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Better Projector Tool Roundup


trashcan

Question

Here it goes-

 

I know that both Landru & Projection Viz plug-ins cover a lot of this, but not all. 

 

And there are hacky ways to achieve a lot of this stuff, but nothing as simple as the other tools that VW Spotlight has. 

 

I would love to speak with the VW development team to help get this stuff going. VW would be the #1 tool for projection design and engineering if they were able to achieve even half of these requests. There are other apps that can achieve some of this, but nothing close to all of it. 

 

Library that rivals the lighting library, which would mean:

  • Many more projectors
  • Many more lenses

 

Tool:

  1. The big one for me is the ability to focus on surfaces, not limited to screens. Many projection and video designs don't use screens. Right now the tool caters to trade show executions / simple design. Currently, the work around is that you can project on to any surface with Josh's excellent Projection Viz tool - but the focus point has to be behind the object which is great for previz but not accurate for engineering purposes (you can double up and achieve this with class visibility). 
  2. Obstructions. If something is in front of a projector, shouldn't the image be clipped? 
  3. Projector beams. Because: Fog etc. And projection surfaces emitting light!
  4. Projector focus points! This would be amazing. Just like the lighting focus points, it would angle the projector to match the target focus point. 
  5. Accurate projection shift (set limits based on projector + projector lens combination). 
  6. Projectors at odd angles to fit in the nook and crannies that are in real world situations. 
  7. Projectors on other types of hang points. Right now you can hack this to make it happen (just using a projector symbol and not the plugin object). But: attaching a projector to a truss or a ceiling? The plug in should be able to handle that. 
  8. Lumens studies
  9. 2D and 3D class options for beam, projector, projected image.
  10. True representations of pixel math, aspect, and resolution. 
  11. Simpler portrait mode (or any other angle other than straight on)
  12. Projector arrays! As in: pick a target surface and a dialog comes up with the ability for an AxB array with C% blending. Similar to the roof tool, you can pick an array configuration, and the desired blend and single projector height, and it will give you the overall image size OR, you pick the total surface area and a single projector width and it will give you the projector count and the blend percentage. Fairly simple stuff... 
  13. Raster calculation. An array of projectors creates a multi-screen image. What's the total raster image in pixels? 
  14. Linking Projector Symbols to Projector Lenses - ideally the plugin object would allow you to select lenses that are available for that projector. Much like the lighting tools and gobo options, lens options, shutters, etc. New lenses come out all the time so having the ability to add new lenses on your own. 
  15. Ability to use Spotlight Numbering / Label Legends on Projectors. Show things like: PRJ number, lumens, lens type, signal type, signal source (media server ID) etc. I'm doing all of that manually and it's maddening when I've seen what Label Legends and Numbering can do for lighting. 
  16. Basic geometry correction (I.e., corner-pinning within the projected image). I'd rather have spout / syphon capabilities but this would help in the interim as well. 
  17. Complex geometry correction (grids + pins). Ditto re: spout / syphon. 
  18. Spout / Syphon per projector would be killer. This would mean the ability to show animated / video content on any projected surface or traditional LED screen. Would also allow you test more complex projection mapping techniques: complex geometry, corner pinning, bezier mesh, masking. The capabilities are endless when Spout / Syphon are in the mix. Being able to hook Vectorworks up to MadMapper, Isadora, TouchDesigner, QLab for previz would change the game. There are previz tools out there but they are not engineering tools. An engineering tool that can also show previz - a dream come true. If Vectorworks is the go to for previz for lighting design, they would own the market if they could do it for video design as well. This can be achieved (partially) using Vision and NDI streams but because the functionality is super limited it's not very helpful unless you are using traditional screens. Obviously, supporting this would have a whole bunch of implications for system requirements, but video nerds out there can help you figure it out 🙂 

 

More to come. 

 

 

Edited by trashcan
clarification
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hi trashcan,

I don't have a solution here, but I wanted to offer that it may be useful, for those who have not yet tried 3rd party products that address this, to try creating a gobo with the desired projector image and use it in a Spotlight Lighting Device object. As you mention, Andy and Josh already provide methods that address preliminary planning issues, like working out projector location and beam obstruction issues, starting to visualize the play of images on surfaces since there is an actual (virtual) beam of light and maybe start to estimate lens possibilities.

