Panoramic Projection @ Horse Bazaar

2005 -2012: Horse Bazaar is a hospitality venue built around an innovative projection systems for the display of contemporary visual media.

A video projection surface of 15 metres wraps around the bar providing the perfect surface for experimenting with virtual decor.

The screen comprises 6 video projectors all tiled together by a powerful computer cluster to create a seamless 20m digital canvas. This enables artists, designers and dilettantes to create and exhibit unique panoramic digital art with ease.

We worked with students and artists in Melbourne to create bespoke media for over 5 years.

The idea came from Canvas Documentaries, a book about canvas dioramas that were popular in the 19th Century

The name came from Kirk’s horse bazaar from the 1860’s, We were living in Kirk’s Lane at the time and was the original site for the venue

We also had the MONA horse Bazaar Prize. It ran in 2006 and 2008 and was $5000 cash prize for panoramic content

Click on image for more details

From the Horse Bazaar website 2005:

Screens for the display of moving images in the 20th century evolved, for technical reasons, in a rectangular format. Yet in the previous century huge panoramic painted dioramas were enormously popular sources of visual entertainment, the “virtual reality” centres of their age, these enormous canvasses were installed in their own lavish dedicated buildings and generally depicted historical scenes.

We have drawn inspiration from these popular 19th century entertainments and in the 21st century aim to reacquaint Melbournians with the power of panoramic imagery via a digital projection platform that tiles multiple video sources to create a seamless digital canvas. We hope that our projection installations will invite patrons to reconsider the role that digital imagery has assumed in society. The original 19th century canvas dioramas were not without their political edge, and we also encourage artists to explore digital media and panoramic projection as a forum for social commentary and alternate history, whilst pushing the technology and being innovative with our system.

Visual Tech Overview

A video projection surface of up to 20 metres wraps around the banquette seating at the rear of the bar providing the perfect surface for experimenting with virtual decor

All video signals run through a VGA matrix switch means the visuals can run as a canvas across all proctors or individual projectors can peeled off for individual inputs which is great for live performance. Note the system requires VGA input!

Panoramic projection: The complete screen comprises 6 video projectors all tiled together by a computer cluster to create a seamless 12 metre digital canvas. This enables artists, designers and dilettantes to create and exhibit unique panoramic digital art with ease.

The screen around the bar is in a 90 degree configuration:

  • * the back wall 4.25 metres across (2 projectors: the 1st 2 projectors in the template)
  • * the main wall 10.8 metres long (4 projectors: the next 4 projectors in the template)

CONTENT CREATION

Projection at the Horse

We encourage artists to come down to the bar to familiarise themselves with the physical setting and to run their shows up on the system to see how they look and perform

To play across the full screen work should be approximately 4000 by 700 pixels. MPEG2 .m2v codec plays best. Video can be transcoded using your favourite media transocder. Of course it makes sense for artists to use media production prgrams that they’re familiar with but If you are producing a piece for a specific event Watchout can be used

Watchout can’t create your media files for you, it merely offers a way of choreographing the playback of pre-existing media. It is not a live VJ tool, although it is possible to open a live video capture window in the system and digitise live video feeds from laptops running VJ software, video cameras and DVD players. These live feeds can be manipulated and combined like other media types.
You can preview the show in miniature on your computer, then send the consolidated Watchout show to us and we will load it onto our production computer and display your work in the main room of the bar across all projectors.

Remember that the projected shows play in a bar which is a social space that operates primarily at night, and that the visuals are nearly 15 metres in width. Shows that are too bright or have too much white in them can wash out the room. Similarly if there is too much or too rapid movement in the show it can be overwhelming and make people feel seasick. Subtle or small changes generally work best. The system is ideal for experimenting with virtual decor or ambient visuals that are panoramic in scale.

Creating a Watchout Show for the Horse Bazaar system

  • 1. Download Watchout production software (v-3.4.2) and the Manual/Users guide from http://www.dataton.com/#/downloads/ and install it on your computer.
  • 2. Download the blank Horse Bazaar Template / Watchout show from here and open it in Watchout.

The Stage window represents the visual output of entire projection system. The Media window is were you will import all the media that you will construct your show with.

