controlling lighting using DMX, MIDI etc...anybody done it?

Pulling out your hair? Don't know what to do or where to go? Ask in here.
Forum rules
READ: VSE Board-Wide Rules and Guidelines

If your Help request has been solved, please edit your first post in order to select the Image Topic Icon to let others know your topic has been solved.
bionic muffins
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 30
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2007 7:39 pm

controlling lighting using DMX, MIDI etc...anybody done it?

Post by bionic muffins » Wed Jan 24, 2007 8:02 pm

i am interested in building a lighting rig where i could trigger scenes and sequences from a keyboard and have it all synced with the music (we use backing tracks for some stuff)

for example, i have seen imogen heap live before where she was wearing a keytar and just hit one key and started clapping and dancing and singing, while when she hit that key on the keyboard it sent off the whole lighting rig and all her backing tracks all in sync.

how does one do this? obviously midi, but what all controllers, interfaces, etc would one need?

right now we are running our backing tracks from a sony hard disc player, and i would like to get some of those chauvet colorbars and be able to program the scenes for the lighting and sync them to the music...(all red flash in time with verse, chorus hits and they all blink blue in double time, etc...)

anybody doen this or have experience? any insight?

User avatar
gmeredith
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 715
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2005 5:06 am
Band: Warning Will Robinson
Location: Tasmania, Australia
Contact:

Post by gmeredith » Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:16 am

Yes, I am working on doing the same thing! I have an Alesis mmt8 MIDI sequencer that I want to use to program the lighting rig with, sync'ed to the music sequence. I'm in the process of building this kit to do the job:

http://highlyliquid.com/kits/msa

It's a MIDI in, 8 relay output to drive 8 electrical devices of any kind (including mains lighting, with the appropriate rated output relay switches). Costs abot $US50. In its basic use, if you plug in a MIDI keyboard into it, the 8 relay outputs are triggered and released by 8 notes on the keyboard using note on/off MIDI messages. So you press a key down, a certain light comes on. Release it, and the light goes off. Ditto for 7 other keys and lights. If you want more lights, link 2 modules together (you can assign each module's note range and MIDI channel)

The particular variant of this module that you would order is the MSA-T, which has 8x power output transistors putting out either +5V DC or +12V DC, depending on the setup. These outputs then drive the coils of 8 relays of your choice (not included). Email john there on his webpage, tell him exactly what you want to do and he will tell you the best variant and setup. If you're not into making your own, he also sells them assembled for a small charge. An example of a suitable mains relay to use with this setup is here:

http://www.dse.com.au/cgi-bin/dse.store ... View/P8031

There is already a variant on the site with relays already included (MSA-R and MSA-P), but they are not suitable for mains voltages - only low voltages.


I'll let you know how I go when I finish it, maybe put up a small video of it sequenced!

Cheers, graham

submodern
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 9:39 pm
Location: sf, ca
Contact:

Post by submodern » Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:50 am

I've been playing around with a Lanbox, it takes MIDI notes as input and maps them to DMX channels. Velocity of the notes determines brightness.

http://www.lanbox.com/

Expensive, but you just plug it in and it works.

I have it hooked up to some LED DJ lights. I haven't done much more yet than run simple sequences in Ableton Live to make the lights turn off and on in sync with the music that's playing. It was very easy to do that. The eventual goal is some sort of interactive sound/light project using synths, lights, and sensors with MIDI at the center of everything.

User avatar
mwbassguy
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 88
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 9:32 am
Real name: Justin
Location: nyc
Contact:

Post by mwbassguy » Thu Jan 25, 2007 10:38 pm

how about video software/hardware that takes midi signals? i know you can kinda do this with the new version of Live, and theres ArKaos for more complex stuff, but thats expensive. anyone use Jitter or the video Kaoss pads?
an avatar and a sig make one's posts more easily recognizable.

The Cancer Years
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 192
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 8:33 pm
Location: Portland!
Contact:

Post by The Cancer Years » Thu Jan 25, 2007 10:43 pm

the faint does this, or used to.

