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Software Documentation


Last updated: September 27, 2019

3 Why is ‘Type’ so important? What depends on it?

Every effect or other kind of part in the effects table has a Type, chosen from a list of twelve predefined options. Other fields, like Category, Rack Type, and Subtype, allow the user to make up the categories or other possibilities for his own purposes, but not Type. Type is different, because the software functions look at the Type value to determine how to handle the part.

For example, the function that adds all the necessary racks to the show needs to know what effects require mortars — shells do, cakes do not. By looking at the Type field, the function can know to add mortars for the shells, but not for the cakes.

There are other things that depend on Type also. They are all described in the following table that lists the twelve pre-defined Type values and what they mean. You will notice that the types are entirely lowercase, with underscores instead of spaces, and they are in English. Those typographical conventions are a clue that the Type values are never translated to other languages. No matter what language you are using, the Type values will always be cake, candle, shell, and nine others.


Table 1 – Differences between the twelve pre-defined Types

TypeNotesAssigned firing system address or DMX channelHas variable durationImplies pulse durationRequires mortar rackRequires non-mortar rackRequires e-matchHas VDL-based icon
cakeYESYES (cake rack)YESYES
candleYESYES (candle rack)YESYES
groundYESYES (cake rack)YESYES
other_effectOther pyro effects.YESYESYESYES
sfxCryo, confetti, stadium shots, and variable duration flame.YESYESYESYES
flameFixed duration flame effects; change Type to sfx if you want to edit the Duration field in the script directly.YESYESYES
single_shotIf a pyro effect goes into a single shot rack, then its Type must be single_shot, not comet, mine, etc.YESYES (single-shot rack)YESYES

The next table gives explanations of what the differences mean.


Table 2 – Explanation of the differences

Assigned firing system address or DMX channelThe “Addressing > Address show” function and other addressing functions assign firing system addresses (including module addresses for DMX-based effects) if this value is YES, and do not if this value is NO. Any effect that has a representation in the exported firing system scripts requires a firing system address, so if the value is NO, the item will not appear in the exported scripts. Items with the value NO may be useful for comments or triggers of non-firing system related actions.
Has variable durationGenerally the Duration field in script rows comes from the Per-show effects list by reference — the Part Number in the row matches the Part Number of an effect in the Per-show effects, and the Duration defined by that effect applies to script row. If you change the Duration of the effect in the Per-show effects, that will automatically change the duration of all rows in the script that refer to that effect.

There are two exceptions: chain rows, and rows referring to effects whose Type implies the effect has variable duration. In these cases, when the effect is inserted into the script, the effect’s Duration is copied by value into the script, and no reference or link is maintained to the original duration. You can edit the Duration of variable duration effects directly in the script rows, and different rows with the same effect can have different durations.

The downside of variable duration effects is that if you change the effect’s Duration in the Per-show effects, you probably expect it to change in the show, but it doesn’t, because for these effects the Durations in the script are decoupled from their original definitions.

The upside of variable duration effects is that for some applications you may want to be able to control duration on a row-by-row basis, and variable duration lets you do that.

Implies pulse durationThe pulse duration refers to the period of time the firing system pin is electrified for the effect. For most pyro effects, the pulse duration is just long enough to ignite the e-match, and doesn’t vary from effect to effect. But for flames and some other kinds of special effects, the pulse duration of the firing system is the duration of the effect. Depending on the firing system, the rows in the exported firing system script may contain a pulse duration value equal to the effect’s Duration only for effects that imply pulse duration. Exported scripts for the 100Hz Cobra systems, for example, have a blank pulse duration field for pyro and a pulse duration equal to the effect’s Duration only for effects that imply pulse duration.
Requires mortar rackThe rack layout functions of Finale 3D add racks for the types of effects that need them. If the Type field of the effect is shell, mine, or comet, then the effect requires a mortar rack. Other types of effects, like cake and single_shot, require different structures of racks (non-mortar racks). Some types of effects, like not_an_effect, do not require a rack at all.
Requires non-mortar rackDifferent Types of effects require different rack structures. If the Type field of the effect is cake, candle, ground, or single_shot, then the effect requires a special structure of rack for that Type of effect. The rack structure is specified in the rack’s VDL field, and is mortar rack by default if the VDL field is blank. You can view or edit a rack’s structure in the “Create rack” or “Edit rack” dialog.
Requires e-matchThe summary dialog presented after addressing the show displays the number of required e-matches. Items that do not require e-matches do not contribute to the e-match count.
Has VDL-based iconVDL-based icons are simulations generated from the VDL field and other fields like Duration and Size, but only for the Types that make sense. Parts of Type rack have a special-purpose icon based on the Size. Parts of Type not_an_effect have a generic icon.