Uploading to a Butler

Warning some of the info on this page is out of date. The upload dialog and handling of static cues has changed in more recent versions of the system. I will post with updated info soon.

e:cue butlers and butler XT units are very versatile in that they can be used both as DMX engines while connected to the server or as playback units when used in standalone. Not only can a butler play back 2 universes, but multiple butlers can be linked on the network to provide synchronized playback of cuelists via networked timecode. The syncing is done down to the frame, so even video can be played back across several universes with relative ease.

It is important to keep in mind that butlers are playback devices, and they can only play back one cuelist at a time (the butler XT can play back one on each output). You cannot layer cues on top of each other, but you can record effects and videos to the butler which will be rendered as a DMX stream to be played back.

Uploading to a butler (or butler XT) takes a little bit of forethought, but does not take too much extra work to set up. Before I explain the upload process, there are a few things you need to know:

  1. All cues in the list need to have a wait time set, otherwise the software will wait for the cue to advance and just keep rendering out that one cue forever. Even the end cue needs to have a wait time so it can loop back around to the beginning. Even if you have a single static look, set a wait time of 1 or two seconds. Read this article to learn how to create seamless loops.
  2. Actions mean nothing when uploaded to the butler, they are not recorded. The only ones that are important are things like Media Play actions, which will start the video you are trying to record.
  3. The software will not upload a blank cuelist to the butler. It will simply skip to the next one with cues, but only increment the butler’s cuelist number by one. For example, if you try to upload cuelists 1 through 3 with cuelist 2 being blank, you will end up with only two cuelists on the butler: #1, which matches what is in the showfile, and #2 which matches what is in your showfile’s cuelist 3. This is especially important when setting triggers on the butler XT and glass touch series as you may not know what cue number to call. The best practice is to not skip any cuelists and you won’t have to worry.
  4. The upload protocol for the butler is very slow. When you start creating a lot of show to upload, it can take a significant amount of time to upload the show to the butlers. The size of the upload is dependent upon many things, so it is impossible to create a hard and fast rule as to a ratio to the length of the cuelists to upload time.
  5. In order to upload you must have either a Multimedia, Elements, or Enterprise license dongle.
Once you have dealt with the above limitations, it is time to actually upload to the butler:
  1. Make sure all butlers you are trying to upload to are connected to the network.
  2. Click the “Export show to device” button (it looks like a satellite).
  3. Go to the “Butler Export” tab and check the “Auto Continuous Loop Optimization” box. This is just a fancy way of saying that it tries to make sure your cuelist doesn’t skip when looping.
  4. Go back to the “Basic” tab.
  5. Select the first and last cuelist you want to export. (Remember, no matter what you choose as your first cuelist, it will end up as #1 on the butler)
  6. Choose your Master device (this is the timecode master if you have multiple butlers). You’ll want to set this to the butler that you will be interacting with to change cues via glass touch, time trigger, etc. If you are using a butler classing and just running the first cue on power-on then don’t worry about changing this one.
  7. Click OK
  8. Wait
Once the show file is uploaded, the butlers should automatically start the first cue (for butler classic) when they are disconnected from the server. Butler XTs will follow the triggers set for them (that article coming shortly). If the upload was not successful, here are a few troubleshooting suggestoions:
  • Check to make sure you are not running in “Standard” mode, which does not allow uploads. The error message in this case is somewhat cryptic.
  • Make sure you are running the latest version of the software. There have been a few iterations of the beta software that had upload issues fixed by updating to the newest version.
  • Check out the article on Butler Connection Issues
  • If there is a black skip when the cuelist loops, go back and make sure that you set the Auto Continuous Loop Optimization box and try uploading again.
  • Finally, if you are using a router or managed switch to link the butlers, they will only sync properly if the switch’s IP address and subnet mask are in the same range (192.168.123.x and as the butlers. Most of these come set by default to which could cause problems.
This should give you a good start in uploading to a butler for standalone mode. Even if you are planning on using the butlers only live, you should upload either a default show or a black show to all of your butlers in case your server should go offline for some reason. As always, feel free to send in your own tips and suggestions for inclusion in these articles.

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