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S4 or Superstar


Mr. P
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This year I will be adding 40 smart pixel strings to my display and I am licensed for S3 Advanced. I have been playing and learning nutcracker for the last 5 months and want opinions on what would be the better upgrade, S4 or Superstar. Opinions please.

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S4 and Nucracker are two different programs completely and both will control DMX/E1.31. Both will play music and sync lights but they are not the same and S4 does not upgrade xLights. SS is an add-on to the LOR program. Now one of the nice things to do, is create an effect in xLights, export that to LOR's Sequence Editor and use it there however, the new S4, Pixel Editor has many of the same xLights features built into it. I think I read in here that LOR purchased rights to xLights, however I truly don't know that fact or the legalities involved. SS is a powerful program for LOR and you might wish to learn it. Note: The new S4, shortly will require an upgrade license for the PE.

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I understand that all three programs are different I am just wanting opinions on what would be easier, stay with the free version of Nutcracker and just convert, upgrade to S4 Pro, or get the Superstar add-on?

 

Last years display used eight CTB16 controllers and three CMD24 via the USB485. This year I am adding 40 pixel strings via e1.31

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I don't know if xLights will control your CTB16 controllers or the CMD24's, so you might need to stay with LOR. I'm sure someone has figured out a way to achieve this with xLights, but I have no clue. My view is based upon picking the LOR system a couple of years ago and sticking with it. I am learning the new things of S4 along with everyone else and I see powerful tools being added such as the PE add-on. Its very apparent that SS is a powerful tool too for pixels, CCR's, CCB's and CCP's. Its up to you, what you like or don't like. Each program has its pros and cons but they are getting better, meaning S4 will improve the experience and capability.

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From the way I understand it, NC can sequence with some aspects like LOR with their new XL4. However, a lot of the sequencing you will be doing with it is element based. In other words, you pick an element and drop an effect on it for a period of time. I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think you can get the minute details as in S4 and Superstar. Some folks like the ease of dropping that effect and letting that be the sequence. I, myself, like the individual Pixel control in the S3 and soon, the production version of S4

 

Is XL4 better? Is S4 Better? That's a question you need to ask yourself. Everyone has a different idea of how they want their show to look.

 

My recommendation is this, in my opinion, LOR software with the Superstar add-on is the best software to use. If I didn't think that, I wouldn't be on here every day. I may not post every day, but I skim through the first page or two of new posts to see if there's anything I can help someone with.

 

The main thing is, to be comfortable with your SW and have confidence in your own ability. Otherwise, it will just be just a bunch of blinking lights instead of a Christmas Light Show (and other holidays) .

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Like Ron said, xlights and pixel editor (the s4 version of nutcracker) is used for effects. You create or find a premade effect and throw it on your element. Then, you try to sync that effect up to the music.

I personally found it hard to create an effect and sync it in nutcracker. Simply because of a lack of a timing grid. I had to create timings and then try to match it up. Now, this may be a case where I did not take enough time learning nutcracker. But to me it is cumbersome at best. Lastly, I experienced lag in S3 when using nutcracker effects. There is a write up about this and a tool to fix this lag is being released...but that is new and this was another deterrent for me using nutcracker.

Pixel editor was created for LOR using a license purchased from nutcracker creators. Matt Brown came to LOR from the nutcracker team to help build it. So it is not surprising that it looks very similar. But...it adds a timing grid. And it imports timings from LOR. But the principle is the same. Add an effect to an element.

Now, superstar. I am a huge fan of superstar. Ever since I began in these forums people have compared superstar to pixel or rgb sequencing only. Called it an add on which sometimes gives the impression that it will only work with rgb or CCRs.

Superstar takes the place of sequence editor. Period. You have control of every pixel or string in your display. You can control AC, dc, rgb dumb, pixels, CCRs, CCBs. Complete control. Not an effect but your imagination at work.

Once I started using superstar my sequencing time was drastically reduced and it continues to take less time as I use it even though my display continues to grow. Superstar does take time to learn. It is different than the sequence editor and it will take a little time for your thought process to adjust. But give it a chance and soon you will be saving time as well as creating the best possible sequences you can imagine.

With all that said, sometimes people would rather look at their display working rather than create the sequences. If this is you, then maybe superstar is not for you.

But the great thing about LOR is you can try before you buy. Try the software out. You have advanced so you can use rgb and pixels right away. So try superstar yourself. It is free and you can create the sequence just not export it. Give it a try with 2 songs. After that you will know.

Good luck,

Sax

Edited by sax
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Well said sax. 

 

On the front of the 2 songs, on this page about half way down are 2 free sequences Boughs of Holly by TSO. one for 2 CCRs and 1 for 4 CCRs. Download them and break them down. look at each effect and see how it's created and what it does. I also have a sequence with a bunch of effects in for a mini I'm supposed to talk at in August, here's the link to the presentation and sup file along with the visualizer and all pictures. 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/5865lx0toa5fi5e/PP%20For%20SC%20Mini.zip?dl=0

 

If it helps, then great.

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Okay, here is a breakdown of what I am doing this year

 

(network 1) 485

PC------->USB485-------->CTB16 (8) ----------->CMD24 (3)

 

(network 2) e1.31

PC------->8 Port Switch--------->Alphapix 16 Controller (2)

                                     --------->Alphapix 4 Controller (1)

 

 

Network 1 is last years setup and songs are already programmed. Network 2 is what I am adding this year, suggestions on software.

Edited by Mr. P
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Where in SC?

 


From Ron Boyd......"a mini I'm supposed to talk at in August...."
Edited by Alien407
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Where in SC?

 

From Ron Boyd......"a mini I'm supposed to talk at in August...."

 

 

Downtown Greenville, SC

 

Look up Shannon Wood, either on the Christmas Carolina forums or on Facebook. Their date is not set yet, but he said sometime in August.

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Will do.  Thanks!

 

I just looked up where Winterville is. If you need to find a mini, head over to the Christmas Carolina forums. If memory serves, I think they have monthly meetings in Raleigh. That's a lot closer for you. I haven't been on there in quite sometime, but I think you can get in touch with, "kidcole" or "Al from Raleigh" or "mpurser". I think that's their names. The rest of them escape me at the moment. Their group is called "

TASL (Triangle Areas Synchronized Lights)
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Thanks.  That's good information.  I will look deeper.

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This is only my second year, and I didn't understand SS on bit last year.  This year, I've had more time, and have expanded into RGB, and SS is the bomb!!!  I spent the first few days with it thinking I wasted my money, but after the few days, it all just clicked (after some help from the actual creator.....which, how cool is that?).  Although I will consider myself a "beginner" for years to come, this took me forward in a big way. Without it, I could not imagine doing RGB unless I used premade sequences. Now, I can't imagine paying for a sequence ever again. Didn't take long to discover that it's great for doing ALL your lights, and not just RGB pixels.  

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