Jump to content

pc lighting control

The Boogie Man

Recommended Posts

Hi Troops,


(mods, please read through before moving to sound, it is about lighting)


Whilst wondering in other posts about controlling lights with a midi controller and then a laptop ( pc stage, lanbox etc ), the idea of using backing tracks was muted on occasion. My first reaction was no, but with a 3hr show the idea of possibly using either sound effects or some backing on some tunes occasionally did merit thought.


At the same time all this was being thought about another problem, that of on stage howl around was also being pondered on.


When the latter was solved with the idea of in ear monitoring a thought hit me, what if a backing/timing track was sent to the in ears only and the lights and effects were linked to that.

The public hear just me as always ( except on some tunes where there could be a kick drum or even a whole backing track sent to foh, variety being the spice and all that ) but I hear a drum track that uses the fills and patterns to both time the song and cue the light changes.


Now the light question (well you knew there would be one)

Do any of the pc lighting/show controllers use a time line that ( like premiere or cubase ) the cues can be synced to the audio with?


bty what d you think of the idea, pants? or could it work?



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I sequence and control quadraphonic DJ audio, remote PTZ cameras, live percussion, Arkaos video, and 29 DMX lighting fixtures all in Ableton Live. It's an incredibly powerful program. You're only limited by your imagination... and organizational skills (a bit lacking here!)


Some tracks have the audio, lighting, and video pre-sequenced, but most I 'play' live. Each Ableton Live scene can have any and all combinations of audio, video, and lighting, and using Live's Follow Actions, MIDI effects, virtual MIDI buses, and MIDI controllers (Faderfox LX2, Behringer BCR2000 and FCB1010, Yamaha DD55C here) makes for a powerful combination that's as automatic or as manual as you want.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

The short answer is that they all do this, sort-of, but in different ways, and its actually a very common paradigm. Drummers on stage have been on cans much longer than the IEM revolution, for the simple reason that the drummer needs to stay in time with the "backing", where backing can be literally anything. For example, The Floyd were playing music along to visuals using 35mm film projectors many years ago, and when you're playing accurately to visuals, you need sync. Many, many, many bands have used "taped" augmentment where they add extra stuff, such as backing vocals or non-portable instruments. Nik Kershaw had a rack with a pair of syncronised 8 track recorders for his live show, and those recorders were hot swap, so if the live one died the standby took over without dropping the beat. So drummers are very used to playing along with (at worst) click tracks or minimalist drums backing, none of which the audience hears.


Mr Bone says Ableton Live can do what you want, and I have no reason to doubt him. But, I very much get the impression its a hard tool to understand, and Mr Bone is one of the leading evangelists of the product (he is to 'Live as I am to PCStage, the nutters who can make the respective products jump through hoops a loooong way off the ground). 'Live also doesn't do DMX natively, so there is no vocabulary for lighting in the product. 'Live is aimed at a slightly different place than you are, its a sequencer designed for live use (re-sequencing or remixing), rather than just for sitting in the corner and playing back. None of which is a slur on Mr Bone or 'Live.


You have two problems to solve, and in my (awfully traditional!) opinion you should solve then one as a time. The first is the recording and playing back of music, and I suggest you find a good tool to do that, either software like Sonar, or hardware like the HD24. Or even a real four or eight track track tape recorder, if you want to go retro, and have too much strength or road crew. A good tool in this context is one you get on with, 'cos you end up spending a lot of time using these things.


Then you have two options, either a lighting control machine that can accept MIDI commands "somehow", or a cue based show controller with lighting plus everything else tool that can take sync data from the audio playback and syncronise your other show elements round it.


There are no packages I know of that "have it all". There are many "nearly" products. No decent show controller has multi-channel syncronised audio playback over many tracks, and no music based package which can do the multi-track stuff has decent show control or lighting control. 'Tis a bugger, but that is why I recommend the traditional approach.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cheers Troops


I'm not realy thinking too much about the whole "the sound at foh" it's really more a way for me to create interesting light shows and know whats coming and when. The pc control only has to be able to play a wav or mp3 of me that I've pre recorded. Then I've got that in my ears, even if I go off on a tangent I can still hear where the song is up to and therefore the light show.

I want to be able to then put the lighting cues into a timeline. So drag and drop would be cool. Or would I have to cut the wav/mp3 into slices and the light cues trigger off the start of each bit.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll agree with the Vista comment from Chris. You can easily import music onto the timeline and simply lay your cues onto it, demo them, scrub the track, allsorts.


Could be the solution.


Only costs you a quid per DMX channel + £120 odd for the USB-DMX

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 months later...
  • 9 months later...

Hi Troops,


I'm re-visiting this thread, to ask about possible control input devices.


I'm happily plodding on with a programmed jester and footswitch for lighting my show, but I'm still looking into the idea of adding a backing track for some tunes.


