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Tutorial: An Easy to Import Superstar .sup files into S5 Sequencer

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More hair pulling - but I am accomplishing stuff...

I spent a good part of yesterday afternoon building my complete 2018 preview - all 66,636 channels.  Today I am going through the preview groups and arranging them so that they will create a correct grid in SuperStar so that I can later follow Alan's video for my existing sequences.  Some took MANY tries to get it right, but between group alignment, prop order, and prop orientation, so far I have been able to make them all work out.  For example, my six candy canes required a group alignment of "Vertical Stack" a prop order of #6 through #1 in that order, and prop orientation of "rotate_right", but it worked, as seen in this screen capture:

P5_SuperStar_Candy_canes-correct.png

I have not even started on groups within groups yet.  I'm sure that will result in more loss of hair!

 

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Got to one group that I knew would be a problem.  That is my eves.  This composite screen capture shows how my eves look in SuperStar using a S4 visualization and the actual eves.

SS_Eves.png

Yes, I know that the visualization is closer to reality than the grid layout, but I originally did the grid layout that way and did not want to change every sequence to make it closer match reality.  Also note that this photo was take in 2012 when there were no lights on the eves and the pixel tree just leaned up onto the lower eves.  in 2014 when I added the lights on the eves, I moved the pixel tree about 10 feet to the right.  So we can all communicate easily, the three sections are called "gutter", "lower eves", and upper eves".  In each section there are two rows of pixels vertically separated by about three inches (hence the double rows in SuperStar).  On the two eve sections, there is a "north" and a "south" "half" that are shown in the grid with a single space gap between the halves (makes it easier for me to see it when sequencing).  The two gutter strings are fed from the right, the four upper eves strings are fed from the peak of the roof.  To make it a bit more complex, the lower eves are fed from a point almost directly below the peak of the upper eves.  That means that the two strings of lights for the lower south section, first feed the leftmost eight pixels of the lower north section.  Both in S4 visualizer and S5 preview, I had to create two props (or fixtures in Visualizer) for each row of lights in the lower north section - Lower North Upper 8-1 and Lower North Upper 9-29 (and similar for Lower North Lower).  It was originally done with the feedpoint for the lower eves eight pixels to the north of peak because of an old limitation (that no longer exists) with the firmware of the SanDevices controller that I'm using.  If part of the solution to this is to move the feedpoint of the lower eves to the peak, it would only take an hour or two of wiring changes and a minute or two of config changes in the SanDevices controller to do so.  If I REALLY had to, I could change both the upper and lower eves so that each row was a single string - in other words, one string of lights for Upper eves Upper row, another for Upper eves Lower row, a third for Lower eves Upper row, and a fourth for Lower eves Lower row.  There is a hard limit of 64 pixels in a string of GE Color Effects bulbs, so each of those four strings would be under that limit.

Any suggestions on how to make this work so that I can copy and pasts this portion of my S4 sequences into S5 SuperStar?  There are MANY times where all three of these eves portions are in a single scene in SuperStar, so it would same me many hours of work if I can make an S5 Preview look this way when doing a "Insert SuperStar Effects".

 

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1) There is a new tab on the Prop Definition window labeled "Advanced". This is kinda like the Custom tab, except that you are going to want to place the numbers for your pixels the way you have them layed out in the SuperStar grid. Use numbers 1-64 for the first string, 1001-1064 for the second string, 2001-2064 for the third string, and 3001-3064 for the fourth string. Assign the starting channel numbers for each string. Save the prop. 

2) Each pixel in an "Advanced" prop can be moved individually (just like the bulb shape, if you've used that). So you will need to move each pixel one by one (time consuming I know), and keep things linear and spaced evenly by hand. Also, to make sure you are moving the correct pixel, you will need to show pixel numbers by selecting Format > Preferences > Show Pixel Numbers. Also remember that you can zoom in and out in Preview Design, which can be very helpful in this process.

3) Check the prop in SuperStar. In fact, I would do this BEFORE step #2, just to ensure you got step #1 right.

