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#1 mbrownell

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 10:04 PM

Morning!

i'm seeing a new problem with our Watchout 5.5.0 installation.  i've been given an MP4 video using AVC codec (i ahve details from mediainfo app, if needed).  when running WOProduction on my desktop, it loads and runs.  i push it to a fresh installed computer and the Display software will crash when i attempt to load the show.  when i run WOProduction on that computer and attempt to add the video into the timeline, Production crashes back to the desktop.

 

i can play the video back just fine from the problem-computer's desktop using built-in windows media player or VLC.  i test-installed VLC (2.2-something) and one of my codec-packs (K-Lite-Codec v995).  that computer had Qucktime 7.5 and now has 7.5.5 (newest?) on it.  still crashes.

 

any ideas?  is there a way to 'force' WO Display to use Windows Media Player to playback files (i thought it did that already on windows).

 

any help is appreciated.

 

thanks,

Matt Brownell



#2 jfk

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 10:07 PM

Please turn off Windows Media Center.

This is a known issue and is clearly stated in the compuer preperation tweaking lists found in the Technical Notes at the top of this forum.



#3 Jonas Dannert

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 11:03 PM

I second Jim's answer, and add this:
Do not install any codec packs on WATCHOUT computers.
Both these recommendations have been in our setup guidelines since WO5:s release

/jonas

#4 mbrownell

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 12:06 AM

wow, that tech spec is...thorough.  i haven't gone through that before (we've been running Watchout since ver. 3.?? and have up to now had very stable machines).  thank you very much for the reference.  i'm going through it now, and finding lots of things we haven't been doing on our computers.  i'll post back after completing with (hopefully) it working for me.

 

thanks again!

matt



#5 Jonas Dannert

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 04:40 AM

Matt,

It's thorough for a reason, to aid in creating a reliable and stable
platform for playback.
I've created it for Windows 7 and WO4.2.

You have that file, I've sent it to you Oct 12'...

/jonas

#6 mbrownell

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 06:21 PM

I'm glad  you remember sending it to me in Oct. 2012.  i must not have needed it then as i have no recollection of it.  probably a different problem or internal question where i was digging for configuration info.  however, this time i needed it and appreciate the thoroughness of the docs.  unfortunately, it didn't completely work for me.

 

here's the setup:

- i stripped out all the codec packs and extra players i tested with earlier and cleaned up the registry

- i went through the tech doc and did the settings as described

- once completed (including multiple reboots) i opened Watchout Production on the problem-computer and created a new test show with the video file in it.  i added the file to the timeline (which used to immediately cause a crash).  the timeline took the new file and allows me to play it back reliably and at full-speed (no skipping frames, etc.)

- i reboot the problem computer which starts up running Watchout Display in full-screen.

- i go to my licensed Production computer and push my real show that contains the video file.  then use Watchout Remote to start it up and play it.  the program plays (which again before it would crash the display software so this is also a good step).  however, the video does not play back a t fullspeed.  it hesitates, skips, pauses and jumps.

 

what i noticed before and continue to see is when i play the MP4 video file (which uses AVC codec) in Quicktime 7.7.5 (newest, i think), it performs the same way -- hesitates, skips, pauses and jumps.  when i play the file in Windows media player, it works just fine.  Also, as i stated earlier, it works fine in the Watchout Production software on the display computer.

 

at the moment, we're just going to reconvert the file, but its a step that will introduce recompression issues (which i'm fine with for the immediate future).  i'd rather figure out if it should work, and therefore what's wrong with my setup, or if it's not supported and i go back to contractor to re-export the film into something different.

 

this usually isn't a problem except for several of my most recent projects i'm working with unusual rez's.  in this case it's 1080x3840.  in another one, 1920x5400.  we've been having problems rendering to those rez's in MP4 and such.  trying to find the right flavor of file-type and toolset that allows unusual non-standard rez's is time-consuming.



#7 Walter

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:29 PM

Question: in which editing software the AVC codec is chosen? Never seen avc myself in professional setting? (Can't recall having seen the option in AE, C4D, Motion or the likes...). AVC to me is a consumer type mainstream codec. Just choose h264 @ 5.1 profile or so I'd say... Never had issues with watchout, whichever resolution used....

#8 Jonas Dannert

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:56 PM

I'm glad  you remember sending it to me in Oct. 2012.  i must not have needed it then as i have no recollection of it.  probably a different problem or internal question where i was digging for configuration info.  however, this time i needed it and appreciate the thoroughness of the docs.  unfortunately, it didn't completely work for me.

