Using the Mapping Worksheet

Posted by Michael Stoffregen on 4/9/2018 to Sequencing Insights
Using the Mapping Worksheet
I have been where you are.  I have felt your pain.  And just recently.  You see, I have always done my own sequences.  As a result, I had never mapped someone else's sequence to my display.  I had some learnin' to do.  I started with reading what I could, and of course, there was the video from Sean Meighan.

One of the things that stood out in my mind is in Sean’s video, he undertakes a repetitive process to map the sequence.  You start with your original mapping, save the mapping file, see how it looks.  If you have more to map, you can create new groups, new “virtual” models or new sub-models to map to.  Then you save you changes, import the effects again, load your saved mapping file and repeat the process until you have things humming and blinking just the way you want it.

My hope in creating the Mapping Worksheet is that using it would forestall some of that repetition.  But using it, particularly for people new to mapping, might seem a bit foreign.  So I thought I would put this together to help anyone wanting to use the worksheet.

The Worksheet Columns. 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 sequence.

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” and expand the Mega Tree, Custom Mini Trees, Snowflakes, Pinwheels, Candy Canes, Arches, House Borders, Greenery, Roof, Floods and Sign groups so you can see the individual elements there.

The groups listed above the Mega Tree are my aesthetic groupings.  The groups listed below are my logical groupings.  I do not sequence to individual models in the aesthetic groupings, so there is no need to expand those beyond the multiple layers that may exist.  I do sequence to individual models in the logical groupings, so they need to be expanded.

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 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.

If you will take a look at my Blog article “Getting Your Group On” you can see the elements that make up each of my aesthetic groupings (think everything above the Mega Tree).  If you don’t have a group that is used in the sequence, look at my aesthetic grouping and make one of your own that is an analog.  After you have created the new grouping, you can then map the effect from the downloaded sequence to your sequence.  Easy, right?

Another thing you can do is create a sub-model in your existing elements and then map to that 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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