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Arrrgghhhh!~ Tracks Rock!


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We just completed our first year animated display last year and we had a great time. :)   It took us a full year of diligent effort but it was very well worth it and the feedback from audiences and neighbors was awesome.  As I start programming our family display for the new season, I wanted to go back over some of the more popular tutorials again, now that I have a much better frame of reference to understand not only the content but the implications of what was being said sometimes in the tutorials and frankly, I could just shout right now.

I didn't correctly/fully understand the power of Tracks. Because I wanted to drive one set of channel configurations supporting two different holidays/props, I decided that it would be simple to use tracks to separate the holidays with the channels only appearing on a single track.  I created one track for Beats (which included channels not connected to lights but allowed me to program music reference & beat points), one track for the house eaves since these were universal to all holidays, one track for Halloween specific props, and one track for Christmas specific props. That gave me one config file for everything seemingly simplifying all future work. 


Under those tracks, I listed an original channel for each dmx pixel in each prop, grouped them once, based on physical connection, as needed (i.e. a tree, a face, etc), and one channel for each prop representing a single LOR channel, then sometimes grouped those together for items such as 3 color mini-trees. The great thing was that if I was working on a Halloween song, I could hide the Christmas props and visa versa saving screen space.  It posed quite a problem though for each time I changed or adjusted a prop to support a new sequence or first time layout adjustment because I had to go back in and copy/paste every cell in a new sequence, rename and update every sequence for both holidays to make sure everything would stay together.  I later heard it suggested on the forum boards that I should "Create a master track and leave that one alone" - didn't make much sense to me at the time so I made a mental note to come back to this and investigate when I wasn't under the timeline gun to get the first display out there.

I just found and watched Listentoourlights' tutorial on tracks and wow did it come clear. Unfortunately,  its now abundantly clear that I probably wasted hundreds of hours of my life programming things the hard way, and quality - most definitely - was less than it could have been.  Now it's back off the drawing board to tweak existing sequences this year as our first priority rather than to start on new songs.

How fantastic it could have been to understand that I could group channels to get specific effects such as waves and to enjoy effects that nearly sequence themselves instead my of constant hand timing, screen resizing, hiding/unhiding channels, channel clicking, etc.  Listentoourlights was able to single click whole effects where it probably took me hours for the same effect because of his efficient use of tracks and groupings.


If anyone else has questions about tracks, this tutorial may help you save time you'll never get back and significantly improve the quality of your sequences as well.    Happy Sequencing!             




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