Many jobs require lights to be active at the same time as an announcement or music. When your project is completed, and everything is all hooked up to Timecode, you want to make sure that your lighting doesn’t miss its cue.
We’ve changed the way we line up simulation audio. Rather than simply loading a file and having it play as the simulation starts, we can now place audio directly on the timeline.
To enable this feature, check the Enable simulation audio checkbox on the Simulation page just below the time controls.
Once this is done, there will be a new row in your Timeline view
This is, very simply, where you add your audio. It is worth noting that this audio is not uploaded to the controller and won’t start playing as your timeline is playing in the real world. That would be Audio Out, which is a different feature that is covered later in this Tips and Tricks.
Now, to add audio to your project, simply click Import on the Media tab of your Preset Browser.
Once this file has been imported, you should see it in the Media browser, e.g.:
Dragging and dropping this file onto your Timeline will then automatically generate the waveform, so you can see the peaks and troughs of your tune.
The above image is set to view a full 10 second stretch, but the Timeline can be zoomed in to spread the beats apart. This can either be done with Ctrl/Cmd + Scroll, Ctrl/Cmd + + or with the controls in the toolbar.
Once zoomed in, we can see 0.01 second marks (the same definition at which you can position a preset), allowing for you to synchronise lighting to each beat with precision. It may be worth noting here that, when initially placing a preset, we restrict the placement to the 1.00 second mark. However, once placed, it can be moved by 0.1 seconds, or, whilst holding shift, 0.01 seconds.
You may notice there are three shades in the waveform. This is to indicate left and right. The left channel is rendered as light grey, right as dark grey and overlap as the shade in between.
This can be seen more clearly here.
Audio Out works in a similar way as Simulation Audio, but is enabled in the Project Features page in the Project tab.
To access this control panel, first select the Project Features tab along the top of the Project view, then enable Timeline Audio.
And ensure it is set to Enabled, as shown here:
Now there will be new rows in the Timeline view.
Please note, this is different from the Simulation Audio row. Unlike the Simulation Audio row, the audio placed on the Timeline Audio rows will be uploaded and output by the controllers.
We will create a new audio row on each available controller that can output audio. This is currently limited to our rack-mounted units, so the LPC X, VLC and VLC+. Other controllers in the project, such as an LPC or TPC, will not have their own audio timeline rows.
As you can see, we display the Audio Timeline on the VLC family slightly differently to the LPC X, so ensure you expand your VLC/VLC+ controllers to see the row.
From this point, adding audio follows the same method described above in the Simulation Audio section. There is one key difference; with Audio Out, we have two layers for audio: Background and Alert.
Background is for your run of the mill audio. For example, if you’re using audio combined with lights for a queuing area of a theme park ride, your background audio would be your music that plays to keep the guests entertained while they wait. There is only one layer for this, so starting another background audio track will fade in and stop the previously running track.
Alert is for important audio that needs to overlap the background but doesn’t need to stop it entirely. Using our previous example, the alert audio would be an announcement. The background will fade out, the alert will play, then the background will fade back in once the alert has finished.
This category can be set in the Media Properties by selecting the Audio Preset on the Timeline.
Additional Useful Info
A useful ability with this new feature is the ability to use a video with audio and have them play back at the same time. A video file with an audio track can be placed on both a Pixel Matrix/Content Target row and the Audio Out row, allowing you to play your content in sync using the same file.
It is also worth noting that dropping Timeline Flags can be a useful feature with playing audio. Instead of pausing and placing presets on every key beat whilst listening to the audio, you can easily drop Timeline Flags down instead, then go through them afterwards.
This can be done by clicking the Timeline Flag button, then pressing the F key on important beats whilst the timeline is playing.
And, finally, we advise you not to use Audio Out on Rate Adjusted Timelines, such as Astronomical Timelines or timelines that trigger with a Set Timeline Rate action. This is because our playback engine doesn’t affect the rate of Audio by compressing or expanding the audio wavelength, but instead would skip beats to maintain position, leaving the audio sounding slightly jittery with beats missed.
We hope this helps you to achieve precisely synchronised lighting playback with your audio, in whichever form it comes.
Please keep an eye out for future Tips & Tricks, covering the features we’ve worked on to make your life easier.