I spent some time this past week writing and testing support for ProTally with Blackmagic ATEM switchers. I didn’t have one to develop with, and after posting on a discussion group about the software, a new friend sent me a unit to work on. Thanks again, Kyle!
Version 1.2.0 now supports:
Blackmagic ATEM switchers – it will auto discover any ATEM switchers on the network, or you can manually type in an IP Address as well
Ross Carbonite Black, Carbonite Black Solo, and Graphite switchers
And I now have a Windows release build in addition to a MacOS release build!
Dropbox is an excellent tool for production use. We use it for everything, from weekly temporary files just for a particular weekend service, to long term resources that need to be available on a regular basis. It’s great because the files automatically sync to all the devices, and it allows us to collaborate with a lot of people/contributors. The files are stored locally on each device/computer, so they are quickly accessible.
We also like syncing our ProPresenter Libraries in Dropbox, and I thought I would share that method with you. If you haven’t heard of ProPresenter, it is an media presentation software package from a company called Renewed Vision that is designed specifically to make live production easier. In my opinion, it’s the best lyric presenting software out there.
ProPresenter maintains its own internal library/folder system of all of your presentations (songs), background videos, images, etc. This allows you to easily search and re-use songs week to week. The software auto-saves changes when you make them, which is great.
But what do you do when you have multiple ProPresenter computers in multiple venues and rooms across the campus or ministry? This is where a syncing method comes in very handy.
ProPresenter has two built in options for sync, “local sync” and “cloud sync”. The local sync option is free and you can set it up yourself to sync to a local drive or network share. The cloud sync option uses Renewed Vision servers and costs a small monthly fee.
However, we don’t use either of these options. I tried the local sync option and never got it to reliably work like I expected, and the cloud sync was not something we were interested in paying for at the time.
We use Dropbox instead. We have a shared Dropbox account logged into all production devices. Each computer using ProPresenter is set up with its own library folder in the Dropbox account. This allows that computer to make all the changes it needs while those library files are in use.
As changes are made, they are automatically synced to Dropbox and back down to the other devices, into that same folder name/structure. Essentially, every computer has a full backup of all the other computers’ ProPresenter libraries, accurate to within the last time it synced, typically within a couple of minutes at most.
We have found this to be very helpful, because a volunteer running ProPresenter in one Auditorium can fix or redesign a slide, and the volunteer running ProPresenter in another Auditorium can simply pull up that file on their computer and copy it into their local library.
To sync over mass changes, we create a ProPresenter bundle file of presentations and save it to Dropbox. The other computers see the bundle file almost immediately and they can then be imported to get any new changes needed.
We have been using this workflow for over a year now and it has been great for us. Do you use ProPresenter and Dropbox together? If not, give this a try. Or, if you have a great syncing method that works well for your team, share it! I’d love to hear how you are using technology well to help the church be more efficient.
Awhile back, I wrote about the on-screen tally software I recently developed. We needed a way for our CG operators to know when their source was on-air or about to be on-air. I won’t rehash the definitions or inner-workings again, so if you didn’t read that first post, I recommend you read that before this.
I had hoped to give a release build much sooner but lost time waiting on some other people to test it in their environments. We’ve been running it in our environments for almost 2 months now with no issues, so I finally gave it some final polishing and bug squashing to get it ready for release. The interface has changed some, and for now, you can choose between a generic TSL 3.1 device or, specifically, a Ross Carbonite. (Not a Carbonite Black, Solo, or any of the other models.) Why specifically that model? Because I have two of them, and that’s what I know and use!
I hope to add support for the Blackmagic ATEM protocol soon. I need to connect with someone who has one, so if that’s you and you’re interested in testing with me, drop me a line!
And this should go without saying, but even though I’ve made software to augment your use of software like Renewed Vision’s ProPresenter and other products, it is in no way associated with any company or product. This is distributed under the MIT license and is available for anyone to use without cost.
I had someone send me an email recently asking how they could set up their Ross Carbonite to control ProPresenter, advancing slides and playlists through a custom control. After writing it out for them, I thought I would share this step-by-step tutorial.
It does require a Communications module license in ProPresenter. If you don’t own one, you can purchase it from RenewedVision.
First of all, in ProPresenter, you need to set up the Communications module to be a RossTalk Device (not a Controller).
Go to Preferences, and choose the Communications module from the menu at the top.
Click “Add Device” at the bottom and choose “RossTalk” from the list.
Under Behavior, choose “Device”. If you wanted to control your Ross Carbonite from ProPresenter, you would choose “Controller”.
Type in the IP address for the Carbonite and the port you wish to use. The default RossTalk port is 7788. I would recommend limiting the traffic to the single network interface that is connected to the same network as your Carbonite.
When you are done creating the device, click Connect.
If ProPresenter has connected successfully to the Carbonite, the button will turn green.
