BY JON WILLIAMS
■ FIGURE 2. Install or Upgrade.
scroll down the list to verify that
the framework is installed. Figure
1 shows that I do, in fact, have
the correct framework on my
PC. If you don’t, you can get the
installer from Microsoft, and K.C.
Oaks (Vixen’s creator) has made
our lives easy by providing a link
to the .NET framework installer on his
Once the .NET framework is
installed, you can download Vixen; as
of this writing, the current version is
1.1.11. The program comes as a ZIP
file that contains a custom install tool,
the data files for the installer, and text
file with release notes. Unzip these
files into a temporary folder (you can’t
run the installer from within the ZIP),
open the folder where you placed
the files, and then double-click on
As I previously stated, this is a
custom installer. The first dialog you’ll
see (Figure 2) will ask if this is a new
install, or an upgrade from version 1.0.
I’m assuming that this is a new install,
so you will click on New. The installer
wants to place the operational files
in a folder just below the current
location — but this is probably not
where you want them. Even if this isn’t
a traditional installer (like the commercial programs we’re all used to), we
can still locate the program files
appropriately. On the Location dialog
(Figure 3), you’ll want to click on the
Change This button. You’ll be presented with a Windows folder browser.
I suggest that you locate the
C:\Program Files folder, click on it,
and then click on the Make New
Folder button at the bottom of the
dialog. Enter Vixen as the folder name
and click OK. The Vixen location
dialog should now show C:\Program
Files\Vixen. Click the Start button to
install the program (Figure 4).
What you’ll find on looking into
the Vixen folder is that the program
and several other folders have been
installed. What you won’t find, howev-
er, is a shortcut on your desktop in your Start menu. Open
the Vixen folder in Windows Explorer,
find Vixen.exe, then right-click and
drag the icon onto your desktop.
When you release the mouse button, a
context menu will allow you to create
a shortcut. Now you’re ready to go.
■ FIGURE 3. Install Location.
In a word, Vixen is a sequencer,
primarily intended for lighting control,
and when a sequence is active the program will periodically update the lamp
control outputs with brightness levels
(expressed in percent, 0 to 100). And
as lights and music go so well together,
we can import a song into a sequence
and synchronize the lighting outputs to
it — Vixen will play the music and drive
the lights simultaneously. How cool is
that for a free program?
Learning by doing is far more
effective than learning by reading, so
let’s fire up Vixen and create a little test
program to get a grip on how things
work. Double-click on the shortcut you
created earlier to start Vixen. Don’t be
surprised by the less-than-audacious
startup; you’ll get nothing but a blank
screen. No worries, just click on the
Sequence menu, select New
Event Sequence, and then
select Standard Sequence.
You’ll be presented with a
wizard to create a sequence.
Click on the Next button.
The first page of the wizard
lets you set the event timing for
the sequence. This value sets
the minimum on-time for the
output channels. The default value is
100 (milliseconds) — let’s just leave
that where it is for the time being. Click
on the Next button again.
The second page of the wizard
allows you to set the number of
channels for this sequence; the default
value is 16. Change that value to eight
and then click Next. The third panel
will allow you to rename the channels
you just created. Skip past this panel
by clicking Next again; I’m going to
show you an easier way to edit the
Wizard panel number four will
allow you to import music into the
sequence; again, I’ll show you how to
do this later, so just click on Next. Now
you can enter the sequence length.
Since you’re just at the learning stage,
enter something short, say 0: 30 ( 30
seconds). The final panel allows you to
set up hardware plugins. You don’t
need to do this right now, so click on
Create It and you’ll be presented with
a dialog to name the sequence. Enter
something like Training Sequence in
the text field and then click OK. Vixen
will create an empty sequence and
■ FIGURE 4. Start Install.
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