Closer Look: Mbox 3.9 And Pixel Mapping

Closer Look: Mbox 3.9 And Pixel Mapping

In January, PRG released Mbox 3.9. This update is primarily an overhaul to the old pixel mapping tool but also has a couple new improvements of note. Among some improvements to the capture portion of the software, AppleScript and shell scripts can now be triggered from the control channel.

The show stopper is the new pixel mapping tool, which is rebuilt from the ground up. The old pixel mapping tool was an archaic and cumbersome tab within the Mbox window on each machine. Pixel maps would be stored as .plist files. In my experience, it was easy to overwrite the wrong pixel map or load the wrong map on accident. The interface was often clunky and I found myself redoing each map a couple of times.

The new interface has migrated from the Mbox setup window to the Mbox Remote application, which is used for remote management of Mboxes. Remote has been capable of status viewing and content management and now it takes on pixel mapping. The interface won’t be foreign to anyone who has built Mbox pixel maps before, but now it runs much more smoothly.

Pixel maps are now stored as .pmap files and can either be built offline or live on a server if you create a live session with any servers in the system. Once the .pmap is on the server either transferred or built live, it is then easy to sync it across any other machines with the content management tools inside Remote.

Servers can now hold multiple pixel maps (256 total) and the active pixel map can be selected with the master control channel on the fly. Originally, pixel maps could output on KiNet or Artnet but now sACN is also supported. The interface also makes it easy to renumber a batch of fixtures that are in sequential order, which can save a lot of time for mistakes or shows that are constantly changing. There is now a test feature allowing you to test any of the fixtures that are a part of the pixel map.

I used the new pixel mapping tool last month and found that creating pixel maps was much faster and the new interface really did eliminate the need for extra steps when things had to be adjusted. It seems that Mbox Remote is becoming the hub of an Mbox network more than ever. It will be exciting to see what other features make their way into Remote in upcoming releases.

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