1. Settings

1.1 PHOTON Network

One of PHOTON’s great strengths is its ability to use networking technology to operate simultaneously and transparently on multiple servers controlled from a single unit. The first step in creating a Project is to establish a Server Group. Once servers are assigned in a group, PHOTON automatically creates a ring network to maintain communication between each server. Servers within in a group will share media content, maintain communication and sync together.

1.1.1 Server Group Creation

  1. Select {System > Settings} from the main menu or press [Alt+S] to open the Settings module. Make sure the PHOTON tab is selected. (see img 1)

  2. You will now establish a Server Group. Click on the network ring button to open the Create Network Group window. A list located on the left side of the window will allow you to include or exclude servers from the group by checking or not checking their associated checkboxes. If PHOTON has been launched on all of your servers, and if the servers reside on the same network (see Section 1.3 Network Configuration in Chapter 1 Prerequisites), they should appear in the Photon Selection servers list located on the left side of the Settings window (while the PHOTON tab is selected).(see img 2)

  3. Select the servers you want in the group by checking the boxes next to their name. When selected, the servers will be identified by a green check mark.

  4. Click on the [Apply] button to create a Server Group.

  5. Once a Server Group is created, you should make sure the PHOTON Network is fully functional and that all of your servers are communicating properly.

  6. Select {System > Network Monitor} from the main menu or press [Alt+M] to open the Network Monitor module. This module displays information about each server in the Server Group. (see img 3)

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img 3

1.1.2 Removing Servers from a Server Group

  1. Select {System > Settings} from the main menu or press [Alt+S] to open the Settings module. Make sure the PHOTON tab is selected.

  2. Select the server you want to remove from your current group by clicking on its name in the PHOTON Selection servers list.

  3. Click on the remove from network ring button. A confirmation box window should appear in order to validate your selection. Click on the [OK] button if you still want to remove the server from the group.

  4. Repeat this operation until all of the servers you want to remove are not in the list anymore.

  5. Once a Server Group has been modified you should make sure the PHOTON Network is fully functional and that all of your servers are communicating properly.

  6. Select {System > Network Monitor} from the main menu or press [Alt+M] to open the Network Monitor module. This module displays information about each server in your Server Group.

1.1.3 Remove and Shutdown PHOTON

  1. This operation will remove a server from a group and shutdown PHOTON on the server. Select {System > Settings} from the main menu or press [Alt+S] to open the Settings module. Make sure the PHOTON tab is selected.

  2. Select the server you want to remove from your current Server Group and shutdown by clicking on its name in the PHOTON Selection servers list.

  3. Click on the ON/OFF button. A confirmation box window should appear in order to validate your selection. Click on the [OK] button if you still want to remove the server and shutdown PHOTON.

  4. Repeat this operation until all of the servers you want to remove are no longer in the Servers list.

  5. Once a Server Group has been modified you should make sure the PHOTON Network is fully functional and that all of your servers are communicating properly.

  6. Select {System > Network Monitor} from the main menu or press [Alt+M] to open the Network Monitor module. This module displays information about each server included in your Server Group.

1.1.4 Multiple Server Groups

Most projects will use a single Server Group. However, you might encounter situations where completely independent video installations co-exist within the same project. It is under these circumstances that multiple Server Groups should be considered.

1.1.5 Monitoring and Troubleshooting

Once a Server Group is created you should make sure the PHOTON Network is fully functional and that all of your servers are communicating properly.

  • Select {System > Network Monitor} from the main menu or press [Alt+M] to open the Network Monitor module. This module displays information about each server in your Server Group.

The Network Monitor module provides feedback regarding resource usage (CPU, disk, RAM, VRAM), GPU performance (megabits per frame and temperature) and shows the project’s current frame rate output.

If a server is missing from the list, if its feedback cells are blank, or if the connection state cell shows a warning sign, it means communication problems are affecting the network. If such problems arise, you should check the following:

Physical Network Connections

Make sure the Ethernet cables are in good working order and are properly connected to the appropriate physical network interfaces.

