Everything Depends On Execution...
May 12, 2011 12:23 PM   Subscribe

I'm stage managing a show using video projections, and we're using VLC Media Player to screen the video clips. I'm looking for a particular kind of display mode people say SHOULD exist, but I can't find how to do it. Help.

What I'm doing is: there is a series of Quicktime movies we're showing during the play. I'm running all those movies on my laptop, via a projector hooked up to my laptop. Right now, though, the only way anyone seems to know how to run this is by having my laptop actually screen the videos the way we want to look at them, and the projector feeds off that (which means that anything on my laptop goes up on the screen). The problem is, that means I can't have any menu visible on-screen, with information like a countdown clock, command menus, or etc., because that would be visible on the screen too.

Unfortunately, no one around me seems to know how to use VLC (the video artists only recommended it because they'd heard it was good, but hadn't ever used it). Someone swore to me that there was a mode called "dual screen" mode, where I could send the images I'm projecting into the projector, but then could pull up the menu for the things I'm running on my laptop. This would be a tremendous help. However, he didn't know how to do that; all the Googling I've done for "VLC dual screen" only deals with people with two monitors, and they run VLC on one monitor and run a totally different program on the other. I'm looking for image-to-the-projector, control-panel-on-the-other.

Does anyone familiar with VLC know? Thanks.
posted by EmpressCallipygos to Computers & Internet (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you using a Mac? I don't know about Windows, but "Full Screen Mode" on the Mac generally affects only the active display (where your player is). If you just drag the menu to the other display (presumably your laptop screen; do this in Displays in System Prefs), you've got that, and just launch your other apps there.
posted by mkultra at 12:32 PM on May 12, 2011

Response by poster: Whoops, sorry I forgot to mention that -- I'm using a PC.

And I'm not sure what you mean by "dragging" the menu to "the other display" -- I've got my laptop screen, and I've got the projector. How do I "drag" a display to the projector?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:33 PM on May 12, 2011

Does this help?
posted by Gyan at 12:33 PM on May 12, 2011

Response by poster: Does this help?

It's saying it's forbidden and I don't have access to it, whatever it is. So alas, not much.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:34 PM on May 12, 2011

In case anyone comes in here wondering how to do this on the Mac, QLab is the key. It's an amazing show control program and has a free and paid version.
posted by advicepig at 12:37 PM on May 12, 2011

Dual Monitor for Show Control

Postby jskinner » Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:38 am
I volunteer for a local non-profit theater. We have a setup where we have a digital cinema projector connected to a PC. The digital projector is setup as a second monitor on the PC. We often use VLC to play videos but its problematic since the interface shows up on the digital projector. Is it possible to configure VLC so that the controls are on one monitor but the display is on the second? For example so that play, stop, etc are on monitor 1 but any output goes to monitor 2?

Postby Jean-Baptiste Kempf » Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:06 am
Deactivate embedding video in interface.

Postby VLC_help » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:07 pm

posted by Gyan at 12:37 PM on May 12, 2011

Response by poster: ARggg! Bless you for trying, gyan, but that "how can I separate playback controls" link (which sounds like EXACTLy what I'm looking for" goes to a "403" page itself.

This is the problem I've been having trying to google the answer -- all the pages that supposedly have the exact information I need are down.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:40 PM on May 12, 2011

Best answer: How can I separate playback controls from playback window?

Go to Tools -> Preferences (set Show Settings to All) and Video and untick Embedded video selection. Remember to press Save to save VLC settings and restart VLC after that to make sure changes are enabled.

posted by Gyan at 12:41 PM on May 12, 2011

Response by poster: How on earth are you able to access those links and I'm not??

Thanks -- I'll try that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:42 PM on May 12, 2011

all the pages that supposedly have the exact information I need are down.

I'm able to see all of those pages that are linked. Do you have some sort of filtering software that may be getting in your way. In short, this is possible. You need to set up your laptop and the projector so that the displays are not mirrored. Then you will have two displays, one that shows on your laptop and one that shows on the projector. It is tough to test this out without the projector set up, but once you connect it to the projector this will likely make more sense. I sometimes do this when I'm showing slides on one screen and want to refer to notes on another and I'm not using software that will gracefully do this on its own.
posted by jessamyn at 12:44 PM on May 12, 2011

Response by poster: Jessamyn, yeah, that's exactly what I want to be doing...

