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The Visualizer has two main modes of operation: Edit mode and Simulation mode. Edit mode is where you make all the changes to your stage by adding and removing fixtures and props, wiring them, and the like.
Simulation mode is entered by pressing the 'Play' button on the toolbar. When the Visualizer is in simulation mode, you can not interact with the fixtures and props on your stage. Instead the lights associated to those items are listening for commands from the Sequence Editor or Show Player. Those commands will cause the various bulbs in your simulation to light up - much like you would see on stage using actual hardware.
Before going into Simulation Mode, the Visualizer must 'compile' your stage into something it can understand and relate to the commands that will be coming from the rest of the software. During this time the Visualizer is creating tables that relate your wiring to how it interacts with the fixtures, and creating virtual instances of all the hardware you have used. For some hardware, most notably Cosmic Color Devices and Pixel Universes, there are some additional rules that your simulation must abide by. Once all of those things have successfully completed, the Visualizer is now in Simulation Mode.
When Simulation mode is active, a portion of the program called 'The Renderer' is put in charge. It is The Renderer's job to take the commands coming from the sequence editor, translate and update your fixtures and props, and then display those results on your screen as a picture. The Visualizer has 2 different rendering engines that can be used depending on your computer's hardware.
When possible, you should always use the 'Advanced Rendering Engine'. This engine can take advantage of the hardware acceleration that your video card and system can provide. The Advanced Rendering Engine is many times faster than the 'Regular Rendering Engine', but because of differences between computer and video card manufacturers the advanced engine may not work on your computer.
If you are experiencing problems with the Advanced Rendering Engine, you should switch to the Regular Engine in the Options Dialog, Tab 6.
There are a couple of minor differences between the Advanced and Regular engines. The Advanced Rendering Engine:
While both modes will show current performance in Frames Per Second (FPS), please note that these two numbers can not be compared to one another. This is because the Advanced Rendering engine only updates during what is know as the 'Video Blanking Interval'. This means that the Advanced Rendering engine, when idle, should be locked to your computer monitor's refresh rate (+/- a few FPS). For modern computers with LCD screens, this is typically 60HZ - and therefore 60 FPS. Other computers with different monitors should lock in at the refresh rate specified in Windows. For example, if you have a 70HZ refresh rate, you should see approximately 70 FPS at idle. The older rendering engine will have a variable FPS