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WATCHOUT 7 on stage

Mickey Fergus is a media server associate at Show Sage, Dataton’s North American partner. He’s also a final year student in theatre design and animation, with a passion for projection design. For a recent community production of Big Fish directed by Jesus Perez, he decided to take WATCHOUT version 7 for a spin. We asked him for his take on working with WATCHOUT 7, currently being rolled-out in phases.

You've worked with both WATCHOUT version 5 and 6. What were the greatest differences you noticed in version 7?

"One obvious change I think worth noting is the brand-new user-interface. As a long-time version 6 user and also version 5 user, the interface is similar to previous WATCHOUT versions while still keeping things fresh and current. There are a number of key changes that stick out, like the Media window becoming the Assets window, and the Network window becoming the Devices window. In addition, the new licensing/activation process is something previous users will have to learn, as the licensing-per-machine model isn’t as simple as it used to be. Things have changed since the era of version 6.

"There are also many small tweaks that existing users will have to be aware of, like the renaming of Tweens to Effects, the new permanent properties window, the advances in 3D controls within the Stage window, or assigning Asset Manager/Director for a show. But after the first day of using version 7, it was all second nature and I was programming at full speed."

Favorite features in version 7 so far? 

"While it may seem like a very small change, the introduction of fading properties and the crossfading effect have made programming far simpler in terms of visibility and time-efficiency. The new crossfade effect that can be applied makes it much easier to organize cues based on layers now that content can overlap in this scenario. In addition, the “Fade In” and “Fade Out” properties save a few seconds on each cue — time that really quicky adds up to be a major chunk of your programming.

"But by far my favorite conceptual change within the WATCHOUT 7 model is that the line between “production” and “display” has become very blurred. Now, the “Producer” (previously known as Production) can output locally, especially because of how efficiently WATCHOUT 7 runs. This gives the user more flexibility when owning multiple machines, as they can be mix-and-matched for different systems far more easily."

– Which new feature proved specially useful in Big Fish?

"Now that a Producer machine can output locally (over NDI and multiple GPUs!), I took full advantage of it and tested my laptop’s performance thoroughly. In the Big Fish setup, projections were controlled by my 16gb RAM, RTX 4070 ASUS laptop, running multiple DCI-2k HAP videos in full resolution within the Stage window while being chopped up into over a dozen virtual displays for panel mapping, outputting over an HDMI cable to a 15,000 lumen Christie projector.

"Long story short, I didn’t need a dedicated display machine, I didn’t need to worry about networking anything, and I didn’t need to worry about the online process and making sure my network was sufficient for pushing loads of content across it.

"What’s more, because of fade in/fade out/crossfade, you can have multiple scenes of cues in just one layer, crossfaded all together, making it much more visually digestible. You can also now have control cue colors assigned per cue! This was great for notetaking on my timeline during tech for things I needed to fix after. 

"There were a few tools like advanced geometry correction and MIDI Show Control that hadn’t made their way into the release I used that would’ve been very welcome in the Big Fish show. But as someone who works closely with the developers of WATCHOUT 7, I’m really excited for the future of the software, especially based on the features that are expected to come soon. It’s a very welcome change and I think the entire WATCHOUT community has a lot to be excited about."

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