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Changing Computers equals Sequence Timing Changes. WHY?s

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Happy Sequencing Everyone!

Question....I use 2 computers, one a laptop and one a desktop.  When saving a sequence on one computer and carrying it over to the other computer the sequence work I completed changes the timing a little and it doe this when going from one computer to another.  Why?  Both computers have software version 4.3.26 Pro, both are using the same music from the same file and so on.  I cannot find 1 reason as to why the sequencing would be off just a tiny bit.  Both use the beat wizard so the timing is meant to go with the beats.  The timing from one beat to another is the same when comparing computers but when the sequences are compared they are off less than a split beat.

I am really scratching my head on this one as I have stumped my computer gurus at work!  Anybody have a problem like this?

Thanks,

John

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Are you sure you have the same timing grid selected on both machines. I think each machine will remember the last used grid on each machine. If you accidentally changed to a different but similar grid on one machine it would stay on that grid till you change it again.

I think 

 

 

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Is your music set to a constant bit rate of 128kbps? I have heard of some people saying they had similar problems with variable bit rate music. Use Audacity to set the music to constant bit rate. Hope this helps.

Tom

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Tom has hit on the most likely reason - media file encoding.

If the 2 different machines have 2 different codecs to decode your file, then the timing difference could show up.  It is more likely to show up with variable bit rate encoding (and even sometimes that can affect timings on ONE machine).

The easiest fix is to make sure your audio file is an .MP3 digitized at 128Kbps and at a constant bit rate (CBR).

If you're not too technical, there's an online service that can convert the audio file to a standard .MP3 format. Goto: http://audio.online-convert.com/convert-to-mp3. Browse to the music file on your computer and select it.  Press the 'Convert file' button and wait. When the conversion is done, download the file to your computer, make sure it's the one the sequence uses and you're good to go. Now the audio is in a standard MP3 format saved at 128Kbps CBR. 

If you converted the file from a different format (like .WMA, etc.) you will probably need to change the name of the music file the sequence is linked to.  Open the sequence in Sequence Editor, goto Edit -> Media File, navigate to your just converted .MP3 audio file, select it and save your sequence.  The sequence is now linked to the converted music file.

If you want more control of the process of converting the audio file and are willing to add another application to your computer, we suggest a program called Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/) is free and quite good at normalizing audio. The program is a bit geeky and you need to read the screens carefully, but it gets the job done. Make sure you also install the LAME encoders if you want the output files in the .MP3 format. At last check, here's the LAME encoders link: http://lame1.buanzo.com.ar/. Once these encoders are installed, save your music files in a 128Kbps CBR format. 

See Audacity installation information at http://www1.lightorama.com/PDF/Audacity_Lame_128KbpsRevA.pdf 

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Hey everyone,

Thanks for the info and to give you updates on what I found.  1st, the audio is at 160kbps and the timing is the same (2.33.23) in both sequences.  I did find that my laptop is running 4.3.18 Pro while my "big rig" is running 4.3.26 Pro.  When I updated the laptop, I thought 4.3.26 Pro was loaded, should have double checked.  All the timing grids match (I randomly selected several points in the music).  Big rig is windows 10 and laptop is windows 7.

So let me try to paint a picture for everyone that might help you see what I am referencing.  Between each beat is 3 grids and none are the same size due to humans conducting the music (beat wizard).  Both computers match the grid size between each beat.  Lets say I want 1 grid in the color of white on my bid rig and when I transfer to the my laptop, the grid of white would be off of the selected grid by very little.  In time, it would 1.00.00 on the big rig but the laptop would be 1.00.78.  It is noticeable.  It also does the same thing when I work on the laptop and transfer to the big rig.

So here is what I will do and get back to ya'll on this.  Will convert the music 128k on my audacity program (using this for audio dubbing videos at work).  Will convert music to a WAV file for backup trial.  Update program on laptop to v4.3.26.  Convert laptop to windows 10 (this will be a while as I ordered it).

Please let me know if there is something in the above info that is a cause of this problem or even another idea. 

Thank you for your help!

