I love technology, and unlike other industries where waiting on at least a second-gen is standard practice, embracing new technology in THIS industry is a MUST! If you follow my videos (My YouTube channel can be found at YouTube.com/DJCraziAce) then you know I’ve been getting into video more than ever. You see, I used to love video back in the day. It was an easy, profitable upsell for many events, especially schools, but that phase died out for a while. Music videos are just blah, live video can only do so much, and it’s a chore synchronizing the video to look like lighting.
Well, it used to be. Years ago, Arkaos, in a partnership with Numark, released NuVJ which was a pretty cool concept; but it has grown tremendously since. The makers of the big boy video software Media Master Express have created two things that have changed what I do with video: GrandVJ XT, a powerful video mixing application that also allows me to projector map; and Kling-Net, the best protocol since DMX.
But alas, this isn’t a review (not yet) so I won’t talk too much about why I love GrandVJ. Kling-Net however, needs its own explanation because, well, I’m going to help you propel your show at warp speed into the future.
Pixel-mapping is the new cool-kids-club thing for us to do. Whether it’s creating cool eye-candy displays with a bunch of LED par cans, to using pixel tape for awesome designs, all creative pixel-mapping techniques have one thing in common: They eat up a LOT of DMX channels. DMX was limiting from the get-go. 512 channels per universe? Crazy! But alas, the limitations are there for a reason and Art-Net helped solve that. Art-Net can take a theoretically unlimited number of DMX universes through an IP connection and then convert them back to DMX. In short, it’s DMX over IP. The conversion back to DMX uses various nodes (my favorite being the eNode series from Elation). Some lights don’t need DMX inputs. You just connect them with the Cat 5/6(e) cable and assign its universe and channel. Easy!
Well…maybe. Have you ever tried tackling a big project that involves 10-20 universes? ArtNet can get confusing real quick. “But Arnoldo, I’ll never use 10-20 universes of lighting—I can’t even get past 1!” Well, maybe not 10, but did you ever think you’d wash an entire dance floor with just four LED par cans and pull under 1.5A total? Didn’t think so.
But DMX is still limiting. It’s a one-way connection, which doesn’t sound like a big deal until it’s two minutes before showtime and something goes awry. Diagnosing 50+ lights in less than 10 minutes truly SUCKS. Not to mention that in this day and age, why are we still “addressing” lights? This is the equivalent of trying to set up an AppleTalk network with a standard TCP/IP network and yet no one invented DHCP. In layman’s terms, imagine networking various computers with different designs and there was no central way to make sure everything got its own unique address.
But wait. There is…enter Kling-Net.
“Kling-Net is new and mysterious. Therefore it’s scary, I must kill it.” Well, settle down Captain Kirk. First off, I said Kling-NET. (See, we can learn AND have jokes at the same time!)
Second, the good folks at Arkaos are clearly taking this protocol one-step at a time. So what is Kling-Net? Well, RIGHT NOW it’s a way to drive low-res video over pixel-mappable fixtures. I, however, see it as the new standard that will eclipse DMX. You see, Kling-Net-capable programs automatically address the fixtures. Everything connects through ethernet cable and gets its own unique IP address automatically. Because it communicates via IP, it’s two-way communication, which makes diagnosing limitless. Not to mention splitting it requires a cheap network switch, so terminators are now a thing of the past.
So, at the moment, Kling-Net simply controls pixel-mapping fixtures; but the possibilities are endless! This has dramatically increased what we can offer in videos. Take a look at the top photo on the previous page. This is just a video screen surrounded by lots of pars (ADJ Dotz Pars) and a few panels (ADJ Flash Kling 64) and it’s all synchronized to the video. There’s no DMX program. Instead, the video mixing software (Arkaos Media Master Express / Pro) converts the video into Kling-Net automatically. The panels are Kling-Net and the Dotz Pars are connected to a box that converts Kling-Net into DMX. It sounds complex, but I promise you, it isn’t.
So what’s the final product that my client sees? Amazing video visuals that sync up to the music and can even be controlled via time-code. These visuals trigger the surrounding lighting to create a show that would normally take two or three techs to do. This show was operated by my wife alone, including video, lighting, and live Twitter requests all at the same time. We now sell video as a creative backdrop to the DJ. Video can still be used to tie the theme together, but those photos and live video options are now brought to life by adding sound-activated effects and visuals. Gone are the days when I needed to worry about buying expensive video boards or about obtaining expensive converters to make sure all inputs matched the resolution. I built a powerful media server for under $1,200 that includes four separate video heads and two video input cards that can do S-Video, composite, or even HDMI. Also gone are the days of just watching pre-made visuals.
Video is coming back, and it’s coming back in a big way. Between powerful video mixing software, a solid, flexible new protocol to drive LEDs with video, and a dramatic drop in projector prices, the time to step outside of the old-fashioned video box is now!
Filed Under: Issue #163, Lighting, Video
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