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Topic: OT - Screen real estate... anyone else doing this?

  1. #1

    OT - Screen real estate... anyone else doing this?

    It might just be that I am getting ahead of the technology here, but with as many people as I've seen in pictures using multiple monitors for music work, I figured I'd have a go at setting it up for myself. I've had mixed results, so I thought I'd ask around here and see if anyone's found some better solutions.

    My goal: 3 monitors + tv output. (4 running simultaneously)

    First thing I looked at was the Parhelia. That option seems to be stable and usable, but not at the resolutions I am accustom to working at. Across 3 monitors, the max resolution is 1280 x 1024 for each monitor. (so 3840 x 1024 would be the total space.) I work at 1600 x 1200 on each screen, and use that with dual monitors (so 3200 x 1200.) Gaining a 3rd monitor but losing resolution wouldn't really help too much. Additionally, the card is SLOW. There's no getting around it, it's GPU is roughly half the speed of the average Nvidia or ATI.

    Is speed a deal-breaker? Not exactly, but games are among my favorite forms of entertainment. We build these beastly powerful systems to run our audio, and I see no reason not to have a separate partition for such things. I mean, strong audio system = awsome gaming system as well, just add the game of your choice and play. And no - it doesn't take anything away from the stability or performance of your DAW - "separate partition." That's an old, old mentality that really has no grounding in the modern world. Your DAW registry won't even know of the existence of the games, and no data is shared between the two partitions. Enough about games. =)

    All in all, the Parhelia is also an older card. If I'm gunna spend over $1k for a video monitor solution (card + additional matching monitor + misc expenses), I'd like something that'll be fairly current for the next couple years.

    So - I did some internet research (as I don't know any companies that specialize in this - at least probably not for a 1-1.5k budget). I learned that there are a number of folks using an AGP card + a PCI card, each with dual head outputs. Benefits: each card is WAY fast, run 4 monitors at whatever resolutions you feel like, and its about the same price point.

    So I ordered some cards, tried different things. I was using an Asus deluxe FX5700 AGP, and a PNY Verto FX5500 PCI. I was using 2 dedicated analogue monitor outputs from the 5700, 1 analogue output for the thrid monitor on the 5500, and an S-Video output for the tv from the 5500. 4 screens, and they all worked! It was cool, but FYI - don't do this expecting to play games across 3 monitors. There might be ways, but suffice to say, the tech just isn't really there yet for such things. Ironically, I hear Parhelias can do that no prob, just without all the fancy DX9 FX and at lower resolutions and poor framerates...

    So WinXP has given me a pain-free 4 monitor desktop. Like this:


    U want full screen video with no hassle? Run QT or WMPlayer etc and drag the player up to your tv, full-screen the app and it looks fantastic! Plus you can still work on the lower 3 monitors.

    Work time. I had a project to complete and it was the 1st opportunity to put the setup to the test. Goal: Run SX2 across the lower 3 monitors, and drag the video preview box up to the tv and run it full screen. This worked GREAT the first time I opened the SX project file and started composing. Fast, easy, and the performance was excellent.

    Then I made the mistake of shutting down the system to sleep. The next day, the Video preview window would not display the film. I tried everything. Different drivers caused the PCI card to not even display anything anymore on either monitor or tv. Eventually we found some that would at least turn everything on, and then even got the video back in SX. Except that now SX was crashing left and right. Double clicking on a pparticularmidi clip from a QLSilver patch caused the prog to ddisappear No error, no reboot, just vanish and your looking at your desktop. WWeirdthing is, it was only THAT midi event, lol. The rest opened the event editor as usual.

    Anyway, you get the idea. All said and done, I had to disable the PCI video card to continue working on the project. Worked just fine after that. So I finished, and now I just wanna get this setup working somehow. I'll get whatever card/s I need to. If I must go Parhelia, I will, and am considering the Canopus ADVC-100 for video I/O. (think I'll get the ADVC-100 no matter what, actually, as it sounds like it'll make life easier.)

    So that's the story, and where Iamb at. Is there ANY other solution? Even suggestions. I'll look into anything right now.

    TiA - mike

  2. #2

    Re: OT - Screen real estate... anyone else doing this?

    You could just go with the new SLI AMD FX55 Mobo. It has support for 4 monitors because it has 2 graphics cards each in a 16x discrete PCI-X slot.


  3. #3

    Re: OT - Screen real estate... anyone else doing this?

    Here's my video set up. I do a lot of video editing so it's a must.

    On this system I have 2 flat panel monitors set to landscape mode.
    I also have an nVidia S-video out card that feeds ether what's happening on monitor 1 and 2, or both and of course (and the main reason) it outputs the video cue I am working on to a 27in Flat Sony TV.

