Chapter 1. Getting Started

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 including layer effects, blending, keystone, and position control of each layer. The DMX Personality uses one DMX universe for control.

For simpler media playback requirements, MagicHD Quick mode provides a slimline version of MagicHD which provides a single layer of media playback which also supports transitions to new media files with a single 7 channel DMX personality.

1.1. Running MagicHD

MagicHD is supported on Windows, MacOS, and Linux and is installed as part of the MagicQ installer. MagicHD can run either as a separate application, known as stand-alone, or it can run as part of MagicQ, known as Combined.

1.1.1. Stand-alone

MagicHD stand-alone is useful for situations where the device running media is separate to where MagicQ is running.

  • Controlled either via ethernet using Art-Net, sACN or Pathport, or MagicDMX Full in DMX input mode.
  • Window has simple menus for changing settings, including DMX protocol and address.
  • All 8 layers unlocked when a MagicQ console, or a Wing system with encoder wheels, is detected on the network.
  • One layer supported when no MagicQ console or Wing system is detected on the network
  • Opens full-screen by default (for quick show startup or recovery).

1.1.2. Combined

MagicHD is built into the MagicQ executable and is launched from the Media Player menu in MagicQ PC

  • Controlled directly by MagicQ.
  • All 8 layers always available.
  • Starts full screen if a MagicQ Wing is connected, and MagicHD was previously used full-screen (for quick show startup or recovery)
  • Can be selected to render the output of any MagicHD that is patched in the show (e.g. to see the media output while programming a show).
  • Can be used to output to a projector on a second monitor output.

1.2. MagicHD Modes

1.2.1. 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. When running stand-alone when not connected to a MagicQ console or PC+Wing system, MagicHD Full mode will be limited to only 1 layer. The Combined version of MagicHD built in to MagicQ supports all 8 layers.

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 in built user interface to control the media output, and this is entirely controlled by DMX. It does provide a Head Up Display (HUD) which shows useful status information of the various layers superimposed on the output.

1.2.2. MagicHD Quick mode

For simpler media playback requirements where only a single fullscreen media output is required, MagicHD can also run in Quick mode.

This mode allows the playback of a single layer of media with transitions on a simple 7 channel personality.

1.3. Quick Start

1.3.1. Combined mode Quick Start

The following instructions assume you are using MagicHD as part of MagicQ PC (the combined version), and have started a new show with no media servers configured.

When using combined mode, you can patch and configure the media server by going to the Media window, and selecting the "Server 1" item. In the "Choose Media Server Type" popup, select MagicHD Full. This will patch and configure a MagicHD Full instance in the show at universe 1 (or the first free universe if you have heads patched already).

From the Media Player menu, select "View Media Output" to show the MagicHD output window. Select the MagicHD window, position it in the required screen and press F11 (Mac: Shift-Cmd-F, Linux: Shift-Ctrl-F) to make it fullscreen.

To control MagicHD, follow the Controlling MagicHD section below.

1.3.2. Stand-alone mode Quick Start

To use MagicHD stand-alone on a separate computer to MagicQ via a network protocol, configure your network output from MagicQ as you would with any other network DMX devices.

Run the stand-alone version of MagicHD. There will be a shortcut to this alongside MagicQ in your start menu.

Within MagicHD, select File → Settings, and select the protocol and universe you are outputting on. For MagicHD Full, as this uses an entire DMX universe, the channel cannot be selected. For MagicHD Quick mode, the channel will also be selected here. You can also specify which network adapter to use if you have multiple installed here. For example you may want to make sure you’re using a wired network connection if your computer has a wired and WiFi adapter.

Within MagicQ, open the Patch window ⇒ CHOOSE DIM/MEDIA and select MagicHD Full. Once the MagicHD head has been selected, press PATCH IT, and enter the universe and channel you want to use for MagicHD and press enter. Note that dependent on your DMX configuration in MagicQ, the MagicQ universe may not correspond with the universe used on the network protocol. If asked to auto insert heads into the visualiser, select No.

This has patched the head for the media server, so MagicQ will be able to control it. However to get live previews and thumbnails, the IP address of your MagicHD instance needs to be configured.

To configure the IP address, goto Setup > View System > View Media. This should show the MagicHD server in the first row. Within the IP address column, enter the address of the computer running MagicHD, and then in the "Thumb connection" column, select "Enabled", and in the "Live prev" column, select "Yes". This will use the CITP / MSEX protocol to load the thumbnails from the remote MagicHD instance into MagicQ.

