In most cases, Lightact outputs content either through video or eDMX (there is also audio, but we’ll talk about it elsewhere). In this article, we’ll talk about the path the content takes before it is output through Lightact’s video or Ethernet outputs.
Content layers are structures which have a starting and ending time and exist in a Sequence. They can serve a variety of purposes and generate video content is just one of them. There are 3 types of content layers: Regular layers, called ‘Layers’, 2D scenes and 3D scenes.
Layers are node-based tools with a GUI very similar to 2D scenes. Besides reading textures rendered by 2D scenes, they can also read video and audio files, process textures, run conditional logic and perform a whole bunch of other functions. One of those is also Render to canvas, which renders a texture to a canvas. Many layers can render to the same canvas at the same time.
2D scene is a special type of layer with a specific set of available nodes. In a 2D scene, you can create simple shapes like a rectangle or a circle and make adjustments to them in real-time. The usefulness of 2D scenes will grow over time, but at the moment it is primarily used to create texture variables in real-time.
3D scenes are similar to 2D scenes in that their output is usually written to a texture variable, which is then read from within other content layers. The main difference from 2D scenes is that the space is not 2-dimensional, but 3-dimensional.
Canvases are where textures generated by Content layers are combined. Many layers can render to the same canvas and you can have several canvases at the same time. It’s where you preview the content that is going to be sent to content throwers, video screens, eDMX lights or projectors.
Throwers are helper objects which can project or throw content from canvas onto several video screens or eDMX lights at the same time. They are created in the Visualizer and can be useful if you have many video screens or eDMX lights in the project that you would like to map content to based on their location in the world.
3D objects are a virtual representation of real 3D objects. They are created in the Visualizer and you can use them just for visualizing or for projection mapping. In this case, you’ll want to map content onto it. 3D objects can grab content from canvases or from texture variables in one of the layers.
Video screens are a virtual representation of real video screen. They are created in the Visualizer (by right-clicking in an empty area and selecting Add video screen in the menu that appears) and can source content from one of the canvases or one of the throwers.
Projectors are a virtual representation of real projectors. They can grab content from one of the video screens or 3D objects in the Visualizer. They act like a virtual camera in the Visualizer because they basically grab the view they have of the selected objects in the Visualizer and output it. Additionally, you can warp and soft the edges of this output manually for fine-tuning.
eDMX lights are a virtual representation of real light fixtures controlled with one of eDMX protocols. They are created in the Visualizer and can source content from one of the content throwers or video screens. This means that eDMX content flow is the same as with video screens or a thrower except that eDMX fixtures cannot source the content from canvases, but only from video screens or throwers..
Video outputs are a virtual representation of physical video outputs on the graphics card of the computer Lightact is running on. They are created in Video output setup window and can source content from video screens or projectors.
Art-Net devices are a virtual representation of real art-net devices on the network. They are created in the Devices window and source content from eDMX fixtures in the project.