Controling GrandMA2 from Powerpoint without any extra tools.

In modern Shows it can quite often come to situations where it would add alot to the immersion of the show if certain components would interactively work together, such as lights and video cues. One of thees settings can also be Powerpoint animation in huge Corporate Environments.

A recent event lead me to write this article, which is meant to be a step bz step guide trough the world of networking and combining methods to reach a certain goal.

this is a rather more advanced technique and it for sure needs some structure and planning to make things work for your show. however all the needed steps you need to take for getting your personal result shall be in this article.

Setting up the Environment

First of all its important to setup the base networking tools on the controlling computer from wich we want to trigger the GrandMA. due to the fact we are using Powerpoint im assuming we are living on a Windows system, and here we will cover the way of windows 10.

Hit the windows key on your keyboard, and start typing “control panel”, click on “programs” and find the button “Turn Windows Features On and Off”, in the following window scroll until you find the Option “Telnet Client” set the option active wait for the installation to finish and you are ready to go.

Preparing the GrandMA to receive Telnet Network Commands

For the sake of creating this article im using the current actual onpc application, just for making sure the screens come out well, the process on a real desk should be similar.

First of all make sure that desk and controlling computer can communicate with eachother, this is basic networking and i assume that you have all the knowledge available on how to setup a network conncetiong between two networking devices.

Setup your IP Address in the desk and activate a session, (here i will use the loopback adapter as my application and the grandMA software will run on the same computer anyway).

Next we will open up the grandMA for accepting logins from telnet clients, go to settings>global settings> telnet login enabled.

Testing the Telnet connection

Next hit the windows key on your keyboard again and type “cmd”, hit enter. if you followed the steps from before you can just type “telnet” into the commandline and you will see the command line hanging to telnet now.

To open a telnet connection to your desk now, all you have to do is type “open (ip of the desk) (port to connect to)”, in our case we would type the following, “open 127.0.0.1 30000”, be aware that this will change for your personal installation.

If everything went well we are granted with a login prompt and a MA2 image in blue.




From here you can decide if you want to try a login, you would be smart to have a special user setup in the desk that will do the triggering from Powerpoint, but thees ways may vary from installation to installation.
to login simply type “login (username)” and hit enter, from here on you are having full control over the desks command line.

Writing the Application for Powerpoint

With all this setup we can head a step further to solve our initial goal of triggering the grandMA, there are many different ways to go from here on, i try to keep it as simple as possible and stay with the windows onboard tools, so that no software is needed which might get hard to find in a couple of years form here on.

What we will be using is pretty old fashioned windows scripting with .bat files. bat files allow us to write simple programs that do things we before defined. the things we will define for example will be to tell windows to open the telnet.exe program, then we will tell the program by a script to open a connection to our desk, log us in with our user credentials, and then trigger a certain cue. this sounds like it is a lot to do for the computer but this in fact is a very fast process with almost no delay, however you need to calculate some delays due to the connection opening processes and login steps.

Get yourself a good text editing tool. we internally user Atom for things like thees, but you can even do it with the notepad onboard application. Atom is a very powerful open source text editing application that helps you a lot in application development, so we use it everyday and like the features it brings, it might be overwhelming at first to you. to break it down, all you have to do is type some keywords, so grab any tool that you feel comfortable with.

The Start Application

create a folder and name it “Powerpoint cues”, in this folder create a file called “startup.bat”, in this file write the following text:

:: Open a Telnet window
start telnet.exe 127.0.0.1 30000
:: Run the script
cscript sendlogin.vbs

exit 0

With this script we will tell windows to open the telnet application with some parameters (the IP and the Port for my desk), after this has happend we tell windows to use a script (sendlogin.vbs) and when the script has finished we close the windows again with exit 0.

Writing the instructions script

create a file called “sendlogin.vbs”, and write the following text into the file:

set OBJECT=WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
WScript.sleep 100
OBJECT.SendKeys "login andi{ENTER}"
WScript.sleep 100
OBJECT.SendKeys "goto cue 1 exec 1.1{ENTER}"
WScript.sleep 100
OBJECT.SendKeys "exit{ENTER}"
WScript.sleep 100
OBJECT.SendKeys " "

With this script we tell our initial program to do some things for us.

we will tell it to log us in with our credentials, in this case user andi will be logged in, then we will wait 100ms until we send the next instruction to the desk, “goto cue 1 exec 1.1” after waiting another 100ms, we quit our connection to the desk so that the initial connection can end properly and the grandMA gets a proper user logout event.