 

here's the setup:

- i stripped out all the codec packs and extra players i tested with earlier and cleaned up the registry

- i went through the tech doc and did the settings as described

- once completed (including multiple reboots) i opened Watchout Production on the problem-computer and created a new test show with the video file in it.  i added the file to the timeline (which used to immediately cause a crash).  the timeline took the new file and allows me to play it back reliably and at full-speed (no skipping frames, etc.)

- i reboot the problem computer which starts up running Watchout Display in full-screen.

- i go to my licensed Production computer and push my real show that contains the video file.  then use Watchout Remote to start it up and play it.  the program plays (which again before it would crash the display software so this is also a good step).  however, the video does not play back a t fullspeed.  it hesitates, skips, pauses and jumps.

 

I don't think this is a WATCHOUT issue, at all.

 

I think it's purely a chosen content demand VS available hardware resources/supply issue.

 

Your DisplayPC hardware is faster than your Production PC hardware, quite normal.

Don't expect WATCHOUT to automagically fix this in the Production PC, though.

 

Turning off Preview "Video as Best Quality" usually helps a bit.

But if you need Full Preview when producing, you'll need DisplayPC grade hardware or faster.

 

 

what i noticed before and continue to see is when i play the MP4 video file (which uses AVC codec) in Quicktime 7.7.5 (newest, i think), it performs the same way -- hesitates, skips, pauses and jumps.  when i play the file in Windows media player, it works just fine.  Also, as i stated earlier, it works fine in the Watchout Production software on the display computer.

 

Same point as above.

 

WATCHOUT does not make use of QuickTime at playback of h264.

(or Windows Media Player for .wmv)

 

On a sidenote: Both QTP and WMP are by default hardware accelerated in Windows, so if the files plays

better there, is not quite the same thing, as playback in WATCHOUT which uses the processor primarily,

and hardware acceleration to some extent.

http://forum.dataton.com/topic/1204-tip-wmp-and-qt-%E2%80%94-disabling-hardware-accelerated-decoding/

 

What are the specs on your Production vs Display hardware?

- Processor

- Graphics card

- SSD or HDD

etc

 

 

at the moment, we're just going to reconvert the file, but its a step that will introduce recompression issues (which i'm fine with for the immediate future).  i'd rather figure out if it should work, and therefore what's wrong with my setup, or if it's not supported and i go back to contractor to re-export the film into something different.

 

this usually isn't a problem except for several of my most recent projects i'm working with unusual rez's.

 

Unusual or very large resolutions, might need to be pre-split in order to play smoothly,

depending on codec choice and available hardware resources.

 

 

 in this case it's 1080x3840.  in another one, 1920x5400.  we've been having problems rendering to those rez's in MP4 and such.  trying to find the right flavor of file-type and toolset that allows unusual non-standard rez's is time-consuming.

 

It also needs to be supported in WATCHOUT, and every codec type has it's restrictions.

It might be 4096 pixels for h264, but others should chime in here.

 

At what bitrate are these files, 1080x3840 and 1920x5400, encoded?

Are the hardware up to the task for that?



#9 Mike Fahl

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 01:43 PM

I recently ran a 4700 wide MPEG-2 in WATCHOUT. The maximum size here may be graphics card dependent. And of course overall performance is computer dependent. Running such a large video as a single file requires a sufficiently fast computer. I would think the same applies to H.264, although playback here is quite a bit more demanding, so it tops out sooner than MPEG-2 in terms of maximum resolution your computer can handle.

 

Mike



#10 limeworks

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 04:17 AM

I recently ran a 4700 wide MPEG-2 in WATCHOUT. The maximum size here may be graphics card dependent. And of course overall performance is computer dependent. Running such a large video as a single file requires a sufficiently fast computer. I would think the same applies to H.264, although playback here is quite a bit more demanding, so it tops out sooner than MPEG-2 in terms of maximum resolution your computer can handle.

 

Mike

 

Sometimes it's codec dependent. H.264 codec taps out at 4k resolution i believe. H.265 is intended to handle larger frame sizes.

 

We recently developed a show for the IAC Video Wall in NYC (native resolution of 22720 x 1920 or thereabouts) running 10 x display machines (though output from watchout is upscaled through Vista Spiders). Ran into all sorts of problems with video sizes for previewing and had to max size at ~4k. Of course once it was split for all machines it was no issue since each machine displays at less than 4k resolution.

 

It did give us a chance to push our display machines though - we ran HD video across 6 displays at 14200 x 1200 resolution (downsampled on stage a little to fit on 6 x HD displays). Was great to see our machines push that hard. Our limitation then became SSD READ speed - everything else still had more room to go.

