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This chapter describes step-by-step how to warp in Pandoras Box using the Mesh Editing Mode of the Preview. Please see the previous chapter General Warping Questions which explains in detail what you need to know about projector setup, aspect ratio, test pattern and of course the terms "FFD" and "Mesh". The chapter before, Mesh Editing Mode, shows how to switch the Preview to the warping mode and work with it and also how to create a Canvas.
The task in this tutorial is, to create a good overlap and softedge with two projectors that project on a wall. There are two scenarios regarding the hardware. First, a Master is connected to a Client with two outputs connected to the projectors. This is a regular Master-Client setup. Then, a standalone setup is explained which means that only one system is used which is started as a Master. Here, the outputs toggle between showing the interface or showing the fullscreen content.
But first, let's start with explaining the general warping workflow.
A good quality Mesh refers to a Mesh where the Mesh lines are uniformly distributed on the screen. For example, if the screen is 2m wide, and there are 20 horizontal Mesh segments, each segment should be 10cm wide. If this is not achieved sufficiently, and you project text that moves across the screen, it would scroll unevenly. Wherever there are smaller distances between Mesh lines, the text would be smaller too. Wherever there are larger Meshes, the text is enlarged.
If your content does not contain critical movements or visible geometrical forms, you can warp a little more rough. So before you start warping, or before you spend too much time within the last phase, check the content and decide how perfect the result really needs to be.
For some people it is quite hard to perceive equal distances. To fasten and ease the warping workflow, try to mark certain points on the screen as explained in the previous chapter under "Markers". If you mark for example every 40cm with tape, it will be much easier to arrange the Mesh equally.
For the same reason it can be worth the time to create special test pattern. This is definitely recommended when projecting on complex geometries and the content (that is used later on) refers to the geometry.
Keeping this in mind we can now start warping. The golden rule is always to warp as much as possible with the FFD, but not more than necessary. Or in other words: the FFD is for the coarse adjustment and the Mesh for fine-tuning.
Whilst moving the FFD points, match the Mesh outline (= content outline) as good as possible with your screen outline. At the same time keep an eye on the distance between the horizontal lines and between the vertical lines. As soon as you recognize that moving an FFD point helps within a small Mesh area but "destroys" an higher number of other Mesh areas it is better to finish with the FFD-phase. Decide for a final Mesh count and move on to moving Meshes. Here you will see that the better the FFD was adjusted, the less time needs to be spent for finishing.
When warping with overlapping Meshes, you are done with warping as soon as all Mesh lines overlay each other. This can be seen easily when both Meshes have a different color as the resulting color will be the sum, e.g. red+green=yellow. The closer the audience sees the projection, the more perfect the overlay needs to be.
In general it is possible to do a rough warp and start programming with it in the timeline. Later on, when there is enough time or when it is sure the projector or screen will not move, you can go back in the Editing Mode and finalize it.
This part of the tutorial explains how to warp with a Master that is connected to a Client. The Client's outputs are connected to two projectors projecting on a wall where tape marks our projection area. Of course, under real circumstances you would try to adjust the projector's position better to have a higher final resolution and projection quality but for practicing warping this is absolutely fine.
Step 1: After setting up the projectors and resolution (see Theory: Projector and Lens Setup), please start the Client and Master software (in the same version and Domain of course) and drag the Client into the project. From now one, we will only work with the Master's interface (in difference to warping with the Warper software that was needed before the Preview offered the Mesh Editing Mode).
Step 3: In this example, we will only use one Client with two outputs. The more Clients and outputs there are, the more it makes sense to rename them (with the shortcut [F2] or via the right-click menu). You can simply identify each Client and output quickly, especially when they have a unique name, for example "Server Stage proj" with the outputs "Left softedge", "Right softedge" or "Stage L" and "Stage R". In addition, the Canvas assets that will be generated in the next step, will carry the current Output name. As they are saved in the current project path, now is a good time to save the project.
1- create an Editable Mesh with the size of your output resolution and a 3x3 FFD grid, name it accordingly in the project folder "Warp Meshes" and save it in the project path.
2- assign the Editable Mesh to the according Output.
3- toggle the Preview to the Mesh Editing mode.
4- set the correct Editing Context and View which is then scaled out slightly in order to make the selection of FFD points easier.
If you click the "Edit Warp Mesh" button a second time, only step 3 and 4 are executed. If you like to do this manually, please refer to the chapter "Mesh Editing Mode".
As we warp on a flat wall, the default 3x3 FFD count is alright. In other cases please adopt the FFD grid to your needs before starting to warp. The paragraph "Setting up FFD Control Points and Mesh Segments" in the previous chapter explains how to do this.
Step 7: Finally, the softedge can be adjusted. You can either make use of the softedge tools from the projector or from Pandoras Box. This depends on the quality of available softedge functions or parameters and also on the workload. If time is short for programming the show, you rather outsource parts to available projector technicians. The default softedge parameters in Pandoras Box can be found in the Output device in the section "Softedge". Advanced parameters can be added with a Softedge effect, or Softedge P-Curve effect.
This paragraph explains the workflow when your Client is not connected to a remote Master but is started in stand-alone mode. In principle, the above explained information applies as well. So if something is not clear, please read the entire chapter.
As above, the example includes a Client with two outputs connected to two projectors that should be warped. At the end we will talk about the scenario where only one projector works as the content output that should be warped whilst the other output is connected to a screen displaying the interface permanently.
After setting up the projectors and their resolution (see Theory: Projector and Lens Setup), please start the Master mode of PB on your Client. From now one, we will only work with the Master's interface (in difference to warping with the Warper software that was needed before the Preview offered the Mesh Editing Mode). Please follow steps 2, the optional 2b and step 3 as described above to assign a test pattern image to a Layer and an Editable Mesh to the Output. If you like, you can already assign an Editable Mesh to each Output and color them in different colors. Open the Mesh folder in the Project tab and click on the sub mesh named "Surface" to see the Sub Mesh Inspector where you scroll down to the section "Editing Wireframe Color" and click in the color field. But of course, you can do this later too.
Step 4: In the stand-alone case, we have to adjust the Preview, which is also our fullscreen content output, in a special way.
From now on, all steps apply as described above. The following list is just a quick summary:
Lastly, this shows the case when you are working in a stand-alone setup where only one projector works as the content output that should be warped and the other output is connected to a screen displaying the interface permanently.
In fact, it is almost identical to the above case with two outputs to be warped. The only difference is, that you do not enable the option to maximize the Preview on all outputs that can be found in the Configuration tab > Local Preview. However, there you also find the drop-down list that let's you assign the output that should be used for the maximized Preview. Likewise, the section Configuration > Render Engine offers the settings to assign the full screen content output. First, enable the option "Full Screen is single" and then you can choose the desired output in the table row "Use for Full Screen".
The next chapter explains the Planar and Perspective UV Mapping Mode.