The Explo X2 Wave Flamer unit is a flame projector with a single nozzle that can rotate and fire flame bursts or continuous wave under programmable control. The unit can be controlled by the Explo ignition system, or by any of the DMX-capable firing systems, such as Piroshow, Pyromac, PyroSure, and FireTek.
Figure 1 – Explo X2 Wave Flamer
If the flame unit is controlled by the Explo ignition system, the “SHW” script file contains flame triggers in the same format as the pyro ignition triggers, and intermixed with the pyro ignition triggers. In the SHW file representation (details here), each trigger row represents the flame unit as a module number, and the triggered flame effect as the pin number. The pin number is a number from 1-66, representing 66 pre-defined flame effect “macros.” Some of the effect macros are simple flame shots at specific angles for specific durations. Other effect macros are animations that involve multiple shots or continuous flame sweeps across an angle range. Since the SHW file doesn’t contain angle or duration fields that get passed to the controller, the pre-defined effect macros are the only capabilities available when controlled by the Explo ignition system. Designing a flame show for the Explo ignition system involves adding triggers of flame effect macros at various times and at various positions. In Finale 3D, that means simply choosing the effect macros you want to insert in the effects palette or effects window, and clicking on their icons to insert them into the show.
If the flame unit is controlled by DMX , it has more controllable capabilities. In addition to the 66 pre-defined flame effect macros, you can trigger flame shots and sweeps at arbitrary angles and for arbitrary durations. You insert the controllable flame shots in Finale 3D the same way you insert the flame effect macros (by clicking on an effect icon to add it to the show), but after inserting controllable flame effects, you can angle the effects interactively by dragging their trajectories in the 3D view or by doing scripting commands like “Fan” to make interesting patterns of angles. Finale 3D will incorporate your adjusted angles in the exported DMX script. DMX scripts are more complex than SHW scripts, because they contain multiple DMX channel values for controlling different characteristics of a single effect (angle, on/off, speed, etc.), and they need to issue the channel value events in the DMX signal at the proper times, taking into consideration the preparation time (“drive time“) for the nozzle to rotate to the desired angle before a flame shot is triggered. Finale 3D takes into account all of the DMX constraints when it exports a DMX script for any of the DMX-capable firing systems. So designing a flame show for DMX simply involves adding triggers of flame effect macros or adjustable flame effects at various times and at various positions, and optionally angling the effects interactively or changing their durations.
For further information about the Explo X2 Wave Flamer units, see the Explo website (www.explo.at/en/zundanlagen.html) and the User Manual.
Instructions for designing in Finale 3D
To design a show for Explo X2 Wave Flamer units, please follow these steps:
- Set up. (A) Follow the flame set up instructions in the Flame systems basic instructions and Exporting a firing system script for flame systems. Additionally, if you are controlling your flame units with DMX, then (B) after deciding what DMX channel ranges you want each flame unit to use, then in the real world configure each physical unit’s “Start Address” (which you can think of as “Start Channel Address”) to be exactly the first channel in the DMX channel range, and in Finale 3D configure the “DMX Channel Base” of the flame unit’s position to be the Start Address minus one (don’t forget to subtract one!); and (C) add a separate safety channel position for each DMX channel range, because the DMX safety channel for Explo X2 Wave Flamer units cannot be configured as a global DMX channel, and configure the safety channel positions to have the same DMX Channel Base as their corresponding flame position.
- Browse flame effects. (A) In the effects palette, select the Generic Effects collection at the bottom of the palette, and select the “other” filter icon at the top (the icon looks #?!*). Type “explo” in the search box. That will filter the effect palette to show only the Explo effects, of which there are about 70, beginning with part number GFX9001. You can page through to look at them, and you can probably recognize their part numbers correspond to the Explo macro numbers. You might prefer setting “File > User settings > Show part numbers in effects palette” so the effect palette icons show the part numbers underneath by default. (B) In addition to the effect macros, there are a few generic “Explo DMX X2 Wave Flamer Shot” effects beginning with part number GFX9070. These are the adjustable angle effects in a few pre-made durations, for use with DMX systems. If you are using DMX, then you will also need the “Explo X2 Wave Flamer DMX Safety Channel” effect (GFX9099). The “Explo X2 Wave Flamer DMX Safety Channel” has the correct channel offset its DMX Patch corresponding to the safety channel in the flame unit’s DMX personality, and the correct DMX value in its DMX Patch to arm the flame unit. The DMX value is different from the generic safety channel effect (GFX9900), which does not work with the Explo X2 Wave Flamer.
