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This chapter explains the Notch Layer in detail. The introductory chapter gives an overview on all Pandoras Box devices and layers.
Notch is a real-time content creation tool that brings a combined work flow for creatives and technologists. Notch enables artists and designers to create high-end 3D graphics, live video effects and particles, interactive experiences, virtual production and a lot more in a true real-time environment. The deep and comprehensive integration to Pandoras Box gives you frame accurate playback and full parameter control with zero latency which allows you to edit content directly on stage and over-night renders belong to the past.
In the Notch Builder you first design your scene and then decide which parameters should be exposed in the so called Notch block that will be loaded in Pandoras Box. The exposed parameters can be everything from text, amount, color, to size or position etc. If you program items to the Notch timeline, they will be synchronized to the PB timeline when storing them as a container.
The Notch Layer in Pandoras Box can render and control Notch Layers that come with the Notch Block.
In order to work with Notch, Pandoras Box requires a Notch license. Indeed, all PB systems that should render Notch content need to be equipped with a license. As soon as the Pandoras Box Master finds a PB system with a license, it can import and analyze Notch Blocks. The Master needs its own license only, if it should render Notch content itself, either as a fullscreen output or in the Preview window.
Further, as Notch renderings can demand much GPU performance, we recommend to equip the PB system with the Notch license with an RTX graphics cards.
In Pandoras Box, first select the Notch block, the dfxdll file, in the Assets tab and drag it into the Project tab. The first loading process takes some time. Depending on your Notch composition this can be a few seconds or even minutes when using many textures etc. When finished loading, you can open the Notch entry in the Project tab and see its sub elements which are the layers in Notch. Now, simply drag one on a Site in the Device Tree to add a Notch Layer to it. In the depicted example, the sub entry "Transition" is added to the Site "Local" which in return shows a Notch Layer called "Transition". As explained above, this Site needs to be equipped with a Notch license to be able to render the content.
By the way, all content is spread by default. If a Client has no Notch license, it cannot render the content, hence it appears as inconsistent in the Assets tab (red exclamation mark). To avoid this, remove either some locations using the File location table or deactivate automatic spreading in the first place. Spread the content manually via the right-click menu in the Project tab, or use folders that spread to specific locations only (see Folder Inspector).
As an alternative workflow to add Notch Layers, you could also right-click a Site and choose the Notch Layer. This is shown in the following image. In this case however, the media parameter is not assigned automatically with the Notch content as in the first workflow. This means that you need to assign the Notch content from the Project tab to this layer manually.
The Notch Layer is rendered in the same rendering order as other layers. In the Device Tree, you can drag devices further down if they should overlay other layers (see "Site, Layer and Parameter Structure"). For more information about the rendering passes, see the chapter "Video Processing Pipeline".
Select the new Notch Layer and open the Device Control tab look at its parameters.
As mentioned above, you will notice that the media parameter might be already active. The following parameters, Media - Mesh - Opacity - ... - Scale - Blend Mode - are the same as the ones from a Video Layer. For more information about them, please see the chapter "Video Layer". By the way, you could also add effects to a Notch Layer, just as you would do with a Video Layer. The chapter "Working with Effects" explains all you need to know about this.
The last controls, those in the "Notch" group, are the parameters which were exposed in the Notch Builder. You can work with them as with any other PB parameter, that is change them to an active value or store them as key frames to the timeline. If you are new to Pandoras Box, the chapter "Sequence" describes how to do that.
Now, toggle back to the Sequence tab and execute the "Store Active" command. On the track from the Notch Layer you will see a new Container and keys for all parameters you changed so far. When you play it back, this could look like a 2D video or transition or like an entire 3D scene with camera animations and particles reacting on content. Of course you can blend other content and live feeds with the Notch content. Or, go a step further and combine both by assigning PB content to an exposed Notch Media parameter. The new Blend Modes or LUT shaders that come with PB version 8 are very helpful for that as well as the new Share Layer Option. The "What's New" chapter gives a good overview about these features.
Of course, you can also control the parameters of a Notch Layer using the SDK or Widget Designer, e.g. through interactive devices like the AirScan or sensors like Phidgets and more. This text in the Widget Designer chapter summarizes which commands or nodes are helpful when controlling a Notch Layer. Remote controlling a Notch parameter is very similar to controlling an additional effect, which means that you need to know the exact parameter name. The name is case-sensitive and all spaces count. For various reasons, Notch parameters are grouped and this hierarchy structure needs to be represented in the parameter name by using the pipe "|" character. The groups are shown in the Device Control tab but also in the Device Tree when unfolding entries. The Device Tree is helpful too, if a name is too long to be displayed in the Device Controls tab. The following list shows some parameters from the following picture.
Notch|Texture Billboard|Input Texture
Note that position values are displayed in Pandoras Box in pixels but the input via the SDK has a different range per default. The chapter Configuration tab > Unit Management explains more about this and the check box "Interpret Automation Param Input as Pixel Values".