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For my graduation project (a spatial documentary installation), I need to find a system to play 5 different video's simultaniously, all connected to a projector.

So I have 5 projectors and 5 seperate video's.

I already tried the program Multiscreener. In this case I connected every projector to a macbook and every macbook ran Multiscreener. One macbook is the master and regulates the other 4 macbooks.

However, I was very depended of the network, and the wifi was not strong enough.

Is there any other solution to this? Of course, my budget is not big.

Thanks in Advance! Julia Royal Academy of Arts graduate

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A Macbook pro would be about the most expensive device you could possibly use as a playback machine, but I'm guessing you didn't buy them for the installation…

There are several devices that are designed specifically for the purpose of video playback, for example these units by Brightsign. They're used in the museum where I work, and are popular for retail display. They can synch across networks.

An emerging competitor is the Intel Nuc, which his probably a bit cheaper than the brightsign. They're a bit more general-purpose than the brightsign, but they're becoming popular for exhibition displays and signage. The latest major installation that I did at work was a blended three-screen, seven audio channel video installation plays smoothly on a NUC with synched lighting effects. I'm not sure what the software is that runs it all, I just made the content.

Going even cheaper there's the Raspberry Pi, basically it's a small very cheap computer that has HD video playback capability. Whether there is software to do what you want it to I don't know. I know they are also used at my museum for interactive video displays, but I don't know if you can connect several to synch playback. VLC might be able to do it.

You'll probably find more options if you look for digital signage players. Like this one, about which I know nothing.

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Being you are in school; you may be able to call around to local AV companies; who handle large screen projection for corporate events. You may find a company willing to let you rent for a low price; or even borrow a Playback Pro system; in my area (big metro area) a lot of the big AV houses have a lot of these machines; and many days they are not in use...

The best tool for the job would be a machine running Playback Pro. Which runs on Mac Only (unfortunately); however; it will give you perfect sync with literally unlimited outputs (based on the system they have and how many outputs they have it built for).

Another way to do it; and believe it or not it works pretty well; is if you can find 5 IDENTICAL model Blu-Ray players, or DVD if you are projecting in SD; and you master your program material to either BD-R or DVD-R; so that each video has the exact amount of leader (so basically they sync if they were all genlocked with actual hardware); you can stack the players; load the discs and do the following:

  • Burn the discs with identical black leader (I recommend 5 seconds);
  • Load each disc in each player;
  • Press play. (Don't author with menus).
  • After all players are playing - press PAUSE using one (1) remote control pointed at all of the players (standing back a few feet so each player receives the IR signal).
  • After pressing pause - press the |<< back chapter button. (This will keep the player in pause mode; but queue it back to 0:00:00:00.
  • Press pause again (again from a few feet back using one remote); and all players will start.

Now if you have identical model DVD/Blu-Ray players; and I recommend decent ones; ones where you can disable the onscreen menus so the pause icon doesnt appear onscreen, etc, you can in fact achieve pretty accurate (I would guestimate +/- 2-3 frame accuracy); which; might be acceptable for you.

We used this method for a TEDx Presentation where we didn't have the budget to sync 14 players to 14 TVs on stage. So we purchased from BestBuy 14 Sony Blu-Ray Players ($100 each); and honestly; it worked perfectly. I personally couldn't see any sync issues at all from the house cam back stage.

Just make sure you give them black leader at the end as well (I'd recommend just adding 10 min of black at the end; so you don't have to stop the players/and the screens just go dark).

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Do what you're already doing but use a Ethernet switch so you don't have to rely on the wireless network or worry about interference. If you have very new Macs, you will need Ethernet adapters, which will drive the price up.

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