- Insert flame effects. Click on the Explo flame effect icons in the effects palette (or equivalently in the effects window) to insert them into the show. If you are using DMX and you insert “Explo DMX X2 Wave Flamer Shot” effects, you can drag the tops of their trajectories in the 3D view to set their angle, and you can select groups of them and do functions like “Fan” to create interesting patterns. Of course, you can select groups of any of the Explo effects and do functions like “Sequence” to make interesting timing patterns; the timing patterns look particularly good with the effect macros.
- Make your own, or modify existing flame effects (DMX only). The “Explo DMX X2 Wave Flamer Shot” comes in a few example durations in the Generic Effects collection, but you can also create your own variations that have durations up to 25 seconds (1/100th second resolution). (A) First copy the original effect by selecting the effect row in Generic Effects, then right-click copy (or control-C). (B) Then paste into your My Effects or any of your other effects collections. (C) After copying it to your own inventory, you can modify its parameters. Simply edit the duration field to change its duration. The 3D simulation and the DMX Patch will automatically incorporate your change. It is also possible to make your own custom effects by editing the VDL field and the DMX Patch field, but making custom simulations and DMX Patch programs is not easy (see below for details).
- Add safety channel effects (DMX only). Following the instructions Exporting a firing system script for flame systems add “Explo X2 Wave Flamer DMX Safety Channel” effects to your safety channel positions, and adjust their durations to cover the spans of time for which you want to arm the flame unit. The effect already has the correct channel offset in its DMX Patch corresponding to the safety channel in the flame unit’s DMX personality, so as long as your safety channel position is configured with the same DMX Channel Base as the flame position it corresponds to, then the safety channel effects will have the correct channel numbers.
Technical details for Explo ignition systems
The Explo ignition systems use scripts in the SHW format (details here). Each row in the script represents the flame unit as a module number, and the triggered flame effect as the pin number. The pin number is a number from 1-66, representing 66 pre-defined flame effect “macros.” The mechanics of exporting an SHW script based on the pre-defined Generic Effects or effects you make yourself make use of the “Custom Part Field” property in the effect definition. The effects in Finale 3D representing the 66 Explo effect macros (part numbers GFX9001 through GFX9066) contain the corresponding Explo macro number (1-66) in the Custom Part Field of the effect definition (i.e., the part). When you address the show for the Explo ignition system from Finale 3D (“Addressing > Address show…”), the addressing function uses the normal pin and module number assignment algorithm for those effects at positions with “Module Type” of a pyro module such as “Explo 20K”, but does something special if the Module Type is “Explo Flame Unit”: it copies the Custom Part Field from the effect definition into the pin number field. Thus when you export the SHW file for the Explo ignition system, the pin number fields for the pyro shots correspond to actual pyro ignition pins; whereas the pin number fields for the flame shots correspond to the chosen effect macro number.
The visual simulations for the explo effect macros are defined in the VDL field, like all other effect visual simulations. Most of the complex macros use the VDL cake syntax to define the shot angles and timing, such as,
4 Shot Cake (a) .3 DUR Flame + (b) R15 .3 DUR Flame + (c) R30 .3 DUR Flame + (d) R45 .3 DUR Flame 1 Row (abcd)
The visual simulations do also take into account the duration and height fields of the effect definitions, in addition to the VDL.
Technical details for DMX systems
DMX scripts for the Explo X2 Wave Flamer are substantially more complex than SHW file scripts because the shots are not represented by simple triggers. There are multiple DMX channels of information involved, and some timing considerations. Luckily for the users, Finale 3D handles all the issues in the export process, insulating the user from the complexity. However, if you want to verify the exported DMX scripts by hand or create your own effect definitions, you need to understand what is going on.
Let’s start with the visual simulations. All the visual simulations are defined by the VDL, augmented by the duration and height from of the effect definition. The effect macros have angles incorporated into the VDL itself, and the user is not expected to rotate the trajectories of effect macros in the 3D view. When effect macros are exported to the DMX script, they ignore any angle adjustments the user may have made to the trajectory. The exported effect macros also ignore the duration field, because the macros have intrinsic durations. By contrast, the “Explo DMX X2 Wave Flamer Shot” does incorporate the trajectory angle and duration field into the exported DMX channel values. Thus if the user rotates the trajectory of one of these effects, or creates a derivative effect with a different duration, the user’s changes do make it into the DMX script.
