Quick way of visually identifying the number of each Scene



  • I use a great number of scenes when I am developing an installation work ... moving them back and forth on the scene bar, developing blocks of related scenes and so on. This strategy has developed  because I structure choreographically in this way. I also tend to set the system up to jump from scene to scene in a non-linear fashion, again part of my choreographic way of working.

    My question is .... is there an easy way to identify the number of the scenes in the scene bar visually?   At present I number each scene when I am developing a system.  This works, but means that as I structure/program an installation I am regularly changing the order of the scenes and have to rename them one by one. This works, but is quite laborious. I wonder if there is/could be a way of doing this internally e.g. hitting a specified keystroke to make the numbers of the scenes visible on the screen.  It really would be helpful to people such as myself.

    Similarly, if there was a way to give the scene buttons a colour one could identify blocks of scenes easily, and thus be able to navigate the scene bar more easily when in the middle of the creative process.

    I am sure that I make my life more difficult than I need to  - but as this is the way I have worked for decades it is built in to my artistic DNA.

    Hoping one of you gurus can help

    Sarah



  • do you use control panels? i used to build shows where i tried to squish controls for every scene into one panel. recently i discovered that you can set up several scenes running from the same panel, and this links the scene buttons together. maybe this could be a way of helping you identify blocks of scenes?

    a way of changing the colour of scene buttons would be nice though....

  • Tech Staff

    Yes I've often though about needing to change the colour of scenes.

    I've also though about a floating window in which the scenes could be 'listed' vertically also.


  • Thanks both.

    dbini,  as I tend to make durational installations (they are just switched on and expected to run smoothly - which they usually do) I don't use control panels for my kind of work.  But maybe I could try that strategy next time I am building an installation. However, as I only have a day and a half before I fly to Thailand to set up the installation I am working on up, I am almost finished with this part of the creative phase now (it is mainly on-site tweaking from now on) no time now.

    But thanks to you both  .... and maybe someone could come up with a way of allowing us to colour the buttons ...  or list the scenes vertically - which would also help to know which scene to set the system to jump to.

    Sarah



  • Sarah: Please send me a feature request via this page http://troikatronix.com/support/isadora/ -- I'll see what I can do to help this situation. Probably adding a number to each scene -- that is automatically generated by the program -- would not be a big deal to do.

    Best Wishes,
    Mark


  • Hey Mark,

    I love the idea, but as you know, from a live performance point of view it's a bit tricky!  It would be ideal if when inserting a new scene in an existing series of scenes, that new scene did not bump all the numbers that follow it, up. Makes it tricky for everyone if they have to renumber everything!

    Point cues, like a lighting console, would be great: 1, 2, 3, 3.5, 4, 5, 5.5, 5.7, etc

    Or something like 1, 2, 3, 3A, 4, 5, 5A, 5B, etc...

    Cheers,

    Hugh



  • How does one number these things on a lighting console? I don't know the procedure. Perhaps you can explain a bit more in detail -- or better yet, how you'd envision something like this working in Isadora.

    Best Wishes,
    Mark


  • I think the essence of what Hugh is saying is that each scene needs to retain it's unique identifier if it is to be referenced by anything outside of itself.  For instance, say you have a show with 50 scenes, labelled 1 to 50, ordered in the sequence of the show. Throughout the show you have a bunch of activate and deactivate actors that reference appropriate scenes at appropriate times.  Now say that the director decided to add a small section midway through the show that requires you to add a scene between scene 10 and 11.  If you label this new scene 11 and bump everything else up an integer, then you have to go through and change all the activate and deactivate actors to reference the new numbers, which can get tedious. 

    One way that this can be resolved is to put the new scene at the end and trigger it out of order, but this can lead to complicated housekeeping when more and more scenes are added. The way that lighting boards deal with this scenario (since they are inherently designed to run in numerical order) is to add point cues.  In this case the new scene would be called 10.5 and it could be referenced as such and all subsequent scenes would remain the same.
    I'm not exactly sure how easy this would be to implement in Isadora, since scenes are currently stored as integer values.  It would be great if somehow jump and activate actors could be linked absolutely to scenes (as opposed to their relative or absolute integer value) so that no matter how the scenes were reordered, the jump would always go to the right scene.
    Getting a little more off topic, but similar to what Sculpture was saying, I would love a floating "cue" window with a list of scenes and jump times.  By pressing the space bar, I could then advance through the scenes one by one, having them jump at the specified rate without having to put jump actors in every scene.


  • Yes, as Craig says, this would be super useful, specially during production processes when you don't know what sections of the show look like... adding stuff right in the middle can be fairly troublesome and adding at the end can get messy fast.

    Has anyone made a "deactivate all except for x cue(s)" actor?



  • Hello Mark,

    I thought I posted this ages ago, but here it is sitting in drafts....!

    Because one has to record cues on a lighting console manually, you get to choose the cue number - there's nothing automatic about it at all.  No need to start at cue 1; you can start at 101 or 53 or whatever you like.  The catch is that cues (usually - there are exceptions) have to be run in numerical order.  So what happens when you want to add a new cue between two existing ones?  Point Cues!  So, if you want to add a new cue between existing cues 52 and 53, you can: 52.5, for example.  Modern lighting consoles allow you to add up to 3 digits after the decimal place, so 52.539 is a possibility, but potentially confusing and difficult for the stage manager to call.

    What I do when inserting a scene in Isadora is use an A, B, C type thing, which is a hangover from the manual lighting control days...  (yes, I do remember the days before computers!). So, it might be 52, 52A, 52B, 53 and so on.