The Timeline window is where you create the controls and cues that choreograph your media in the stage window.The Red and Blue boxes in the Stage Window indicate the projectors in the Horse Bazaar installation. Dont think of them as separate projectors though. Think of the stage as one long continuous digital canvas. In reality, this wraps around the rear and side walls of the bar. The 2 projectors on the left are on the back wall, the other 4 run up the side wall. Watchout will co-ordinate which part of you image plays on which projector and how many pixels overlap at the edge blends.

Import your media files into Watchout, keeping in mind the media preparation guidelines below. Add your media files by dragging and dropping from their location into the media window, or via the ‘Media’ drop down menu and browsing to the location of your media on your computer. Working with your current production tools, Watchout reads most media file formats.

For example, you can produce text and images in Photoshop, or create and edit video at any resolution in After Effects, Final Cut, or similar software, and combine them into a show in Watchout.

Watchout brings all your media together, adding realtime effects such as motion paths, opacity, scaling, rotation, colorization, cropping and volume. These parameters can all be controlled over time by setting up cues in the timeline. This is where the fun starts. Now you can build your Watchout show, choreographing your media on the stage by setting up the controls in the timeline window.To get your media on screen, you can drag and drop it either directly on to the stage or into a layer on the timeline.

Some central features of the timeline window are:
Layers – The layers in the timeline window allow you to overlay images/media on top of each other. This means that you can do things such as build up layered pictures, or overlay images on video, or move alpha-channeled animation files over a static or video background. Control Cues – these allow you to control the behaviour of the timeline at specific points. They can be used to jump to other positions on the timeline ie. to create loops, or to pause points on the timeline.

Tween tracks – these allow you to control the appearance of your media over time. Simply select you media file by clicking on it in the timeline window, then create the required tween track from the Tween drop down menu. The track will become visible in the tween pane in the lower section of the timeline window. Click in the Tween track to create points that effect change. You can drag these points around in the time line or in the Stage window, or double click on them to change their numerical values, thus changing the behaviour of the media file. The controls for each type of tween track are slightly different, experiement with them or see the Watchout Manual for more detailed information.

In version 3.4, Tween tracks can be created to control:

  • Position – to position or move media files around the stage window over time.
  • Scale – to change size – can be used to zoom in or out. Opacity – to change the transparency of a file – can be used to dissolve or fade in or out or build up images with multiple layers from multiple files
  • Rotation – to rotate media around an anchor point, or to flip it.
  • Crop – to crop images and video from any edge. This can also be used as an effect, allowing an image to be “wiped in” from any edge.
  • Colour – allowing the color of images to be adjusted over time. This works like using a colored light to look at an image, essentially removing all color(s) not part of the specified light, thereby making the image darker.
  • Tint – adding a color tint to the image. In contrast to the Color tween track, the Tint track adds color to the image, making it look brighter and more washed out.
  • Volume – to control the volume of associated audio files if they are included in the show

For more details instructions refer to the Watchout manual, which is automatically downloaded with the software.

This rather simple set of variables and controls is intuitive to use and can be combined creatively for enormous and quite stunning effect. Experiment with them and get a feel for how they work. You’ll find yourself quite adept in no time. Only some of their uses have been flagged here. Push the software to its limits cos we like to be surprised.

Editing – If you want to repeat sets of instructions for different media, or sections of the show, the tween track controls can be simply selected and cut and paste. Or you can drag and drop a different piece of media on top of a set of instructions in the timeline and now those controls will apply to the new piece of media.
Consolidate your show and bring/send it in to Horse Bazaar. Consolidating your show means that the show and all the media used in it are all saved together. This ensures that all files required to play your masterpiece are included when it gets to Horse Bazaar

Preparing your media

Video The Watchout system at Horse Bazaar has some limitations that you need to be aware of. to achieve satisfactory results, or even to get your show to play at all. The most common problem we see involves playing video within a show. Width of Video Clips: You can’t just export a QuickTime movie that is 4500 pixels wide from After Effects (for example) and play it back across all 6 projectors. It will, depending on size and codecs used, potentially overwhelm the system. One option is to split the movie up into say 3 or more separate narrower clips and compose these within Watchout, or to create a single movie around 2000 pixels wide and use Watchout itself to scale it up so it is put across the entire template. Both of these strategies have been used very effectively by artists creating shows for Horse Bazaar.