I've been largely researching this at work, and the work net-nanny stuff must be filtering it. I can't for the life of me figure out why.

I'll give this a shot tonight and report back. Thanks, all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:46 PM on May 12, 2011

Of course, if you have only one physical monitor, then you may still need some sort of virtual desktop s/w to relocate the video output window and then project it. All the unembedding video option does is undock the controls from the video output, but they still need to be on different displays, unless the projector can focus on a selected region of the screen.

Microsoft has 'Virtual Desktop Manager' for XP. No idea as regards to Vista or 7.
posted by Gyan at 12:50 PM on May 12, 2011

Response by poster: Of course, if you have only one physical monitor, then you may still need some sort of virtual desktop s/w to relocate the video output window and then project it.

Oh, crappity.

Well, I do have access to this command on my laptop -- would any of those particular settings be helpful, in terms of designating the projector as one screen and my laptop as another? Right now it seems to be defaulting to duplicating my desktop on the projector.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:59 PM on May 12, 2011

Response by poster: For the record, I can (and have been) just punting for most of the cues. There's really only one or two for which it would make my life slightly easier.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:00 PM on May 12, 2011

Actually you might not need virtual desktop software, unless windows is drastically different than mac. The projector itself counts as another physical monitor. As stated above, just make sure that you're not 'mirroring' -- which would mean the projector shows exactly what's on your desktop.
posted by tractorfeed at 1:02 PM on May 12, 2011

Oh, seems like 'mirroring' is called 'duplicating' in windows. What you want is "Extend Desktop to Projector" so that the projector just counts as extra room. Then you put the vlc window over there, on the projector, and you can do the control stuff on the monitor that you see.
posted by tractorfeed at 1:04 PM on May 12, 2011

Response by poster: Odinsdream: I have a Dell Inspiron.

Forgive me for not understanding clearly -- tractorfeed, you're saying to go with "extend desktop to projector." the problem is, I've been going to "fullscreen" mode for the video images. If I did "extend desktop to projector," wouldn't that just mean that I'd see half the video on my laptop and half on the screen, if i was in fullscreen mode in "extend desktop to projector" mode?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:11 PM on May 12, 2011

Everyone is over complicating this, IMHO.

One solution is as follows: ( perform these steps with the projector plugged in and powered on)

     a) Right-click anywhere on the Desktop and choose the 'Properties' menu item.
     b) Once the Desktop properties window pops up into view, click on the "settings' tab.
     c) Click on the screen marked with the numeral '2'.
     d)Ensure that the box on the lower third of the screen marked 'Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor.' is checked.
     e) Drag your VLC window off the right of the screen and fully onto the projector screen.
     f) Use the normal method to 'fullscreen' the VLC window.

posted by schade at 1:13 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

schade has this exactly right. Your search for "VLC dual screen" was fine - just pretend the projector is your other monitor.
posted by desjardins at 1:16 PM on May 12, 2011

Response by poster: Okay, that explains how to set up the double-screen. Now the real question is, will I be able to access the control panel on the OTHER screen?

We'll see. I'll try all this at the theater and keep you posted.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:16 PM on May 12, 2011

How to seperate the embedded controls from the VLC window was previously answered up-thread.

Here's hoping it all comes together for you.
posted by schade at 1:22 PM on May 12, 2011

Response by poster: Well -- I got the screen split successfully, and was able to separate the control bar from the screen Yay!

Now we just need to figure out why ONE particular clip out of the 42 keeps on trying to jump back onto my laptop, but that's a small challenge. I have actually asked to list "AskMetafilter.com" in the acknowledgements in the program.

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:17 PM on May 12, 2011

Response by poster: Alright, in case anyone's still looking, now we have a new problem...

So, I've set up a playlist of the video clips we want. I was successfully able to set up a dual-screen display, so I could have the videos on the projector and have the control panel on my laptop.

