Can I play decorations in sync on multiple TVs or projectors?

Playing multiple synchronized decorations is dazzling, but it’s not as easy as setting up a single decoration. This technique has different approaches depending on what tools you have available.

Basic Multi-Sync from Separate Sources

The simplest way to play more than one video in sync is to set up three separate video sources and hit play on each at the same time. It sounds easy, but if you’re not using exactly the same media playing device for each source there could be some unwanted delays that cause the videos to fall out of sync. You can even use laptops or tablets, but be sure they use the same video player software. If you have the right tools available, this can work pretty well, but it’s not perfect.

Advanced Multi-Sync from a Single Source

The only way to get a perfect sync between multiple decorations is to play each video from a single source. For professional projects, that can require spending many hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a multi-channel video player device.

However, you might be able to use your own computer to set up smaller scale projects like this at home. Creating a perfect multi-sync effect will depend on your computer’s number of outputs and processing power.

Home Multi-Sync: Video Outputs

First, consider your computer’s output options. Many computers feature an HDMI output. To add more video output channels, you can also search for USB to HDMI display adapters on your favorite electronics retailer. You can usually find one for about $20 to $30. The number of simultaneous decorations you can display will be limited to the number of outputs you have available.

Home Multi-Sync: Video Controller Software

This step is where the magic happens. Setting up your multi-sync will require special “projection mapping” software. There is a learning curve to get started, but you can use these skills to create a wide variety of special effects.

One of the best resources for researching projection mapping techniques is projection-mapping.org. Take a look, and you'll find instructive articles, introductory projects, and links to software (much of which is available for free) that will help you get started. To give you an idea of the kind of program you'd be dealing with, here's a tutorial for the free projection mapping program VPT.

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