Software Documentation

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Effects OverviewDocumentation

Last updated: August 17, 2023

2 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

Type Notes Assigned firing system address or DMX channel; included in script Has adjustable duration Implies pulse duration Requires mortar rack Requires non-mortar rack Requires e-match; included in script report Has VDL-based icon Rotationally symmetric Safety distance is meaningful Included in sales orders
cake YES YES (cake rack; unless sleeved in which case single-shot rack) YES YES YES YES
candle YES YES (candle rack; unless sleeved, in which case mortar rack) YES YES YES YES YES
ground YES YES (cake rack; unless sleeved in which case single-shot rack) YES YES YES YES YES
other_effect Other pyro effects, like set pieces. YES YES YES but only if sleeved, in which case single-shot rack YES YES YES YES
sfx Cryo, confetti, stadium shots, and adjustable duration flame. YES YES YES YES YES
flame Fixed duration flame effects; change Type to sfx if you want to edit the Duration field in the script directly. YES YES YES YES
light YES (except NO if effect is on drone position) YES YES YES
rocket YES YES (candle rack) YES YES YES YES YES
single_shot If a pyro effect goes into a single shot rack, then its Type must be single_shot, not comet, mine, etc. YES YES (single-shot rack) YES YES YES YES YES
not_an_effect YES YES YES
rack YES
macro Causes the macro effect to expand into other effects when inserted into the show instead of being inserted into the show itself.

The next table gives explanations of what the differences mean.


Table 2 – Explanation of the differences

Dependency Description
Assigned firing system address or DMX channel The “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 adjustable duration Generally 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 adjustable 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 adjustable duration effects directly in the script rows, and different rows with the same effect can have different durations.

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

Implies pulse duration The 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 rack The 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 rack Different 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-match The 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 icon VDL-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.
Rotationally symmetric Items shot out of tubes, like shells, mines, and comets, are rotationally symmetric around their direction axis, the axis of the tube.  Rotating a shell within its tube doesn’t have much bearing on the appearance.  Effects like cakes and set pieces, however, are not rotationally symmetric around their direction axis, which is usually “up”.  Rotating a fan cake 90 degrees changes the fan from front-facing to side-facing.

An effect’s rotational symmetry affects the rotation required of a rack to hold the effect at its proper orientation.  Non-rotationally symmetric items like cakes in a cake or ground rack will require the rack’s heading to match the effect’s pan.  Non-rotationally symmetric items like slice cakes in a single-shot rack will require the rack’s heading to be orthogonal to the effect’s pan so the physical width dimension of the slice cake aligns with the rows of the rack (cakes can be forced into single-shot racks using sleeving or Rack Type part numbers).

Safety distance is meaningful Site layout diagrams that include safety circles based on effects’ safety distances will exclude effects for which the safety distance is not meaningful. Lights do not have meaningful safety distances but effects of type “sfx” do, because sfx effects may include variable duration flames.
Included in sales orders The menu item, “File > Finale Inventory > Update sales order from used quantities” will ignore effects like flame effects and light effects because they do not represent physical inventory items.