Using the Mapping Worksheet

Posted by Michael Stoffregen on 4/9/2018 to Sequencing Insights
Using the Mapping Worksheet
Your sitting there staring at more than 100 models and sub-models on someone else’s display.  You just downloaded this sequence, and now you have to figure out what goes where.  To help you do just that, we have put together a Mapping Worksheet for you.  Well, actually, we have put together two versions of it.

In 2020, in response to customer requests, we have changed our layout to include more of the traditional display elements people use in their display and several “high density” props that are becoming more popular.  The purpose and the use of the Mapping Worksheet hasn’t changed, but what is on it has.  As we transition to the new layout, we will have two Mapping Worksheets available, and I have included descriptions of both below to help you in their use.

Pre-2020 Mapping Worksheet.  The worksheet is a table.  The first column is blank and is meant for you to check when watching the  downloaded sequence.  The second column either has a “G” for Group or “M” for model.  (For example, I have a “G”roup named Snowflakes.  Under that is a “M”odel for Snowflake 1, Snowflake 2, etc.).  The third column is my name for the Group or Model as found in “My View” when you load the sequence.  The groups and models are in the order they are found in that view.  The Fourth column is blank and that is where you write the name of your group or model that you want the listed group or model to map to in your display.

2020 Mapping Worksheet.  Again, the worksheet is a table.  The first column is blank and is meant for you to check when watching the downloaded sequence.  However, some of the spaces are “shaded”.  This was done because those display elements are models where we typically do not sequence.  However, there are some instances where things just look best at the model level, so it may happen from time to time.  The second column identifies the Group, Model or Sub-Model.  You will note that each one is numbered and they are displayed in order.  This corresponds to the order you will see the groups, models or sub-models on the import screen.  Groups and full Models are listed in all capital letters.  Sub-models are listed in upper and lower case.  The third column is blank and where you write the name of your group, model or sub-model that you want the specific listing to map to in your display.

Using the Worksheet.  Download the sequence and extract it to a directory other than your show sequence.  Load XLights and change your show directory to the directory where the downloaded sequence is located.  Open the sequence.  You will receive an error message saying the media file must be selected or change to an animation.  Browse your and select the audio file that goes with the sequence.  In the Sequence tab, you should see the timing marks and effects in my sequence as it appears on my computer.  In the Layout Tab, you should see a jpg of my house as decorated with all my models superimposed on that jpg.

Render the sequence by selecting the Setting/Render on Save option and saving the file.  When it is done rendering, get out your copy of the worksheet along with a pen or pencil. Before you watch the sequence, make sure that the view is the “My View”.  Where necessary, expand the group or model names to make sure you are seeing where all the sequencing occurs.

Now watch the sequence.  Set up your screen so you can see the sequence on the house view, but more importantly, you can see which groups or models have effects on them.  Now I have listed every group and model I use on the worksheet.  But not every group and model is used in every sequence.  In these first few viewings, all you want to do is place an X or check mark to every group or display element that has an effect on it.

Once you have done that, exit out of that iteration of XLights and start XLights, making sure the Show Directory in the setup is the one your normally use.  Create a new sequence using the same audio file.  Make sure your preferred view is selected.  Now, for each of the groups or models checked as “Used” on the worksheet, write in the name of your group or model you want that mapped to in your new sequence.

Fixing the Disparities. There are a couple of things that could happen when you try to match up my groups and models to your groups and models.  First, maybe your have more groups and models than I have. Second, maybe I have more groups and models than you have.  The general rule is that the sequence will look better if you use more of the effects found in the downloaded sequence, so either of those situations should be addressed.

If you have more groups and models than I have, the fix is very simple.  Map the group or model in the downloaded sequence to more than one model.  For example, my show has only one mega tree.  If you have two, simply map the mega tree to both of yours.   I have 12 mini trees.  If you have 36, map each of mine to three of yours.  The software allows you to map each group or model to more than one element.  If you have a model that is unique to your display, map something we have that is of a similar shape.  Most models are circular, triangular or linear.  Match that up to get the best results possible.

If I have used more groups and models than you have, you have some decisions to make.  First, you could just ignore the extras, but again, mapping the extra ones will make your sequence look better.  There are three options you have to address the disparity: Creating more groups, creating sub-models, and creating virtual elements.

Another thing you can do is create a sub-model in your existing elements and then map to that sub-model.  In the video linked to above, Sean creates sub-models on columns and then maps flood lights to those sub-models.  Again, easy to do, but difficult artistic decisions.  Where do you place those effects?  Your call, and the best part is there is no wrong answer, just some look better than others.  Trust me when I tell you that your audience will not know if you made a less than optimal decision.  They will be excited and amazed no matter what you do.

Another variation of the sub-model is to create a virtual model.  In a virtual model, you create a separate model that uses the same universe and channel settings (or virtual channel) of one of your existing models.  For example, if you have a matrix or mega tree, it is possible to create a virtual model of a snowflake on it.  This is a bit more difficult to do, and you still have the difficult artistic decisions. The advantage in creating the virtual model is that you can determine it’s render order by moving it up and down the listing in “My View”.

After you have created the new groups, sub-models or models, it’s time to use the Import/Import Effects process to map your new sequence.  The worksheet will help make that process much quicker and easier and should eliminate the need for multiple import steps as new groupings and models are created.

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