How does all this happen? How does the effect inserted into the show get compiled into a DMX script that takes into account the macro number, trajectory angle, and/or duration? For each effect, the DMX export process is defined by the “DMX Patch” field of the effect. This field contains a little program that specifies what DMX events need to be inserted into the DMX script to achieve the desired effect. The DMX Patch program can take the Custom Part Field, and the trajectory angle and effect duration as inputs, as well as, obviously, the time of the shot and the position’s DMX Base Channel. To understand the mechanics, let’s look at the Explo X2 Wave Flamer’s specifications for DMX and then examine an actual DMX script.
The Explo X2 Wave Flamer unit can be configured with a “Start Address” from 1 to 507. The flame unit listens to the six DMX channels beginning from the Start Address, i.e., Start Address + 0, Start Address + 1, …, Start Address + 5. The six DMX channels are,
- Angle (Start Address + 0)
- Speed (Start Address + 1)
- Ignition (Start Address + 2)
- Open time (Start Address + 3)
- Program (Start Address + 4)
- Safety channel (Start Address + 5)
To trigger a macro effect, the following sequence of DMX events must occur:
- Set the angle (UP, value = 128), speed (FULL SPEED, value = 255), ignition (OFF, value = 0), open time (IGNORED, value = 0), program (value = PROGRAM NUMBER * 255/100).
- Wait for the nozzle to rotate to the desired angle (the “Setup Time“).
- Set the ignition (ON, value = 255).
- Wait the specified duration of the effect.
- Set the ignition (OFF, value = 0) and restore resting state of other channels.
The DMX script formats are firing system dependent, so it is impossible to speak about a DMX script without also mentioning the firing system for which it is defined. To look at a specific example, consider this FireTek DMX script representing a single flame shot of macro #1 (which has a duration of 110ms) at time 5 seconds:
Module Address Or DMX Universe,Slat Address,Pin Address Or DMX Channel,Ignition Time,Sequence,DMX Value,Mask 1,1,101,4660,0,128,0 1,1,102,4660,0,255,0 1,1,103,4660,0,0,0 1,1,104,4660,0,0,0 1,1,105,4660,0,5,0 1,1,103,5000,0,255,0 1,1,101,5110,0,128,0 1,1,102,5110,0,0,0 1,1,103,5110,0,0,0 1,1,104,5110,0,0,0 1,1,105,5110,0,0,0
Figure 2 – FireTek DMX script for flame macro #1 at 5 seconds
The first thing to notice in this script is that the event times (column 4, in milliseconds) begin before 5 seconds. The first five lines of the script set the five channels needed to set up the flame unit for playing the macro. In the worst case, the flame unit may require 340ms to move the nozzle to the starting position, so the setup lines are added to the script at 5 seconds minus 340ms = 4660ms. The next thing to notice in the script is line 6, at 5 seconds exactly, sets the ignition channel ON (255). After that, notice that five remaining lines restore the DMX channel values to their resting state after the duration of the effect (110ms). These three time points, 4660, 5000, and 5110, correspond to steps 1, 3, and 5 in the procedure above.
Next, let’s consider an adjustable angle flame shot that is not a pre-defined macro, which therefore may take into account the trajectory angle and effect duration. To trigger an adjustable angle flame shot like “Explo DMX X2 Wave Flamer Shot Short” at 45 degrees right, for 0.41 seconds, the following steps must occur:
- Set the angle (45 degrees, value = 182), speed (FULL SPEED, value = 255), ignition (OFF, value = 0), open time (410ms, value = 41), program (value = 0).
- Wait for the nozzle to rotate to the desired angle (the “Setup Time”).
- Set the ignition (ON, value = 255).
- Wait the specified duration of the effect.
- Leave the angle as it is (45 degrees, value = 182), and set the ignition (OFF, value = 0), and restore resting state of other channels.
