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In this tutorial, we will take a video file and output it to a video screen. The real video screen connected to our computer has Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080), so ideally you’ll have the same setup. If that’s not the case, don’t worry. You’ll be able to follow along just fine.

1- Create a canvas and import a video file

The first step is to create a canvas. You right-click anywhere in the Visualizer and select Add canvas. You’ll see the canvas window pop up, which should be completely black as there is no content there yet. If you click on the canvas area you’ll see its properties on the right side of the screen.

Now we need to import the video file we want to play. You do this by clicking on the Import button in the Library tab at the top of the Properties section or by pressing Ctrl+D.

You select a .mov or .mp4 movie file. In our case, our movie file is named test_movie.mp4.

In the next step, we’ll create a layer and render the movie to the canvas we created earlier.

2 – Create a layer and render the movie

Now we will create a layer that will playback the movie file we imported in the previous step and render it to our canvas.

We do that by right-clicking somewhere in the Sequencer and selecting Add layer. Before we proceed let’s move the layer to the beginning of the sequence. You can do that by either dragging its left edge all the way to the beginning of the sequence or by selecting it and setting the Start to 0.

Now that we’ve done that, we can double click on the layer to open its Layer Layout. You’ll see an empty layout except for On layer begin, Run and On layer end nodes. Now you can right-click somewhere in the layout and type Render.

You’ll see that the right-click menu interactively shows only the nodes that have ‘render’ in them. Select Render to canvas node. Render to canvas node takes a Texture input and renders it to the selected canvas. In order to select the canvas we created in step one, we first have to select our Render to canvas node and in the right-hand side select the radio button with our canvas. Unless you changed the canvas’ name it will say ‘Canvas 1’.

Now right click in the empty area again, but this time type Video in the search box. Select Video reader node.

This is the node that reads from one of the imported video files and outputs a texture. Now we have to tell the node we want it to play the video file we imported in step one. You do that by selecting the node and on the right side select the radio button with your movie. In our case, it’s named test_movie.

Before we can proceed to the next step we have to connect our 3 nodes. First, we have to connect Lifeline to the Render to canvas node, so click and drag from the lime output pin on the Run node to the lime input pin on the Render to canvas node. Then, in a similar way, connect purple output pin on the Video reader node with the purple ‘Texture’ input pin on the Render to canvas node.

If you click the play button or press Spacebar you’ll see you should see your movie render on the canvas.

In the next step, we’ll bring this content to a video screen.

3 – map a video screen to a canvas

In this step, we’ll create a video screen and grab a part of the content on the canvas and display it on the video screen.

We can start by going back to the main window and right clicking somewhere in the Visualizer and select Add video screen. We select it by clicking on it and in the Source tab of its properties we select our canvas as the source of its content.

Next, we have to set which part of the canvas should display on our video screen. We do that by double-clicking on the canvas area so that its setup window opens.

On the left side of the window, you’ll see the video screen you created before. Right click on it and select Place on canvas.

It will appear in the top left corner of the canvas. You can adjust its position within the canvas or leave it as it is.

We only have one step left and that is to map the video screen to a physical video output.

4 – map the video screen to the output

In this step, we’ll output the content from the video screen to a physical video output on your graphics card.

We’ll start by opening Video output setup window by clicking on Window in the top menu and clicking Video output, or by pressing F6.

You’ll see a window similar to Canvas setup window from the previous step.

On the left side you see our video screen and on the right side, we don’t see anything yet. We right-click somewhere on the right side and select Add video output. You’ll probably see a new window pop up which asks you for the resolution of the video output. You can set it to whatever you want as it is not limited to the screen that’s connected to your graphics card. We’ll leave it at default FullHD and click OK.

Then we have to place the video screen content on our new video output, which we do by right-clicking on the video screen on the left and selecting Add to video output and the name of our output. You’ll see a rectangle appearing in the top left corner of our video output. You can move it around or leave it as it is.

We are almost done! The last thing that we need to do is tell Lightact which output on your graphics card you want the content from the video output you just created to go to. In other words, we have to bind it to a physical output. More about this in the next step:

5 – bind the video output to a physical one

In this step, we’ll learn how to bind a video output you created in the previous step (in the Video output window) to a physical output on your graphics card.

We do that by right-clicking on the video output (not on the video screen) and hover over Bind to. A submenu similar to this will appear.

On the top, you see the sizes of the 2 connected displays I have connected to my computer right now. In the parenthesis, you see the coordinates of each of them relative to the top left corner of my Primary display. The primary display is where Lightact main window resides, so I’ll choose the second entry with @1920,0 in the parenthesis. You should select the entry that doesn’t have @0,0 in the parenthesis.

That’s it! If you press Spacebar or click on the Play button you should see your movie playback on one of your displays.

Next Output to an Art-Net fixture