Top  Previous  Next

This tutorial will walk you step by step through creating your first visualization with the Light-O-Rama Visualizer, and then controlling that simulation through the Sequence Editor.  The Visualizer uses standard menu items and controls, so you may want to skip this section and dive right in if you are comfortable.


Since the majority of users of Light-O-Rama create light shows for the outdoors, this tutorial is geared towards them.  However, the concepts presented here apply equally to any stage.


To begin using the Visualizer, you should first have a digital picture of your stage in either JPEG or GIF format (JPEG is recommended).  You may want to edit your picture in a photo editing program to reduce its size and to cut out parts of your stage that will not be used in your show.  If you would like to follow along exactly with this tutorial, use the one supplied with the Visualizer (called "InTownHouse.jpg", located in the "Visualizations\Editor\LOR Visualizer Tutorial" directory).


A Quick Review of the Main Window


Start the Visualizer just like you would any other program in the Light-O-Rama software suite (either through the LOR Control Panel's popup menu, or your computer's Start menu).  There are several main areas of the Visualizer that you should be familiar with:


Near the top of the screen, you'll see the tool bars.  The tool bars give you a quick way to perform most of the commands within the Visualizer.  The three toolbars are:


The Edit Bar: Commands on this bar allow you to manipulate the simulation, fixtures, props, or the background.  It includes things such as new file, cut/copy/paste, et cetera.

The Draw Bar: Commands on this bar allow you to change to various modes - prop selection, fixture selection, simulation, et cetera.

The Display Bar: Allows control of information display, including the colors of prop and fixture names, the drawing grid, et cetera.


On the right side, when a simulation is loaded, you'll find the list of props and fixtures being used in the current file.  The list is called the "Object Selection" area.


At the bottom of the screen is the status bar.  Program information is displayed there, including the current cursor location, if the file is unsaved, et cetera.


Create a New File


Select the "New File command" to begin creating a new Visualizer file.  You can create the new file by going to the "File" menu and selecting "New", or by selecting the "New File" command on the Edit toolbar.  Most menu commands are duplicated on the toolbars.


You will be presented with the first of two dialog windows.  The first window asks you if you would like to use a background picture for your stage, or if you would like to use a "blank" background.  For this tutorial, select the "use a background" picture option, and then press the select file button ("...").  You can select either a picture of your own stage, or the sample file ("InTownHouse.jpg") included when you installed the Visualizer.


The next dialog presented will allow you to change the size of the simulation.  When creating a new simulation, you need to take into account the performance of your computer.  The larger the simulation you create, the more resources the Visualizer will need when running your simulation.  If you are using the included sample background, you can keep the size as-is.  Otherwise, a good size to start with is 800 x 600.  The system will automatically resize your background picture to fit the window size you specify.  You could also divide your stage up into several different Visualizer files for ease of use.  For instance, you may want to use one for stage left, and a separate one for stage right.  You should also remember that Visualizer files are separate from any sequence, channel configuration, or show file.  You can use and Visualizer file with any show or sequence.


If you like, you can change the intensity of the background using the slider here, or the one on the "Display Tool Bar" found on the main screen.


Once you have selected your size, the main edit screen will be updated with your new parameters and picture.  If in the future you wish to change the size of the simulation or the background graphic, you may do so by selecting "Simulation Properties".  If you resize your simulation, the Visualizer will automatically reposition all of your lights.  If you change the background graphic, you will need to move things around as needed.


Drawing Lights and Creating Fixtures


We will now create some lights and fixtures.  Select the "Light String" icon on the toolbar or from the menu: Edit / Toolbox / Draw Light Strings.  Move the mouse to the main editing area and your cursor will change into a pencil.  You are now in "draw" mode.  There are several different draw modes, depending on which tool you are using.  Currently you are drawing "strings"; other tools allow you to draw "flood lights", "single bulbs", "CCRs", et cetera.


Pick a place where you would like to start drawing strings, and click the left mouse button once.  For this tutorial, select the leftmost roof edge.  now move the mouse to the second location - at the bottom of the roof.  When you move the mouse, you'll see a sight line appear.  It is along this line that the Visualizer will create your string of lights.  Click again.  This anchors the lights at that location, and you can continue drawing.  Draw several more lines of lights along the roof until you get to the second "peak", and then double click.  You've just created your first fixture!


Depending on if you have changed any of the Visualizer options, you should be presented with the "Fixture Properties" dialog.  If it didn't automatically show, simply double-click "New Fixture 1" in the object selection area on the right of the main screen.  The Fixture Properties dialog allows you to change many different aspects of a fixture.  For a complete description of all the different options, please see the section titled "Fixture Properties".


The first thing to do is to give your new fixture a descriptive name.  Since we outlined the roof, simply call it "Roof Outline".  You are free to name fixtures any way you like.  The comment field is a convenient place to hold information you may want to use later - actual lengths of lights, amperage drawn, et cetera.