Matt

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Thanks Matt,

There are 220 pixels so yes, it will be a bit time consuming, but if I do it right, I will only have to do it once.  I want to make sure I only have to do it once, so I want to clarify this a bit as I'm a little confused.  The way that I have this built currently, there are 12 props that are part of a single group.  Each physical string (or portion in the case of the two strings that are partially on the south and partially on the north) is a prop.  I can't see any other way to do that because of the ability to specify the channels for one prop at a time.

20 minutes ago, MattBrown said:

Use numbers 1-64 for the first string, 1001-1064 for the second string, 2001-2064 for the third string, and 3001-3064 for the fourth string.

Looking at the Advanced tab, if I'm understanding this right, I would set the buffer to width=70 and height=4 in this case - which would be the total space for the grid and specify where on that grid each pixel for that prop is located.  I assume I would need to do that for all 12 props within the group.  Since each prop only has one string, would all 12 props be using 1-x numbers?

 

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OK, a followup.  Now that I have started playing with this, let's see if I have a better way.  Do this as a single prop of type "lines unconnected" with 12 segments.  I see that I can define a different starting pixel for each segment that way.  Would be the better way to do this?

 

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2 hours ago, k6ccc said:

OK, a followup.  Now that I have started playing with this, let's see if I have a better way.  Do this as a single prop of type "lines unconnected" with 12 segments.  I see that I can define a different starting pixel for each segment that way.  Would be the better way to do this?

Well, that sort of worked.  It ended up exactly right into SuperStar, but after all the typing in the Advanced tab, it left the 12 strings with no easy way to determine which one was which (other than counting the number of pixels in each string, and hoping that you guess which end of the string is which), and a requirement to manually place every singe pixel.

 

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OK, after some careful counting, I was able to determine what was what, but still appears that I have to move every pixel one at a time....

 

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14 hours ago, k6ccc said:

OK, after some careful counting, I was able to determine what was what, but still appears that I have to move every pixel one at a time....

 

Yes, you have to move each individual pixel. However, by enabling Format > Preferences > Show Pixel Numbers, you shouldn't have to guess which pixel is which. And the pixel numbers shown in the design view correspond to the node numbers when you select Item > Layout.

Matt

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Thanks Matt.  Is there any way to get the individually moved pixels in a straight line?  The moving symbol covers up the adjacent pixels so it’s very difficult to get anything resembling a straight line with even spacing.

 

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On 4/2/2018 at 7:57 PM, k6ccc said:

Thanks Matt.  Is there any way to get the individually moved pixels in a straight line?  The moving symbol covers up the adjacent pixels so it’s very difficult to get anything resembling a straight line with even spacing.

 

You should be able to zoom in to a level where the cursor doesn't cover up adjacent pixels.

Matt

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, MattBrown said:

You should be able to zoom in to a level where the cursor doesn't cover up adjacent pixels.

Matt

I figured that out.  What I ended up doing was to create a dummy prop made up of unconnected lines and place them where I wanted this to be.  That gave me a reference with straight lines and equal spacing.  Then rough placed the individual pixel near each pixel of the dummy prop.  Next step was to zoom all the way in and move the individual pixel EXACTLY on top of the pixels of the dummy prop.  Last step was to delete the dummy prop.

Now, I will point out that this level of exactness is not really necessary, but I'm picky.  Realize that I'm a guy that when Visualizer came out in S3, after adding my 12 x 50 pixel tree, I went into the .lee file and manually edited the X and Y locations for all 600 pixels using locations from a spreadsheet so that it came out EXACTLY right.  BTW, for those of you that are newer, back in S3 if you were using DMX pixels, you had to place each pixel individually as opposed to placing strings of pixels, so it was quite hard to get everything lined up exactly.

 

Edited by k6ccc
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Great solution! Thanks for sharing.

Matt

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Jim,

If you still have a pc with S4 on it, you can also use ItsMeBobO's Sharpin Tool program to align your pixels before you import the prop into S5. Like you, if I have the ability to make the prop straight, lined up etc. that's what I like to see. Sharpin Tool is easy enough to use and the tutorials walk you thru it. Just a thought.

