Video for "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"

Photo courtesy Philip Lamb
Penfield "YOHP" theatre group Edwin Drood preview video

WindWorks Design was pleased to provide lighting design, audio design, and video playback tech for the Penfield Young, Open, and Honest Players theater group.

While lighting and audio were relatively standard technology, we did have some small technical hurdles to overcome for the video playback. Video animation for the rear projection set came from Philip Lamb. His video animation is really great and added a lot to the show. As normally provided, the video comes for MAC operating systems as an Apple Keynote file (Apple's version of PowerPoint). But since we were not running MAC computers, we needed a Windows solution. Converting to PowerPoint doesn't work. The solution was to use VLC Player by VideoLan. This is an open source audio/video playback program that handles a wide range of video codecs, as well as providing creation and playback of Playlists. The video animation designer worked closely with us throughout, and provided us with .MOV files (Quicktime video to most people) that we used in a VLC Playlist. But like most playlists, this will play one movie after another. But in a theatrical setting, we needed to pause after each video was done, keeping the last video frame projected on the screen. VLC Player has a pause key but knowing exactly when to pause to get the last frame is impossible. We needed pause commands so it would function more like Keynote or PowerPoint. Fortunately, the VLC Playlist file is written in XML, and we learned about a Pause command. This had to be inserted by hand into the XML file using a simple notepad editor, but understanding the track ID and id list at the bottom of the file took some puttering.

For more information on "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" and how to rent the videos, please visit the site of Philip Lamb.
For more information on inserting PAUSE tracks in VLC Playlist files, please see our whitepaper on How to Insert VLC Video Pause Tracks.

Notes on how to run Philip Lamb’s “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” movie files on a PC/Windows machine

  • a) Download and install VLC Player from videolan.

  • b) Make a directory named Drood Production Movies in the root of your C:\ drive. This must be named just as shown, including the spaces.

  • c) Copy the movie files provided by Philip Lamb into this folder. Also copy the file Drood Playlist 009.xspf into this same folder. This is now your master playback folder.

  • d) Drag the Drood Production Movies folder in the root of your C: drive If you don’t know how to do this, click on My Computer, then double click on the C: drive. Drag the Drood Production Movies folder onto this C: folder. Special note: The files will ONLY run from the root of your C: drive. If you are an advanced user and want to run this folder from the desktop, the playlist file location entries need to be updated with the full windows path, for each and every movie and pause command in the playlist. Use a tool like Notepad++ or similar to make this edit. This is a simple XML file but it requires a full windows pathname, and each entry must include the VLC id number in sequence.

  • e) Double click to open the Drood Production Movies folder. Locate the file named: Drood Playlist 009.xspf and VLC player will load and the first movie will run and then pause. This first movie is for House Open when the audience arrives. Special note about the lightning sequences: The movie named 19- is repeated ten times in the playlist so you don’t need to backup to replay each lightening sequence. Just follow Philip Lamb’s script notes and the playback will line up perfectly.

Operational notes about VLC Player

  • The “n” key moves to the NEXT movie or next pause in sequence.
  • The “p” key goes back to the PREVIOUS movie or pause in sequence.
  • F11 puts VLC Player into Full Screen Mode
  • Ctrl-H toggles the control panels on/off.
  • To remove VLC showing the commands and filename over top of the movie, in the VLC menus go to Tools-Preferences and choose OSD/Subtitles and uncheck the two boxes at the top.
  • The Tools-Preferences page also allows you to change the hot keys such as “n” and “p” if you are using a remote clicker, etc.