 

Lumen studies are not directly supported in our system currently, but could be engineered as a calculation value for comparison purposes. Our Photometric Grid object could possibly be upgraded with the necessary new capabilities. Adapting Spotlight Numbering to the particular needs of projectors seems actionable. If or when we implement any projector improvements though, there are naturally serious limitations to the visualization piece that we are going to run up against due to our environment; Perhaps the best approach is our plan to offer export of the model via MVR that the various dedicated visualizers could support.

 

As you suggested, Vision might be a more appropriate vehicle for us to add this capability, although from where I sit, it seems like we have plenty of work to do before we might apply some more serious effort to this; Remember: I'm sitting in my house right now, of course, so no commitments...

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@Frank Brault thanks for the info and I appreciate the response. That work-around to project on to any surface is great (and I suspect how Josh's tool works), but given that (I suspect) it's been a known work around for years - wouldn't it be great to integrate that as a feature? 

 

The sticking point here is that with Projection Design, (at least) beam previz is essential to the engineering process. That piece, as you say, is way more doable. Josh and Landru get you about half of the way there already. And there are workarounds to achieve a lot of the other stuff. It's just about integrating them into functional tools IMHO. 

 

Having done projection engineering drawings by hand for many years, the workflow correlates nicely in VW, but the lack of complex projection tools leaves me still doing a ton of things essentially by hand. Don't get me wrong, it is MUCH easier using VW - but I'm struck by how much is still done by hand given the strengths of many of the other toolsets. 

 

Meaning, if a projector needs to go in the corner of a room: 

  • Will it clip anything? 
  • What surfaces will I hit? 
  • If I put it on the ceiling will it cover the whole target wall or does it need to be above or below the ceiling? 
  • Does it get the coverage I need? 
  • Is it the right aspect and resolution? 
  • What are the sight lines from patrons / audience / event-goers? 
  • Can it calculate an image size based on throw distance?
  • Can it calculate the lumens based on target surface-to-throw-distance + projector lumens? 

I don't expect to plug-in all the data to a better projection tool and VW will say "You're Good" - I just want more in the toolkit to figure it out myself. 

 

Right now, I'm having to use a tool like Projector Central's projector calculator or a manufacturer's calculator before I bring anything in to VW. If I know the throw ratio, the lumens, and shift limits then I can manually draw beam lines and do a lux calc. 

 

Like all things, I recognize that you need to know the engineering piece of the puzzle before you jump in, otherwise it's garbage-in, garbage-out. 

 

Re: Exporting a model, I think we're already good with that, yeah? As long as it can come out as an OBJ or DXF we're good for many applications. 

 

Re: Seeing (moving) video piped through those projectors would be great, but the more immediate need is being able to engineer projectors with confidence, and less manually. I totally recognize the video portion as a much more complex process and agree would probably be better for Vision - but the engineering bit needs to happen first. 

Edited by trashcan
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Hi,

 

Bump to an old post because I'm currently playing with projectors in 2021 and the tool clearly isn't there yet.

 

My main ask: side hangable projectors.  I need my calcs to be for 10:16, not 16:10! I can't see how to do this, and it's a thing we do a lot.

 

Thanks!

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On 4/22/2020 at 5:49 PM, trashcan said:
  1. The big one for me is the ability to focus on surfaces, not limited to screens. Many projection and video designs don't use screens. Right now the tool caters to trade show executions / simple design. Currently, the work around is that you can project on to any surface with Josh's excellent Projection Viz tool - but the focus point has to be behind the object which is great for previz but not accurate for engineering purposes (you can double up and achieve this with class visibility). 
  2. Obstructions. If something is in front of a projector, shouldn't the image be clipped? 
  3. Projector beams. Because: Fog etc. And projection surfaces emitting light!
  4. Projector focus points! This would be amazing. Just like the lighting focus points, it would angle the projector to match the target focus point. 
  5. Accurate projection shift (set limits based on projector + projector lens combination). 
  6. Projectors at odd angles to fit in the nook and crannies that are in real world situations. 
  7. Projectors on other types of hang points. Right now you can hack this to make it happen (just using a projector symbol and not the plugin object). But: attaching a projector to a truss or a ceiling? The plug in should be able to handle that. 
  8. Lumens studies
  9. 2D and 3D class options for beam, projector, projected image.
  10. True representations of pixel math, aspect, and resolution. 
  11. Simpler portrait mode (or any other angle other than straight on)

