Have you ever wanted to be Daft Punk? Well this Is a medium budget way to create a great looking bar sized tribute show. I am not going to get in to all the fine details of the costumes and such because there are already great Instructables on this so I will post some links to a couple I like. I will show you how to build and set up a mock stage. How to set up stage lighting and a bit on controlling via DMX. Also aside from lighting I will be video mapping the stage we are building so I will go through some of the basics on how to achieve those effects as well.
Step 1: Costume Links
There are a lot just type in daft punk in search and find some in your time frame, budget, and style.
Step 2: The Great Pyramid
What we will need for this is a sewing machine, white spandex or stretchy material, PVC tubing, a cutter, and a lot of connectors ( T, 45°, 90°).
Ok so there are a thousand ways to skin a cat so they say. I have chosen to make my life a little easier and cheaper by using fabric and pvc on this project for a few reasons. This system is light, and modular I can fit the whole pyramid into 1 bag made to carry truss in. and it weighs about 5 pounds. Plus the fabric is easy to project onto, and stretches tight around the frame giving a clean look with 1 seam barely noticeable.
Lets get started by choosing the table your artists / DJs are going to want to use. In most cases a 4x8' table will be large enough, but usually they like it a bit taller so they don't have to slouch. So if you pick up a set of 4 bed raisers, found at any local big box store, and put them under the legs of the table they will thank you for it.
Now that we know the base we need to cover with the pyramid, we also need to know the size of the stage we are using in case we have any size limitations. Then we can get started building the framework for the pyramid. We will start by building the top of the lower portion of the pyramid, by starting in the middle. Take a T connector and 2, 2" pieces of the pvc (lets call these spacers). Insert them in eash side of the T with the center of the T pointing down and at a 45° angle forward. Then connect a 45° angle piece to each of the 2 spacers these will hold the top rails so angle accordingly. Note: do not glue anything together until you get through the 1st dry run, then you can mark a line on each of the connections so you can glue them in the exact same place later.
Each of the sides of the top rail will also consist of T > spacer > 45°, only this time the t will face straight down with one side to connect to the top rail, and the other side will be, spacer > 45° facing toward your bottom rail of each side. From the downward facing point of the T we will make a 90° brace from top rail to the bottom rail on each side, in order to not tip over.
The bottom rail starts out the same in the center 45° > spacer > T > spacer > 45°, only this time the single side of the T will be pointing up toward the top rails T they will connect eventually. Now is the time that you should make sure the length of your top rails will cover to the edges of the table so you don't see it. Also to have this make more sense in your head, essentially we are making a 4 sided pyramid only leaving the back open, because you will not see it and also it gives access to the DJ's. So figure out how tall you need your pyramid and cut 2 pieces of pvc that length for the 90° angle braces we will be connecting to each side of the top rails then to the offset middle of the bottom rails. Before finding the length we need to cut the bottom piece of the 90° brace to, we need to lay out the middle upright. To do this we just kind of have to eyeball out the front 45° angle and measure out the length you need to achieve the height you have decided on. After that you will attach your 2 bottom rails leaving them long enough to meet up with each of the outside 45° angles of the pyramid. the 90° brace pieces we made earlier can now mark how far out you need to make your cut in the bottom rail so you can insert a T. By now you should be able to see the length in which you need to cut the bottom of the 90° braces. The ends of the bottom rails will be as follows starting from the T on each side. T > Bottom rail extension > 90° > 45°. This 45 and the top 45 can mow be measured and cut.
That seemed like a long complicated rant to you as well huh? That's why I took pictures :)
On to sewing. Take a large piece of spandex the length of the bottom rail of the pyramid and fold it over about two inches and make your hem. Your pvc pipes will slide in to this hem so leave room. Then make some cuts on the folded over side, for all the connecting pieces. Then at about a 45° angle sew up from the seem to the top
Step 3: Ladies and Gentlemen L.J. Flash-a-lot
Lights!!!!!!! oOohh fun stuff. Now for this portion I realize that the majority of you don't own a lot of lights, so you may have to rent them. (Or a lighting designer to do the show for you) But if you do want to make a nice show you are going to need to get a controller of some sort. I'm going to use Freestyler DMX for a couple reasons its very good open source software and cheap interfaces, fairly easy to work with and will do almost anything you want. Plus it has a 3D virtualizer that will allow you to set up your show with out having your living room filled with lights for days while you get your show how you want it.
You can download it for free at this link. You will need an interface this will run any place from $40-$300. Though if you are going for the higher priced interfaces I might suggest to spend a little more money and get a compu cue interface for Elation Compushow software, it will give you a few more bells and whistles.
1. Install program and drivers for your interface.
2. open freestyler go to setup > freestyler setup > interface > choose your interface from the list > save note: you may need to have "virtual interface" selected while working in 3d virtualizer.
3. Adding your lights: setup > add / remove fixtures> choose brand of light> choose model of light (if not in the list you may need to create one using fixture creator program) > select how many lights you have and there is an option to auto group fixtures this will allow you to have one click access to how ever many lights of one type you have, making it easier to make changes as a whole later (color ,gobo, movement etc.)
Repeat step 3 as needed for all the fixtures you plan to use.
4. In order to make lights do what you want in dmx every "Scene" (like a still photograph) must be made and combined to other scenes in order to create a "Sequence". ( live a movie ) so if you want if you want a moving light to travel from point A to point B you would need 2 separate scenes in your sequence. Granted these sequences can be looped in order to run as long as you want A B, A B, A B, A B, and so on. Something important to remember as you are making your scenes, is to create them with ONLY what you need it to do. For instance you may want to make scenes with only dimmer patterns, colors, movements etc. so you can mix them up on the fly. Or you may want to create a show that runs itself to each song through very long sequences therefor only having to change sequences minimally, the choice is yours. Remember as you are saving these to label these so that it is easy to find later. Make folders of different like sequences for each idea you have you will thank me later when you don't have to track down 1 scene out of 100,000 or you go to organize them later, and the program can't find the file any more because you moved it.