IP Addressing

Make sure your servers coexist on the same network. Their IP addresses should share the same network prefix and subnet number (the first 3 octets in the IP address).

Traffic Management

Some network switches can filter out traffic, or a VLAN might have been set up on one of your servers. Make sure there is no interference of this kind on your network.

Network Ports (within PHOTON)

PHOTON uses specific network ports to synchronize data and transmit Show Control commands through a Server Group. Make sure the network ports on your servers match. On each server, select {Settings > Network tab} or press [Alt+S] and select the Network tab. The window will display the port numbers corresponding to Time Sync, Data Sync and Show Control. Each of these port numbers should be the same across your Server Group; with each port you should see the same number for Time Sync, Data Sync and Show Control. If the port numbers don’t match, you can reset them to Default by clicking on the [Reset] button or you can manually modify them by typing new values into their corresponding text boxes. If you change any of the port numbers, PHOTON will have to be restarted on all of the servers in the Server Group.

Once this problem is identified and corrected, the server’s state will automatically change in the Network Monitor.

1.1.6 Network Ports

PHOTON establishes Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Data Protocol (UDP) communication between servers in a group order to allow multiple devices to act as a whole. Three different ports, each characterized by a specific function, are used by PHOTON:

Time Sync Port

This port is dedicated to PHOTON’s master clock. Current time (frame accurate) is sent from the primary server to the secondary servers so each device shares the same clock.

Data Sync Port

This port is dedicated to data exchange that corresponds to project structures, configurations and saves.

Show Control Port

This port is dedicated to show related commands such as cues. This port will be used by PHOTON to trigger events in the servers in the Server Group. This port might also be used by external devices or software for sending cues to PHOTON.

1.2 Server Operation Modes

PHOTON features different Operation Modes which represent the functions linked to the roles assigned to each server in the Server Group.

1.2.1 Hierarchy

A PHOTON Group is organized around a primary server which maintains synchronization and control over the remaining secondary servers. The primary server will also control or communicate with external devices such as projectors, lighting consoles or media matrices. Secondary servers are used to display images through their graphics card output ports.

If for any reason the primary server is dropped out of the Server Group and another server isn’t set up to take its place, the server with the lowest number IP address will take care of the group’s synchronization and control.

Even though a Server Group is driven by a central primary unit, a complete copy of the show’s data resides on every server. Therefore, each server acts like a backup unit (with one notable exception; see Controller and ALBION further on in this section).

1.2.2 Computer Vision

In addition to this hierarchical relationship, VYV’s product line includes ALBION, a server specialized in advanced computer vision tasks such as the handling of tracking data. This unique product is linked to a specific Operation Mode.

1.2.3 Operation Modes

Here are PHOTON’s Operation Modes:

Controller

The Controller is a primary server that controls secondary servers dedicated to media output. The Controller synchronizes the secondary servers and takes over their Timeline during show operations. If there is more than one Controller in the Server Group (this situation might arise if you have a backup unit), the secondary servers will be driven by the Controller that has the IP address with the smallest number. The Controller has access to external devices such as AV matrices and audio interfaces through its I/O Manager module. Low-resolution versions of the project’s media will be stored on the Controller because servers operating in this mode have to render content on all screens (Display Servers will only render content for screens that are visible to them). While a Controller does not feature any video output, its physical graphics outputs can be used to extend the UI on multiple screens. Using a Controller makes programming and operations significantly easier and is essential for stage productions.

Display

PHOTON Display Servers should be thought of as secondary units programmed and driven by a primary unit such as a Controller or a Display Master. While in Display mode, the server will store media at full resolution. Display Servers will only playback video content linked to screens that are assigned to its outputs in the 3D Scene Objects Visibility list (see Section 2.5 Projection Surfaces Visibility in Chapter 2 Setting Up a Show).