 

I know this is an old post, but I'm compiling wishlist items for ProjectionViz https://benghiatlighting.com/software/products/pv-1

Thanks for the nod @trashcan — just one clarification — #1 is already possible. Just tell the object not to draw the screen surface. That lets you place the focus coordinate directly onto the object receiving the projection. In fact, I specifically designed the tool to help with projections that don't fall onto screens.

Most of the above list is already possible, including rotating the projector to any angle (and still correctly computing lens shift limits). The latest version even re-orients the 3D component of a projector symbol.

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On 10/15/2020 at 6:12 PM, A.D.K. said:

My main ask: side hangable projectors.  I need my calcs to be for 10:16, not 16:10! I can't see how to do this, and it's a thing we do a lot.

 

Sorry; just seeing this thread...

 

If the projector Symbol name includes the text "-Side" the tools know that that projector has a portrait orientation.  The projector aspect parameter is then enabled, allowing you to spec. that.

 

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On 5/20/2021 at 2:57 PM, JBenghiat said:

 

I know this is an old post, but I'm compiling wishlist items for ProjectionViz https://benghiatlighting.com/software/products/pv-1

Thanks for the nod @trashcan — just one clarification — #1 is already possible. Just tell the object not to draw the screen surface. That lets you place the focus coordinate directly onto the object receiving the projection. In fact, I specifically designed the tool to help with projections that don't fall onto screens.

Most of the above list is already possible, including rotating the projector to any angle (and still correctly computing lens shift limits). The latest version even re-orients the 3D component of a projector symbol.

 

I tried installing a trial with v2022 but it doesn't work (no issues with installing on v2021). Any idea when it will be compatible with v2022?

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3 hours ago, JBenghiat said:

@Mark Aceto SP1 at the earliest 

 

Oof--in that case I have no notes. It's perfect as-is!

 

Off the top of my head, all of these notes are coming from using the plugin and RTFM for less than 24 hours:

  • Moving objects is a drag, specifically an Option-drag. And then I have to delete the leftovers. Unless there's a modifier key to move locked objects, I'd like a way to move them or unlock them without having to duplicate them. Unless I'm missing something... 
  • When I insert a PJ symbol, it aligns with the insertion point, not the center of the lens, so I have to edit the 3D symbol insertion point to align with the cone. Unless I'm missing something... 
  • I'd like to tilt a PJ past -90 for mirror / snorkel lenses. For example, if I hang a PJ at -90 and then enter -110, the PJ will rotate 180º to -70.
    • Obviously, I can adjust the focus with vertical lens shift but then the body of the PJ is the cone (see screenshot; however, props for the realism of the PJ body casting a shadow in its own cone). Unless I'm missing something... 
  • Is there a way for the image texture not to appear on other PJ cones (see screenshot)?
  • For the built-in text functionality, I'd say Andy's and Sam's (legacy hoist tool) are the gold standard, so more like that and less like a data tag.
  • My last note is for VW to increase the light limit in OpenGL/Shaded because now my PJ's are counting against that number too, so I'll throw a VE down the wishing well.. 

I'm still mid-learning curve, so I'm eager to discover what else I can accomplish with this plugin. In the meantime, there are so many little attentions to detail that I love like the View section button, and the sliders that allow me to make adjustments in real time.

 

718990340_ScreenShot2021-09-28at8_34_31AM.thumb.png.34ecc90d79425a7f6762dad3c25e2054.png

 

1432456191_ScreenShot2021-09-28at8_42_12AM.thumb.png.850d47f18026b07e3cbd3f43121defff.png

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1 hour ago, Mark Aceto said:

Moving objects is a drag, specifically an Option-drag. And then I have to delete the leftovers. Unless there's a modifier key to move locked objects, I'd like a way to move them or unlock them without having to duplicate them. Unless I'm missing something... 

