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Thread: Using PCs as a central haunt control system.

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  1. Default  
    #21
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    6
    Nevermind what I said, it can be done much cheaper than 2k.

    For under $600, on an existing computer (something decent but nothing fancy) with a free pci slot, you can have 8 individual, and completely independant audio tracks running to 8 different areas of a haunt. Can easily be upgraded to 16 for another $250... This doesn't include your cabling and speakers etc.. It includes the cpu interface, 8ch outboard output rack, and bundled software more than powerful enough to run a haunt.. You'd really only scratch the surface of it's features with a haunt, but might have fun with some of the automation aspects...

    Yes indeed it's more expensive than running cd players or mp3 players on constant loops... But you're adding the ability to create a customized experience for every person/group that walks through. Right now, when someone walks into a room/scene, you're controlling the timing of everything from the lighting to the fog to the actors etc.. everything BUT the audio. With audio on constant loops they're walking in at any given point in the recording. It's not as effective as it could be. Imagine if the dramatic violin riffs in a horror movie were just playing on a constant loop in the room the bodies were found in... Instead of the very moment they were found and the camera zooms in on the gore.

    With a simply automated system, from the time they enter (because they're let in on an audio cue your host knows to listen for but they don't) the entire audio experience is following them. They have their own soundtrack, the music can get suspenseful when it should be, or include creepy whispers in the left channel to misguide while an actor gears up to scare them from the right...

    Also easy to add $3 sensors for triggerring sounds via midi.. both for scares and cueing actors as to exactly where their prey is located.
    Anyway, I don't own a haunt, and may not for another 10 years who knows.. So I understand everything is easier said than done, and I may be missing some real world working knowledge of the inner workings... But the technology is there, and it isnt rocket science.

    Being a recording engineer & studio owner, I get excited about bringing my 2 loves (Halloween and sound) together... =)
     

  2. Default  
    #22
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    242
    [QUOTE=Also easy to add $3 sensors for triggerring sounds via midi.. =)[/QUOTE]

    What exactly are you planning on using for this? I have never had much success at triggering midi (CuBase/Delta 1010t/410/ and Delusional Prop Interface).
     

  3. Default  
    #23
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    70
    hm, when I started this discussion I was looking for a way forward, in developing an integrated control system, however, it looks like if you want 8 channel sound players then I've already achieved what you want with Exorcist. as that already facilitates triggered sounds through a multi channel system.... my original Excel control system also facilitated this functionality.

    8 channel sound cards are nothing new, they are in fact 7.1 sound cards, these contain 8 pre amps that you can address individually, and yes you can install multiple sound cards on a PC.
     

  4. Default  
    #24
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    6
    Quote Originally Posted by Karl Fields View Post
    What exactly are you planning on using for this? I have never had much success at triggering midi (CuBase/Delta 1010t/410/ and Delusional Prop Interface).
    From Radio Shack you can get piezo transducers very cheap (prob. under $3).
    Open the casing and strip down to the actual pickup which is a thin copper disc with 2 wires. Connect them to the tip & sleeve of a quarter inch jack and you've created a velocity sensitive trigger. Next you need a trigger to midi convertor. I failed to include this in my 1st post because the triggers were a side thought to the system... But the convertor can be built (www.edrum.info), or bought for about $149. So even if you buy it, you can have 10 audio triggers in the haunt for like $180. Not bad imho. I bet it can be done cheaper too if you watch ebay for a cheap alesis d4 drum module since that'll convert the audio pulse to midi too... AND it'll give you a slew of sounds many of which may be useful "startle" sounds in a haunt like crashes etc...
     

  5. Default  
    #25
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    New Hartford, CT
    Posts
    177
    departed_studios, For all of these separate audio cues you are talking about, you would have to have each in it's own session on the software, right? To me it sounds like the computer is going to have to have a bit of power to be working with 16 channels like this. Interesting concept though, I never thought of using Pro Tools in this fashion.

    The triggers are an incredibly unique idea, for someone who would previously own most of this equipment this would be a great method to save money and convert things, but from scratch it's a little much.

    departed, if you don't start a haunt you should work with one, you have something to bring to the table. Seems like you also are passionate about what audio brings to a haunt when you really can control it.
    - - Luke - -

     

  6. Default  
    #26
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    6
    "For all of these separate audio cues you are talking about, you would have to have each in it's own session on the software, right? "

    No, each would just need it's own track. Each year a new session or project file would be setup based on any changes in storyboard etc...

