Vixen Lights the Way
100%. On the lower toolbar in the
sequence window, you’ll find icons for
the following editing functions:
■ FIGURE 7. Event
• Ramp On
• Ramp Off
• Partial Ramp On
• Partial Ramp Off
• Mirror Vertically
• Mirror Horizontally
In addition, there are icons for
three automated effects:
The best way to really
learn Vixen’s editing features
well is to select a group
of cells and press a tool button
— you’ll master editing
sequences inside an hour.
Here’s the thing, though: Basic
editing is simple, creating
beautiful sequences will take
time, so do put in some “play”
time before you move forward
with an actual lighting project.
Facing the Music
The editing and effects tools
operate on all selected cells. The edit
functions are probably obvious,
though I’ll note that Ramp On and
Ramp Off require no input; the Partial
Ramp On and Off functions allow you
to enter start and ending values for the
cells. And, of course, ramp features
are applied on a row-by-row basis.
As with the basic editing tools, the
Random effect is fairly obvious. Sparkle
creates an effect not unlike a Fouth-of-July sparkler where the selected rows
are lit brightly, then fade out over a
random time — it’s very nice. There are
Frequency (number of changes) and
Decay Time settings that let you tune
the effect for the selected cells. Long
decays look really nice. Shimmer
creates more of a candlelight effect,
and if you have multiple rows selected
they will behave in the same manner
based on the Frequency setting (there
is no Decay Time with Shimmer).
If you want to simulate a bunch
of candles with Shimmer, select each
row (output channel) individually
and give them a slightly different
One note about Shimmer: Make
sure that you move the Frequency
selection slider off the “zero” position;
I’ve found that leaving it at this
position occasionally causes Vixen to
hang on my PC.
While switching and
fading a bunch of lights is really cool, it
gets even better when those events are
synchronized with music, and Vixen
was designed with this in mind. On the
top sequence menu, you’ll find an icon
that looks like a musical note. When
you click this button, you’ll get the
Event Sequence Music dialog (Figure
7). Click on Assign a Song and navigate
to the WAV or MP3 file of your choice.
After selecting, Vixen will make a copy
of your audio in its Music folder.
Click OK to close the dialog — the
display window hasn’t changed. On
the middle toolbar, there is an icon
that looks like an audio waveform (the
Audio Visualizer). Click on this button
to display your audio on the timeline
above the channel events.
At this point, you may have a
sequence created and even added
audio, but are not able to play it. The
reason is that Vixen requires an output
driver to be installed for the sequence.
In the beginning as
you’re learning, the
best driver to use is
one that doesn’t
require any hardware to be connected to your PC. From
the middle sequence
Attached Plugins to get the Sequence
Plugin Mapping dialog (Figure 8).
On the left side of this dialog,
you’ll find a list of available plugins.
Vixen’s architecture allows you to
drop new plugins (DLLs) into the
Plugins folder, as required. K.C.
routinely adds new hardware drivers
and makes them available on Vixen’s
downloads page. Near the top of the
available plugins list, you’ll find one
called Adjustable preview. Click on it,
and then click the Use button to move
it to the right-side list. Now enter the
channels — 1 to 8 — for this plugin.
The plugin is selected, but not yet
set up. Click on the plugin name in the
right-side list and the Plugin Setup
button will be enabled. Go ahead and
click on it. What you’ll get is a blank
screen. The purpose of this plugin is to
allow you to “paint” outputs on a
canvas that will “light” when the
sequence is played. In the future, you
■ FIGURE 8.
December 2007 51