Projection Documentation Tool

Matthew Haber has yet again blessed us with another cool isadora/projection tool called the Projection Documentation Tool or ‘PDbase’ for use in your shows. It has a lot to offer – just read the key features below!

I have shamelessly (with permission!) taken this from his website as it explains it all perfectly well. Thanks Matthew!

PDbase-Production is the only publicly available database application for data and workflow management for live performance projection and video designers. PDbase keeps track of nearly 400 different pieces of information for a given project, supports complex multi-user access, and can generate and share over 30 different types of paperwork based on this information. PDbase is vastly more powerful than any other known database solution and is the result of nearly 18 months of development and testing. PDbase is uniquely just as suited for the record keeping needs of a single freelance designer working alone as it is for a large studio with numerous designers, editors, and other collaborators who all need data access. PDbase can also provide other departments on a production such as stage management and lighting with the information they need when they need it via a secure webpage, saving you and your team the time spent issuing daily paperwork updates. Ultimately PDbase is far too comprehensive to explain in a single page so I recommend you download the fully functional free version and try it out on a show after reading through the knowledge base.

Key Features:

Documents vital information for cues, still and moving content, media and font assets, editing workflows and software plugins, render queues and render nodes, production contact information, video shoots, work notes, and individual task lists for team members.

Generates a diverse range of paperwork and keeps track of changes made so you and your collaborators don’t have to.

Comprehensive access controls and versatile multi-user workflows insuring the biggest of teams have access to all of the information they need while maintaining data privacy and security.

Hundreds of separate procedures that invisibly validate your data to insure any errors are caught before they become a problem.

Handles the biggest of shows with support for hundreds of thousands of records.

Built in web interface allows anyone you authorize to access important information whenever they need it.

Powerful tools to help keep track of licensing and rights management for the media assets you use in your design.

Cues, content, etc are all closely interlinked just like they are in the real world.

All data can be imported from and exported to standard formats such as comma separated, tab separated, XML, Excel, etc.

PDbase streamlines communication between designers, assistants, editors, asset wranglers, researchers, and other production departments insuring that everyone knows what they need to know and does what they need to do.

PDbase can be run locally on a personal computer or hosted on a local or off-site server.

PDbase is being constantly updated with new and improved functionality.

PDbase-Production is built on FileMaker Pro 12. This permits massive flexibility in terms of easily adding new and custom functionality. This also takes advantage of FileMaker’s built in powerful and reliable Server functionality.

PDbase-Studio, a companion application for comprehensive record keeping at a business level (invoicing, CRM, time-tracking, etc) is under development and will integrate seamlessly with PDbase-Production once it is available.

PDbase-Rental, a companion application for rental shop and general equipment and resource tracking (asset scheduling, packing and shipping management, etc) is under development and will integrate seamlessly with PDbase-Production and PDbase-Studio once it is available.



Basic: Mapping a cube in Isadora tutorial [FREE DOWNLOAD]

I decided to put together a little demo of how I would map a basic cube in Isadora using standard Isadora actors. No IsadoraCore upgrade or third party installers required. This should work on Mac and PC also.

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.07.40

I have to stress this is very basic but for some it could be very interesting and extremely useful. I decided to zip the files and media so you can open it and follow it as you go along.

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.08.18

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.08.04

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.07.54

You need the latest version of Isadora. (I actually used the latest beta but this will be fine)


Don’t forget I always welcome a beer if you found this useful 😉

Any questions or comments then please add them below.

Cheers. Enjoy!


Projection Mapping in Isadora

This post is to help people understand and get started with Projection Mapping in Isadora. It is not an complete walk through or advanced post (you are best asking on the Isadora forum for advanced topics) but hopefully this will shed some light for new users, or those new to the idea of mapping.

What is mapping?

Mapping has been around for quite some time but my opinion is that it is the art of cutting up images and video to line up with complex shapes that are not the usual method for of display pictures and/or video. It allows artists to project onto buildings, cars, sculptures and custom built sets or similar. Basically anything that a light source (a projector) can hit!

Why Isadora?

Obviously you don’t have to use Isadora but one thing Isadora has that none of the other softwares has in the Interactive angle; motion tracking via Eyes and Eyes++ combined with the easy work flow and ever growing community.

Can Isadora do projection mapping already?

Isadora has had features that have allowed basic to fairly complex mapping for quite some time. It’s just the way in which you use them. Granted; it could be better but with a few 3rd part Quartz plugins 99% of things can be done easily.

Here are some basic actor that you should be taking a look at…

Isadora’s Existing Actors…. 


Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 10.36.30*SOMETIMES* the basic projector can be used. In particular look at the perspective, aspect mod and zoom.