Display Master

The Display Master Server is a PHOTON Server mode that provides video content outputs while acting as a primary control unit at the same time. The Display Master mode should be viewed as a hybrid, combining aspects of the Controller and the Display Server modes. The Display Master Server will synchronize and control the Display Servers located on the network and will have access to other external devices such as AV matrices and audio interfaces through its I/O Manager module. The Display Master Server will also import and convert media in full resolution and will be able to output content for the screens that have been assigned to it. While it would be tempting to see this mode as a practical replacement for a Controller, keep in mind that using a Display Master Server comes with drawbacks related to overall system performance. Primary servers set in Display Master mode are usually found in simple installations, not large scale productions.

Albion

This mode specifically relates to servers that are dedicated to tracking data generation, treatment and transmission. These tasks include network camera stream acquisition and analysis, and the broadcast of the PosiStageNet (PSN) protocol. ALBION Servers do not provide video outputs and cannot import media (with the exception of 3D Models because they can be used for tracking). Therefore, ALBION Servers cannot act as a backup units. While a Controller can act as an ALBION Server, it is not recommended because the handling of synchronization and Show Control data might interfere with the smoothness of the tracking.

A Display 4K System Mode can also be accessed in the dropdown menu. It was created to support video output in quadrants as a way to adapt to early 4K video interfaces. It is now obsolete because all outputs on NVIDIA Quadro graphics cards can be set at 4K resolution.

1.3 Camera Attribution and Server Modes

Cameras are used by PHOTON to track optical markers and to perform real-time projector alignment and auto-calibration. OptiTrack cameras (the brand supported by VYV) can only be connected to one server at a time. You will have to decide how you want cameras to be accessed by the servers.

  • Select {System > Settings} from the main menu or press [Alt+S] to open the Settings module.

  • Click on the Control tab to access the {Albion Control} dropdown menu and the {Auto Calib Control} dropdown menu. This is where you will link cameras to specific servers.

Depending on the type of set up you have, there are 3 possible scenarios for camera attribution:

Camera Segregation

You might have 2 independent camera networks. One would be dedicated to tracking, the other to calibration. This can be done through VLANs or physically segregated networks. Make sure that the Controller and the ALBION Servers are each connected to the right camera network. Using the dropdown menus, select the dedicated ALBION Server underneath Albion Control and the dedicated Controller Server underneath Auto Calib Control. This type of set up is rarely deployed since, under most circumstances, cameras used during calibration can be easily re-assigned and can reinforce tracking when they are in the same group.

Sequential Access

You might have a single network where all of the cameras reside. If you are planning to use all of the cameras for both functions — tracking and calibration — you will need to manually change how they are assigned depending on which task is currently done. Before making changes you will have to calibrate the system. Using the dropdown menus, select the dedicated Controller Server for both Albion Control and Auto Calib Control. Once the calibration process is complete, you will have to select the ALBION dedicated server in both dropdown menus.

Albion and Controller Running on the Same Server

If you have a single camera network and plan to use the same server for both tracking and calibration, you will still have to let PHOTON know which server is linked to cameras. Using the dropdown menus, select the Controller Server for both Albion Control and Auto Calib Control.

1.4 I/O Control Attribution and Server Modes

Once Server Modes have been attributed to devices, you will have to determine which server has access to the I/O Control Interfaces that facilitate information exchange with external devices. These interfaces are presented as tabs in the I/O Manager module: Art-Net, Network Protocol, Audio Analysis, Projector Devices and Matrix Switcher.

  1. Select {System > I/O Manager} or press [Alt+I] to open the I/O Manager window so you can monitor the state of the I/O Control Interfaces listed above.

  2. Select {System > Settings} or press [Alt+S] and click on the Control tab to access the I/O Control dropdown menu.

  3. If the menu is set to “-default-”, the I/O Control Interfaces can be accessed by the server identified as a Controller. You can also access the I/O Control Interfaces by going to the dropdown menu and selecting a specific device from the Server Group. It is also possible to select the “-inactive-” option from the dropdown menu to cease all communications with external devices.

