Holy Perplexing Plasma, Batman!

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by Blue Velvet, Sep 25, 2004.

  1. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #1
    OK – at work, the management now want to put a 50 inch Pioneer plasma screen angled downwards 12 feet up on a wall at reception and have the Information and Publications team (i.e. me and another designer) put content up onto it (e.g. conference announcements plus other back-slapping promo stuff).

    I put an immediate stop to the idea as they were going to connect a VHS player to it...

    What we'd like do is:
    Get a new or refurbished Mac (tower or possibly a laptop, or possibly even an iMac G4/5) and run Flash-based animated content up there which we could transfer to the host Mac at first by disk/usb drive but eventually by wireless. The distance from the screen to the computer could be up to anything like 60-70 feet away...

    The native resolution of this screen is something like 1360 x 765 (or poss. higher), being a 16:9 screen.
    On the promo PDF it said it could accept XVGA as well as a number of other VGA flavours as well as a number of different video signals...
    It will run 1024 x 768 or higher at acceptable scan-rates but I would like a pixel-for-pixel signal to ensure there's no image distortion or other probs...

    My questions are:
    • What sort of cabling and video card would be suitable for doing something like this?
    • Is it best to send a video signal or a computer signal to this device, bearing in mind the distance from the Mac to the screen?
    • What sort of spec would the host Mac need?
    • What other technical issues might be involved in taking this on?

    (My predominant role is a print designer, so Flash training would be useful, I guess...)

    Any useful feedback/comments would be gratefully appreciated and acknowledged, and when it's all up and running, I'll put all of your names & avatars (briefly) up in lights! Mind you, that could be a few months away...

    I'll then post a pic on this thread so you can see the results of your combined wisdom!

    Cheers...

    Ms. Velvet ( ...that's Blue to you.)
    :)


    EDIT: See post 6 & further for latest developments...
     
  2. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

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    Dec 8, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle
    #2
    Are you going to have to use a s-video output, or can you use a DVI or something? I think you would have to to get that resolution. In that case you would either need a dual monitor supporting mac, or an imac with a special patch to allow dual monitors to it. Then again as long as you don't plan on editing the content on the mac while it is playing, the normal imac video duplication should work out for you.
     
  3. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

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    #3
    Oh, and I don't know if you can get DVI cable to be that long, but s-video should handle it.
     
  4. realityisterror macrumors 65816

    realityisterror

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2003
    Location:
    Snellville, GA
    #4
    well, i think having the screen and computer so far away is going to give you problems... most cabling standards have limits on length.. unless you want to go the RG6/Coax route (but you'd have to replace the graphics card to do something like that [no imac/emac/laptop])...

    if you could put the computer closer, DVI would be ideal, but that rules quite a few of your low-end macs w/o having to use the adapter, that is (and using the adapter isn't pure digital if i understand correctly)

    and you'll need probably a 1GHz or so G4 to run a flash presentation that high res especially if it has lots of animation... you could probably get by with 800 or so MHz...

    if i were you, i would try out a keynote presentation... that lets you use much older hardware... maybe a B&W or a Sawtooth or something... but you would want DVI-out...
    with the keynote, you could start it up every morning, and on a different computer make updates throughout the day. then at the end of the day you would stop the slide show, and replace it with the newer version, ready for the next day...

    just some ideas,
    reality

    edit: keynote requirements:
    G3, G4, G5 500MHz+ (G4 strongly recommended)
    128 MB RAM
    8MB RAM (32MB strongly recommended)
    Jaguar or later...

    (that's the longest post i've made in a while)
     
  5. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #5
    What's currently frustrating is that I don't have the specs/config here at home but will post them when I get back to the office next week.

    From what I can recall, the inputs on the Pioneer were pretty extensive but if necessary, they will purchase another model (within budgetary reason). The particular quote I saw included cabling of some description...

    The main decision to purchase a particular model will be based on what device drives it – pref. a Mac as outlined above and not some crummy VHS player as first planned...