    How to implement this automatically in Isadora is a bit trickier, I think.  The logical thing for the computer to do when adding a scene between 52 and 53 is to call it 52.1, right?  But what happens when you want to add one between 52 and 52.1 - 50.01? It gets messy, quickly. I suppose it wouldn't matter much if we also had the option of manually re-numbering cues, too.

    Cheers,

    Hugh



  • This is definitely a feature that would be of great interest.  I have had many discussions about it with colleagues, and various folks have come up with external programs and workarounds to simulate the behavior, but a way to manage scenes in this way (by label) natively inside of Isadora would be game changing, particularly when interfacing with a lighting console in a "standard" theater tech setup.  It could also make a huge impact on multi-machine setups.

    Like Sarah, I tend to treat Izzy kind of like a lighting console in that I will create a very long list of scenes that the operator or stage manager may advance through with a space bar press, without having to know much about the patch or interact with any controls.  The number of scenes will typically end up in the tens or hundreds by the end of tech. Like Hugh, I'll type a number at the beginning of each scene name so that later the stage manager can call for "Cue 28.3", and we can find that scene by looking for that label.  The actual ordinal number of the scenes is not something that is useful to know in this kind of workflow, since it changes constantly through the tech process.
    As Hugh describes, the normal behavior for a lighting console is that every cue is assigned a unique number.  When a new cue is created, the programmer assigns it a number, and the number given places the cue automatically in the running stack maintained by the console.  Changing the number of a cue effectively moves it to a new position in the stack, without renumbering subsequent cues.  No two cues in the same cue list can have the same number in a lighting console. If you give a cue a number that already exists, the console will overwrite the cue that previously had this number, but will generally prompt for confirmation. Multiple cue lists can be created that have the same numbers, but that is another story.  Cues in a lighting console can be given a text label as well, but this tends to be only for reference, and has no execution functionality.
    I think we tend to want to use media servers more fluidly in terms of cue labeling than we use lighting consoles, since we have drag-and-drop metaphors for reordering scenes (cues), etc.  Specifically, it is great when a system has an option for a secondary numbering or cue naming system that is separate from its strict ordinal-only system, but yet can actually be used to navigate the cue list.  The thing I and others are very often looking for a way to do is listen for an external command that contains an arbitrary cue number, and then inside an Isadora patch, to go to that cue, which could be anywhere in a potentially long scene list.  This external command could originate from a lighting console or another computer running izzy or other software.
    Midi Show Control seems to be one of the most standard methods for syncing lighting and projections playback systems in the theater.  For anyone who hasn't used it, Midi Show Control implements various commands, like Go, Back, Stop, and Go To Cue, and includes room in the command string for parameters like a Cue Number.  Various media servers and playback systems listen for and handle these commands in ways that make sense with their internal metaphors for handling video and projections.  Izzy can send MSC, but custom solutions are needed to listen for it at this time, I believe.
    The way that some programs, like Watchout and D3, use these commands is that, like in Izzy, one may give what amounts to a label or tag to any cue in the show.  That label or tag may begin with a number (as in, a series of ascii characters including [0-9] and an optional decimal point). When a MSC command is received that contains a "Go" cue with no number, the system may go to the next cue regardless of label, or do nothing, depending on implementation and preferences. When a command is received that contains an explicit cue number, (like Go To Cue 100.33) the playback system jumps to the nearest cue whose tag begins with that numeric text, if one exists, or does nothing if a matching label is not found. Timing of fades is implementation-specific.
    I wonder if there is a way to implement something like this in Izzy using the existing scene naming system.
    The workarounds to create similar behavior in Izzy I have seen tend to implement lookup tables that translate incoming data of "cue 57.5" to, for example, "the 18th scene in the isadora patch", but they require manual housekeeping when scenes are inserted or reordered, and this can get very complex very quickly.
    It would be great if scene labels could be mapped to scene numbers internally in izzy, updating behind the scenes whenever a scene's integer number or entered label is changed.  If we were able to be able to listen for a "Go" or "Back" command, and choose how to map this internally, as well as a "Go To Cue" command, that includes a parameter to be handled, we could choose to connect triggers from these Listeners to Activate Scene actors, Jump or Jump++ actors, or whatever makes sense for the show.  It would be necessary for Izzy to be able to locate scenes by label in order for this to work.  In order to continue to allow multiple scenes to have non-unique labels, it would require locating the nearest scene with the specified label (or label prefix).  In some cases, one might wish to use the received numeric parameter to cause another event within the scene, so from that point of view the catching of the MSC parameter would need to be separate from the Jump or Activate Scene.
    I guess this would all boil down to two things: 1) an MSC listener, and 2) a new mode for Jump, Jump++, Activate Scene, etc, that is called perhaps "label", and finds the nearest scene with a matching label, with a match defined to mean that the first characters match the text in a new input parameter.
    Is this something that would be worth me posting as a feature request?
    best regards,
    David


  • PS, apologies for not having noticed and read the separate thread about MSC first before duplicating others' comments here!

    The find scene by label instead of by ordinal number feature is the unique element of this thread.
    best,
    David


  • I think what would be super useful would be an actor that takes in an integer scene number and outputs the string label for it. I suspect this would not be all that hard to make given that all that information is already present in the input fields of jump actors and it would allow someone to easily write a user actor based on the MSC listener that fully utilizes MSC cue number capabilities. 



  • Even an addition to the new Current Scene Number actor that outputs the scene label as well would be helpful because it would make it possible to have the patch update a user implemented lookup table automatically without tedious programmer intervention.


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