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Fundamental to any use of media in a design is playback. Kinetic media necessarily must ‘play', and so therefore there must be a way !

And of ways, there are many.

Some of you might have seen my recent Blog Post about creating live. In this case the playback system would hopefully be attuned to quick preview of media and FX; coupled with equally quickly accessible controls to get that media into the channel, and doing something beautiful. This level can include some of the most imaginative, cost effective, DIY, and innovative methods for playback. But we'll pick up that thread in a moment.

First we need to go back and examine what some might call an older world paradigm, the use of hardware playback devices like disk drive based HD decks (think Doremi, or FFV), production quality DVD players (shudder), or even decks using media like tape or (yes they still exist) Laser Disk Players. This is analog. It has the benefit of being known. It's also surprising in the degree that it is still used.

More recently we've seen a proliferation of multi head playback environments that are hardware/software based. Systems like Watchout and AVStumpfl's Wings Platinum spring to mind… But this category also contains some of the newest solutions, things like Q-Lab…

And then of course, the core of most conversations about playback among serious geeks is the computer based Media Servers able to interface with lighting or show control systems. Axon, Catalyst, Hippotizer, Maxxedia, M-Box, Pandora's Box. These are to be found out on the majority of concert tours. They work via a methodology that their control can be unified with lighting control, and that they can serve as a combination of playback solution and media management device.

What you will use will be, must be, driven by a balance of what you absolutely need to meet the design requirements of the show and how much money you have in your budget.

And it is a balancing act that will continue throughout your career. Shows with limited budgets often provide amazing creative opportunities. Shows with bigger budgets allow you to use robust gear, and have the comfort of redundant backup. But both scenarios allow for satisfying the design, satisfying yourself, and even breaking new ground.

I'm going to finish this discussion at LDI, in the Projection Master Classes… Why don't you come and check it out ?

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