Has anyone tried multiple computer/computer per projector systems? Hackintoshes and show control

  • Hello sexy new Isadora Forum,
    I was wondering if anyone has tried to run Isadora on different computer arrangement/set up? I have run some 5 projector systems off my Mac Pro before while controlling lights over DMX and using a kinect input for live video masks. Lately I've built a few show that tour with a MBP and a triple head and barely manage to really keep frame rates steady. 
    I will be building a few more shows in the next year and I was wondering if anyone has tried to do more of a network system for content management/production/running that involves networked computers? having one control computer and then spreading the rendering load over several computers (computer per projector or 2 projectors per computer). 
    Along those lines I was wondering if anyone has tried to run isadora on Hackintosh systems? It might be a cheaper route for server systems. I guess it could go just over to PCs (although I haven't tried isadora on pc's in about 4 years) and that would drive costs even lower. 
    If anyone has tried stuff like this I was wondering if they had patched anything or built anything that would allow for easy content distribution while building the show across the network? I am building a show now with Calgary Opera's WATCHOUT system that encompasses these ideas, yet is still too limiting in terms of content manipulation (and the price is just outrageous).

  • Hi,

    I have worked quite a lot on tour with a setup involving multiple pcs running isadora, synchronised by a master computer.
    Attached is a little diagram explaining the hardware setup.
    I tried this setup after giving a try to watchout and not being convinced by price and functions...
    The best "tip" I can give you for programming is to create scenes on each rendering computer, and then recall them and organise your show from a master computer.
    OSC is great for triggering the scenes.
    It can also be used for sending text witch is super practicle to get feedbacks from your rendering computers.
    You need a gigabyte network for file sharing ( avoid Wlan ).


  • Wow, I really like that. how are you finding isadora on PC? might just be the way to go in terms of hardware cost.

    Thank you for that diagram, very cool.

  • I recently got a mac mini because I found Isadora to be much faster on mac than on PC... isadora on the mini with 256mb radeon outperformed my desktop pc with a Quadro card. The core video upgrade may also add an advantage to the mac version, although I didn't use any quartz/core image actors... the mac mini makes quite good sense as a slave machine with hdmi out, but of course still more pricey than similarly spec'd pc hardware!


  • That's why I am curious if anyone has tried running izzy on a hackingtosh... Might be cheaper to build mini hackingtosh than buying them new... There are plans online for some under 500$

  • @Keftaparty

    Where you doing any edge blending ? I am curious as to how this system would better handle things like edge blending and live inputs and all the processing involved. Is it possible to send video over a network with the broadcast actors across a gigabit network? So that way you could have a computer handling all the live inputs and cueing but different computers rendering the final outputs with the masks etc. 

  • Hi,

    Sorry for late answer...
    For me the pc version works fine.
    I use isadora mainly for theatre pieces.
    I use quite few effects, I'm more using  video captures and media playback. Also a bit of 3d objects / textures.
    And the hardware is much more affordable with pcs.
    If needing to use one or more video captures per projector + HD movies playback and mix, then building simple pcs makes the job very well.
    For sending video over network, I never did this. I always have a capture card in each of my machines. It's maybe possible using some directshow functions, but I'm afraid that will loose quality, and add a lot of latency and cpu use.
  • Beta Tester

    The only way that I know of to send video over a network using Isadora is via Quartz Composer using 1024 architecture's plugin. I have done this successfully many times including with live feeds but getting this to work without major glitches and delay requires a fair amount of preparation in terms of preparing network architecture.

    I have used Isadora on up to a dozen separate Mac Mini's all synced together with full understudy failover on several shows and it is completely doable. While it is more cost effective to get 1 Mac Pro than 3-5 Mac Mini's, when I want full redundancy, it is a lot cheaper to buy 3-5 Mac Minis with an additional one as a hot understudy through a DVI matrix than it is to buy two Mac Pros with one as a hot spare through a DVI matrix. Keeping this sort of playback system happy in tech can be a little bit tricky so make sure you prepare well and have your patch architecture good and wrung out by focus.

  • Are there any best practices you would recommend from your experience for

    a) programming the various slave patches and keeping all machines' scene sequences in sync from a single programming position during tech.  
    b) using OSC to send all machines to an arbitrary scene as the number of scenes continues to change during tech
  • Beta Tester

    I'm only going to say so much because my solution to this very problem is where I make most of my programming money but I will say this: the slave machines only have one scene, I prefer Net Broadcaster to OSC, and Applescript is your friend. I think my biggest piece of advice is to very clearly definite the parameters of functionality for your system before programming so you can build a set of patches that aren't going to require you to spend a huge amount of time switch between computers/screen sharing windows. Doing a show with two playback computers where you're constantly switching back and forth to make programming changes during tech is workable but once you get much past that there is no way to avoid significantly holding up the tech process every time you need to make an ostensibly simple change.