Saturday, June 29, 2013

some limitations of certain tools

While doing some renders, found the following:

1. Virtualdub (at least my version, 1.8.8) does not work well with 24 bit wav files  when a wav file needs to be added to the video. Needs to be converted to 16 bit to avoid extreme noise in the avi.

2. DMProjector (version 1.05) does not work with tga input files with alpha channel. So, while exporting the clip for use with DMProjector from After Effects, had to choose "Millions of colours" instead of "Millions of colours +" in the advanced settings.

3. For 1920x1080 input files, DMProjector takes around 3 seconds per frame.

Friday, June 28, 2013

note about restoring Android to Toshiba AC-100

V wanted to use the Toshiba AC-100 smartbook for projecting with its HDMI out. The Ubuntu 12.04 which I had loaded for him did not work with the Nvidia driver. Tried Lubuntu 12.10, with the proprietary driver. But system would hang when I used arandr to set output to HDMI only, no display on the projector. So tried restoring back to Android.

As noted earlier, used the technique and the files as given earlier, and went back to Andoid. At first, I tried restoring only partitions 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 12 - the first few, and the biggest ones. But when the AC100 booted up, it went back to Lubuntu. Then I saw that in my previous post I mentioned partition 6 is the boot partition. So I restored partition 6, and hey presto, Android booted up.

With Android also, the HDMI out was not displaying on the Optoma projector. Suspecting the cable and order of switching on of devices, got the working HDMI cable from upstairs, switched off and disconnected both devices, connected the cable, powered on the projector and booted Android. Then the display came on flawlessly. Hopefully Documents to go will serve V's projection needs.

Monday, June 24, 2013

review of DMProjector from pineappleware has a set of fulldome tools. Trial versions are available for download, unfortunately the contact email for pricing info and purchase elicited no reply. The trial versions are limited to 1K resolution. Passable for our dome, not optimal. The tools save Alpha channel, so stitching together multiple frames with different images on them easier.

DMPanorama has nice features like fill upward, for filling the "sky" part of the panorama automatically.

DMProjector exports a single image (or an image sequence) to a specific part of the dome. Perhaps I can try it for video sequences - doing this would be faster than rendering in blender.

Field of view in DMProjector can be specified either vertically or horizontally. Giving a  vertical field of view double the altitude makes the image just touch the horizon at the bottom, since the altitude is defined at the centre of the image. Anti-Aliasing with a sample level of 3 gave good results for me.

Choosing a panoramic image and a 120 degree field of view gave similar results from DMProjector as with DMPanorama, except without the "fill upward". But DMProjector doesn't seem to do panoramas bigger than that properly.

filing income tax return online in 2013

My previous posts on filing the Indian IT return online dealt with the gotchas for Assessment year 2012-13. For this Assessment year 2013-14, the technical issues regarding email attachments of last year are solved, but there was a new issue.

I had downloaded the excel utility from the IT efiling website and started the process of filling it in May. It had the feature of importing previous year's return, so I could avoid typing in lots of info. There was a small confusion regarding salary income, since at first we had been issued only part A of Form-16 - employer's TDS form and salary certificate. Once part B was issued, my queries were answered.

Then the excel utility was used to generate the xml file which we upload. But after uploading, got an error, complaining of wrong country code.

Tried generating the xml with another version of MS Office, still the same issue. Finally called their tollfree helpline, immediately got the answer, that an updated excel utility has been uploaded, I can download that and use it to generate the xml, since the country code for India had been changed from 11 to 91. OK, tried a shortcut of just editing the xml file to make that change, it worked. :)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

probable reason for live broadcast problems

Once or twice, while starting the live broadcast in a hurry, BUTT has shown no input. Restarting the system had been the solution. Today also I experienced the issue, but instead of restarting the machine, tried restarting BUTT and then reloading the JackPilot saved session - no go. Restarted Reaper and reloaded JackPilot saved session - that worked.

So I surmise that the problem is caused when BUTT starts to broadcast before Reaper has focus, when Reaper is in the background. At that time, the Reaper output to Jack is probably not available, and later when Reaper gets focus, it does not connect to Jack for some reason. So the solution is to restart Reaper and reload the Jack session.

Edit Dec 2013: One more possible reason: if Reaper is paused - audio does not come out even from live mics through the insert send! Either REC or STOP or PLAY is needed.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

updated Twitter widget

Our schedule page and on-demand audio page Twitter widgets stopped working a couple of days ago. Apparently Twitter API changed. Updated with their new widget. Unfortunately font size is a bit too big, and is not configurable.

Monday, June 17, 2013

frame blending for low frame-rate clips with avisynth

Finally got a solution for frame blending with avisynth. Using Convertfps after importing the clip at the required low framerate, when no "zone" parameter is added, frames are automatically blended.

Imagesource("Sequence_%05d.png", 00163, 00251, 5)
#This is at 5 fps

Sunday, June 09, 2013

distorting video using After Effects instead of Blender

Checking out if I can use After Effects to distort flat videos to be projected onto the dome (wihout buying the Fulldome plugin, of course :) - found this tutorial which does a bezier warp, which is probably what I need. Unfortunately this effect is not available in AE 4.2 which I have. AE 4.2 does have a "Basic 3D" effect, which can make the video trapezoidal.

I can make do with that for some videos at some locations, I suppose. Will explore using a "Cosmic Colors" frame as a reference.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

moving the Sun and Moon against the fixed stars in Stellarium

Wanted to mimic the "Annular motion" of the planetarium instrument, where the stars remain fixed, but the Sun and Moon move across the Zodiac along the ecliptic. Googled Stellarium move sun moon fixed stars and so on, finally hit upon the setDate("+1 days sidereal")
function, which moves the time ahead by one sidereal day, i.e. stars will be at the same spot. Keyboard shortcut Alt + + and Alt + -

Trying it out, found that my Stellarium version 0.10.2 is quite finicky. If a function call is wrong, the script just doesn't run. setDate is case sensitive, and can be in the format
as also "2008-03-24T13:21:01" as given in the documentation. But got it working, finally, copying the syntax from the working landscapes.ssc script.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

selecting a single constellation in Stellarium

Tried out the single constellation display option. My Stellarium version 0.10.2 behaves as follows when I choose the "Select single constellation only" option in Configuration/Tools :

When I select Sirius, Canis Major constellation lights up. If I then click on Betelgeuse, both Orion and Canis Major light up. Then if I select something which is not in any constellation, like the Moon, all the constellations light up. Next, if I click on Betelgeuse again, only Orion lights up. So, if I click on one star after another in successive constellations like in the zodiac, only those constellations will light up.