Thread about Sharpin

Alan...

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I have used SharpIn.  It works well.

The problem Alan is that when you convert it to advanced layout, it wipes out that positioning and substitutes it's own.

 

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I am SOOOOOO frustrated and not following this discussion.

I am dense, because I am not following how to properly utilize S5 Preview props and sequence the entire display into SS. I spent quite a few hours drawing the props in S5 Preview, with properly counted and assigned networks, channels, and groups (grouping multiple CCR strings into windows frames, etc.).

I see Jim pulling his hair out over many trial-and-error attempts to get props to "display" and "act visually" in SS. I have no desire to get that deep into trialing items, and appreciate the time and patience that other members have spent and have joined this forum to learn from members experiences (and thank you in advance!). I understand the concept of getting SS .sup files back into S5, but how about going the opposite way? I put things away for awhile to let my frustration subside.

You know what would be grand? A video showing a sample house with a sample set of props, such as the following:

  • Some RGB roof lines (ribbons or pixel nodes, doesn't matter)
  • Some RGB window outlines
  • Some number of RGB candy canes
  • A 16 RGB ribbon (or pixel tree) with an RGB star of arbitrary pixel count (say 170 pixels of six nested stars)
  • Some number of RGB arches (or circles, whatever)
  • Some number of RGB mini trees
  • Some number of dumb RGB floods (say 8 floods - I just bought the LOR 8 - 10W flood kit, so I'm a bit biased here ... ;-))

Take this sample S5 Preview and show how to import the entire display into SS so that it LOOKS like the props that were laboriously drawn visually with S5 Preview. I have read the S5 documentation several times, and have understood the concept of VISUALLY designing the "stage" which is the S5 Preview. I also have firmly understood the concept of using SS to sequence the entire show. But this is where I repeatedly get lost. I have done really well with SS in sequencing a 16-ribbon CCR tree ... but I am missing how Default's method (or any other method) gets the S5 entire Preview "visually" into SS - not just creating a prop within SS and sequence that single prop. I just am not getting it ... so a video of this entire process using a sample of the above suggested props, correctly created from S5 Preview, showing how to get into SS visually so it LOOKS like S5 Preview, showing some sample sequences, then getting the entire SS display sequence back into S5, would be grand. 

If the capabilities of the software do not allow for this at this point, I'll just put things away (again) for a future date when the capabilities of the software advance to a point where this task can be accomplished, because I simply don't have the time (and more importantly the patience) to do what Jim and others are doing.

I do follow these forums and read them regularly, and I know Default, k6ccc, and many others have contributed regularly, and for those of us who follow their lead and experiences, thank you for your contributions. It is appreciated, and I hope my frustration with my own lack of understanding doesn't come across negatively and reflect on others.

Thanks.

 

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Posted (edited)

mwilson,

Is has nothing to do with you being dense, and yes it can be frustrating. All of this can be confusing and especially now that S5 has changed the way Previews (visualization files) work.

If I understand your message correctly, you are trying to create a Preview in S5 that can be used in SS to sequence all of your props. The videos I have done are not geared to show people how to setup a Preview in S5 to use with SS. They were made to show people who have already sequenced prop(s) in SS with S4, how to import them into S5 which requires you to match exactly the prop in S5 and the grid layout in SS. For years I used S4 with SS and Visualization files. I sequenced each prop I have individually. For instance for one song I have a separate SS sequence for each prop. IE a SS file for the Pixel Spinner and Tree, Matrix, Circles, and Blade Spinner. I did not want to lose all that sequencing I had already done in SS, hence my videos have been about helping people understand how to create Previews in S5 that would allow them to Import Superstar Effects, that had been already done into the S5 Sequencer.

Jim, has sequenced his entire shows with S4 SS (and Visualization files) in the past. He is in the middle of trying to get his Preview setup in S5, so he can Import Superstar Effects that he already has into the new S5 Sequencer. Jim also wants to sequence his entire show in SS. One thing you may not realize is that Jim has spent the money to upgrade his SS license to a significantly higher channel count. If you want to do this, make sure you understand your RGB channels count and what that channel count number is. If you don't have the proper license (channel count) in SS for as many channels as you want to sequence in SS, it will not allow you to.