1.5 Windowing for the User Interface (UI) and the Video Outputs

By default, a new PHOTON Project will automatically activate the Auto Window Creation and Draw Canvas View options on your servers. These options will affect windowing for the UI and the video outputs.

Select {System > Settings} or press [Alt+S] and click on the PHOTON tab to access both options, represented by toggles in the right side of the window.

1.5.1 Auto Window Creation

This option (activated by default) forces PHOTON to automatically create video output windows through its graphic output cards. If you previously created a Mosaic display group using the NVIDIA driver (which is recommended by VYV for better performance), you have to disable this option.

  1. Select the first server that features a Mosaic display group by clicking on its name in the PHOTON Selection servers list.

  2. Click on the [Auto Window Creation] toggle to deactivate the option (the toggle will fade).

  3. Repeat this operation with all devices in the Server Group that feature a Mosaic display group.

1.5.2 Draw Canvas View

By default, PHOTON Servers always use the first video output on their graphics card to display their UI. The server’s Operation Mode has no effect on this. (A Display Server or a Display Master Server will feature the same behavior.) If you wish to use this first output to display video content (which could turn a Display Server from a 3 or 7 video output device to a 4 or 8 video output device), you will have to deactivate Draw Canvas View on all of the targeted servers.

  1. Select the first server that you want to strip of its UI by clicking on its name in the PHOTON Selection servers list.

  2. Click on the Draw Canvas View toggle to deactivate the option (the toggle will fade).

Keep in mind that even if you added a video output, the UI will still be accessible and will overlay the first output.

1.5.3 Hide/Show the User Interface Locally

  • Press the [Tab] key to turn the UI on or off, using the server that has keyboard control.

1.5.4 Hide/Show the User Interface Remotely

  • Select {System > Settings} or press [Alt+S] and click on the General tab, under UI Options. [Hide/Show Network UI] buttons will hide/show the interface remotely on all Display Servers and Display Master Servers. (A server set in Controller mode will ignore this command.)

1.6 Virtual Video Output Creation

Once the Operation Mode and the proper windowing attributes have been applied to all devices in the Server Group, you will have to create your PHOTON Project’s video outputs. These virtual video outputs are the virtual counterparts of the physical outputs on the servers’ graphics cards. They are associated with video media delivery and should be connected to a physical display device such as a video projector, LED processor or video monitor.

1.6.1 Virtual Video Output

  1. Select {System > Settings} or press [Alt+S] and click on the PHOTON tab to access the Outputs window section.

  2. Go to the PHOTON Selection servers list and select the first server that will be used to display video by clicking on its name (it will be a Display Server or a Display Master Server).

  3. Once the server is selected you can add the virtual video outputs to it by clicking on the [+] button in the Outputs window section.

Whenever a new virtual video output is created, a confirmation box window will appear asking if you want to create a projector in the 3D Scene and link it to this output. The physical video display devices connected to your outputs are represented in a virtual space called the 3D Scene, which corresponds to the real-life stage where your PHOTON Project will be presented.

The term “Projectors” applies to a wide variety of video displays, with the only exception being LED processors, which are represented by a different type of structure.

  • If you are starting your PHOTON Project from scratch, you should accept the creation of new Projectors so your 3D Scene will already be populated. Click on the [Yes] button to do so.

  • There are a few cases where you might want to add virtual video outputs without automatically creating projectors in the 3D Scene. Such cases would be the following:

    • video outputs are connected to LED processors; or,

    • projectors will be imported from another Project; or,

    • the current Project is built over a Projection Study and already has projectors in the 3D scene.

If these conditions apply to you, simply click on the [No] button and repeat this operation with every server in the PHOTON Selection servers list.

Virtual Video Output Resolution for Display Servers and Display Master Servers

Once all of the outputs have been created and correctly assigned, you have to set the resolution for each one.