Skip down to the "Assigned Channels" section, so we can set some channel colors.  Click on the first row, and the "Channel Settings" dialog will appear.  This dialog is similar to the one you use in the Sequence Editor to define a channel.  We'll touch more on this dialog later when we get ready to do a simulation, but for now we simply need to give the channel a name and a color.  Call the first channel "Roof Red", and then set the color to red.  Hit "OK", and then create three more channels, in green, blue, and white.


While you were creating those channels, the changes were being reflected in the "Sample Bulbs" area.  Light strings in the Visualizer are a lot like multi-wire rope lights: Along the path you drew, the Visualizer will create as many repeating groups of lights as needed.  First, hit the "Background Color" button, and change the color to black if it is not already.  You should now be able to see all four bulbs in the colors you specified.  The background color button only affects the display of the sample bulbs in this dialog; it has no other effect.


Since we are playing with the bulbs, let's check out a couple more things you can do with them.  The "Size", "Spacing" and "Shape" are exactly what they sound like: Size controls how big each bulb is on the string.  Spacing controls how much empty space is left between bulbs.  Shape lets you choose from ten different types of bulbs - round, various stars, and so forth.  For our example, choose the "5 Point Star" with size 6 and spacing 2.  Now press OK and your main screen will be updated with the new bulbs following the path you created.


Now let's create another string.  Start at the left of the second peak and draw up to the top, then back down to the right, ending with a double click.  A new dialog appears that allows you to assign this new drawing to an existing fixture, or to use it as the basis for a new one (if you were not prompted, delete this new drawing, go to "File / Options / 4. Fixtures" and change the "Assume the fixture is new" dropdown from "Always" to "Ask", and then try again).


Since this is another roof string, select the "Roof Outline" fixture.  By repeating these steps, you can create lights on different parts of your stage that all behave using the same channels.  Your roof now consists of two separate strings.


Take what you have learned up to this point, and create two more string fixtures: one for the gutters, and another around the garage door.  Be sure that each fixture has four channels assigned, and that the channels are red, green, blue and white (in that order).  Make them any shape you want, along with any size or spacing you desire.


Different Kinds of Fixtures


The Visualizer does not limit you to only the string fixture.  In fact, there are five different types of fixtures you can create:


String: Multi-wire rope light/Mini Lights

CCR: Cosmic Color Ribbons and other Cosmic Color Multi-Bulb fixtures (such as CCBs)

Flood: Flood lights

Single Bulbs: Single-point light sources - Christmas tree stars, strobes, et cetera

DMX Pixels: One or more Single RGB Light Sources controlled by DMX.

Pixel Universe:  One or more RGB Pixels driven by a single DMX universe.


The Visualizer is RGB-Aware


Let's create a new Cosmic Color Flood Light that shines on the garage door.  The Visualizer is RGB-aware, and can properly blend channels into more than sixteen million colors.


Select the Flood Light tool, and then click on the center of the garage door.  The "Fixture Properties" dialog box will appear, but you may notice that it looks a little different.  Name the flood light "Garage Flood", and change the size to 64.


Change the "Channel Type" from "Normal" to "RGB".  Three channel spaces will now open up.  Name each channel, just like you did with the String fixtures.  Notice that you can't change the colors - that is because this is an RGB fixture, and the Visualizer will blend the values that it receives from the Sequence Editor or Show Player to create the actual color of the bulb.


You may have noticed that when you selected channel type RGB, the "RGB Sample Color" button was enabled.  This sample color is only used to draw the bulb while you are editing.  To help keep things separate, make the sample color something that you don't normally use on your stage.  For now, we can keep the pink color.  Press "OK".


Editing Strings and Bulbs


Let's also take a moment to learn about editing strings and lights.  Click on the "Fixture Select" tool on the toolbar (or Edit / Toolbox / Fixture Select Tool from the menu).  The cursor changes to an arrow.  Now click on one of the strings over the roof.


The light string will turn into a dashed line, and a lot of "handles" will appear in red and green (or, if you changed them, the colors you selected).  The red handles are called "tool handles".  They allow you to stretch, shrink, skew, and rotate the entire fixture.  For example, you can grab a corner and drag; doing so will make the fixture bigger or smaller.  The tool handles are as follows:


Four corners: Stretch and shrink

Four middle arrows: Skew

Dot (right side): Rotate

X (middle): Move


The green handles are called "vertex handles".  You can grab any one of these and move that light anchor to a new location, or delete it.  Place the cursor over one of the vertex handles, and it changes to a cross-hair.  Click once, and this point is removed.  Click and drag, and this point is moved to a new location.


You can split a string into two separate segments by simply placing the cursor over the sight line between any two points and clicking once.  A new vertex handle will be created.


While drawing and editing, you can change the behavior of the mouse using the Shift and Ctrl keys:


When you press and hold Shift, the precision of the mouse is enhanced.  This allows you to more carefully place a string, edit a fixture, etc.