Here's a quick explanation about SS channels licensing. Currently if you have SS, you have paid for license to control X amount of channels in SS.

ss%20licenses2.png

In my case I have bought a 40 CCR license. Each CCR is 150 channels, so 40 CCR's X 150 channels = 6,000 channels. Keep in mind these are RGB channels, not traditional AC channels.

ss%20licenses.png

As you can see from the cost of licensing extra channels in SS, it can get expensive very quickly. That is why I only have a 40 CCR license and sequence each prop individually in SS. I could and have combined props in S5 Preview to include as many props as I was allowed by my license, but with my props and their channel counts I couldn't include them all into one Preview, so it didn't really interest me to only sequence in SS, also S5 with a Pro License gives you access to Motion Effects which will increase the amount of effects you can add to props.

If you look at the cost of upgrading S5 to a Pro License, it is significantly cheaper to go this route. The Pro License will give you access to use Pixel editing motion effects. There are a lot of ways to sequence in S5 with Motion Effects that SS cannot do, conversely there is a lot of effects that SS can do, that S5 cannot. You need to pick the best option for you and your display. There is probably some sort of channel count limit in S5 Sequencer, but I suspect it has more to do with physical limitations of the software, networks than it does licensing.

S5%20licenses%20compaison.png

s5%20costs.png

Also it is important to note as I understand it, is that S5 Sequencer (Pro License) is geared more for folks who have a large channel count which someday hopefully, we all will have :D. RGB channels add up more quickly, than a 16 channel AC controller. For example a Pixie16 with 16 - 50 count RGB modules is 2,400 channels by itself. 16 ports X 50 modules per port = 800 leds X 3 channels (RGB) = 2,400 channels.

If you don't understand channel counts for you controllers, post what they are here and someone will help figure it out.

In my humble opinion, S5 and it's sequencer (with a Pro License IE. Motion Effects) and Superstar with a modest license (channel count) is a very powerful combination in controlling pixels in your show. I have used SS from day one and cannot imagine trying to put a show together without it. Being able to combine SS effects and Motion Effects in the new S5 Sequencer adds so much more to your sequencing toolbox.

Your idea of doing a video is great and probably needs to be done. However the licensing of both SS and S5 come into play. If someone is not licensed either in SS or S5 for as many channels as you outlined above it will not work for them, thus creating more frustration. Hopefully by explaining channel counts and licensing it will help you and others understand a little more about S5.

I can offer you help, but I would need to know you current license level in S5 and SS. Post here or PM me if you like. As I offer to help it needs to explained that I took the Financial Officer to dinner the night before the LOR sale, and laid out my best sales pitch for getting another Pixie16. I received notice from Corporate minutes before the sale started I was approved to get another Pixie16. In doing this, my honey-do list has quadrupled and I still need to find time to build another prop. I do my shows in the summer months so I am about to get rather busy.

Alan...

Edited by default
Edited Advanced License to say Pro License.

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Alan,

Motion Effects takes a Pro level (at least once it comes out of Beta).

 

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Gah, your right, I read one thing and typed another. Thanks for pointing that out. Luckily I was still in time to edit my original message.

Alan...

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Alan,

Thank you for your thoughtful and well-intentioned reply. To be clear, I have licensed LOR S5 Pro level -and- have licensed SS 60_CCR count on top of that. I have the latest S5.0.18 beta, and I believe I may need a slightly higher CCR license count. I do understand the basics (and your explanation is a very nice summary), and speaking only for myself, I have no problem with buying additional CCR counts if need be. To baseline this discussion, after researching all of the market options I chose the LOR-based market for software sequencing/control and hardware (read controller boards), and intend to stay as I have made the investment in both dollars and time.