 

Rob



#11 mbrownell

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 05:08 PM

Rob, that sounds like an interesting (and somewhat similar) project we just installed in our new wing.  we have a Christie Microtile wall with a Vista Spyder (x20) upstream doing the image management.  i'm running at DCI 4k (4096x2160 -- though the wall is physically 4096x2127, other magic involved) from a single computer.  doing dual output 2048x2160 into the spyder which stitches back together to form the single 4k image.  btw, the content is a single 4k video playing in watchout.  works perfectly -- or has for months, now.

 

as for my original problem for this posting...i'm realizing that AVC is a consumer codec mostly related to Handbrake conversions and intended for AppleTV and other iOS use.  it does work on some systems but just not my display computer.  i guess my description of my problem wasn't clear enough as some of the responses are suggesting things i thought i described doing.

 

basically, to test the AVC MP4 file on the display computer i tried several things.

1) i ran Watchout Production on the display computer and loaded and played the file in the timeline. so, hardware is NOT the problem in this comparison.  only how Watchout Production differs from Watchout Display and the scale of the video on the screen (which, of course, could be hardware related, etc.).  in Production, it worked fine, meaning the video was smooth and not skipping/jerky.

2) i ran Watchout Display on the same display computer and loaded the show.  the video skips and jerks.  to be fair, it's in full-screen mode while running Display.

 

ultimately, we converted the file to ProRes Proxy, as that is one of the few conversion codecs that our video guys can find (other than AVC using Handbrake) that will allow unusual video sizes (1080x3840, in this case).

 

i'd rather not do multiple videos as it tends to 'rip' the videos apart unless i have very fast hardware driving it, and i don't in this case.

 

i think i have to delve more in to some hardware upgrades but minor ones for this particular problem (better graphics card, etc.)

 

 btw, just a question to Dataton folks...from Jonas' cross-reference, you say Watchout does not use hardware acceleration.  also it does not use Quicktime to play back MP4 nor WMP to playback WMV files.  what does it do instead?  and why would video cards help if it doesn't use hardware acceleration?

 

i assumed since i had to install Quicktime with the Watchout installation that it was using QT for playback and such...obviously, i have not searched the forums for an answer to this.  i'm more curious than needing a solution so any other cross-references are welcome.

 

thanks,

matt



#12 Jonas Dannert

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 05:25 PM

"you say Watchout does not use hardware acceleration"

No, I did not say that, I said it primarily use the processor for decoding. By default hardware acceleration is on for any new video media.
But this only works for WATCHPAX graphics hardware as of now.

http://www.dataton.com/downloads/watchout/support/Release_Notes_5.5.1.html

From above:
- WATCHPAX provides hardware accelerated H.264 video playback, allowing you to play video in full HD format despite the small form factor. This feature is activated using a checkbox named "Enable WATCHPAX Hardware Acceleration", found in the settings for Video media items.

NOTE: Although WATCHPAX doesn't support QuickTime video formats in general, it does support playback of QuickTime Animation as well as H.264 video in MOV files.


"also it does not use Quicktime to play back MP4 nor WMP to playback WMV files"

Our own codec and DirectX for .wmv.

While QuickTime is not needed above mentioned file formats or for WATCHOUT to start, it is needed for playback ofother Apple specific codecs like ProRes or PhotoJPEG etc, as mentioned in our encoding guidelines PDF.

/jonas

#13 mbrownell

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 06:18 PM

ah...i misunderstood.  your comment is exactly as you just referenced.  the cross-reference to the other posting (comments by ShowSage) are

"By default, both Windows Media Player and QuickTime

will use the graphics card's hardware accelerator for assistance decoding movies.

WATCHOUT on the other hand will not use the GPU assistance.

To adjust WMP or QT to more closely approximate WATCHOUT behavuor,

you can change WMP or QT settings to disable the hardware assistance."

 

i read this to mean the hardware wasn't used.  i'm glad to hear there is some support -- and primarily windows DirectX implementation.  we've been spending fortunes on great cards for specific installations.

 

thnx,

matt



#14 Jonas Dannert

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 07:36 PM

Matthew,

I was a bit wrong here, please see adjusted comment above.

Hardware acceleration is ONLY supported with WATCHPAX graphics hardware, as of now.

Sorry for that,

/jonas

#15 limeworks

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Posted 05 June 2014 - 02:46 AM

Rob, that sounds like an interesting (and somewhat similar) project we just installed in our new wing.  we have a Christie Microtile wall with a Vista Spyder (x20) upstream doing the image management.  i'm running at DCI 4k (4096x2160 -- though the wall is physically 4096x2127, other magic involved) from a single computer.  doing dual output 2048x2160 into the spyder which stitches back together to form the single 4k image.  btw, the content is a single 4k video playing in watchout.  works perfectly -- or has for months, now.

 

as for my original problem for this posting...i'm realizing that AVC is a consumer codec mostly related to Handbrake conversions and intended for AppleTV and other iOS use.  it does work on some systems but just not my display computer.  i guess my description of my problem wasn't clear enough as some of the responses are suggesting things i thought i described doing.

