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What are the Pros and Cons of Tracks?


jcheslin
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I'm a third-year LOR fan ... I see posts for different "strategies" on using tracks --- some suggest using tracks for instruments or melodies --- others suggest grouping by light colors or area [like windows and trees]. These are pretty different ways to go ... I've started down the color/area path and don't want to go too far before finding out that I hate what I am doing. Anyone with ideas? THANKS!

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3 years and this is your first post? Welcome!

I use tracks for different timings. This helps keep the master track clean (only the original timing marks). I might use a track for tapper, one for beat, etc. Often, I will use tracks for things were I want equal timing marks for my arches or mega.

If I had crazy channels like many do, I might rethink into grouping by lights or elements.

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With the channels, you can (say) put all your leaping lights together in a grouping to control them. If you have over 100 channels, this can prove to be a big time saver as you are not always having to scroll over them to get to other stuff.

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I had 160 channels for 2008 --- but you know how that Super Secret Sale just gets the creative juices flowing ... I found a way to increase things to up to 256 channels for 2009 .... Having never used tracks before, I now "get" to convert last year's sequences and I have found that when I export the new Track Format and then Import it into a new sequence, the timings don't import --- I am wondering if the conversion process is going to take forever .... Plus, I have not mastered the Beat Wizard or the Tapper Wizard --- so, I am hoping to find a method that cuts down changes in the future [if I can't control myself on increasing channels].

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If you do a search, you'll find quite a bit of discussion on tracks since the S2 software was released. I started with 144 channels and just this morning received the "secret sale" controllers to boost me to 256 this year. I use tracks primarily for grouping display elements such as colors, arches, poles, mega tree, etc.

I also use the ability to create a duplicate track in cases where I want something, say the arches, to respond at different speeds or to different triggers from one part of a sequence to another. When you create a duplicate track, whatever you do in one version will automatically appear in both. That makes it simple to change the timings and/or the events wherever you want to and then delete the duplicate version once you're finished. Everything you've programmed will all be in the original track.

Personally, I'm lousy with the Tapper and probably won't ever get much better - in most cases, I can do as well just using the waveform as a timing guide. But I will heartily recommend that you experiment with both the Beat Wizard and the VU Wizard - I think once you master them you'll find them to be indispensible tools.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's probably important to note that if you aren't explicitly placing your timings, that is, unless you are *not* using the old-style "fill the sequence with 0.05 or 0.10 second markers" method, then tracks won't give you too much benefit other than general organization.

Tracks enable you to see a timing mark and know what it's for quickly because there aren't any "other" marks around it to cloud the issue, which isn't all that helpful when they're all squeezed in next to each other to begin with.

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Thanks for this reply because it is exactly what I concluded after converting one of last year's sequences ---- tracks are good for organization, but I recently 'moved' common channels where they need to be in the master track, so that works just as well. I've defaulted to the .10 timing --- its just easier for a non-musical [former] IT programming type ...

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RiscIt wrote:

It's probably important to note that if you aren't explicitly placing your timings, that is, unless you are *not* using the old-style "fill the sequence with 0.05 or 0.10 second markers" method, then tracks won't give you too much benefit other than general organization.

Tracks enable you to see a timing mark and know what it's for quickly because there aren't any "other" marks around it to cloud the issue, which isn't all that helpful when they're all squeezed in next to each other to begin with.


Respectfully disagree. One does NOT have to fill the sequence with pre-set timings in order to effectively use tracks.

A programmer can create his own timing for whatever series of groupings he wishes to use. These can be independent of the timing marks.
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RiscIT please grace us with one of your masterfully sequenced videos on your new and improved method. I am very interested since my old and tired method of .04 and .05 are no longer up to date.

I use tracks only for grouping elements of a display and a lot of my displays have completely different timing marks. However, your method is so far ahead of my thinking I must see the results.

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You know what I don't care a flip how you find it. You get on here 12 damn times and tell everyone they are doing it wrong and old fashioned and yet you refuse to show how you do it. Personally I would be surprised if you even own an LOR unit. So until you can come on here and say something positive or back up what you say then STFU. Now how do you like that? Jerk.