You are correct, my use case is to take the entire S5 Preview (constructed under the S5 Preview use case rules), and import the entire preview containing props into SS and have the props look like what was created (visualized). Jim is spending lots of time performing trial-and-error to get a candy cane to look like a candy cane in SS (and the poor chap is losing his hair in the process - and again thank you for sharing your experiences). Each of us have a tolerance for the time and effort (and expense) one is willing to put into a hobby. I am willing to learn and spend time and money gaining knowledge, knowing that there is no "magic button" to make things work perfectly, but my personal line is drawn at what Jim is doing. I have no desire to disparage either S5 or SS, as I have licensed both and want to use both. However, the present state of the S5 and SS interface (they are not integrated) is that the "visual programming" capability of S5 is lost when utilizing an S5 prop within SS, which seems like a step backward from S4 functionality from my perspective and thus there is the root of my frustration.

The reason for focusing on SS includes not only on what you identified in your post above, but it would appear that using SS to sequence props comes easier to some folks versus PE (or Motion Effects in S5 vernacular), and this is certainly true for me and is why I have opted to use SS for the majority of my effects. I have to get better at using S5 PE/Motion Effects, and this is on me. But as I stated earlier, I have reached a "decent" level of utility using SS in a 16-ribbon "CCR" tree for example, and would like to extend this SS knowledge to all of my props, as long as I can recognize them instead of some blobs on a grid - like with an SS "CCR" ribbon tree. And therein lies my frustration.

Thank you for your assistance, and I myself am beginning to start my busy season in my other hobby, which prioritizes above Christmas light displays because it is "good weather" based. I'm not walking away from this hobby, as I have invested too much money at this point and frankly I don't wish to walk away because the end result is what I desire, but for my own sanity I have set my expectations very low and whatever I produce will be "good enough" for this year - even if only 1/4 of my investment makes it into the display for this year.

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I would be happy to do an online session to assist. Send an email to brian@superstarlights.com and we can arrange a day and time.

 

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Brian, that is quite generous of you. However, while that will help me, it will only help me - and no one else. I would think a video or tutorial of the same topic be created such that the next person, or the next 10 people, or 100 people, etc. could benefit from the knowledge that would be gained.

In no way do I not appreciate your gracious offer - but I would like to pay forward the assistance that I have received via other tutorials, or from members of this forum, so the experience gained benefits the community, and a video or tutorial of sorts will do just that.

Kind Regards.

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The forum member that goes by the name "default" has created a very good tutorial on creating a preview to match an existing visualization. I don't know it it would answer all your questions, but it should answer many of them. Myself and Matt have reviewed the video and suggested a few modifications. I just sent him a message asking if he has finalized the tutorial yet. And he can answer here in this thread as well as to if he thinks the tutorial applies to your situation.

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You know when I posted above I had this other video in the back of my mind, but wasn't sure if it would help. Looking back it probably would at least to help understand how to setup props for Superstar or at least give you food for thought..

I have been working on the suggestions from both Matt and Brian, but things have kept from putting the final touches on the video. The video was posted in another thread.  As far the changes I'm working on for the video, they don't change much, mostly adding stuff I could/should have put in to begin with. IE. Keyboard Shortcuts, etc. I'll work on updating the video tonight, but have a look at the original here.

Alan...

 

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I have been converting sequences from S4 to S5 and did one song already successfully. I was able to insert my 16 channel SUP mega tree file just fine and it plays perfectly in the S5 preview . Now on to the next song and I can't get my mega tree sequence from SS into the S5 sequence like this video shows. I get the box that says: No data received from Super Star. I know I am doing something small wrong but can't seem to figure it out. any ideas? It plays fine in SS and seems ready to go. 

 

 

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You should be able to do the following:

1) Create a sequence in the S5 Sequencer

2) Select the entire motion effect row that belongs to the SuperStar prop you have a sequence for

3) Right click on the row and select "Insert SuperStar Effect"

4) After SuperStar launches, click on the File menu and select Open, and open the sequence

5) Shut down superstar, and you should see a message box that asks "save changes"

6) When you are passed back to the S5 Sequencer you should be able to play the sequence and see the sequencing on the screen

In the case where it is failing, is SuperStar never asking if you want to "save changes"?

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