HINT: Hold SHIFT when clicking and dragging values for smaller increments and fine tuning!


  • Great for projecting on very basic shapes.
  • Helps you understand and learn about perspective and basic 3D perception.
  • Ideal for beginners and not too complex.
  • You can layer up multiple projectors


  • Limited mapping functionality.
  • Won’t do complex mapping (isn’t designed for mapping)


Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 10.36.59

I use this one a lot. It’s really great for mapping and has enough features to explore new mapping skills but won’t overpower you with scary numbers or names.

HINT: Hold SHIFT when clicking and dragging values for smaller increments and fine tuning!


  • You can pick each corner of the image/video and move it in an X and Y position.
  • The Z translate (default -2.5) moves the image back and forth in 3D (3 dimensional) space.
  • You can rotate the X, Y and Z axis.
  • Has all the normal features of a the standard Projector actor.
  • Not too overpowering. A nice step up from the Projector actor.


  • You cant add corners or ‘break’ the image up into a grid.
  • It can be tricky at first. Using Shift helps but depending on what you are mapping it can be a bit tedious.
  • It can get complicated when you have a lot of these on your screen. You are best renaming the actor so you can see what’s what; such as “Top Right Window” or “DJ Booth – Left Side”.

Matthew Haber’s Mapping Tools.

Some of you knew this was coming! Pro user Mathew Haber has created a bunch of user actors that make mapping a lot easier. Based on the _1024 Quartz Composer

Matthew has created a topic just for support for the plugins on the Isadora Forum so please ask and discuss them HERE

The Cornerpin Mask user actor is in my eyes one of the best tools ever!

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 11.00.48

“This actors offers click-and-drag cornerpinning functionality for masking video. This has built in facilities for rectangular and oval masks and it also accepts a user Image input for any black and white image mask.”


  • It’s just amazing! it works and makes life easier.
  • The red circles that pop up when you turn Edit on allows you to click and drag the corner to where you want them. Not only this you can do it on the stage output… meaning you can map directly onto objects whilst looking at it. So yes, you literally move your mouse onto the output screen. NOTE: Check in isadora Stage preferences that your mouse is visible on stage output otherwise you won’t see it.
  • Because this is a Mask; you can mask objects. Send in a black and white mask and it will block out areas you don’t want.
  • Easily flick between the type of masks.
  • it’s free – kind of…. Needs Core upgrade of Isadora.


  • There are non really. Who can complain at this? Mathew has spent hours upon hours putting it together and creating it. If there was one negative it is simply that you need the Core Upgrade for Isadora and you have to instal a few bits and pieces; but once its done its done and you never need to do it again.

Syphon it out to somewhere else…

There are lots of other softwares that just do video mapping. And with apple you can send it out via Syphon to another software that can do it all with very advanced features. There is nothing wrong with doing this. Here are a few suggestions….

MadMapper. It’s been around for a while now and appears on all the main forums when you are talking about mapping. They where one of the first to create an external/stand alone mapping application and its developed along the way. It’s not free but it does a great job.

Visution Mapio is a powerful FreeFrameGL plugin for creating projection shows. Now you can work not only with the standard screen, but also with any inclines, including cylindrical and spherical and various shapes.

Shaped by Ixagon SHAPED is a user-friendly projection mapping software. It enables the user to easily map many different surfaces and attach content to them. The content is managed in a sophisticated sequencer similar to those found in video-editing and music-production software.

MeshWarpServer Quite a complex application. Ideal if you have a mesh/3D CAD designs of a building or object. A steep learning curve but it does have Syphon so you can send media in from isadora. Worth a look for those of you with time, patience and advanced 3D knowledge.

There are LOTS more; VVVV, Resolume Arena, Max, MSP, etc.

Hope this helps some of you.

Graham (Skulpture)

‘Reveal’ Report Part.1 [LUX – Helsinki]

Approximately a year ago a good friend of mine Dan Shorten (Anomic) rang me up with an offer I couldn’t refuse….

He needed a bit of a hand with some technical guidance for a project called Reveal which would be shown at LUX, Helsinki in January 2013. So after many trips to London over the last year we developed, tested and created an Isadora patch and I happy report that it all went well.

I have had quite a few people ask me how it worked, technical details and the hardware used. I decided before I went that I’d write a report when I got back so below is as much detail as I can give…


The concept was obviously driven by Dan as the artist. He had the ideas but the odd effect was influenced from me. Dan has some great ideas and nothing is too crazy! I love having a beer with Dan as I can often see him thinking of an idea and I just sit waiting for him to ask me of its possible, then between us we try and make it a reality. This was the case for Reveal.