Yes, there’s a manual section on this. Adjust the interaction locks to control how drags and move commands function. Locking the length of heights, and then either the location of projector or focus, will only move the unlocked location. For example, if the projector location is locked, a move of x=3 would move your image 3’ to the right. Locking throw or plan distance will move both the image and the projector. Dragging a control point in 2D or 3D will move just that point, regardless of locks. 
 

 

1 hour ago, Mark Aceto said:

When I insert a PJ symbol, it aligns with the insertion point, not the center of the lens, so I have to edit the 3D symbol insertion point to align with the cone. Unless I'm missing something... 

You can use the Lens to hanging point option to enter the z distance from the lens center to the insertion point. You will have to adjust the symbol for L/R. Note Vectorworks does not include a way to universally indicate the lens center in a projector symbol

1 hour ago, Mark Aceto said:

I'd like to tilt a PJ past -90 for mirror / snorkel lenses. For example, if I hang a PJ at -90 and then enter -110, the PJ will rotate 180º to -70.

That’s not currently possible. I’d have to look at the math involved, and basically it would turn the image upside down. The workaround would be to duplicate your symbol so the snorkel faces up. 
 

 

1 hour ago, Mark Aceto said:

Is there a way for the image texture not to appear on other PJ cones (see screenshot)?

Edit the projector beam texture and uncheck Receive shadows. 
 

 

1 hour ago, Mark Aceto said:

For the built-in text functionality, I'd say Andy's and Sam's (legacy hoist tool) are the gold standard, so more like that and less like a data tag.

I guess it’s somewhere in the middle. You have to add the text you want to the label, but you don’t have to deal with any layout. It would actually be way too complicated to allow simple text box toggles as well as custom prefix, suffix, and label order. A single text box for all of this is actually much simpler. 
 

 

1 hour ago, Mark Aceto said:

My last note is for VW to increase the light limit in OpenGL/Shaded because now my PJ's are counting against that number too, so I'll throw a VE down the wishing well.. 

This is a limit of OpenGL itself. Now that GL is becoming deprecated, there’s a chance this could improve in the future. 

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1 hour ago, JBenghiat said:

Locking throw or plan distance will move both the image and the projector.

 

Thank you!

 

1 hour ago, JBenghiat said:

You can use the Lens to hanging point option to enter the z distance from the lens center to the insertion point.

 

Got it--thanks!

 

1 hour ago, JBenghiat said:

The workaround would be to duplicate your symbol so the snorkel faces up. 

 

That works.

 

1 hour ago, JBenghiat said:

Edit the projector beam texture and uncheck Receive shadows.

 

Hmm... I definitely want it to receive shadows from other objects. Is this because the image textures seem to be sort of like gobo textures?

 

1 hour ago, JBenghiat said:

I guess it’s somewhere in the middle. You have to add the text you want to the label, but you don’t have to deal with any layout. It would actually be way too complicated to allow simple text box toggles as well as custom prefix, suffix, and label order. A single text box for all of this is actually much simpler. 

 

Personally, I'll be using Data Tags, so I don't have a horse in this race. However, from a basic end-user POV, this area was the most frustrating for me. It was definitely interesting, so I'm curious to see how it develops.

 

1 hour ago, JBenghiat said:

This is a limit of OpenGL itself. Now that GL is becoming deprecated, there’s a chance this could improve in the future. 

 

🙏🏼 the same self-imposed limit to Shaded (Metal / DirectX) is increased.

 

Final thought: a tutorial video would be great for new users. Some of the parameters and functionality is not immediately obvious or intuitive, so a video would really speed up the learning curve. Also possibly a little more explanation throughout the OIP (either more descriptive labels or some tooltips or something). I really love this plugin, and can't wait to continue using it in v2022.

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11 minutes ago, Mark Aceto said:
1 hour ago, JBenghiat said:

Edit the projector beam texture and uncheck Receive shadows.

 

Hmm... I definitely want it to receive shadows from other objects. Is this because the image textures seem to be sort of like gobo textures?

The projection cone is a 3D object and separate from the projected image. Now that i'm back at my computer, the texture for the cone is already set not to receive shadows. You'll only see this on RW, though. You can always turn off the projection cone in Display options, or in Rendering options toggle Only show image plane. This is, of course, in addition to the option of applying a class to the projector cone and controlling that way.

 

 

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