Last Step, Powerpoint Application execution

With all this setup, all we got to do is go to our powerpoint application and decide where and how we want our application to be executed.

ADVISE:

some versions of Powerpoint where able to create triggers when the slide opens, this is generally not a good idea, because you cant handle the execution of your program without blowing up your application massively, so either you truly develop fallback mechanisms that handle certain misbehavior of your program, or you make the execution event based, the event based approach is what i will be covering here.

Create a slide, create a text block on the slide, in the top part of the Powerpoint application find the “Insert Tab” click it, press “Links” and choose “Actions”.

In the popup “Action Settings” select “Mouse Click”, select the “Run Program” option, and hit “browse”. This will open a new Window in which you can pick the application that we just created (startup.bat), hit the “Ok” buttons, to close all popups.

Test your application and off you go. The computer will ask you for your permission to run this application for the first time, confirm this and the application will execute as expected.

Last words

Its generally good practice to plan your application in a show environment, it will help you a lot to understand what you did and why you did certain things and it will help you organise the signal flow a lot. Generally we use Illustrator for drawing signal flow plans, but there are massive online tools on the market that will do thees things for free. Like Method Draw.

Generally thees ways of operating a desk are quite advanced and require a lot of experience, so test your application to the fullest and try to find every possible way how this application could be used so that you dont run into any surprises during a show situation.

And always have respect that the grandMA is a fairly capable but also complex system, so never take any of theese tasks too lightly.

Also test potential new Version properly, sometimes version changes can have huge effects on your installations.

Get your fingers ready for the new MA Hardware with our 4K GrandMA3 Command Layout

Hello Folks,

summer holidays are ending, embargoes are getting loftier and every where around us we can see fancy shiny new consoles popping up.

I know all of you are super eager to get your hands on the new MA-Lighting Hardware, and feel how super smooth the buttons are, and how colorful you can let the faders shine, but once all this aura of new hardware has passed you will see yourself considered with a new learning gap and also your hands wont feel at home anymore as all the buttons have moved to different locations now.

But fear not, we started a new project a while ago and today, i am lucky enough to share some of the things we worked on with you. Keep your eyes and ears open for this new project, hopefully i can speak about it in like a month or so… i dont know yet tho, lets see.

However we are currently looking for beta testers, so if you feel like you have the time for helping us with this project, let us know in the comments and create an account, we contact you with further information and add you to the list.

But lets not waste more time, here is the layout of our grandma 3 project. This will be exactly how the buttons will be layedout on the Fullsize and Light Consoles as well as the Command Wings, all will be similar, so if you like to get your muscle memory up to par to the new hardware, there you go ;)

 

Enjoy and remember, sharing is caring.

Click image for the full size image

 

 

 

Free Bitmap Footage Library, with GrandMA2 Showfile

Hey there,

following up on our freebie path from last week, ASL Layout Icon Pack, we just want to release our library of Bitmap Footage that we here mostly use for background animations inside the desk.

Since MA-Lighting came out with the Bitmap Fixture in version 3.2 of the Desk,  we loved it, its a great easy feature to use and mostly replaces a media server for Lighting Fixture Content all together. This file here comes with a showfile and a 3d File that shall make it easier for you to see the contents that you gonna get and explore a bit with it.

Demo:

The Pack consists of 4 individual packages, these are “Pictures” the pictures come in the .png form and are just Regular Pics that you can use for Masking or color layering, “Alphas” the alphas come in the .webM format and everything that is black will be see trough to everything that lays behind it, “Regular” the regulars come also in the .webM format, other than the alphas the regulars are just black and white, this gives you the ability to write cues where you exchange alphas with regulars and mask the content below it (a nice strobe FX possible….) , and  the “Mpeg” are just plain mpegs that you can also use in most of the other Media Servers on market, no alphas however.

The content is all 400×400 Black and White, all 3 Pack make a total of 108 movie files and some additional plain pictures, its a tiny and useful tool to have at hand of you want to use some nice video based effects all over your rig.

Our next post will be about how you can setup a stage that is Bitmap Effect based, so that you have an easier time using these Files in your shows.

Installation:

Folder structure for importing the imagepack

you install the content pack in your show file by copy and pasting the folders to your “images folder” of your current grandMA2 Onpc software installation.