Except in one case. I have about 42 entries on the playlist, and there is ONE clip out of those 42 that is misbehaving. Even though I have set things up so that the video display comes out of the projector side, this one clip jumps back to my own laptop when it comes up on the playlist. If I then drag that one clip back to the projector, it pushes ALL of the other clips on the playlist back to my laptop.

The only clue I can provide: perhaps there is something about the characteristics of the file itself that is causing a problem. The people who gave me the files gave me all of the others on a flash drive, but they gave me THIS clip on a CD. I copied both to my computer and put them both in the same playlist. All the clips in question are Quicktime Movies.

Any thoughts? I have tried deleting and re-adding this rogue clip to the playlist, re-sizing and re-saving the clip in the playlist, and a few other things.

There unfortunately is no way to fade the projector to black and tweak things in the middle of the show. And this rogue clip is somethign the director wants as the audience is walking into the theater, so I would have to be scrambling to fix this at the very start of the show. As it is now, I could run the rogue clip, then when it stops the audience would see my desktop image, see me frantically dragging the VLC viewscreen into place, and then see the rest of the clips. Not good.

Any ideas?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:40 AM on May 13, 2011

Response by poster: Oh, and all of the other clips are behaving absolutely perfectly.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:40 AM on May 13, 2011

Does the offending clip have any feature different than the other clips (like resolution, codec..etc)? Although I don't know why that would matter here.
posted by Gyan at 8:52 AM on May 13, 2011

Response by poster: That's what I'm wondering, gyan, except I don't know enough about video files to know where to check. Although the people who made the file will be at the theater tonight (and I have internet access there, so I can come back here and check other suggestions). Any idea what kinds of things to check and how?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:59 AM on May 13, 2011

Something you might consider... The single file from the cd would have been copied across as read-only; those from the flash drive would have been read-write.

Windows has done stranger things over file attributes in my past knowledge.
posted by schade at 11:52 AM on May 13, 2011

Response by poster: Hmm. That's an interesting point, schade. I've checked with the video folks, and they say there is no difference in terms of resolution, etc. -- should we try having them put the offending clip on the flash drive to give to me again? Or can I copy it from my computer onto a flash drive, and then back on to my computer FROM the flash drive?

Our final dress rehearsal is tonight, so I've got five hours to resolve this!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:06 PM on May 13, 2011

Recently, I have been involved in a number of drama productions where we have used projectors to show stills (.jpg) and video during the production. I have used a similar setup to the one you describe; a laptop running Windows and projector. To enable the required images to only appear on the projector while seeing the desktop and control software on the laptop screen I used a piece of software called 'Screen Monkey' .

The software provides a control panel on the laptop screen where all of the resources are loaded into a grid of boxes, to project the required image it is just a matter of clicking on the box containing the clip and it appears on the projector. You can also set up boxes containing just a black colour to allow you to effectively turn off the projector if no image is required, or you need to transition via black between images.

I'm not affiliated to ScreenMonkey in any way - just a satisfied user who need to solve exactly the problem you describe.
posted by allthesepixels at 12:15 PM on May 13, 2011

Response by poster: Gyan emailed me inquiring how things went, and that reminded me I left y'all with a cliffhanger; sorry.

We still had no idea why that one clip was behaving differently than all the others. My own (uneducated) hunch was that it was just really, really flippin' big. But it ran in Windows Media Player. So: I set up the first cue on the VLC, paused it, then dragged it over to the projector and left it on "pause." Then I fired up the megacue in WMP, set that on "repeat," and dragged that over to the projector too, laying the WMP window over the VLC one. Then when I had to advance to the first VLC cue, I just closed WMP, which exposed VLC, and then I un-paused VLC. Then I ran the rest of the cues off VLC.

allthesepixels, had I seen your response earlier I may have tried it; but as it was, it was the day of the final dress rehearsal and there simply wasn't time to try downloading and setting things up in an entirely new program (with no one there to teach me what the commands were). VLC was a little buggy, but at least I understood the basics, so I stuck with it.

But the show is now closed, it worked, and life has gone on -- and I was able to put a shout-out to the green in the program. Thanks, all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:01 AM on May 17, 2011

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