The concept was started by finding out that Lux had given Dan a huge section of wall to project onto. This is no normal wall, it’s the side wall of a location callee the Baana which is a little tricky to describe, it’s like a mini valley running through the city which used to be a railway line. It had been converted to a walkway and cycle path last year for the locals to get quickly to and from the centre of town.

The image below shows this a little better.

The Banna by day.

We had limited knowledge as to how busy this area would be, obviously not living in Finland we didn’t know the area, the people or the conditions. We also didn’t know how active the people would be. Anyone who has worked with the public will know; people are unpredictable. Would people stop and interact and engage?

Another slight issue was the weather. Saying ‘it was cold’ just doesn’t cut it! It was so cold it hurt… But the local production crew and security firm assured us that it was a ‘good week’ and the week before had it dropped to -25 with the wind chill. This was as cold as the North Pole apparently. I will discuss problem and issues in more depth my next post.

The concept and focus of Reveal was to allow people to reveal parts of the wall and engage them in a variety of different ways. We wanted it to be somewhat random, bright and changing every 10/15 minutes. We didn’t want it to be a self contained and automated system either. We wanted it to be as interactive as possible but we could change the images/video whenever we wanted in response the the audience.

As Dan states on his website;

“…’Reveal’ is an interactive and participatory video installation in which the public can influence their surroundings by “revealing” the hidden possibilities in everyday spaces. Specially composed music and the sounds help create a fascinating new environment”

So we decided for 70% of the scenes in Isadora to use layers. When no one was in the space, or if no one was moving then we would project a near exact digital replica of the wall. It was just like a digital mask. Then the people moving, or the cyclists flying by made the reveal part by becoming active or human masks; moving the digital wall out of the way to see what is underneath. The human/live camera feeds worked as the mask, this raw video feed combined with short video delays, motion blurs and lots of other isadora configurations this made the reveal much more interesting. Image shows this below:

A screen shot of Reveal and the masking idea

Using the Eyes actor in Isadora (which I have a few tutorials on inside this blog!) we used simple but effective calculations, curvatures and scaling to ramp up music samples and background loops. So the louder the music became the more people moved and danced, etc.

This Baana is a new area for Helsinki and the people there where only just starting to use it. It was popular for cyclists though and we had to take that into consideration. As it was unlikely the people on bikes would stop and interact; yet we wanted them to be involved – even if they didn’t know it! So the reveal part of this worked really well because as cyclists went whizzing by the people watching got to see a really cool effect, this then spurred them on to get interactive with the space themselves.


We used an Apple Mac Pro Tower, which was amazingly specked out!

  • Mac Pro tower 2x 3.06GHz 6 core Intel Xeon
  • 64gig of RAM
  • 1 x TB 7200 drive
  • 3 x 512 SDD drives
  • Mountain Lion OS
  • DataPath x4 DVI graphics expansion module
  • 3 x Panasonic PT EX16KE XGA (1024 x 768) LCD projectors
  • DVI splitters to feed 3 x preview monitors
  • Lots of cables and power.
  • Coffee Machine!


Software was just Isadora running version 1.3.0f25. No additional tracking software or fancy quartz plug-ins. Isadora programming at its best!

Isadora had about 20-25 scenes all doing different things, some quite subtly different than others, some very unique. In some patches we used all three live feed cameras and in others just one (generally the middle camera). Again; this was just to mix things up. We had one crash and that was only because we where editing effects live and we messed something up. So its safe to stay isadora worked amazingly.


Dan took a hi-res photo of the wall during his first visit and stitched it together to give us something to work from in terms of scale and general planning. This helped a lot.

In London Dan started work on content for the piece. I seen a few edits whilst I was down there and they looked brilliant. All of the work was done in After Effects and Cinema 4D (which Dan is geting far to good at using!) My only input was general generation of ideas and introducing him to the 3D Element plug in from Andrew Kramer.

We had a few smaller projects on the go which helped us prepare and work out the video mapping side of things which was great. Dan also flew Isadora creator Mark Coniglio over to the UK to run a few ideas past him, ask about hardware set up and generally ask as much as we could whilst he was there. Mark always amazes me at how hard he works and he had some great ideas too.

All video and image files where 2600*600 quicktime running the ProRes codec.

We though we would have to use software edge blending but luckily the projectors had that feature built in so it was less work for the machine. And being a flat wall (well flat-ish) we didn’t require really advanced soft edge blending/warping.

A screen shot of the live CCTV cameras in InfraRed mode.

A screen shot of the live CCTV cameras in InfraRed mode.

Thank you to this person who filmed a bit…. (I have more videos on the way)

// So thats the end of part one…. I will post the next section in the next few days.