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Wow. Merry Christmas to you too.

I thought for awhile about what to say here. And the more I thought about it, the more it's clear to me that there is nothing I can say to make you feel better about me or what I have said in the past. I'm sorry that you feel my post count is somehow indicative of my intelligence.

On the off chance that you have simply mis-read my past comments to mean something they didn't, or assumed they implied something I didn't mean to imply, and I really hope that's the case because I can't comprehend why you would be so angry about them otherwise, I will try to re-iterate them, and hopefully address the concerns you seem to have.


First off, I don't believe that any way is wrong. There are many different people in the world. All of them learn and work differently. None of them are wrong. ..Except maybe the gifted and talented kid pushing on the pull door.

Secondly, I do not believe that anyone who is musically inclined is better than someone who isn't. That's a horrible thought.

I do feel that using intentionally placed timing markers rather than relying on the "nearest neighbor" marker spaced every 0.05 or 0.10 seconds apart results in smoother sequences. There are 2 reasons. 1) Beats of a song do not land on 0.05 or 0.10 second intervals. The freedom to place timing markers wherever you like is quite clearly more accurate than not. This is obviously a negligible reason simply because most people can't distinguish if a timing is 0.05 seconds off (can anyone?). A more interesting situation is when you're chasing through a bunch of channels rapidly.... To elaborate:

Let's say you have a song with 1 beat per second. That never happens exactly, but it could be any relatively short period of time and the point would still be valid. Now in that 1 second we want to chase across 8 channels of an arch, actually, just 7 channels, because the last channel is the start of the *next* bounce and we want that to fall on the start of the next beat so we can "bounce" back and not appear to have "paused" the lights at the ends of the arch. If we use 0.05 sec timings, then we have 20 segments in that 1 second. 20 divided by 7 means we'd want 2.85 markers between each channel being turned on.. That 0.85 throws a wrench in things. To continue using the 0.05 markers we end up rounding up to 3 on most of them, and down to 2 on a couple, which can make things look uneven. To complicate it further, if we copy and paste this chase sequence to have the arch bounce back and forth many times, we run in to another problem, which is that the beat isn't 20 segments long every time. It may actually be 0.975 seconds long, which after a single beat, our 20 segment chase would need to be tweaked again to fit in to just 19, to get us back on track. ( I didn't check the math on this, but the logic is true regardless of how accurate the math is).

.....or this can be avoided entirely by placing a single timing event at the start of the section, another at the end (at the end of the last beat, start of the next), subdiving the space between by the number of beats (just count them), and then subdividing those by 7 (one per channel of chase per beat). Then we know every timing event in between is very close to where it belongs, we have the right number of segments, and we can do a single "bounce and back" before copying and pasting it through the rest of the section.

If you know where you section starts and stops, how many beats are in there, and what you want to do for every beat, then you can just subdivide to your heart's content and not have to tweak things to get them evenly spaced and lined up over and over.

Or you can be attached to the pre-made 0.05 second markers and tweak.

...or you can use the 0.05 markers and not tweak. It's up to you. No way is wrong.

I just know that I can tell when arches and other items get out of sync as certain animations repeat through a song, and it's almost certainly because they copied and pasted on the uniform timings without tweaking.

Thus, I find placing timings intentionally to produce more accurate results with less work. All you have to do is count beats.

I don't think people who don't do it that way are wrong. I do think they have to spend more time to get the same quality results.


If I ever get a good screen capture setup I will be posting a tutorial on the methods mentioned above. Looking at a complete sequence tells you nothing, as it looks just like a sequence which has had the "remove extraneous timings" tool used on it. It doesn't show anything. You can't "see" or "hear" the time that was saved. You can get similar results the "other" way, but it requires a lot more work and patience.

So that's that. I hope you feel better. I don't think you will however. You seem much more upset with me then I can comprehend ever having provoked.


