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Submitted by , posted on 10 April 2002



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This is from my latest visuals software - KataFX 3

The full picture can be seen here:
http://www.katascope.com/KataFX3_800x600.jpg

The Winamp visualization plugin is here:
http://www.katascope.com/KataFX3/Install_KataFX3.exe

KataFX 3 is a 3d editing and display environment for projection visuals (for concerts/shows) using OpenGL. It uses a scrim based gui for interaction.

Notable features:
  • Skinned, resizable scrim gui and windowed/fullscreen
  • OpenGL rendering
  • Three levels of user expertise.
  • Visuals autopilot/ai.
  • Milkshape model support.
  • Can be run as Winamp visualization plugin.
  • Unique licensing.
  • GUI: Visuals software for shows have one important difference from traditional software/games - Multiple viewers. For shows, this means no one but the user should see the interface.

    The only solutions(AFAIK) are:
  • No visual interface at all - Just keyboard and mouse, this just doesn't cut it for creating complex scenes.
  • Dual monitors - Nice, but fewer people can use it, and a lessened sense of immersion.
  • A Scrim interface - It can be clipped by the projector and not displayed. This is what KataFX 3 does.
  • The scrim interface has one important rule: the interface should not, for any reason, drop below its rectangle, or be visible to the audience. i.e. no drop down menus, no popup dialogs.

    The KataFX 3 scrim has four parts:
  • Play - The mode it starts in, will work without any human interaction. (easiest)
  • Groove - The mixer mode, allows tweaking of the autopilot. (medium)
  • Edit - The editor, allows the user to create background or foreground worlds. (hardest)
  • System - Configuration & file/skin loading & saving.
  • Graphics: The interface & display are both rendered in OpenGL. By sacrificing some rendering power to the interface, I gained some nice freebies - The interface looks good up close (and impresses the promoter, which is wise). Another nice benefit is resolution independence. Since it is rendered with OpenGL, it can run at virtually any resolution and still look right. OpenGL handles resampling, so the gui resizes without pixelation -something traditional windows can't do!

    AutoPilot/AI: Shows/raves can easily last 10 hours, an autopilot keeps the user from getting exhausted too easily. KataFX 3 uses an implicit autopilot - Emotion based, with a large database of scenes. The autopilot knows the difference between background & foreground worlds. The background scenes are autofaded in/out. The foreground scenes connect end to end, creating a continous journey. Either can be enabled/disabled in the Groove scrim.

    Legal Issues: The license/eula states the software is free for personal use, but cannot be publicly displayed(i.e. used to make money). This is because I provide projections for shows, and it would be unfair for the competition to use my work. It's the best balance I could find between providing something to everyone without shooting myself.

    Software used:
  • Visual C++ 6.0 - For development
  • CVS/WinCVS - For source control/bug finding.
  • Doxygen - To keep the source from collapsing under it's own complexity.
  • NSIS - Used to create install executable.
  • Paint Shop Pro - Image editing.
  • StyleSkin - A universal skinning tool, used to create the skin.
  • ImageMap - Used to map regions in the skin to functions used in the program.
  • I hope this provides some useful info to someone. Scrim interfaces solve a niche problem, but it's the best solution I've found so far. Sorry, no source available, but the plugin is very customizable.

    Thank you
    Katascope Visuals - www.katascope.com



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