Desktop PC to run Isadora 3-projector setup

  • Hi,

    I'm going to use isadora in a three-projector setup, running movies in 1024x576 resolution.
    I'm planning to purchase a desktop PC to serve as show control computer, and I'm wondering what the minimum requirements would be.
    My budget is tight, so if I can spend $500 instead of $1000 that would be significant.
    In the $900-1000 I can get an HP, Dell XPS or Lenovo with an i7 processor, 8GB RAM and a 1GB NVIDIA or AMD video card. Should those be my minimum spec requirements ?
    What about gamer desktops like ibuypower or cyberpower ? They're much cheaper. How do they compare to the namebrands ? Could they carry the job of handling four displays (3 projectors plus monitor) ?
  • Tech Staff

    In my experience, if you are running FX you need all the CPU you can get.. if not you can let it slide a bit.
    Since you are going with 3 projectors.. we would need more info on this.
    are you using a matrox triple head 2 go? Or chaining 3 projectors together with the same VGA feed?
    So how many consecutive video streams will be running in Isadora. If 1 or 2 you may get away with a standard hard-drive, if more or you are jumping around in the videos you really might want to get a solidstate. You should look at the the total bit rate of your streaming videos and compare to the data rates available from the different drive options.
    If you are not rendering 3D I think you can minimize the video card a bit also. I find that I generally use only about 1/2 of my video ram and 1/3 the gpu while doing a VJ set (2-6 videos playing with fx and much more.. but no 3D currently)
    I would think that the 8gigs of ram should be fine.. and thats the easiest thing to upgrade in case of the need anyway.

    with more detail on what you are planning I could probably point out what you will need more of and what you could cut back on.

  • I do what you're wanting on a factory refurb'd Dell StudioXPS1640 laptop (Core2Quad 2.6Ghz, 6Gb ram, 7200rpm internal HDD) which I picked up for £450, outputting via the Matrox Triplehead... it also works fine on a 1.8Ghz Core2Duo Dell Inspiron laptop with 4Gb ram via USB2 external HDD (our fallback in case the StudioXPS fails), and worked fine prior to that on a clapped out old PowerPC Mac G5 which I originally designed the show on.

    I tend to output straight video files, one for each screen, and use isadora to apply masks to match screen shapes (or warp if necessary) and handle cues etc. Key to success was the video format - PhotoJPEG at 640x480\. Altho the show does work with all files in their native H264 1080p format (preloading next scene's videos in previous scene), converting them down to PhotoJPEG 640x480 @ 25fps reduced system load massively, so stops the fans spinning up to full and leaves CPU headroom for other things. I also have some patches which simply play a single file at 1920x480, again compressed to PhotoJPEG, played at full width of all 3 screens, again using Isadora to mask & warp. 3x 1024x576 videos as PhotoJPEG playing to 3x projectors with warp, color correction and masks should be relatively simple on a low-end video card, no need for anything snazzy.
    As per DusX above, all depends whether you're JUST playing video files using it, or whether you intend to manipulate those videos within Isadora and if so via what methods as to the system spec necessary.

  • Thanks to you both.

    I don't plan on doing much real-time FX in isdaora, just some masking and skewing to fit the projection surfaces.
    Sounds like I can spend a bit less than I thought. Great !