To control MagicHD, follow the Controlling MagicHD section below.

1.4. Adding Media and Controlling MagicHD

Add your media to MagicHD by selecting the Media Player menu and then "Convert File". This will allow you to select the media files to be used, and will then ask at which folder and file ID these files should be saved. Select Folder 001 and File 001 here. If you have already downloaded the MagicQ sample media, then you may need to select File 004 and above. MagicHD will then start to process these files in the background.

Once conversion is complete, open the Media window in MagicQ and select the server by clicking the button now marked "MagicHD".

Initialise the output layer by selecting the "Output" layer box, then pressing the "LOCATE" softbutton. The first layer can then be used by selecting "Layer 1" and pressing the "LOCATE" softbutton again. MagicHD should now be displaying the media from Folder 1 File 1 at full intensity.

As MagicHD processes thumbnails, the thumbnails for each item of media should show up in the Media window, allowing you to select new files quickly. To change the folder and files, you can use the X and Y encoders in MagicQ.

media window screenshot

1.5. Adding a Mask

media → MagicHD → Layer 1 → Mask

then use Mask Folder and Mask File to select a mask. Thumbnails should be displayed for each folder: simply select the mask by clicking a thumbnail.

1.6. HUD

media → MagicHD → Output → Media

will allow encoder wheel A to select the HUD. Alternatively press and hold “HUD Control” to bring up soft buttons for each option, or click the top and bottom of “HUD Control” to cycle through the options.

1.7. Keystone

media → MagicHD → Output → Frame

1.8. Projector Colour Control

media → MagicHD → Output → Col

Red, Green and Blue encoders control the colour balance of the output.

1.9. Displaying Text

media → MagicHD → Text → LOCATE

Use Text Folder / Text File to select your text file. At this point you should see your text.

Use Pos to size and position the text layer (default is full screen)

Use Media → No Of Lines to control how much text is shown in the window

Use Media → Scroll Dir to control how the text scrolls if it doesn’t fit into the window.

1.10. MagicHD Window

MagicHD is launched from the MagicQ PC application via the Media Player menu. It can also be closed from here, or by closing its window.

The MagicHD window can be positioned and sized just like any other application window.

To go full screen with no borders (i.e. ready for output to a projector):

  • select the window and press F11 (Mac: Shift-Cmd-F, Linux: Shift-Ctrl-F)
  • in the MagicQ application: menu → Media Player → Full Screen, or
  • in the MagicHD application: menu → View → Full Screen.

MagicQ will remember the position and size of the window for when you next open it.

1.11. Adding Media

  • From the MagicQ PC application: menu → Media Player → Convert file, or
  • From the MagicHD application: menu → Media → Convert file
  • Select the file you want to convert and press Open.
  • Select the folder and file you want to convert to.
  • Press Convert.

Wait for conversion to take place. Progress is reported on the HUD, and in the input display window (bottom right) in MagicQ PC.

1.12. Converting Existing Media

  • From the MagicQ PC application: menu → Media Player → Convert Media
  • From the MagicHD application: menu → Media → Convert Media

Once MagicHD is running, the Convert Media action allows you to force it to convert files already in the convert folder. This means you can prepare media when MagicHD is not running. This is worth while if you are preparing a lot of content: if MagicHD is running it will keep trying to convert files as you edit their names and move them around (unless you prepare the files elsewhere).


Everything under convert folder will be converted, regardless of file age or previous conversion status.

1.13. LED Wall

To setup MagicHD with a low resolution output (e.g. an LED wall):

If you are using the stand-alone version, from the menu → View → Output on separate window.

  • From the MagicQ PC application: menu → Media Player → Window…
  • From the MagicHD application: menu → View → Window…
  • Use the window size dialogue to set the size and position of the window.
  • Select No Border
  • Select Fixed size.

1.14. Playing Audio

To play media that includes audio:

media → MagicHD → Layer 1 → Locate

then select some media that has audio

media → MagicHD → Layer 1 → Int

set Audio Gain to a non-zero value.

media → MagicHD → Output → Locate

media → MagicHD → Output → Int

Ensure Audio Volume is not zero.

To change audio output device:

Make sure the MagicHD window is not full screen, so that the menu bar is visible.

From the MagicHD menu: Media → Audio Devices.