Jump to content

Recommended Posts

  • Content Provider

Hello friends


I see a lot of people communicating about the Serum colorization format now that it's been integrated in latest release of @freezy's dmdext and that @dtatane released the first complete Serum colorization of Scared Stiff


I recommend reading @freezy's topic called "Beginning of a New Era" (in this same directory of VPU), but as the developer of this format, I would give my own explanation of "why".


I/ History behind it


A little less than a year ago, I released my real DMD ZeDMD able to display any format even VNI/PAL colorization. My initial motivation was just coding with the cheap yet powerful ESP32 µcontroller, which is the core of the ZeDMD, along with a spare LED matrix after having easily coded a Tetris game (youtube.com/watch?v=iKdwTpNXtKc) in 2 or 3 days. When I saw that I could craft a complete and useful real DMD, I was happy to think of it as a really cheap one. What is the best way to be useful to the community of a hobby if not make it more and more affordable?


At around the same time, the PAC file format was released by Lucky1 and that's when it all started: the ZeDMD, as a new real DMD, was able to display VNI/PAL colorization but not the PAC format. I naturally got in touch with Lucky1 through PM and asked if he could make it available for ZeDMD. To that he answered that he was not ready to answer this question as the ZeDMD was a competitor for his Pin2DMD.


  • A DMD not able to display colorization is destined to disappear as this is a really fancy feature we all appreciate.
  • I saw Lucky1 as the one who can say "No, I don't think I'll do that for you!", he had the power over life and death on ZeDMD. Monopolies...
  • There was another negative aspect with the fact that PAC colorization is closed-source, just a little technical, sorry: the colorization is made with 64 paletted colours, the images displayed on our DMD's are 128*32 pixels (rarely 192*64 or 256*64). So such an image takes 64*3 bytes (the palette, describing red, green and blue for each colour) + 128*32*6/8 bytes (the image itself, "*6/8" because a number among 64 -colours- is coded on 6 bits and a byte is 8 bits so we use 6/8th of a byte for a colour) = 3264 bytes. Lucky1 decided that his DLL would convert that to RGB24 (each pixel of the frame is described with its own red, green and blue) that takes 128*32*3=12288 bytes. For a PC with a Virtual DMD displayed on a LED screen, these 12288 bytes are nothing, but when you have to send these bytes through a Serial (USB) link to a real DMD at a maximum of 115200 byte/s, you can send up to 35 frames per second in paletted 64 colours when you can roughly display 9 frames per second in RGB24. Why doing that? I really don't see the point, but 9 frames per second is terrible!


With all these considerations and after some long exchanges, when it came quite clear that I wouldn't get anything soon, I decided to start coding Serum and I vowed my code would remain open-source.


II/ "why should the colorization authors switch to Serum?".


First, you shouldn't if you want to sell your colorization! Once again, I perfectly understand that you want to be sure to be paid for 500h of work. Serum is not protected nor encrypted, the cRZ file, once sent to anybody can be used by someone else on his vpin (and perhaps, at some point, on real pinballs, too). You must know that, even if it certainly can't be as lucrative as selling the file, I urge all the users to donate, even 3 bucks. Some people do it, some don't, I suppose you can not expect a regular income from it, but @dtatane told me that he always got some donations for his work.


But open-source is a way to improve bringing together skills, remain transparent on your code, allow new idea to emerge, perhaps your code will be ousted, but always for better.
When we all started this hobby, we were happy to use VPinMame and Visual Pinball, they are both open-source. You freely used the work of people who also spent hundreds of hours to create a table without requesting a protection to be sure to be rewarded.

So if you use open-source software, you advocate for this virtuous way of thinking and make it progress.


Now, more technically, what is in the Serum file format that you don't find in others:

  • Colour rotation: for the same frame, you can set color rotation so that as long as the frame is displayed, the changes are done automatically:
  • Gradients (linear and now radial): creating gradient from one colour to another is just as simple as pressing the mouse button on a colour in the palette and releasing it on another colour. Then you can use these gradients to fill your selection in a linear way as you may see it in this video:
  • Sprites are not easy to explain quickly, but they are moving elements that can be anywhere on the screen and can be transparent in parts of them to let the background being visible through. In Serum, they are detected and colorized in real time. Here @ebor used a sprite for the moto:
  • moto_g10.gif


Those are some of the features of the editor and format and I try to add any feature requested by authors until now, @dtatane, @ebor , @KRAKEN and @peskopat could confirm, I think.

I give the link to the comprehensive tuto for the editor I wrote, it is maintained up-to-date https://www.pincabpassion.net/t15414-comprehensive-tuto-about-colorizingdmd .

Thanks for reading, I'd be happy to answer any other questions.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the hard work and hope it completely takes over the Colored DMD landscape.  I put it on my cab and removed all PAC files (luckily I still had my Pal/VNI files from before PAC).  Everything is running perfect, thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Content Provider



On 3/8/2023 at 8:06 PM, zedrummer said:

Serum is not protected nor encrypted, the cRZ file, once sent to anybody can be used by someone else on his vpin (and hopefully, at some point, on real pinballs, too).



Since Dazz made a public statement about the real trouble behind the curtain I´m now also able to publicly speak about it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...