John

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Hello everyone,

Update from what I have tried.  In order to go from one computer to another, use either a thumb drive or portable hard drive and keep the sequences and music on it in the LOR files like you would see in a regular LOR file.  Keep the music the same sample rate and format (160k sample rate and MP3 for me).  You can use different music files as long as you are using a computer to use in your show but for me I have a G3-MP3 Director.  I will try to find out if the Director will accept other music formats and sample rates this weekend barring any distractions....wait....mother's day is this weekend so it may be next week before I get this trial completed.  Lastly, use the same software version to keep from small deviations they may have that will prevent the sequence/music from being on time.  As far as Windows, you can use 7 or 10 as I had no problems.  I got rid of windows 8 due to it crashed on me and having stability problems so I am not familiar if you can switch back and forth with any other windows.  Not sure if Apple products will switch.

Special thanks to all that have help me Especially Philip M.!

John M.

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John, Confirm which software you are using for sequencing - Sequence Editor, Pixel Editor, or SuperStar?  I gather it’s SE since you used the Beat Wizard.

i wanted to clarify something you said in your second post.  You gave time examples of 1:00.00 vs 1:00.78 on the other.  3/4 of a second is beyond “noticeable “ :)   What I wanted to clarify is is those timings were just an example or were they timings taken by examining some particular light element.  The reason I ask is that the SE file format as it gets saved to disk specifies the time for each element in an exact time (measured in hundredths of a second).  It does not care about timing marks or the music.  In other words if the file says a sequencing element is at time 6000, I will be at 1:00.00

So what all that gets down to is the sequenced element timing getting skewed or is the music in the wrong place?  Like the other comments, I’m betting that this is an audio issue.

 

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I have a desktop running Windows 10 and a Laptop running Windows 7 which I use Dropbox to switch back and forth to open sequences. Both have the same software versions.  All my music is converted to MP3 128kbps with a constant bit rate. I program on both machines and have no timings issues or any problems going back and forth. This is a quote from LOR FAQ page: " Make sure your audio file is an .MP3 digitized at 128Kbps and at a constant bit rate (CPR).  Some music files are digitized at a higher bit rate that doesn’t sit well with us."  Hopefully this will help.

Tom

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I thought I had posted something like this before, but I can't find it.  Let me make a quick hit on media issues.

To decode ANY media in Windows, you need a thing called a CODEC.  CODEC is an acronym that means COder/DECoder.  A codec is really nothing more than a program that takes media data and puts it into a form that windows can display/play/etc.  You could think of it as a 'driver' in the Windows sense.  

Every media file on your computer requires a CODEC to be rendered (played and/or displayed for video).  Some files require multiple CODECs.  For example you could have a video file that needs codec X to render the video, codec Y for the audio, and neither are related. 

To add misery on top of that, there are multiple CONTAINERS as well - the container holds the encoded files, which may or may not  specify how to actually decode the media within them!  So for example you could have an .MKV file.  MKV is the container.  It specifies how the audio and video are stored in the file - NOT how they are encoded.  The video could be encoded with x.264 and the audio with AAC.  Or other combinations/etc.  So you would need an x.264 codec to decode the video, an AAC codec to decode the audio, and software that understands how things are stored within the MKV (so it can get them out properly).

So now in general MP3 is both an encoding (CODEC) as well as a container.  It is well documented.  One would think that an MP3 will play identically on 2 different things (computers, MP3 players, etc).  Of course nothing in computers is ever that simple and you would be wrong.

Forget for a moment the different parameters you can specify for an MP3 (like fixed or variable bit rate, sampling rate, encoding rate, how stereo is encoded, etc).  The MP3 specification does not actually tell you exactly how to encode OR decode the actual audio of an MP3 file.  Yes, it does tell you how to format a frame of data, etc - but how you compress the data into MP3 data is left up to the programmer of the codec.  

So while the data may be in a constant format, the contents of that data can be remarkably different.  You can take the same input (WAV for example) and output different MP3s by using different codecs - and they should sound the same! 