  1. The Settings window should already be open and the PHOTON tab selected. If not, select {System > Settings} or press [Alt+S] and click on the PHOTON tab to access the Outputs window section.

  2. If you didn’t create a Mosaic display group (see Section 1.6 Graphic Card Mosaic Configuration in Chapter 1 Prerequisites) and left the Auto Window Creation toggle enabled, which is not recommended, (see Article 1.5.1 Auto Window Creation in Chapter 2 Setting Up a Show), you should be able to select the Output Resolution dropdown menu and Controller Resolution drop-down menu.

  3. Select a Display Server by clicking on its name in the PHOTON Selection servers list. Select an output on the server by clicking on its name in the Outputs list.

  4. Select the appropriate resolution (the one that matches the resolution of your Mosaic display group) from the Output Resolution dropdown menu and the Controller Resolution dropdown menu.

Video Outputs Resolution for Controllers

Since Controllers do not feature video outputs dedicated to media playback, these servers will only allow you to select a resolution from the Controller Resolution drop-down menu.

  • The Settings window should already be open and the PHOTON tab selected. If not, select {System > Settings} or press [Alt+S] and click on the PHOTON tab to access the Outputs window section.

  • Select the Controller Server by clicking on its name in the PHOTON Selection servers list. Select the appropriate resolution (the one that matches the resolution of your Mosaic display group) from the Controller Resolution dropdown menu.

1.6.2 Signal Routing Validation through Display Ident

Once the virtual video outputs have been created, you should make sure that the signal routing and the projector assignation are correct.

  1. Select {System > 3D Scene} from the main menu or press [Alt+C] to open the 3D Scene module.

  2. Select the calibration mode by using the toggle at the top right of the window or press the [4] key (with the 3D Scene in focus).

  3. Open the Options panel by clicking on the Settings button.

  4. Enable the [Display Ident] toggle. (see img)

  5. This option will display a random solid color on all video outputs. Each generated image also features an inverted color border, 4 pulsating VYV logos, as well as the name of the output and the projector assigned to it. This will allow you to make sure the signal routing is OK.

Display Idents are rendered on top of everything and there is no automatic mechanism to disable them. Make sure you disable Display Indents manually when you are done with the signal routing testing procedure.

1.6.3 Virtual Video Output Assignation Dropdown Menus

Each of the virtual video outputs listed in the Outputs window section has an Assignation dropdown menu next to it. This dropdown menu links the virtual video output to a representation in the 3D Scene.

  • If Projectors were automatically created while creating video outputs, the virtual video outputs listed in the dropdown menus will reflect the fact that they are already linked.

  • If you want to set the assignation of a video output to a corresponding 3D Scene virtual display, use the dropdown menu to select the desired virtual output Primitive.

1.6.4 Video Output Assignation and Backup Servers

If your Server Group includes a device dedicated to being a Display Server or Display Master Server backup unit, you should plan ahead, and automate switches in projector attribution in order to seamlessly recuperate the outputs driven by the failing server. The following steps should be complemented by Video Matrix cue recording (see Section 5.8 Video Matrix Control in Chapter 2 Setting Up a Show)

  1. Select the backup unit by clicking on its name in the PHOTON Selection servers list.

  2. Create the first virtual video output for your backup unit by pressing on the [+] button in the Outputs window section.

  3. When prompted by the confirmation box window to create a Projector in the 3D Scene, click on [No].

  4. Create as many virtual video outputs on the backup unit as there are on your typical Display Server.

  5. Record a cue with all of your virtual video outputs set to {no output}. (See Section 1.2 Cue Recording in Chapter 4 Programming a Show.)

  6. Record a cue with all of your virtual video outputs set to the Projectors linked to the first Display Server you want to use as a backup in case of failure. (See Section 1.2 Cue Recording in Chapter 4 Programming a Show.)

  7. Repeat the previous step with the remaining Display Servers.