    Oh, and... OT but Sony's Vegas beats the ~~~~ out of Premiere and Avid! Huh? Yes it does!
    Bela D Media | www.BelaDMedia.com

  4. #4

    Re: OT - Screen real estate... anyone else doing this?

    Thanks Sean, I'm checking it out. I'd heard of the A8N-E Deluxe, but I didn't think it could actually run 4 at once. I thought it was for dual GPU effect, spitting the screen rendering literally in half, 1/2 top for 1 card, 1/2 bottom for other, SLI style. If this mobo can support 2 cards in a 4 way fashion I'm gunna kick myself. I just sent back an Asus FX5700 PCI-E card (basically same as my AGP atm...)

    BD - I was using my setup similiarly, basically just trying to add in the additional monitor, so I don't have to choose between desktop and tv anymore. And yeah, I got quite a few friends that swear by Vegas DVD, tho I've not really used it. Mostly engineers and film folk. I'm sorta a bystander at that particular SFoundry cult parade, watching but not really a part. I do know that Vegas people pitty Final Cut users, at least I've heard it said enough...

  5. #5

    Re: OT - Screen real estate... anyone else doing this?

    Michael: Just a word of caution in case you did not know. Vegas DVD Architect does not support writing Dual layer DVDs, and until today I haven't heard or seen nothing about any updates or anything that would change that. But I agree, Sony's stuff is very nice
    Kid: When I become an adult I wanna be a musician.
    Parent: Son, you cannot become both.

  6. #6

    Re: OT - Screen real estate... anyone else doing this?

    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelAngelo450
    Then I made the mistake of shutting down the system to sleep. The next day, the Video preview window would not display the film.
    Hummm, this part reminded me of a very similar problem that I had using dual monitors with an nvidia card. I don´t know how much experience you have using multiple monitors, but here it goes anyway.
    When you have multiple monitors, you have to choose wich one will be the primary and wich one will be the secondary, right? It happens that some video adapters don´t playback video on the secondary, just in the primary due to a limitation dealing with video layers. And it also depends on the video player you are using, not only the adapter. Windows media may play it correctly but zoom player won´t do it, and things like that. So, here is my guess: You installed eveything and it was working because of the right combinations of primary/secondary monitors. For instance, the TV output should be primary to output SX video window, and the cubase monitor would be in secondary. Then you restarted your computer and the settings changed to default, when TV output is normaly secondary, and monitors primary. This happens to me all the time with nvidia card, the settings change on restart when secondary monitor is off. This must happen because of autodetection of displays. If this happened, the video would not show up, just the way you described.
    Well, I am not really sure, but maybe you should try different combinations of primary/secondary monitors like I said, with the most updated drivers.

    Good Luck!

  7. #7

    Re: OT - Screen real estate... anyone else doing this?

    Guga, I think you're on to something, thanks for the tip. In fact that may be a big part of what was going screwy. I kept setting the primary to my bottom center monitor, though I did have the tv set that way at least once while it was working. Hrmnn...

    Another thing I find strange, it seems that only a few of the Nvidia drivers will allow the PCI card monitors to show up under windows. They aren't even there to be activated, though Device Manager shows the card installed with the most current drivers and working just fine. The newest drivers only have my AGP monitors showing up. I have to go back a few versions to get all 4 on. There's others, and a friend and I went through a number. If anyone's interested in which ones seem to do it, I'll look em up and post.

    I'm very interested in seeing if the new SLI setup will work. Gunna test the current setup some more, but I'm looking into things. Guess there's not a magic solution, huh?

    Tomke, I didn't know that. I should clarify, I don't personally use Vegas (little pricey, and I don't have a strong need for it at this time,) but that's interesting. Kinda surprising too, I figured that sort of thing is defacto with DVD authoring software. Thanks for mentioning =)

  8. #8

    Re: OT - Screen real estate... anyone else doing this?

    SLI is not an option, at least not yet. I was reading an article at Tom's Hardware - http://www20.graphics.tomshardware.c...123/index.html and while most of that was centered around SLI (single monitor from 2 video cards) used for gaming, they touched on multiple monitor modes at the end of the article and it sounds as if there is absolutley no improvement over what I'm trying to do right now with an AGP and PCI card.

    I really don't want to do something hack. It is not about games; it IS about my DAW setup working well. The Parhelia is not capable of a resolution that would provide me any benefit over my 2 monitor setup (though I'm sure it'd look prettier,) and I cannot believe that it is the "best" solution.

    I'm going to start hunting for companies that specialize in this sort of thing, but I'm not really sure where to look other than random google searches. If anyone has a recomendation in that dept, I'd be most appreciative?

    thnx - mike

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