When you press and hold the Ctrl key, the cursor will only move in a vertical or horizontal motion, depending upon the initial movement of your mouse.  For example, if you press and hold the Ctrl key, then move the mouse generally upward or downward, you will only be able to move the cursor up or down from that point.  The same holds true for side-to-side motions.


To resume normal mouse movement, release the Ctrl key.


If desired, both the Shift and Ctrl keys can be used at the same time.


Once you are done experimenting, put the Roof Outline fixture back where it belongs.


Object Selection Area


The object selection area on the right can also be used to select a fixture.  Click any fixture name, and it will be selected just as if you pointed at that fixture and clicked at it in the editor.  This is useful if you have multiple fixtures that are close together, and can't seem to be able to select the one you want.  If you want to change the properties of a fixture, double clicking the fixture name in the list will bring up its properties box.


The Visualizer has many commands that you may already be familiar with from other editing software: Delete, Cut, Copy, Paste, et cetera.  Feel free to learn about them at your own pace.




Now that you have created a few fixtures, let's wire those fixtures up so you can run your first simulation.  For now, we are going to create the channels manually, but you could also load a Sequence Editor file into the Visualizer and use it as a "reference" - something you can learn more about in the Reference Files section of this help file.  Once you have wired a fixture, the Visualizer will remember the settings each time you load this simulation file.


Double click the "Roof Outline" fixture in the object selection area on the right.  The now-familiar Fixture Properties dialog will be shown.  Click on the first channel (the red one that you created), and you will be presented with the Channel Settings box.


In order for your simulation to be properly controlled by the Sequence Editor or any other program in the suite, the channel details must match those in the sequence.  Since you are probably the most familiar with Light-O-Rama controllers, let's use those:


Set the Red channel to device type "Light-O-Rama Controller".  When you do that, more fields become available.  Set the network to "Regular", the unit to "01", and the circuit to "1".  Leave the "Special Type" field blank.  Then press "OK".


You have now "wired" the first channel of this fixture.  Go ahead and wire up the next three channels, using circuits 2 through 4 (green as 2, blue as 3, and white as 4).  Now wire up the Gutters fixture using circuits 5 through 8, and the Garage Door fixture using circuits 9 through 12 in the same manner.


RGB fixtures are wired similarly, so go ahead and wire up the Flood Light fixture using circuits 13 through 15.  You should save your file now by using the "Save" icon in the toolbar, or by selecting "File / Save" from the menu.


The most important thing to remember about wiring up your simulation is that there is no connection between what a channel is called or what its color is in the Sequence Editor and what the name or color is in the Visualizer.  Just as with a physical controller, you could call a channel "Blue Door" in the Sequence Editor, but hook it up to the "Red Tree" on your stage.  If you see unexpected results during a simulation, this is the first thing to check.


Running Your First Simulation


Now we need to do a bit of setup so that the Sequence Editor and the Visualizer can "talk" together.  You should only need to do this once, and possibly in the future if you do something such as changing computers.  The defaults should work, but we should double check them.


Select File / Options from the menu, and then click on the "6. Com/Ref" settings tab.  Check that the Communications field is set to "Local", that the IP address reads "", and that the port is "30303".  Press "OK".


Start the Sequence Editor, and load the tutorial test sequence that was included (located in the directory "Sequences\LOR Visualizer Tutorial").  Go to Edit / Preferences / Visualizer Preferences.  Ensure that the Host is set to 127 0 0 1, and the port to 30303.  The thing to take away from this is that the Visualizer settings and the Sequence Editor settings must match with each other; if the two programs are set up differently, change one or the other so that they match, and then press OK.


Ensure that the Sequence Editor is set up to control the Visualizer: From its Play menu, ensure that the "Control Visualizer" option is checked.  If it is not checked, the Sequence Editor will not send any commands to the Visualizer.


Almost there.  Unless the Visualizer is placed into Simulation mode, it will ignore all commands from the Sequence Editor.  To place the Visualizer into Simulation mode, press the "Play" icon in its toolbar.  The Visualizer will then go into Simulation mode, hiding many of its controls and toolbars.  It is now ready to accept commands from the Sequence Editor.


Note: Depending upon your operating system and security settings, you may be prompted that the Visualizer was blocked from communicating.  If so, you can select "Unblock".  If you do not unblock the Visualizer, it will not be able to receive commands from the Sequence Editor.  For more information, see the section titled "Simulation and Firewalls".


Now play your sequence in the Sequence Editor (using its Play button on its standard toolbar).  If everything is set up correctly, you'll see the lights in your simulation flash on and off.  Congratulations!


If you don't see any lights flashing, make sure that you have correctly set up the communications parameters, that you have selected "Control Visualizer" on the Sequence Editor's Play menu, that the Visualizer and the Sequence Editor are both in "play" mode, and that you have wired up your channels correctly.  If you see wrong lights flashing, make sure that you have wired your channels properly.