Compression of Video Clips Even a video clip that is only 720 pixels wide will not play back if it has not been compressed properly. If you export a clip in the DV format (the native format used in Final Cut Pro for example) then it will not play back smoothly and will take too long to transfer from the production computer to the display computers. A good codec to choose for compression is Motion-JPEG or, if you need an alpha channel in your video so that some areas are transparent, then the animation codec, is a good choice. Still Images JPEG or PNG are good choices. There is no point using huge high-resolution TIFF files, they are too big and provide no quality advantage. Watchout cannot display .pdf or .eps so you need to convert those formats to something else. Watchout can display Photoshop .psd files however which can be handy. Remember that the system has only 600 pixels in vertical resolution so unless your are zooming into or panning around still images (a very effective and under utilised technique by the way) then they don’t need to be any bigger than 720 pixels top to bottom.

Finalising the show The other major source of problems with Watchout shows sent to us at Horse Bazaar is missing media files. While the show might play back fine on your computer, with some files on your desktop, some on a Flash drive and some on a CD, people often forget to include all these media when they send off the show. Therefore unless you have a good reason not to, we recommend using the consolidate command in the File Menu to consolidate your show, which ensure that we get all the media files that the presentation requires.

Keep in mind that when you consolidate your show, only media that it actually used in the show is packaged up, so if stuff is in the media window but not used in the timeline then it will not be incorporated into the consolidated show. This is normally exactly what you want. However if you are bringing down a show to fine tune on site before a gig for example or experimenting with a Horse Bazaar prize entry you should ensure that you bring all the media that is yet to be incorporated – or don’t consolidate the show. Which version of Watchout Dataton released Version 3 (currently 3.4) of Watchout for PC, however 2.3 is the most recent version for the Mac which has less functionality and terrible preview (but can be uploaded onto our system) Examples See this work, Antfarm by Jonty Burton, for an excellent example of such an approach. It is innovative and complex use of the software which demonstrates how powerful it can be.

The green path of dots on the stage window map out the motion over time of the selected alpha-channeled ant video in layer 4. The selected file is a little hard to pick, but its the one in layer 4, just in front of (and touching) the green line that runs vertically through the entire timeline window and indicates the play position. At the bottom of the timeline window are the tween tracks for this one piece of media. One controls its position and the other the rotation of the file as the ant video file wanders along the tunnel at the bottom of the ant farm. Each ant in the ant farm is controlled by similar sets of tween track instructions. The mapped out virtual journey takes place in the real world as the ant travels around the walls of the bar at Horse Bazaar. These instructions and files have all been cut and paste numerous times saving the artist from having to map out each individual ant’s travels from scratch.

Another example of an innovative use of Watchout is this show called Ruff Trade by Aaron MacLoughlan.

 

In this show Aaron has actually used Watchout’s timeline to animate his show. Each layer holds the image of one of the characters. Numerous Photoshop (.psd) files of these characters are placed in succession, each file slightly different from the previous, in effect becoming frames in an animated movie of each character. Thus, as the play progresses down the timeline the slight differences in the image become movement as each character talks and dances.

Watchout content creation summary

  • 1. Download Watchout from www.dataton.com
  • 2. Download the blank Watchout show from here and open it in Watchout.
  • 3. Add some media, keeping in mind the media preparation guidelines above.
  • 4. Build your watchout show, choreographing your media on the stage and timeline.
  • 5. Consolidate your show and bring/send it in to Horse Bazaar.
  • 6. If preparing an entry for the Horse Bazaar Prize, follow the guidelines on submitting an entry here


Content for the RPU (rear projection urinal)

The RPU is separate from the Watchout system used in the main bar. We use software called videolan from http://www.videolan.org which plays pretty much any video format so just make your file so you would be happy watching it on your computer and it should play fine on ours. You could send us a DVD (and we will rip it to .VOB) or a CD with an MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 video or a QuickTime movie.