the trials of triple monitors

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Met Resolume in a bar the other day
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Oct 22, 2004 01:27

the trials of triple monitors

Post by mazoola »

All -

I've been trying to get Resolume up and running on a brand-new PC with two brand-new projectors so I can use it in a couple of days when I try my hand at VJing for the first time ever -- at a weekend music festival 3,000 miles from where I live.

So, as you might guess, I'm feeling pretty relaxed. :)

Actually, at 5:20 a.m. Friday morning, I finally got everything working, and while I'm busy crunching video clips on one machine, I wanted to report on what I had found. I apologize in advance for the lengthy post, but since I ran into several different problems, I wanted to make certain I covered them all, in case someone else is being bothered by them; I know *I* profited greatly from the numerous forum posts by Those Who Went Before Me...

I want to drive both projectors plus a console monitor from a single PC, and for a week or so I was banging my head against a wall trying to make it work. I'm using an Intel mATX motherboard (D865GLC) with a 3.2 Ghz P4, 1Gb 3200 DDR RAM, dual channel. I had planned to run a PATA system disk with a SATA RAID0 to hold clips, but as I was having some problems with overheating -- this is all shoved into an Antec Aria mini-case -- so at the moment I'm running with a single 160 Gb PATA drive.

Originally, I had planned to use the on-board Intel video to drive the console monitor; I picked up a dual-head card based on the NVidia FX5200 chipset (MadDog Multimedia's 128 Mb Conqueror FX5200 Plus GeForce PCI) to run the projector outputs.

However, with that configuration, I could never get the system to perform satisfactorily when the output windows were set to show anything other than all three layers plus effects. That is, I could set the two NVidia-driven windows both to show, say, L123+FX, and the system would work in either fullscreen or windowed mode. But if I set Window 2 to show L12 and Window 3 to show L3 (with Window 1 being the console interface, driven by the on-board Intel graphics), Window 3 would inevitably freeze, and Window 2 would only sporadically function properly. If I went back into screen setup and selected L123+FX for either window, the display would come alive, only to freeze again if I reselected a subset of the layers. Often, a frozen display would either be all-white or would display garbled data on the bottom-most 5% or 10% of the screen.

Eventually, I discovered that if I set the two display windows to 800 x 600 x 16m *before* starting Resolume, I could get the two output windows to show different layer combinations; unfortunately, this came at a price: Performance plummeted to where I was getting only 10 - 12 fps. Even more strangely, whenever I right-clicked on a clip to set either clip or effects parameters, the pop-up window would appear one display to the right of the console. That is, if the console was displayed on Window 1, the pop-ups would appear on Window 2 -- that is, in the middle of the projected output. If the console was on Window 2, pop-ups appeared on Window 3; if the console was on Window 3, the pop-ups simply didn't appear. (Obviously, I tried this with the console on each of my three active screens, with no luck. And of course I made certain I was running the latest video and chipset drivers for my hardware.)

How'd I finally fix the problem? Tossed out the NVidia card and went back to the ATI AIW 9600 XT I originally had planned to use. Unfortunately, when I started this process, I wasn't aware that fullscreen-mode didn't work for multi-monitor configurations; when I repeatedly failed to bring all three monitors active, I blamed it on the extraneous All-In-Wonder circuitry, and I switched to a different card. (I chose an AIW in the first place in order to hedge my bets: If I end up sucking as a VJ, I can at least get some use out of the system by making it a dedicated media center PC...)

Currently, I'm running my projectors off the ATI AIW, with an inexpensive ATI 9200-based PCI card driving the console. Response appears snappy -- I haven't noticed any hesitation or stutter, and I seem to be getting a healthy and effortless 30 fps. In fact, the PCI card itself (a 64Mb VisionTek Xtasy 9200 SE) will support a second monitor via TV-out; I'd like to record at least some of my mix from its S-video output, if I can do so without killing performance.

I'll report back after the weekend on how everything turned out -- beginning with whether or not I was able to schlep all this hardware across North America and have it survive!


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