Chapter 1. Introduction

MagicHD is a DMX controlled media server and provides two modes for media playback. MagicHD Full mode (referred to as MagicHD), is a fully featured 8 layer media server, and has a DMX Personality which uses one DMX universe for control. MagicHD Quick mode is a slimline version of MagicHD which provides a single layer of media playback with inbuilt transitions between two media files with a single 7 channel DMX personality.

1.1. MagicHD Full mode

MagicHD Full mode can display up to 8 media layers (depending on product), one text layer and a final output layer for overall control of the output.

MagicHD runs on Windows, Mac and Linux, and can exist as a stand-alone player, or be launched from MagicQ PC. It can be installed on dedicated hardware, either supplied by the user, or purchased from ChamSys[1].

Each media layer layer can display one media file (movie, picture or audio) and optionally apply a mask. Layers are stacked from 1 (the bottom) to 8 (the top). Subject to masking and blending, higher layers will hide lower layers. The output layer can also apply a mask, with the intention that this is used for shuttering, edge blending and similar projector control effects. You can of course use the masks for anything you wish.

The text layer can display static or moving text. The text is displayed in a window whose colour, position and orientation can be controlled. Content is supplied as raw text files.

Both the media and output layers can apply a number of colour effects. Effects applied in the output layer affect the appearance of the whole output.

Conceptually, the output seen by the viewer is the top of a stack of layers:


Colour control

Final mask


Media N

Media 3

Media 2


Media 1

MagicHD has no user interface as such, being entirely controlled by DMX. It does provide a Head Up Display (HUD) which shows a lot of useful information, live, superimposed on the output.

The DMX control personality is deliberately simple: complexity is added by the lighting console. Since everything is controlled by DMX channels, the console can be used to add effects to any channel by simply altering the values sent to the player.

1.2. Disclaimer

This product is not fully released so the DMX personalities used to control it may change without notice. If such a change occurs then show files using MagicHD will have to be manually updated. Changes will be detailed in Appendix A.

1.3. Known Problems

Known major problems with MagicHD:

  • Playback of multiple layers of some HD media content types can be jerky or slow the system down: load management is not yet implemented (whereby lower layers will skip frames to ensure the correct frame rate is maintained).
  • When the text layer fills the screen rendering can be jerky due to huge font sizes.
  • Aspect ratio appears to change when objects are rotated.
  • With Windows 8 MagicHD must be run as administrator for media conversion to work.
  • Some content encoded with the jpeg2000 codec causes ffmpeg (the tool used to convert media) to crash. If this happens the user will have to convert the media offline with a different tool.

1.4. Changes

Changes to DMX personalities are described in Appendix A. These are changes that might break shows based on older versions.