    I'm just concerned about getting a properly-proportioned signal of any description to the damned thing without loss/noise etc. Range = 60-70 feet.

    If we go for S-video, can that handle 16:9?
    Can we get a Mac PCI video card that will put that kind of signal out?

    Can I sort this without going insane?
     
  6. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #6
    PC Video Card for 16:9 Any recommendations?

    This project is now reaching its implementation.

    The native resolution for the screen is in the 1st post.

    Anyone have any experience in using/specifying suitable video cards for PCs.

    Thanx
    BV
     
  7. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2003
    Location:
    PDX
    #7
    Perhaps a bit late for off-the-cuff suggestions, but is it possible to go the High-Quality Projector route instead of the Plasma screen?

    Off the top of my head, you might be able to do it cheaper via projector, and have a classy implementation. It may also allow you cabling options not permissible with the Plasma screen.

    I do not know the layout of your reception area, with regards to space or light-pollution etc, but I thought I'd mention it for sh*** and giggles.

    Alternately, the new MacMini is so small, if the screen is indeed angled downwards, you may be able to paste one of those suckers on the top-back of the screen (or wall-space/gap behind) and operate via bluetooth/wireless networking. Guess that seems the easiest...
     
  8. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    Jul 4, 2004
    #8
    No, it's a plasma. A projector isn't suitable at all...it's far too light (atrium-like) and it will be a PC that is driving it, hence my question 2 posts back.
     
  9. mslifkin macrumors regular

    mslifkin

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    May 14, 2004
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #9
    Hiya Blue,

    Why don't you put a Mac Mini up with the display? The Mac Mini has enough oomph to drive a 23" Cinema display, and it's small enough to perch nicely behind your Pioneer. You can upload content via wireless, so no long lengths of cable are needed. Add Bluetooth, and you can control the sucker from your desk. Anyway, just a thought ...

    Regards,
    Marc
     
  10. evil_santa macrumors 6502a

    evil_santa

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    Sep 23, 2003
    Location:
    London, England
    #10
    Where I work when we have done something like this we use a DVD & Plasma screen, I think we use the 42" panasonic. You could use Motion or AE to create the content & DVD studio / iDVD or Toast to make the disks. This way you can use Video Cables , RGB / S-video to get to the screen, you should be able to have quite a long run. all you would need is an £99 DVD player.
     
  11. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

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    Feb 18, 2003
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    PDX
    #11
    oops, sorry for not noticing, guess my coffee-to-reading comprehansion-ratio hadn't hit it's stride yet...

    Shame about having to use a PC, I thought my MacMini idea was good. You can cross-platform network I guess...

    Also, a perfectly functional but admittedly ghetto solution would be a screenless laptop mounted in place of the MiniMac. Cheap, and out of sight, still can be networked the same way (although perhaps more complicated).

    Sorry I can't help with the Video Card, I am not sure I understand the question. I don't believe that the card has much bearing on potential aspect-ratios. I believe it is merely up to signal compatability between the computer and screen resolutions. I do not think Macs natively support 1360x768, but PC's do. Just a guess, though.

    Good luck.
     
  12. edesignuk Moderator emeritus

    edesignuk

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    Mar 25, 2002
    Location:
    London, England
    #12
    Pretty much any video card should be fine. Windows should detect what the screen is capable of once it's hooked up to it. There are no cards that give a wide screen output, they just adapt to whatever they're connected to.

    We have a PC with onboard ****** video hooked up to a 42" plasma in our helpdesk to display call stats, no problems, and it's nothing fancy.
     
  13. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #13
    Thanks. Is that 42" screen displaying stuff in 16:9 resolution or is the display stretching the picture to fill the space.

    It's just that our AV suppliers recommend we get a card (can't say which) and other research indicates the need for a WXGA (?) capable-card which can drive this display at native resolution.

    Incidentally, they're probably going to Flash-created 'slides' up there...
     
