D&L Track Release Instruction
Introduction of D&L Track features:
1. Combining with the prevailing drone programming software Blender, D&L Track can directly use the raw data exported from Blender for MIDI timecode synchronized playback.
2. D&L Track also has drone show simulation functions, which can simulate the drone show visualization including laser tracking simulation.
3. D&L Track supports two laser tracking modes: DMX mode and laser pattern output mode. In DMX mode, the lasers are controlled by Artnet protocol, and in pattern output mode, the patterns are output directly to the laser through DAC adapter or Beyond software.
“As mentioned earlier, this software works based on the raw data exported from Blender. This requires that your drone programming plugin has this functionality. The specific data format can be found at the following link: https://docs.vimdrones.com/designer/#export-animation
The exported raw folder contains data streams for each drone, with the data format being: | Frame Number | x | y | z | r | g | b |.
On the Main tab, you can click the folder icon next to the Data Folder to load all data files from the corresponding folder. Of course, if you have dozens or hundreds of drone , you won’t need to track so many drones with laser, so you only need to keep the files of the drones you want to track, and delete the ones you don’t need.
You can set the playback speed using the Rate option, with a default value of 24 frames per second, the default animation frame rate of Blender.
If you manually trigger laser tracking for drones, you need to ensure that the animation frame rate is consistent with the drone control end. If using MIDI timecode, you must ensure that the animation frame rate in Blender, the MIDI timecode frame rate, and the D&L Track frame rate are all set consistently.
When previewing the animation, you can also adjust the playback speed using the frame rate slider.
When you enable MTC IN or MIDI timecode input, the MIDI device settings window will automatically open and the delay time option will be activated, while the manual triggering function will be disabled. At this point, you can click the “Create New Mapping” button to add a MIDI timecode input device.
Once the In Device is set up, you can use MIDI timecode to trigger the playback of drone animation data.
Below the playback button is the playback progress bar, timecode, and frame progress.
Clicking on the Drone Sim tab will bring up options for visualizing drone show.
Here, you can set up simulations for controlling drones in depence.
The first two options are Artnet related settings.
The XYZ mode sets the XYZ channel mode for controlling the drone fixture in depence. 16-bit is more suitable for larger-scale show.
The Flight Range determines the range in meters that the drones can fly in the XYZ three-dimensional space.
The Start Universe specifies the starting domain that the drones are connected to in depence.
For pre-visualization of drone show, it is important to consider factors such as drone flight speed and distance while programming in Blender. These are basic requirements for programming a drone show. Of course, you can also check for these issues during pre-visualization in Depence.
DMX Laser tab is used to set DMX control mode for lasers.
The lasers can occupy only one domain of 512 channels, which is typically more than enough. Clicking on the Open button in the Laser Settings Dialog will open the dialog box for setting up laser options. The Laser Switch option will display the number of lasers connected, with 1/20 indicating that the current setting is for the first laser light and there are a total of 20 lasers. The number of lasers is automatically matched to the number of drones being tracked, i.e., the number of files in the raw folder on the Main tab..
You can switch the lasers and make adjustments by clicking on the three buttons in the Laser Switch section. The first button is used to switch to the first laser for parameter settings, followed by the previous and next laser buttons.
The parameters of the laser can be divided into global settings and local settings. The global settings apply to all the lasers and changing the parameter for one laser will change it for all the other laser as well. The local settings only apply to the current laser.
The global settings section includes the following:
– Start Channel: the starting address of the first laser. Note that this parameter only applies to the first laser, and changing it for other lasers will also change it for the first laser. The address for the other lasers is calculated automatically.
– PreChans: the number of channels before the PT axis.
– AftChans: the number of channels after the PT axis.
– PT Range: the scan angle of the lasers’ XY axis.
If the output direction of the lasers is incorrect, you can activate the corresponding Pan Invert and Tilt Invert options.
If the XY axis of the lasers is 16-bit, you can switch between 8-bit and 16-bit modes using the 8/16 bit button.
Local Parameters section:
The “Fixture Pos (m)” parameter represents the coordinates of the fixture on the XYZ axis. Please note that this software uses a right-hand coordinate system and the Y-axis is pointing upwards. However, Depence uses a left-hand coordinate system, and the Z-axis direction is opposite.
Another thing to note is that the coordinates here refer to the coordinates of the laser output aperture, specifically the coordinates of the laser X-axis galvanometer. Usually, the coordinates of the laser in dependence are not the actual coordinates of the laser output aperture. In this case, you need to measure it yourself. The simplest method is to place a small ball at the corresponding position to view the actual coordinates of the beam output aperture.
In reality, the positioning of the lasers should be based on the coordinate origin of Blender, and the rotation angles of the lasers on each axis also need to match those in reality. For the lasers in dependence, due to the initial rotation angle, conversion may be necessary. In the example file, the laser placement is default to upward, so the X-axis angle needs to be converted by a deviation of 90 degrees. For example, if the X-axis rotation angle in dependence is 60 degrees, then in D&L Track, it should be 30 degrees, as their rotation directions are opposite.
It is best to use a dedicated measuring instrument for accurate measurement in reality and enter the corresponding parameters in the parameter box.
Regarding the color setting of the lasers, it is currently set completely according to the channel list of the DMX laser in depence. That is, the RGB channel is the first three channels, which are the channels in front of the XY axis and automatically change with the color data in the drone programming. If the color channel of your laser lights is not the first three channels, you can directly use the pattern mode.
In DMX mode, which is the 1V1 situation, the position angle of each laser needs to be set separately. In pattern mode, you only need to set the parameters of the first laser , and click the SYNC button in the Laser Settings Dialog option to synchronize the settings. At this time, the position angle of all lasers is consistent.
The next two options are manual settings for all channels before and after the XY channel. Val1-3 are occupied by the RGB color channels and therefore do not function. The fourth channel corresponds to the gobo channel of the laser in depence, with a value range of 0-1 corresponding to values of 0-255. These parameters are global, meaning that setting them for one laser will cause the corresponding parameters for other lasers to change as well.
The final option “Start Universe” is for setting the starting domain for DMX laser fixtures.
Once you have set the corresponding options, you can click on the eye icon in the software window’s upper right corner to preview the laser graphics while replaying animations on the Main tab.
The last option tab “Laser Pattern” is related to the 1V multi-mode setting.
There are two ways to output the graphics to the laser : one is through the DAC box and the other is through the Pangolin Beyond software. Clicking on “Global DAC Settings” allows for global settings related to laser sampling, but these settings only affect the last two brands of DAC boxes.
The parameters here usually do not need to be modified unless you are a professional in the field of laser. In addition, it should be noted that options related to step size cannot be set to a value of 0. The Input Sample Rate option can be set according to the actual scanning speed of the fixture.
The settings related to Helios, EtherDream DAC box, and Pangolin Beyond software will not be elaborated here.
Line effect means connecting all the drones with lines in order. You can set the Line Cut, which determines the degree to which the lines are cut.
For the last two effects, it is better to track not too many drones, so it is easier to control the overall aesthetic of the performance.