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Management of cast members in Watchout


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Hi all,

I am preparing to commence programming Watchout for projection in an upcoming musical, this system is going to be triggered by MIDI from the LX console.

For this show, we have performers on-stage who will also appear in content we project; for each of the 4 characters we have multiple video clip versions to show each performer (e.g. Recording of the clip with each performer /understudy that plays the role).


I am interested to know if anyone else has any experience with managing shows which require clips to be swapped out (preferably without a production computer), if this can be triggered via MIDI/Artnet/DMX that would be advantageous.

Our current ideas are:

- Have each actor on their own layer (containing a composite) which we set to active/standby depending on who is performing. We want to avoid this as there will be approximately 16 actors in total, so it would become extremely messy.

- Have a single layer and have the operator swap out which composite is sitting in the layer depending on who is performing.

- Have a auxilary timeline for each actor (will require associated content to also be in each timeline) and trigger those timelines separately from normal main timeline playback.


These are just a few options I've come up with so far but I thought I'd throw it out there to see if anyone had experience with this kind of task.

Open to any and all suggestions.

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Haven't done a musical, but would strongly suggest using Aux Timelines (appropriately renamed to suit each act or actor, and maybe prefixed by a number to denote order of appearance). There will be changes to your programming, probably before rehearsals, during rehearsals, after rehearsals, and if all are on a Main Timeline, the shifting of assets/cues are going to be a hassle, if not confusing. Doing it in a 'shortened version' with respect to each actor is far easier. And if there is any re-ordering in the order of appearance, moving an Aux Timeline up/down the order is easier than time shifting along the Main Timeline.


Note that with Layers Active/Standby, a layer does not stop taking up computer resources even when inactive or in standby. This puts a bigger strain on your pc resources (processor time, ram, hard-disk/ssd playback) versus just an Aux Timeline in 'Stop' mode.


As for MIDI Trigger of Watchout from a lighting console, word of advice is test, test and test.

IF the LX Console outputs MSC, there was a post giving some insights on using MSC to trigger Aux Timelines. Do a search in these forums.

Artnet DMX is definitely do-able triggering Watchout and Aux Timelines. Should be similar to using MIDI Controller values, in which case you may want to put a lower limit value to the trigger in Watchout to avoid accidental triggering, meaning something like 'do not trigger when DMX value is less than 10%'.


Good luck!

Thomas Leong

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I completely agree with Thomas.


One thing you could add to the Aux Timeline is the use of Conditional Layers, commonly used for changing language in a program it may be useful in your situation.

Any individual layer in a timeline can be made a conditional layer. For instance you could have the main performer video on a layer in an aux timeline and in the same aux timeline on the layer above you could place the understudy video so it triggers at the same point in the timeline as the main performer. Enter the layer panel on the side the timeline and set the main performers layer condition to 1 then set the understudy layer as condition 2. Before you begin a program and know which performer will be performing that night you would go to the preferences menu then go to conditional layers and check that performers condition, refresh and play. If the understudy is going to preform that night then you would need to turn conditional layer 2 on, refresh and go.


This can also be done on the main timeline although it may get cluttered if you have a lot of performers to change, which is why aux timelines might make since.


Like Thomas said, test, test and test.

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Hi guys, Some awesome ideas! I have done a bit more reading about conditional timelines and it looks very exciting! Especially being able to set conditions across the cluster without the need for a production computer. This will be very good as I can have a composite item with all the actors in it for that segment, and you just set the condition at the start of the show of which actor you want to see!


I will play around with these options and report back so others know what works/doesn't work!



I'm also noticing a theme of 'testing' you say! I will certainly be doing that!

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  • 5 months later...

Hi all,

Just thought I'd give everyone a quick update on this project.


Your advice all helped me greatly, I have all the different cast members set as different conditional layers in a composite clip. I've then developed a PHP control system that allows the operator to select the cast members performing for that show, the control system then sends the relevant telnet commands to different display systems to take the show-file online with the conditional value.


All the best with your shows and hopefully my post is helpful to someone who has a project like this in the future!


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Hi callum,


Thanks for the update on this. Conditional layers are actually a very good way to influence the playback of WATCHOUT. BTW, it also works with control cues in a conditional layer which can be a solution for leaving a loop in a timeline or change the bahaviour of the show completely.


Best regards,



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  • 4 weeks later...
On 11/02/2018 at 12:51 AM, RBeddig said:

Thanks for the update on this. Conditional layers are actually a very good way to influence the playback of WATCHOUT. BTW, it also works with control cues in a conditional layer which can be a solution for leaving a loop in a timeline or change the bahaviour of the show completely.

Wow this is really interesting, I had no idea this was the case. Very useful to know as different cast members tend to deliver lines at different timings, so being able to have different control cues for them is very helpful. 

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