Next, you will want to create a new Device on your Ross Carbonite switcher to connect to the ProPresenter computer.
On the Carbonite, hit Menu, then choose System > Next > Next > Device Config.
If you don’t see Add (new), scroll the far left knob (device select) until that option appears.
Turn the far left knob to choose the slot you want to assign it to. For this example, I chose Slot 1.
Turn the middle knob to select Type: RossTalk.
Use the far left knob to change the subtype of the server to xpression_1.0.
Turn the knobs to enter in the IP address of ProPresenter computer.
Turn the far right knob to set the Port if you didn’t use the default of 7788.
Tap the far left knob to save the device.
Tap the far left knob again to confirm the new device settings.
Now Hit Menu, then choose Config > Input (the far left knob).
Turn the far left knob to scroll through the inputs until you find the input for your ProPresenter computer. In my example, my ProPresenter input is labeled GFX.
Hit Next twice until you see the Device option. It should be unassigned.
Tap the center knob to enter the Device assign settings.
Turn the far left knob to select the Device Slot you set up earlier in Step 3. I chose Slot 1.
Tap the far left knob to add the device, then tap again to confirm.
Now any time you bring that ProPresenter input up in Preview or Program on the switcher, it should automatically bring the device settings up on the menu screen of the Carbonite.
If you tap the far right knob (NEXT), it will advance to the right in ProPresenter, going to the next slide. If you turn the far left knob (UP/DWN) to the left or right, it will advance up or down in the playlist.
If you hit the NEXT button beside the Menu button on the Carbonite, you can see other options for the device. You can clear the various ProPresenter layers, etc.For your reference, those are:
Layer 0: Clear All
Layer 1: Clear Live Video
Layer 2: Clear Background
Layer 3: Clear Slide
Layer 4: Clear Props
Now you need to record a Custom Control in order to create a macro for this.
Hit CC, and then select a blank bank/button.
You’ll need to then put the ProPresenter video input in Preview, to bring up the device settings.
Tap the far right knob for “Next”, which will advance the slide.
Then stop recording.
You can edit the CC to remove the step of putting ProPresenter in Preview, as that was only for recording purposes.
I wrote a new piece of software recently that I’m really excited about. It’s called ProTally and it is designed to display video tally markers directly on the screen.
What’s tally? In broadcast setups, it is often helpful to be able to tell camera operators, computer graphics workers, etc. when their shot is being used on-air or visible on screens. Most broadcast equipment comes with some sort of tally light that, when connected to the right system, lights up to let the operator know.
With today’s broadcast equipment, a lot of this tally information can be communicated directly over the network, in real time using a variety of protocols. One particular protocol is TSL UMD, from Television Systems Limited for Under Monitor Displays. It is supported by a wide variety of broadcast industry equipment and allows the devices to know the tally state of one another.
In church environments where we use computer software like ProPresenter to send CG content to a video switcher, it can be very helpful to have a tally light that the user can see so they don’t accidentally change a graphic while it is live or on the screen. While there are a variety of external tally lights available for this purpose, I wanted to design something that would allow for a green (in preview) or red (in program/on-air) box directly on the screen that the user can easily see while operating the software, without having to purchase additional hardware.
For this project, I used Node JS and the Electron libraries, along with an existing Node JS module that acts as a TSL 3.1 Protocol server. I was able to whip up a demo in just a few short hours. Then it was just a matter of finessing and adding features.
Using ProTally, you can monitor up to 4 Tally Addresses using TSL UMD 3.1 and keep track of their Preview, Program, and Preview+Program states. You can even customize the colors as needed! The boxes can be resized and moved around on the screen and those positions will be saved and recalled the next time the software launches.
I decided to add options to allow the user to choose whether they wanted a filled-in box or a transparent box with a color border. It also reads the label data and stores that as it comes in, to give names to the tally addresses. And, because we use two Carbonite switchers at my church, I also wrote in an object array that uses the TSL UMD protocol implementation described by Ross here: http://help.rossvideo.com/carbonite-device/Topics/Devices/UMD/TSL.html
Due to some limitations of the Electron framework, I had to make the windows appear “always on top” of other windows, to ensure they would be visible while clicking around in ProPresenter (or ProVideoServer or whatever software being used). This can be a little annoying if you’re using the computer for another task and don’t want to see the tally boxes, so to help with that, I added a “Hide All Boxes” option that can be used rather than quitting the software.
Here is ProTally in action:
This solves a problem for a lot of people who want on-screen tally for ProPresenter, ProVideoServer, or whatever software they may be using. You can even use it to monitor general inputs like cameras, etc. Just assign the tally address, position the box, and you’re set!
I will have this available in my GitHub repository soon. Feel free to check it out and if you use it, let me know how you like it! I plan to add more features to it as I have time.