The available programmes for running a timeline based solution containing audio and lighting cues has been mentioned, so this is more about control input.


I currently have a midimate centre stage on the floor which changes the settings on the guitar/vocal rack only.


Is there a pc based or stand alone programme that would sit off stage and load a timeline from my midimate then fire it from a floor go button?



A concurrent post has been automatically merged from this point on.


Quick update, after a good trawl round the net I found a very similer question on sweetlights forum, and the reply from support was no, sweetlight cannot accept that type of midi input. One down,how many to go?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Timeline is a specific type user interface, with the alternative type being cuelist. Sequencer programs and video tools are usually timeline based, whereas light and sound and show control stuff is usually cuelist based. Neither is better, they are just different. The boys at Stage Research, makers of SFX, have been threatening to add timelines to SFX, so you can use either timeline or SFX programming, whichever you fancy.


So I dont see how a MIDIMate (which I also have one of) can have a timeline, other than ones foot.


I think what you want to do is to control your effects from your sequencer tool (whatever that is) so you just have a "Go" button to start the track, and everything else happens under control of the thing, so effects get set, and then changed, eg for a guitar solo.


Any sequencer or show controller that can output MIDI (and thats pretty much all of them) will do this. Certainly those with which I am familiar will.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are a few really easy ways to go about this using two separate systems. Basically you use MIDI and/or LTC (SMPTE Timecode) to control your lighting application from within your multi-track editor.


If you are using a PC, most multitrack editors will allow you to place Midi Show Control cues into the timeline. Many lighting systems (most of the ones running on PC's certainly) can accept MSC as a method of controlling cue lists. Secondly, almost all multitrack editors (even hardware/tape systems) will allow you to output LTC or Midi Timecode, and most of the said same desks will allow you to sync to either of those.


This is all very well of course if the two systems are completely separate. To run them both on the same machine, you will need something like Midi Yoke and/or Virtual Audio Cable. These basically create virtual midi ports (or audio devices in the case of VAC) which will allow you to route LTC down the VAC input and MSC down the MidiYoke input and then pick these signals up again inside of your lighting application.


I deal with these sorts of systems every day, our shows on board are highly automated. Whilst we use a lot of the very expensive and high end systems, the same thing can be done very easily for very little money.


In the case of a one man band, if I was to design it, I would use something like Adobe Audition, and I would put the entire set into a single session. The very start of the show I would place MSC cues to load up the correct cue lists on my lighting application. Before the first song starts I would put a stop cue. Then I would put a stop cue before each number. Then I would map my foot pedal to jump to the correct locations within the session for each song.


As far as programming the lighting, 99% of tiimecodable desks will have a "Learn Timing" button of some description. So you run your show as normal, and hit go on your cue list for each state change at the correct moment, the application then 'learns' what it has to do at that exact point in time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cheers chaps,


David, I wasn't suggesting my midimate has a timeline, I was wondering if our midimates could send patch change info to a sequencer?

I see what your saying about multi audio out from an all in one software.


Mac, I will look at adobe and the idea of a whole show timeline, but at present I have cubase sx on my lappy with multi backing wavs already on it, So I'm wondering:


Would it be possible to get cubase to change songs/files with my midimate?


If not then would it be possible to get my midimate to change songs/files on another sequencer?

Or move adobe to a new position on a time line?


If no to any of the above with my midimate, then what do I need on the stage floor to change to another song/file/point on a timeline with cubase/adobe/other sequencer loaded into a laptop?


Once the patch change info has reached a sequencer and backing wavs are set to play, an internal midi thru could then fire up a lighting software programme in the same laptop?

Or a midi out could fire another laptop with a lighting software programme?

Or an external desk? (if it had patch change cabability from midi, my jester wont, it sees midi as channel change or submaster change info)


Sorry for all the questions, but I'm trying to get a mental picture of the food chain from my foot (changes and go button) to the audio backing wavs ( cubase ? ) to the lighting pattern changes ( software or desk )



Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you already have all your tracks in cubase, you are almost there then ;-)


I would put your entire set into a single session and separate each song by a minute of silence. Then place a marker at the start of each song (or a marker for the duration of each song - I cannot remember the exact procedure in cubase).


Then you have either 2 or three midi triggers: "Go to next Marker" "Play" and "Pause" or "Go to next marker" and "Play to end of Marker".


If all the songs are within the one session, you just need one cue list set to trigger by timecode on your lighting software - because the timecode of each song will be unique. Otherwise you need to look at midi automation (can be quite difficult at times).


If your jester responds to midi channels to control submasters - you can add midi tracks within cubase to "bring up" submasters at the right times... something to think about, certainly, you just use the midi sequencer to write "sheet music" for the jester - time consuming but it will work.


Your chain is pretty much correct - foot pedal cues multi-track, multi-track controls lighting desk.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.