5. Say NO to sound to light your lights will look like a 3 year old child with A.D.H.D. all hopped up on sugar.
6. Place your sequences in to cues: cue > add sequences > pick your sequences and drag and drop them in the cue list as you would like to use them. Cue lists are used to play back your sequences and there are many options in each row that will allow you to make them react a little differently. (you will have to play around or look at the manual to find what they all do)
7. Sub Masters: Each cue list contains 20 spots for sequences. the sub masters control up to 20 cue lists at 1 time. For instance if I have a cue list of all dimmer patterns for my wash lights, and one for my moving head movements, and one for the colors or gobos for the moving heads, I can now turn on 1 sequence from each of these cue lists at the same time giving me more ways to control each individual aspect of the lightshow at the same time. Submasters > insert cue list > choose cue list drag and drop on the submaster of choice.
8. Override buttons: These are a button that is one scene that you would like to turn on and off. Could be colors, or an ALL Light Look, or a strobe, or whatever you like. This will NOT start a sequence, only 1 static scene. Remember when I was talking about making scenes with only the items you need? Well this is why if you hit an override button for a color and you programmed that scene to turn the dimmer on as well it will override both dimmer and color of the light, thus making the pretty dimmer pattern you created to make things blink, worthless because you wanted to change color.
I can go on for hours and days on how to program lights and all the features of this program, but there are manuals, help forums, wiki sites, and videos all over the web for you to explore. So I will let you delve as deep as you wish in to the world of lighting and I will move on to the next part of the project at hand.
Step 4: Video Projection Mapping
I had some unfortunate driver loading issues minutes before the show started and had to pull the video mapping from the performance so you will not see it in my video. But hey Instructables are like parents, hopefully you learn from my mistakes, and "Do as I say, not as I do". So trial run each element of your show, before the actual event to get rid of those little hiccups.
Now what video projection mapping does is it allows you to take 1 projector (or more if you need it) and play video clips on multiple layers that you can stretch and skew to different sizes and shapes in order to only project on what you want. Example take a cube, looking at it head on you might see 3 sides of said box. You can create layers or slices or masks, allowing you to play 3 different videos on each side of the box from the same projector. this is just one simple example the possibilities are endless.
There are countless programs out there to achieve this effect. To name a few VPT (video projection tools) is free and open source. It is a bit hard to navigate if you don't know much about the in's and out's of layer routing, but a real nice program if you have a budget of $0.00. Grand VJ is program put out by American DJ that is mid range in price, and gets the job done with out too much headache. Mad Mapper and a few others I do not know much about so I will tell you to do some research on your own to see what you like best.
I will be using the "industry standard" I guess. Resolume Arena it is not a cheap program by any means, but with all the effects, and amount of things you can do with it, well lets just say there is a reason for the price tag. This program is huge so getting started with it can be a bit tricky but the work flow is very smooth once you understand it.
1. Install program and all drivers for the interfaces and midi controllers. Such as the triple head 2 go used for multiple projectors or APC 40 midi controller. (so many devices could be used for this program I wouldn't even know where to start)
2. Video content can be purchased from many places or created using programs such as After Effects. Making sure you have good looping content is key. If you don't you will end up with very choppy playback. don't get me wrong choppy playback can be useful at certain times but usually only if you are trying to make people feel disoriented, like for a haunted house or something.
3. Optimize videos for best playback. By optimizing it will take a lot less computing, therefor being better quality, faster, and allow your computer to handle more of what your program has to offer. In VPT 7 you may only use Quicktime clips. In Resolume you can use a few different formats but Quicktime with a DXV codec is the smoothest and fastest. If you have After Effects I suggest to convert your files using it. Note the DXV codec is in the "custom" file conversion. If you pick only Quicktime the DXV codec is not automatically added. if you do not have After Effects you may check out this Instructable on how to create these files.
4. Load clips by drag and dropping them in to columns and layers. click on the thumbnail to start the clip then you fade in or out using each layers opacity fader. Also you may add effects, transitions, reverse, blah blah blah the list actually goes on for over 90 pages in the manual that is in the program so read up plus there are video links to all the important how to's as well.
5. Set up your projectors far enough away to cover the whole area you need to cover. Note when choosing a projector the brighter the better, it will have to fight through lights and fog to get to its destination. Then start your program and get mapping, there are a few ways to get started with this. 1. masks: the video will show no output in the areas you apply the mask to unless inverted then it will show only those areas. 2 corner pinning: for instance you have a box and you want to send a video to 1 of the 3 visible sides. create a slice and drag your corner pins to the tips of each corner of that side, or the whole box its self, get creative.
Step 5: Into the Music
As far as the music goes you might be a DJ, producer, or youtube / iTunes playlist enthusiast, it maters not, being a PERFORMER is the key to the success on this project. The guys performing in this project are TATR and Trebellion otherwise known as "Up and Out" a side project of the group "Sovereign Sect". They are both DJ's and producers using ableton software as their main tool of choice. Here is a link if you would like to check in to that software.
Also if you would like to check out some other music by these guys, I will drop a link to their facebook pages, and you may also be able to find them on soundcloud if you so wish.
Thanks for the read!
I do hope you enjoyed it, and possibly even learned a few basic tricks. And good luck on your projects!