Oh Dale, to clarify, the reason I don't understand your post is because it sounds to me like you're saying the same thing I am. I think one of us is using ambiguous terms.

- Phil


EDIT: 1 point I neglected to address.... I *do* refer to the "0.05 or 0.10 uniform timings" method as "old" because in the past I believe that *was* the easiest way to get good results. The introduction of tracks and a much more functional "subdivide timings" tool, however, makes it *much* easier, in my opinion, to use individually placed timings.

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Phil -- an excellent explanation -- since I have not mastered the Beat Wizard --- and actually hate the Tapper Wizard --- I just defaulted to the .10 timing setup. Yes, the copy-and-paste method for repeating sequences has resulted in slightly off timings and being the 'programmer' I notice them --- and everyone else involved on the sidelines, does not -- so you are correct. I have watched the Beat Wizard 'video' by Michael F online --- but even with that lesson, it still seems incredibly complex having to repeat that process multiple times thru a song. Then you introduce tracks, and I get overwhelmed. Now that I am moving to ~256 channels from 160, I really want an 'easy' way to convert the old way to 'the' new way, but am finding this process slow and painful too --- and, I have 21 sequences. Even the Export/Import of the track setup did not Import with the default .10 timings that I wanted -- only the master track had those timings and I had to 'convert' all of the other tracks one by one .... and on and on I bore the rest of you .... Jim

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RiscIt wrote:

Dale, to clarify, the reason I don't understand your post is because it sounds to me like you're saying the same thing I am. I think one of us is using ambiguous terms.

- Phil


Lets say you use the tapper wizard in a new set of tracks. The track is empty and you tap out where you want as close as your reflexes and "ear" allows you.

If you had 0.05 timing, the result would be the same, the tap would be in the same position.

Now, with your assumption that tracks do not help, you will have a nice looking grid with taps inserted. Without the grid, you have random timing events inserted.

If you use the Wave form in either scenario, you can see the precise moment that the beat starts to occur. In your scenario, you simply edit the cell and create the effect you want. In the blank track, you can move the timing to where ever you want it and it achieves the same.

Now what are the advantages of one over the other?

If you have a small display, it may not make a difference at all. But if you have a large enough display that tracks can be organized by "group", "geographic proximity", etc, it reduces your sequencing time. And that, my friend, is the name of the game. Every hour I can eliminate by careful planning is one more hour I can spend playing stupid mafia wars on facebook.
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jcheslin wrote:

and actually hate the Tapper Wizard

Don't be hatin. :)

I have watched the Beat Wizard 'video' by Michael F online --- but even with that lesson, it still seems incredibly complex having to repeat that process multiple times thru a song.

I agree it seems to have a lot of trial and error. I also end up having to skew the results a bit as I need the lights on a tiny moment *before* the beat for the full "in sync" effect. And most music not produced with a computer has slight variations in tempo even when it's supposed to be constant anyway, so the beat wizard, I find, is wrong more than it's right. It's like a clock that runs slightly fast and then slightly slow all day. Drives me nuts and I end up moving most of the timing marks anyway, so I just place key marks where I want them and subdivide.


I really want an 'easy' way to convert the old way to 'the' new way, but am finding this process slow and painful too

I haven't tried this as I quickly abandoned the 0.05 marks method as soon as tracks were available, but you might try this:

Open your existing sequence (save a copy for backup...), separate your channels in to the tracks you want to group the items with similar timings. Frex - you might have a lot of elements that follow the bass and trigger right on the main beat - put those together. You may have a row of mini trees that are usually off doing "their own thing" with the melody... put those together in their own track. When you've got everything separated, select each track and use the "Delete Extraneous Timings" tool. That will remove all of the extra timing marks that made it a "mess" to look at, leaving just the timings which mark the start and end of each light effect. It may also reveal that things you thought were "firing" at the same instant are really 0.1 or 0.05 seconds off, and you'll be able to see those easily and sync them up (assuming they should be, of course).