But that also means that different codecs can interpret the SAME MP3 data in different ways!  If you have Codec A on computer A that claims to be the MP3 decoder, and Codec B (written by a different programmer) on computer B that claims to be the MP3 decoder, you can get TWO different results if you play the same file on both.

There are also additional gotchas:

The output of one codec may actually be the input for ANOTHER codec.  Or two (or more) codecs may both claim to decode a particular type of media.  In Windows, codecs are 'Chained' - Windows will ask each codec on the computer if it does something with a particular format and then pass it to them one by one.  Even if you have the identical codecs installed on 2 machines, they may be installed in a different order which means they are ran in a different order.  From the video example above, you would have 1 CODEC that knows how to handle MKV, which then takes the data and sends it to 2 different codecs, 1 each for sound and video.  Those in turn could pass their data to other codecs.

Or possibly the computer has additional audio processing.  The same way that codecs are chained, audio is pipe-lined:  It goes from 'device' to 'device' (device here used in a way that can mean either software or something physical) which could additionally process the audio.  That processing can take time and so you get a delay.  I'm sure everyone by this time has been frustrated with a digital TV station/program where the audio is out-of-sync with the video.  That happens because audio and video are processed in 2 separate pipelines and one is adding more of a delay than the other.

The LOR software does not install any codecs - for us that would be a nightmare of licensing agreements, require us to create audio and video editing software, etc.  Instead we rely on what you (or Windows out of the box) have installed on your computer.  This is the most common reason we get tickets for Video - someone edited video on one computer which means they installed the video editing software which most likely installed it's codecs.  Now they attempt to run it on another computer where they did not install that software and nothing works.

LOR software relies on the CODEC to tell us exactly what time (down to 1/1000th of a second accuracy) the codec is playing.  Different codecs could be interpreting the file in different ways giving 2 different results.  Or the identical file is decoded by identical codecs, but 1 computer has different devices in it's audio pipeline than the other.  We get the correct time signatures, but one computer is delaying the audio more than the other.

Thankfully issues like this don't occur often.  Encoding an audio file with MP3 at 128kbps, 44.1 khz sample, mono or stereo works for 99.9% of the CODECs out there - that is a 'standard' that has been out long enough that everything supports it.  Usually.  

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Thanks Mike! 

What I have been researching is the MP3 versus the WAV file.  When I ripped the CDs for saving them for LOR sequences I did not know what kind of file Windows Media Player saved them as (WMA back in 2008).  When using WMA music files with LOR (basic version) the music files would not be recognized by LOR.  Finally after some headway, I found out how to change WMA to MP3s, again no idea what bit rate as well as sample rate (2012?) but they seem to work with hits and misses.  About 2014/5, was able to save them as MP3s at 128kbps and would work with LOR.  Now with being a little more computer savvy, was able to save them as MP3s at 160kbps and the software recognizes them as well as plays the music with the sequence. The question now is does the G3-MP3 Director play the current version I have?

I am finding out the G3-MP3 Director should be able to play any "common" music format to include WAV music files.  At what sample rate and speed is to be determined.  I plan on doing a couple of samples with WAV and MP3 files with small sequences to see what the outcome is.  This all stemmed when the lighting sequences I saved on different computers got off grid going from one computer to another.

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Thanks Jim and Tom!

I am using Sequence Editor and the beat wizard for my sequences as I have a music background and it is the easiest for me.  The issue is not the music but the lighting sequence.  When saving on one computer and transfer it to another, the music sequence is dead on but the lighting sequence is skewed.  The music is the same rate and same MP3 file.   It was after I updated the software on the laptop the lighting sequence finally stayed the same as well as using a thumb drive to store everything (music and sequence).  I did both at the same time so the opportunity to see if the software  or the way it was saved might have been the issue.  My best guess from what you two are saying is it was saving the file issue. 

As far as saving on the cloud, I do not have access to the internet for my personal computer nor cloud at work due to "locking it down" on their end (military) so I do the alternative thumb drive for now.  After I do the trial on the G3-MP3 Director I will post the results.

Again, Thanks!!!!!

John

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