sACN Sync is a new feature that aligns with the specification for the sACN protocol. It works in a similar vein to ArtSync or KiNET Sync, although there is a keen difference that will be covered in this introduction to the new feature.
But, firstly, why would you need to use sACN Sync? When you are outputting lighting data to your fixtures from a controller via network nodes, there are occasions where you need to ensure that the data is output at the correct time across the network. A good example of this would be with a façade, where you have different universes catering to sections of the same display. If there is even a small difference in timing, you will get a “tearing” effect, which can be quite disjointing and decrease the appeal of your display.
This is where sync functionality comes into play. With this enabled, and with nodes that support the function, we send a slightly different DMX packet to the nodes that requires an additional sync signal before it can be output. This ensures the nodes will then output the lighting data to their attached fixtures at the same time, preventing any tearing effects.
NOTE: if we enable sACN Sync (or other sync protocols) but the nodes do not support it, the nodes may not output any data.
Where sACN Sync is unique is in its ability to specify a universe from which the sync packet will be sent. This allows users to specify a universe that is not on a given controller, or even in the project, as the “sync master”. The benefits of this is that it means your entire network can all listen to one single device, whereas other protocols’ version will act on a per-controller basis. All of your nodes can listen to a sync packet coming from the main lighting desk, or a specific controller, meaning that even if your façade is split over multiple controllers, they will all still stay in sync.
Setup is simple; in the Patch view, selecting the Protocol Properties… button will open the following pop-up.
In the sACN section, there is a field entitled Synchronization Universe. Any number can be entered into that field, even one not in the project. As soon as a value is set in that field, the feature will be enabled. Setting it back to None (or 0) will disable the feature once more.
This needs to be set on every controller where it is applicable, as the Protocol Properties popup is only for the currently selected Controller in the Controller column.
This can also be set in the Network view, in the Controller Properties panel to the right, in the Protocols tab.
Setting it in this field may be easier if there are multiple Controllers in the project.