Alternatively you can just drag it to your USB stick into your gma2/images folder.

It will then appear inside your grandMA2 software.

Now Enjoy and have fun with it!!

Bitmap Pack:

  • https://andreasschindler.com/product/webm-bitmappack-01/

Additionals:

Just in case you are not up to date on the current Version of the software:

Here is the up to this date:

Onpc -> newest Version 3.3.4.3

Console-> newest Version 3.3.4.3

1310 Free Layout View Ready Icons

Introduction

 

Today we are releasing our, Full Release of Inhouse Icon Library, we here use this Library for almost all TV/Musical Work that we do. Most of the time we do the design and programming for TV Shows and Musicals in a way that almost every body can run the shows. So our clients setup their own people who run or operate the show.

To make things easy for the locals we create them multiple Layout Views so that they can simply start and test the show state  for errors or just the regular checks.

Other features our clients request are states of the show to be visible all the time. therefore we created show state icons with natural enabled and disabled backgrounds.

 

Usage

 

The Button Library is setup to include 2 themes, the MA-Style folder contains buttons that come close to the MA2 UI and the simple style is just simple and slick black and white icons.

You get every button in 5 variants, from 1x to 8x, this is defines the quality of the icon. The base icon dimensions are 60x60px and every X is multiplying it by the given number, so that you end up with a Icon of 480x480px. The buttons where designed to be tiny and easy on the load times. so even when you wanna go for the best quality icons, your approximate file size is not gonna be much bigger. the biggest button is 24kb.

But sometimes you want to have a small show file so you can decide for yourself which kind of button you would like to use, if you go for quality or if you go for less baggage.

Each library has a named coding to it, the first letter can be C for colors, B for beams, G gobos, P for position, F for fixtures, s for show items, se for show items enabled and sd for show items disabled.

After the letter is a number, so that you can count on the cheatsheet which icon you want to import, the counting goes from left to right and top to bottom.

An icon can also have a -s behind it, that indicates the simple version of the button.

Stay tuned for a couple of macros explaining you how to work with some of these icons and exchange them dependent on the state of show you are in dynamically.

If you like the library, comment and maybe even show of some of your creations here.

We here ar looking forward to what you can come up with them.

 

 

Click here for your direct Download.

 

 

 

Always See the Store Mode Macro

Following up on the last tutorial, Free Second Programmer in Grandma 2. I pick up on the technic i’ve used there, and show you a way to display the store mode you are currently in inside of your macro. It might be useful to you or not, but still you can learn a lot from this method, about how you can use macros in a quite useful way.

 

Usage:

Im often using this for hectic and fast programming where there is not much time involved and i want to make sure to just do the right thing without thinking too much about what i have to do.

So when i store a preset i can just confirm with enter and i have stored the preset in the correct preset form.

Another plus side of this is that i am able to see all the time which store mode im using so i can quickly change it to whatever i need it by pressing any button 3 times and then i’ve completely cycled trough all store options i need.

 

 

 

Setup:

Similar to the last Tutorial, i will use the method of naming a macro after i made an action on it, so that i will have its current option displayed forme to read.

We are going to create a 6 line Macro thats taking an already premade macro into account, but for the sake of making things easy we completely write it from 0.

Line 1: (this line has to be set to “follow” for the wait)

Assign Root ."UserProfiles"."UserProfile"
."Storedefaults"."presetdefaults" /mode=selective

Line 2: (this line has to be set to “go” for the wait)

Label Macro "global" "selective"

Line 3: (this line has to be set to “follow” for the wait)

Assign Root ."UserProfiles"."UserProfile"
."Storedefaults"."presetdefaults" /mode=universal

Line 4: (this line has to be set to “go” for the wait)

Label Macro "selective" "universal"

Line 5: (this line has to be set to “follow” for the wait)

Assign Root ."UserProfiles"."UserProfile"
."Storedefaults"."presetdefaults" /mode=global

Line 4: (this line has to be set to “go” for the wait)

Label Macro "universal" "global"

In Show:

 

 

Now all you have to do is assign this macro to a viewbutton or put it on whatever button you like to have it.

Whenever you now press this button you switch the store mode and you dont have to long press the store button for choosing your store method. I find it nice to work this way as it makes me work way faster by just switching to what ever mode i want to have and always be able to see the store mode im in.

 

 

Download:

macro_67_selective.xml