Dale W wrote:
If you had 0.05 timing, the result would be the same, the tap would be in the same position.

...if you already had a 0.05 grid laid out and used the "snap to existing events", yes. I'm with you....

...Though I don't use the tapper wizard much, so I'm not sure we're comparing apples to apples..

Now, with your assumption that tracks do not help

Not quite... I said they don't help as much. They still help you to organize your channels in to common groups. I think they help considerably more if you are frequently moving timing marks around and or inserting new timing between others, and then later copy/paste something. Folks who use the 0.05 or 0.1 grids don't generally need to deal with that.

The issue is that when you copy a fade (or any effect) that takes up, for example, one half-second long segment, and then paste it somewhere else, it will take up exactly 1 segment, regardless of how long that segment is. If you're using 0.05 or 0.1 long segments then it doesn't matter... All of your segments are the same size, and you'd be more likely to be copying a 10 segment long fade rather than 1 segment long, and you're always copy/pasting from/in to segments of the same uniform size.

If you are placing timing events directly on beats, however, you may not have a timing event for *every* half-beat if nothing is happening on *every* half-beat in that section. So if you paste something from one place to another, you may not end up with the same results if you hadn't already placed the right timings there.

A good example is about 50 seconds in to Wizards In Winter (the old standby). You can hear the elec guitar "crunching" on "1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and-" (repeat). But the bass drum is only hitting on "1 - 2 - 3 - 4 -" (repeat - Note: no "and" half beats). If I had my channels following the bass drum on the same track as the channels I have following the guitar, I would have the bass drum fades spanning 2 segments and the guitar fades spanning 1 segment each.

Since I have those items in separate tracks, I don't have the extra timing lines cluttering up my bass drum channels, and I also have a really solid reference of where the down beat is, which I end up using (copy/paste) in other tracks and subdividing. For the bells that kick in at 57 seconds I split the main beat segments in half (just like the guitar track) because all of the bells land on half beats. For the recurring theme at 1:16 for which I have a line of trees "bounce" back and forth I copy the main beat timings from the bass tracks and sub-divide each beat segment in to 8 segments, one for each tree, but again, all those extra timings won't be cluttering up my bass track, and if I need to make a change to that bass track for whatever reason, moving those timings around won't affect the tree chasing. And by subdividing timings which I am sure land on the main beat of the song I am sure to get evenly spaced sub-segments for smooth chases across the trees. They're never off by more than 0.01 seconds (which is a limitation of the software: when it subdivides the precision is limited to 0.01, so occasionally it creates a segment 0.01s longer or shorter, which is fine).

you will have a nice looking grid with taps inserted. Without the grid, you have random timing events inserted.

aah... here is a funamental difference between us. I don't consider the grid nice. I guess it's nice *looking*, (hey.. don't ask don't tell, if you have a grid fetish I'll buy you graph paper for Christmas), but since most of those timing markers don't land on any point in time I actually care about, I don't want them cluttering up my view and adding confusion, extra lines I might accidently attempt to drag (thank you "Lock Timings" tool!), and creating nothing but an ugly wall of gray when I'm zoomed out on my sequence. I think extraneous timings are just that - extraneous. And I feel that all those extra marks I don't need are many times more random then the few timings that remain which do land on important points in the music.

To each his or her own.


that tracks can be organized by "group", "geographic proximity", etc, it reduces your sequencing time.

...and that is the "general organization" I referred to in an earlier post, which is why I think you're saying the same thing I am. ;)

Again, I'm not saying tracks aren't valuable if you use the grid method. I'm saying they become much *more* valuable to you if you don't, as it lets you keep timings which don't affect one channel out of the way.

After all, you can get almost the same thing simply by stacking related channels on top of each other in a single track. If you're using the grid method your only advantage with tracks is a label for each section and more instances of the wave form and time scales. If you have lots of precisely placed timings, however, you get to clear up your view, and move things around without worrying about how it affects your other precisely placed timings which are only important to another channel.