  14. edesignuk Moderator emeritus

    edesignuk

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    Location:
    London, England
    #14
    Yup, it's running at 1280x768, the screens native res.
    As I say, any fairly modern card can push out at least 1600x1200, Windows *should* detect the ratio and resolutions the screen is able to display and set the available options in your display prefs accordingly.
     
  15. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    #15

    OK, cheers :)
     
  16. mslifkin macrumors regular

    mslifkin

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    May 14, 2004
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    New Jersey
    #16
    Hi,

    I'm sorry, I didn't realize you had mentioned the Mac Mini, which is why I suggested the same thing. I guess I should read more carefully prior to posting something.

    Regards,
    Marc
     
  17. sgarringer macrumors regular

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    Jul 15, 2004
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA
    #17
    You will most likely need to connect the screen to the monitor with DVI to get the native resolution.

    Once you have done this, any computer with a DVI compatable video card will drive the plasma screen without any issue.

    DVI is the only digital interface to drive the screen, using things like VGA will work, however it becomes much more difficult and also will detract from picture quliaty on a screen of that size.
     
  18. edesignuk Moderator emeritus

    edesignuk

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    Location:
    London, England
    #18
    Yes, VGA will work. I do it all the time. I connect both my Mac & my PC via a regular 5m long VGA cable to my Pioneer 43" plasma, they both detect the native res of 1280x768 and work perfectly.
     
  19. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

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    Aug 24, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    #19
    i ahve my 23" lcd tv connected via vga running at 1280x768 and it works great, my cable is 15m long, i have my cube in the other corner of the room
     
  20. FelixDerKater macrumors 68000

    FelixDerKater

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    Apr 12, 2002
    #20
    Why not just burn the presentations onto a DVD and hook a DVD player up to the screen?
     
  21. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    Jul 4, 2004
    #21
    Because we need to smoothly repurpose print content and get it onto that screen as quickly as possible. It also will need to be updated 4-6 times per month... all of this is an additional burden and a distraction to my usual workload.

    I'm predominantly a print designer that does a little Mac support and I have no interest in messing with video software, DVDs or any physical media at all.

    Flash is ideal and the cross-platform nature of it & the fact that all the PCs in the building are networked makes it the route to go... if I.T. do their bit, I should be able to set up the presentations without having to go downstairs to where the PC actually is... I'll do some Flash on the Mac, shift it over to my office PC etc. Fingers crossed...

    My main concern is getting an accurate 16:9 image up there that doesn't distort logos, typefaces & images. Animation is not my main concern... well, not to start with anyway...
     
  22. GFLPraxis macrumors 604

    GFLPraxis

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    #22

    I'd suggest a Mac Mini (some others in this thread already mentioned it).

    Think of it this way...

    You buy a $499 Mac Mini...throw in a $20 DVI-to-S-video/composite adapter Apple offers...throw in a $79 Airport Extreme card...

    Then you just stick the tiny little thing someplace inconspicuous. It connects to your desktop via wireless, and you install VNC and can control it remotely to add new content.

    Alternatively, forget Airport Extreme and put in Bluetooth and use the wireless keyboard/mouse.

    Voila. An under-$600 solution.
     
  23. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    Jul 4, 2004
    #23
    Well, it's finally happening.

    It's 7:45pm and I'm still in the office as two AV guys are running the cables and mounting the plasma on its brackets. Hope to be out of here within the next two hours.

    The cabling is running through ceiling panels into a small offic where sits a new PC with XP pro... waiting for the first presentation to run on it.
     
  24. emw macrumors G4

    emw

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    #24
    Well, only six months from project conception to project completion. Not bad, I suppose ;)

    Personally, I'm looking forward to the pics of you demonstrating the latest in presentation technology. :)
     
  25. Blue Velvet thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    Jul 4, 2004
    #25
    I'll pop down now & take some pics of the installation with the digital camera.

    Not much else to do...
     

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