 

basically, to test the AVC MP4 file on the display computer i tried several things.

1) i ran Watchout Production on the display computer and loaded and played the file in the timeline. so, hardware is NOT the problem in this comparison.  only how Watchout Production differs from Watchout Display and the scale of the video on the screen (which, of course, could be hardware related, etc.).  in Production, it worked fine, meaning the video was smooth and not skipping/jerky.

2) i ran Watchout Display on the same display computer and loaded the show.  the video skips and jerks.  to be fair, it's in full-screen mode while running Display.

 

ultimately, we converted the file to ProRes Proxy, as that is one of the few conversion codecs that our video guys can find (other than AVC using Handbrake) that will allow unusual video sizes (1080x3840, in this case).

 

i'd rather not do multiple videos as it tends to 'rip' the videos apart unless i have very fast hardware driving it, and i don't in this case.

 

i think i have to delve more in to some hardware upgrades but minor ones for this particular problem (better graphics card, etc.)

 

 btw, just a question to Dataton folks...from Jonas' cross-reference, you say Watchout does not use hardware acceleration.  also it does not use Quicktime to play back MP4 nor WMP to playback WMV files.  what does it do instead?  and why would video cards help if it doesn't use hardware acceleration?

 

i assumed since i had to install Quicktime with the Watchout installation that it was using QT for playback and such...obviously, i have not searched the forums for an answer to this.  i'm more curious than needing a solution so any other cross-references are welcome.

 

thanks,

matt

 

It sounds like an interesting project :D

 

I wouldn't anticipate any display issues driving just two outputs like that. 

 

We have run 6 x full HD (1920x1080) videos for a final resolution of 11520x1080 without any issue at all, from just one machine.
Our limits have been the max read speed of the SSD - we're about to experiment with RAID to see if that pushes possibilities even further (driving 4 x 4K displays or more for instance).

 

Though odd-shaped files vs formats that support them can require a balancing act. 

Personally i've had better success sticking to standard sizes then cropping the unused portion (or just letting it hang off the edge of the display if that was possible).

 

I have never had good success with odd codecs when using Watchout, so tend to stick to Quicktime/H.264 and make it work with some sort of other trickery if required.

The only time we don't use this is if we require videos with transparency.

 

Rob



#16 mbrownell

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Posted 05 June 2014 - 05:44 PM

Rob, i'm very interested in what codecs you(or anyone else) use for video transparency.  a completely different project using signage software where we wish to have video slide across other content and be transparent.  my video guys haven't had good luck finding a reliable video codec that supports transparency.  the software has some limitations (can't remember which but may include inability to play MOV files...but MP4 is fine).

 

on another note, we installed a different exhibit with five 1080p monitors, landscape mounted, stacked on top of each other.  total rez of 1920x5400.  single machine, no problem.  did another with six 1080p monitors, all portrait mode but stacked 3x2.  total rez of 3240x3840. again, single machine.  no prob.  btw, i try to make these single-video as much as i can but due to some rendering issues, the 3240x3840 is actually two videos.

 

when we build the above machines i've used two approaches:

 

1) HP Z420 w/ six-core, 16gb ram, AMD W7000 vid card (or AMD W600 card when needing more than 4-outputs).  2 SSD drives: one for OS one for storage/watchout.

2) same config as above, just put 3 SSD drives, one for OS, and 2 striped-raided for storage/watchout.

 

lately, mainly due to i now have our tech-support group manage the machine building (i didn't like getting all the troubletickets sent to me), they've forgone the custom raiding and sometimes left the OS on a standard drive vs. SSD, though still have a single SSD as storage/data.

 

our computer utilization is still under 50% on processor, drive use is minimal, memory is low, etc.  never needed the extra oomph of RAIDed SSDs.  to be fair, we're playing back single videos vs. adding transitions or affects that can seriously tax a machine (like color tweens, size/shape tweens, etc.)  when i tested flying in videos and scaling them; playing multiple 4k vids and moving them around, i destroyed the machine playback -- even with my RAID'd SSDs.

 

hope that helps a little.  i'd like to hear what computer specs you end up building for the multiple-4k wall when you solve that problem.

 

thanks everyone for the input on this.

 

Matt



#17 Jonas Dannert

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 01:52 PM

Re:transparency in video

You can always try h264 and add a keying tween track in WATCHOUT.
This will surely ease the load on the system.

/jonas

#18 Walter

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 04:55 PM

Apart from keying, (which sometimes results in poor quality edges, and you have to soften etc) another great solution is have the content maker render an alpha version. Use this as alpha mask, perfect quality and less strain on the server as qt animation.





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