It’s been about three and a half years since we first released our free Director software. During that time we’ve kept the version number below 1.0, mostly because we weren’t completely satisfied with Director’s performance and feature set. We’re pleased to announce that Director has finally reached this milestone. Read on to learn about the features and improvements that finally pushed us over the edge to version 1.0.
Better Zooming, Scrolling, Longer Shows
Director’s animation grid, the part that renders the animation and displays it on screen, has been completely rewritten. This alone was a three month process. The previous grid was something we borrowed and repurposed to help get Director out the door. It served us well for a few years, but as the capabilities of our products increased we started hitting some limits.
The original grid didn’t allow us to zoom out past one frame per pixel. This meant the most animation we could fit on the screen at any one time was between 30 and 60 seconds. The Zoom All button on the new grid can scale the scene to any width. As shown in the image above, even a 36 minute scene can easily be viewed on one screen.
The original grid was also very inefficient when it came to memory and scrolling. Because of these limitations we originally capped the maximum scene length to eight minutes. Any longer and most computers couldn’t handle scrolling through the scene. The new grid can scroll quickly and smoothly both horizontally and vertically. It also uses up to 90% less memory than its predecessor.
The new Effects menu can handle a lot of the animating for you. This can save enormous amounts of time when it comes to animating speech and lighting effects. Each effect can be adjusted before it’s applied, with any changes being immediately displayed in the animation grid. If you have a Director Connect, the effects can be previewed and adjusted in real-life before they are applied.
Some of the effects we’ve added so far…
- Pulse Effect – Pulse an output in sync with audio.
- Sequence Effect – Create lighting chase sequences.
- Wave Generator – Create sine, square, and triangle waves.
- Lightning Effect – Create realistic lightning effects synced to audio.
- Speech Spotlight Effect – Automatically control character lighting when a character speaks.
- Speech Sync Effect – Sync a servo or output to an audio track.
- Eyes and Head Effect – Randomly move eye and head servos to bring a character to life – just like our PicoTalk!
We’re posting tutorials showing how to use the effects in our Effects Tutorials playlist on YouTube.
The start and end points of selections can now be adjusted. This is useful if you need to tweak a selection after it’s been made, or you want to select a large area when zoomed out, then zoom in to tweak it.
You can adjust a selection by hovering over the left or right border of the selection until you see the cursor change. Then click and drag to adjust the size.
Punch In allows you to switch from playing to recording and back again quickly. It’s useful if you want to punch-in during playback to make a small adjustment.
During playback, hold the R key and Director will immediately switch to record. Use the virtual console or buttons 1-8 to make your adjustments, then let go of R and Director will switch back to playing.
In large scenes it’s often easier to animate in smaller chunks of 10 or 20 seconds at a time, and perfect those chunks as you go, rather than trying to animate it all at once. Director now has IN and OUT points to ensure playback and recording will always start and end where you want.
Set these points by right-clicking in the timeline or selecting the area you want to record and right-clicking in the grid.
Even with In/Out points, it can be hard to start animating the moment you start recording. Your finger is still on the mouse or spacebar that started the record process, and it’s tricky to remember exactly at what point in the audio you might be when you start. Pre-Roll solves this.
When pre-roll is enabled and record is pressed, Director first moves the frame pointer back a few seconds and then starts playing. This allows you to get your fingers in position and get up to speed with the audio. Once the frame pointer passes your IN point Director immediately switches from playback to record.
Hide Outputs and Devices
Shows with a lot of DMX fixtures often require the user to scroll vertically over a long list to get to the fixtures they are working with at a particular time. Director now supports hiding outputs or even entire devices so only the outputs you are currently working on are in view.
When a device or output is hidden, Director shows an orange line in its place. Right-click on the output or device column and see the Show Hidden … menu where you can unhide them.
Copy/Paste Between Shows
Need to copy part or all of a scene from one show to another? No problem. Launch two copies of Director, open the two shows, then copy/paste the animation from one to the other. Previously Director could only copy/paste within the same show.