    And it wouldn't take much cpu power. The main drag, and cause of latency in audio software is plug ins, which are really not needed at all in this scenario. You're just running multi-track audio, with each track being assigned to a different 'zone' within the haunt... You'd use an optical output (adat light pipe protocol) to run 8 or 16 (or 24, 32 whatever...) tracks at a time to an outboard multiple output interface... On the high end you could start with the motu828 & go up & up... But in my opinion, it's throwing money away considering this is a haunt, not a voiceover studio in need of impeccable s/n ratios... So I'd throw a behringer on the back end and run feeds to the different zones.

    Regarding the timing,,, You could either have each track/zone on a constant loop and leave it to the host to let people in based on an audio cue, (the multitrack/zone method)...

    or you could use it a bit more efficiently by using the piezo triggers the start the audio based on a person's location within the haunt. This scenario offers more bang with the ability to personalize the experience with more focus... I'd prefer to use a soft-sampler for this method and set it up for 'one-shot' so multiple people within the group wouldn't be re-triggering the sound... or put each trigger well ahead (6-8 ft) of it's actual 'sound-zone' and use a slow attack on the audio so any multiple triggers would be inaudible and the audio would be ramped up when the enter the zone the trigger is assigned to..

    Maybe I'm over thinking it though. It's certainly not the type of upgrade any customer would walk out and say "wow great timing with the audio!"... But I think it could lend itself to the effectiveness of many scares, and implemented right, could add a few.

    "The triggers are an incredibly unique idea, for someone who would previously own most of this equipment this would be a great method to save money and convert things, but from scratch it's a little much. " That surprises me/ Are you sure?? even the big haunts? Regarding money, yes, the entire setup could add up and up if you were to completely automate the attraction... But you could definitely add a few triggers reasonably if you have an old computer and some speakers... and a couple afternoons to make them... Anyway, thanks- yeah, I do hope to own a haunt someday. I'm an entrepreneur and I'm confident I could make it work financially if I educate myself enough, and learn as much as I can from all you year round halloweenies in here.... =)

    But it'll be awhile, until then I'm a die hard yard haunter and I day dream big. Check out my new cd: www.departedstudios.com
    Last edited by departed_studios; 05-13-2008 at 01:14 AM. Reason: spelling!
     

  7. Default  
    #27
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    70
    I'm still not clear about whats new here, as there already is an out of the box product that does exactly this, ie play sounds over an 8 channel sound system, and your choice of input switches encompasses mat switches, PIR's, through beams etc.
     

  8. Default  
    #28
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    6
    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenix View Post
    I'm still not clear about whats new here, as there already is an out of the box product that does exactly this, ie play sounds over an 8 channel sound system, and your choice of input switches encompasses mat switches, PIR's, through beams etc.
    phoenix, after looking into it a little further, you're right! I didn't realize exorcist did so much for just $299! I also just watched your tutorial of the software you created for it and it looks pretty powerful.

    With all due respect though, I think sulltronix is doing themselves a disservice in the way excorcist is introduced on the site. Rather than talking about all it does, the 1st eight lines of information on their exorcist page are dedicated to talking about everything vsa lacks. It's a wierd way to introduce such a powerful product that stands on it's own even without a skulltronix skull. My 1st question would be, does the excorcist require the vsa software to do all of this, and my 2nd would be, is the vsa software only available with a skulltronix skull? The website kinda reads like that, but maybe I'm wrong.

    Of course the skull is their flagship product, but wow, for $299 exorcist appears to do alot for $299.... And kudos on that software!
     

  9. Default  
    #29
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    70
    Thanks, maybe you make some good points there, and I am getting the impression that we really are not marketing our software products correctly.

    VSA... We ship VSA as part of the skull package, however VSA can be bought separately, we don't make money as a VSA reseller, so buying it separately from Brookshires often works out better.

    There is a new version of Exorcist in development that will not 'NEED' a copy of VSA, however, it will only play to VSA supported DMX devices.... this version is aimed more at the central control system theme as it can play multiple routines down the same DMX network at the same time, ie you can have multiple sets/props all sitting on a single DMX network, all having their own separate triggers all controlled by a single computer.


    The problem we have and indeed the reason I started this discussion is that there are a lot of negative comments made about using computers, and people appear to prefer the distributed controls system paradigm ..... and the comments about wanting centralized sound processing sound like an interesting direction to take Exorcist, and suggests a more sound/video orientated program based on the Exorcist Platform may indeed be something that gets more interest.
     

  10. Default  
    #30
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    New Hartford, CT
    Posts
    177
    departed_studios, I sent you a couple PM's
    - - Luke - -

     

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