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Lesson 1: Programming window size and position

updated April 20, 2010

Some theory

In this lesson we will learn how to adjust the position and size of windows. They are controlled by the following parameters:
  • " PositionX"
  • " PositionY"
  • " PositionZ"
  • " ScaleX"
  • " ScaleY"
  • " ScaleZ"

In Pinnacle Studio, a montage theme may manage of a very large number of windows. So far, I've never met this limit. Each of these windows can be positioned anywhere in three dimensional space (X, Y, Z). Indeed, Studio has a 3D visualization engine extremely powerful, as you could see when watching my themes.
The position of a window in this 3-dimensional space is defined by its coordinates (X, Y, Z) which are defined as:
  • X is the lateral position. (Negative values to the left, positive right)
  • Y is the height position. (Negative values down, positive up)
  • Z is the depth position. (Negative values in front of the screen, positive values behind the screen)

In programming language of Pinnacle Studio montage theme, this will be controlled by the values assigned to the following parameters:
  • " PositionX" can position a window to the Left or Right
  • " PositionY" can position a window up or down
  • " PositionZ" allows depth positionning.

To obtain the desired effect, you must understand three important things:
  • coordinates of a window (X, Y, Z) correspond to the center of the window. (To simplify, we will see later that (X, Y, Z) are the coordinates of the center of rotation of the window, but by default it is placed in the center of the window)
  • The visible portion of the screen is defined between the values [-0.5; 0.5]. (this can be changed just as we see in a future lesson)
  • A window positionned under another window will be hidden. (A window will be placed under another if its parameter PositionZ is higher).

Now, let's see how to resize a window. This will be achieved by using the following parameters:
  • " ScaleX": Adjusts the horizontal scaling factor.
  • " ScaleY": Adjusts the vertical scale factor.
  • " ScaleZ": Adjusts the scaling factor in the depth of the screen.

At this stage, it seems useful to advise you to always give the same value to these 3 parameters. This is of course is not mandatory. You can use different values if you want to apply special effects. If for example you set ScaleX to 1, and ScaleY to 0.5, you will get a flatter window.

A little practice

The theory is good, but to learn a lesson, nothing better than a small exercise.
First, download the theme "template" (loaded times)

2 possible installation methods:
  • self-installing .EXE File (simpler!)

  • . ZIP file to unzip (for Vista and 7) in C:\Users\Public\Documents\Pinnacle\Content\ IMG-Templates (instructions here )
You will then find your file at the following location:
  • Windows Vista & 7: C:\Users\Public\Documents\Pinnacle\Content\IMG-Templates\20cents temp\tempate.ixl
  • Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\Pinnacle\Content\IMG-Templates\20cents temp\tempate.ixl

Change its name to "lesson 1", then open the template and change the name to "lesson 1" to 3 locations highlighted in yellow below:

Remember that the theme "template" can manipulate 2 groups of 6 windows.

In this exercise, we will construct two columns of 6 windows. Between each window, we'll leave a space of 20% of the size of each window. on Top, bottom, left and right,  we will also let a space of 20% the size of a window.
The windows on the left will contain from top to bottom drop zone 1 to 6, while the windows on the right will contain from up to down drop zone from 6 to 1.
Here's what you should get if your calculations are correct:

To achieve this, here's how you should do :
  1. In the height of the screen we will have 6 windows spaced by 20% the size of a window (1 up, 5 between 6 windows, and down), thus meaning 6 +7 x0.2 window height = 7.4. In other words, a window should be as wide as 1/7.4, or 0.1351. All windows have the same size, we therefore apply this coefficient to the parameters "ScaleX" and "ScaleY" of each object "Keyframer" controlling theses windows.
  2. window in the upper left will therefore have as ordinate Y = 0.5 - (free space at the top + 1/2) x Window size, or Y = 0.5 - (0.2 +0.5) * 0.1351 = 0.4054
  3. Similarly, if we let the size of half a window to the left of this column, the abscissa X of this window is X = -0.5 + (free space left + 1/2) x window size, let X = -0.3649.
  4. up to you to place the 11 other windows

I will upload the result when I received a result properly adjusted . So, your turn!


  • theme" template" control 2 groups of 6 windows, are 12 windows. In many cases, you will not need those 12 windows to do what we need. We will see in a later lesson how to modify the structure of the theme "template" to remove the unused objects. But since we are only at the first lesson, the easier will be to scale these windows to 0 (for the parameters "ScaleX" and "ScaleY" ).
  • In our practical exercise, we defined the coordinates of the windows from the calculation, which is often the best method. This will happen whenever arrangements correspond to simple geometric shapes. In other cases, however, the calculation of these positions may require complex mathematical calculations. It will be faster to use a sheet of paper, to draw your model and directly measure the position in two axes X and Y. Then measure the coordinates (the center of each window) on the grid (just remember that the left border has -0.5 value, and the right 0.5 !).
  • Using this relative coordinate system (relative to the size of the screen) allows most of the time to make your theme compatible with either 4:3 or 16:9 geometries. However, we will see later that this is not always the case.

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