The FireTek DMX script representing this flame shot at time 15 seconds is:
Module Address Or DMX Universe,Slat Address,Pin Address Or DMX Channel,Ignition Time,Sequence,DMX Value,Mask 1,1,101,14660,0,182,0 1,1,102,14660,0,255,0 1,1,103,14660,0,0,0 1,1,104,14660,0,41,0 1,1,105,14660,0,0,0 1,1,103,15000,0,255,0 1,1,101,15410,0,182,0 1,1,102,15410,0,0,0 1,1,103,15410,0,0,0 1,1,104,15410,0,0,0 1,1,105,15410,0,0,0
Figure 3 – FireTek DMX script for adjustable angle effect at 15 seconds
Knowing now what the DMX script output looks like for these two examples, and how that output controls the flame unit, we can return to the question of, “How does the effect inserted into the show get compiled into a DMX script?” The effect part definitions include a field called DMX Patch, which you can unhide in the effects window to examine. The DMX Patch for the effect macro #1 (GFX9001) looks like this:
[simpleThreePartPatch 340 1 128 128 128 2 255 255 0 3 0 255 0 4 0 0 0 5 :customPartFieldExploX2 :customPartFieldExploX2 0]
The first term in this list is the command name; all the remaining terms are parameters. This particular command name, simpleThreePartPatch, takes as parameters,
- Max setup time in milliseconds
- First channel number, offset from DMX Channel Base
- Value for channel at beginning of setup time
- Value for channel at start of effect
- Value for channel at end of effect
- Second channel number, offset from DMX Channel Base
- Value for channel at beginning of setup time
The parameters near the end of the list, :customPartFieldExploX2, are variables that mean the value of the effect’s Custom Part Field, scaled to the range 2-255 using the formula, 2 + Custom Part Field * 255.0 / 100, rounded to the nearest integer. The calculation assumes the Custom Part Field itself is an integer greater than or equal to 1; if it is not, the calculated value will be 0. If you walk through the parameter list, you can see how it corresponds to the DMX script in Figure 2.
The DMX Patch for the adjustable angle effect (GFX9070) looks like this:
[simpleThreePartPatch 340 1 :tilt210 :tilt210 :tilt210 2 255 255 0 3 0 255 0 4 :duration10 :duration10 0 5 0 0 0]
The command and parameter list syntax is the same as the last example, but some of the parameters are different, The :tilt210 parameter is a variable holding the trajectory angle in the 210 degree range (the range of motion of the Explo X2 Wave Flamer’s nozzle), calculated using the formula, 127.5 + rightTiltingAngleFromUpInDegrees * 127.5/105, rounded to the nearest integer with a rounding bias to even values (thus up is 128). The :duration10 parameter is the effect duration in 10ms units, i.e., the maximum value of 255 means 2.55 seconds. Like the last example, if you walk through the parameter list, you can see how it corresponds to the DMX script in Figure 3.
These two examples illustrate the basic mechanics of exporting DMX scripts. You can find additional details of the DMX script file formats in the firing system file format documentation pages, such as Piroshow script file format. More detailed specifications for the Explo X2 Wave Flamer’s device characteristics and DMX capabilities are available in this downloadable pdf: Bedienungsanleitung X2 Wave Flamer ENv1.4.pdf.
The DMX script file formats for firing systems have substantial differences in syntax, and the firing systems also have various timing constraints, different assumptions about whether the resting state of DMX channels is zero, and differences as to whether it takes two rows in the DMX script to represent an event with a duration (i.e., on/off) or just one (that includes a duration). The firing system export functions of Finale 3D compile the DMX Patch programs adapting for each firing system’s particular characteristics.
The two DMX script examples above are incorporated into a simple script with four flame effects. The first effect is macro #1, exactly as in Figure 2, above. That is followed by three adjustable angle effects at 10 seconds, 15 seconds, and 15.5 seconds. The proximity of the last two effect shows how the different firing system DMX script file formats handle timing considerations — since the duration of the effect is 410ms, there is not enough setup time before the event at 15.5 seconds without overlapping the duration of the previous effect. If you study the example files in Table 1 you can see how the events are represented in the different DMX file formats.
Figure 4 – DMX example script
Table 1 – Example files
|explo_x2_wave_flamer_example_piroshow.txt||Piroshow DMX script|
|explo_x2_wave_flamer_example_firetek.csv||FireTek DMX script|
|explo_x2_wave_flamer_example_pyrosure.wyh||PyroSure DMX script|
|explo_x2_wave_flamer_example_pyromac.txt||Pyromac DMX script|
|explo_dmx_example.fin||Show file to generate the DMX scripts|