resident animator. He created all of our animations and James pulled all of the pieces together to create our final product. James also created a storyboard for the whole production - here is a Link to the Storyboard. After a good majority of the video was finished I was able to start programming lighting. For this production I wanted to try timecoding the lights to the video so we could be as precise and reproducible as possible.
Here is a diagram of how we had to hook everything up in order to use Ableton as our master controller.
One of the first things we had to do for this setup was buy the ProPresenter Midi Module which costs $99. If you are interested in this module you can demo it for free. After we got the module we had to setup our midi routes.
Mac OS provides an easy way for midi to to be sent and received. There are two options, both of which I have utilized successfully. You can find both of these in the Midi Studio window in your Audio Midi Setup on your Mac. The first way you can send midi commands is through the IAC driver. You can use this to send midi internally, meaning you can send midi locally if you are running Ableton and Propresenter on the same computer. The second option is sending midi through a network. Going this route connects two or more computers on the same network. This is what we used for our production and it worked flawlessly. (This option's reliability is dependent on the reliablity of your network, so keep that in mind.)
In order to trigger ProPresenter I dropped midi commands into an Ableton midi track and routed that track to the midi network we created. I got a template from Ableton Trainer Will Doggett and it had ProPresenter actions all labled and organized so all I had to do was drag and drop the cues where I wanted them. If you want to grab those Ableton templates follow this link to his site Click Here.
In our productions we had eight videos playing from our CG iMac. (One was just a 30s black/blank video*). In the videos we embedded multiple channels of audio. We used five audio tracks for this production. Our channel breakdown was click, track left, track right, narration and SFX. This allowed us to EQ and process each element seperately and adjust them in real time. To do this we used a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 that was connected to our CG computer. If you want to do multi-track audio from ProPresenter, here is a great how-to blog (Click Here).
For lighting it was an even an easier setup. I loaded up Ableton and dropped in a 2-hour long 30fps Timecode WAV file into one of my audio tracks and then routed that ouput to the GrandMA. You can find the Timecode file through the "More Resources" link below. To connect my Ableton computer to the GrandMA I used one of my Moto 4Pre outputs and then into the GrandMA LTC IN via a XLR cable. The XLR cable is an important piece. I tried to output the signal via my headphone jack but then came to find out that the GrandMA requires a 3 pin XLR audio cable with certain signal strength. For more details on GrandMA Timecode Click Here.
Once I got that figured out it was just a matter of pressing play in Ableton, and the GrandMA picked up my timecode. Next I created my cues and pressed play in Ableton and recorded them in time. After that it was just a matter of fine tuning the timing on the cues.
As part of my workflow I put the audio files of the videos into Ableton so I could see if there was any latency/triggering issues. The only issue that I had was when ProPresenter was cleared out and then I fired the video it would be milliseconds late. If I transitioned directly between videos it was fine. To fix that I fired a black/blank video and then fired into my video. That seemed to line it up better. You can download my Ableton file: Click Here.
Thanks for checking out the blog and let us know if you have any questions.
Here is a wide shot that gives you a bigger picture of the production.
Cornerstone Arts and Tech Team (Staff & Volunteers)
Here is a picture of all the people that it took to pull of this production. It is a great group to work with.