- Phil, who has no videos or sequences he's willing to share, *and* he has a low post count, (for shame!) so *obviously* he is of no use to society!
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RiscIt wrote: "Again, I'm not saying tracks aren't valuable if you use the grid method. I'm saying they become much *more* valuable to you if you don't, as it lets you keep timings which don't affect one channel out of the way.

After all, you can get almost the same thing simply by stacking related channels on top of each other in a single track. If you're using the grid method your only advantage with tracks is a label for each section and more instances of the wave form and time scales. If you have lots of precisely placed timings, however, you get to clear up your view, and move things around without worrying about how it affects your other precisely placed timings which are only important to another channel."




Again, it does not matter if you use a grid or not (and based on your previous post I thought you were saying that if you used a grid, you did not need tracks).

For example, if you have 300 channels. If you do not want to have to scroll up and down one track, then you could do as you say, but who would want to scroll down that many channels. For this programmer, tracks are a vital time saver.

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I've tried tracks for grins, and didn't really get much help from them except for organization. The primary reason I switched to LOR from all DIY was because of the software's ability to make a grid that matched the song's timings. If I were using .05 or .10 grids, I would probably stick to Vixen and DIY, but it makes sequencing SO much faster and intuitive to know that if there is a timing grid, then it is one in time to the music.

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I'm sorry you feel that way.

I'm sorry people are so intent to tell me how I feel about things.

I'm sorry that no matter what I say to the contrary, people continue to make assumptions and draw their own conclusions about my what I think and continue to make some AWFULLY large assumptions about how I feel about others who do things differently than I do.

I'm sorry that so many words seem to be have been put in my mouth. Quite simply, I've never said that any one was wrong to do things differently than I do. I've never even suggested it. I find my own methods "better", which is a relative quantification for my own personal work habits. For me to have that opinion does not require that I think someone else's opinion, of what works for them, is any lesser in value. I really can't comprehend why someone would jump to that conclusion.

I'm sorry I can't articulate my thoughts more clearly so that those who are portraying me as some elitist prick who thinks he knows everything and wants to tell everyone how they *need* to work can understand that is absolutely not what *any* of my posts actually say.

I'm sorry this thread is in the shitter.

Most importantly, I'm sorry that the official support forum of Light-O-Rama has proven to be such an insanely poor experience for me. I will restrict my support requests to the phone and direct email to the company. This forum is not an environment I feel comfortable participating in. I expected crap like that in a lot of places... But not in the official support forum for a business.

It seems that there is nothing I can say that doesn't come under direct personal attack to extents *FAR* beyond what a simple online conversation should ever entail.

Good luck to you all. May God bless you.

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I REALLY didn't mean to start this ! After reading many other theads on Tracks I still felt the need to get more input --- I totally understand both approaches --- tracks as groupings for lights ---- or as groupings for instrument timings. Both certainly have a use --- but for someone who has not mastered the Beat Wizard --- and didn't like the Tapper Wizard --- I just defaulted to .10 timings ---- and yes, there is a line of cars every night, so maybe its ok. I was hoping for an easy way to convert from no tracks to a bunch of tracks moving forward, but I still don't like the time-consuming cut-and-paste of the old to new sequence --- after creating my new channel order and tracks grouped by similar lights, I was really hoping to Export and Import the new .lcs file ---- but that certainly doesn't produce the results I want.

I sincerely appreciate this forum --- and all of your input --- it is better than teaching yourself everything.

Here is one song from my 2008 show --- 160 channels --23,000 LED lights ... watch it in HQ mode tho --- its much clearer ... all done with .10 timing ...



Oops maybe this is one sequence I bought from LOR .... I will have others to post some day .... [sorry for the error --- but its mostly .10 timings]
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It is not your fault. This guy has done this two other times. Let me give you an example. Go to Marty Slack's website and look at his videos. Every one is done with .10 and he moves the timing marks when he needs to. If that is the "old" way sign me up.

Until this guy puts his video or a sequence up for all to see I just consider him a fraud. Simple as that. Oh and your stuff looks good.

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