I never understood how it worked.
Ensoniq esq1 x2 : Korg sg-1 : Korg Triton 61 : Emu ESI-32 : Alesis Multimix firewire 12 : Nord Lead 2x : Akai Ax80

http://weaeroplanes.blogspot.com

bionic muffins
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 30
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2007 7:39 pm

Post by bionic muffins » Fri Jan 26, 2007 5:16 pm

a friend of mine has given a big endorsement to ableton live, although i have no knowledge or experience with it.

i would like a program where i could fly in a stereo track and program the lights to it, like drawing automation for lights, record it, and then be able to trigger the entire song sequence of lights and backing track running together. we run drums loops and some synth/string stuff on a backing track live and play everything else live. i just want to hit a button and have the song start, backing track and lights in sync without any live human hands on control needed at shows.

submodern
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 9:39 pm
Location: sf, ca
Contact:

Post by submodern » Fri Jan 26, 2007 8:11 pm

Ableton could do that. You basically have a collection of individual sequences in Ableton, and you assign keypresses or MIDI notes to trigger them. These sequences are often loops, but don't have to be.

The lights are controlled just like any other sequence. You can loop the sequence so it repeats, do a one shot, whatever. Again, these sequences are triggered by a press on the keyboard or sending a MIDI note to Ableton.

The first quick and dirty test for the lights I did was to just make a short looped drum sequence with kick, snare, and hats using NI Battery. Then I duplicated that sequence, sent the MIDI out to the lights, and moved the kick note value until it triggered one light, the snare triggered another light, the hats triggered a third light. Then I started both the drum sequence and the light sequence at the same time and the lights turned off and on in sync with the drums as expected.

If you don't want to loop things, you could just make one long sequence for the song, and one long sequence for the lights, and trigger both at the start of the song. Then you'd just need one sequence for each song in the set.

bionic muffins
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 30
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2007 7:39 pm

Post by bionic muffins » Fri Jan 26, 2007 11:07 pm

would i be able to have them both be started at the exact same nanosecond so they would run in sync? the lights and music? how would i line them up and have them start off of one single trigger?

User avatar
t.o.t.s.
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 93
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 2:49 pm
Location: Brooklyn, NY.
Contact:

Post by t.o.t.s. » Fri Jan 26, 2007 11:23 pm

don't know if you'll find it helpful or not but theres some info on lighting I wrote on another site awhile back that may be helpful...

http://www.darksonus.com/forums/viewtop ... =5191#5191
totsland.net / chvad.com / 8bitaudio.net / darksonus.com / invisiblerecords.com
Moog LP, SCI Six-Trak, Roland RS09, Crumar Performer, PAIA Fatman, Korg EX-8000, Waldorf µwaveXTK, Novation K-Station, XioSynth, KS4, Alesis Ion, Korg ER-1, Etherwave, MidiNES

astraeus000
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 112
Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2006 10:59 am
Location: Kenosha, Wisconsin USA
Contact:

Post by astraeus000 » Sat Jan 27, 2007 1:08 am

Back when we toured in the early/mid nineties we had a full-music/midi sequenced light show using 2 MMT-8's. One MMT-8 for music, and the other MMT-8 slaved to it, which we "wrote" lights on. We used a midi lighting board and we had several relay packs. Worked amazingly well. We had around 20 different lights/effects hooked up.

submodern
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 9:39 pm
Location: sf, ca
Contact:

Post by submodern » Sat Jan 27, 2007 1:32 am

bionic muffins wrote:would i be able to have them both be started at the exact same nanosecond so they would run in sync? the lights and music? how would i line them up and have them start off of one single trigger?
Yeah, you can assign the same trigger to two (or more) different sequences. So you press 'Z' and they both fire off. Or you press C2 on your keyboard. Or whatever.

When you're looking at the program, you basically have several columns, which are the various parts, and rows, which are different sequences you can choose to trigger for those parts. So you'll have a bass column, a lead column, a pad column, a drum column, a light column. Each of those will have several different sequence variations you can trigger, an intro sequence, a verse sequence, a solo sequence, a chorus sequence, whatever. So you can start all the parts with one trigger, than change up just the drum part if you want, then a new lead part, then change all the parts to the chorus with another trigger, etc. Everything loops its current sequence, and Live will keep the sequences in sync as you change them (if you want it to). Great for on the fly remixing and rearranging. You can sit in a particular part of a song for an extra 8 bars and solo a little longer, then keep advancing through it, etc.

User avatar
gmeredith
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 715
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2005 5:06 am
Band: Warning Will Robinson
Location: Tasmania, Australia
Contact:

Post by gmeredith » Sun Jan 28, 2007 11:49 pm

It sounds as though you need to decide whether you're going to go software orientated or hardware orientated, and how much money you want to spend.

If you go software, it means you have to use a laptop or computer to do your gigs. This then means that you could run any sequencing/recording package, such as cubase, Ableton etc, and have your backing track recorded in one of the tracks, along with the MIDI light notes, and ditch the sony HD recorder altogether. Seeing that the lighting tracks are recorded alongside the backing track in the program, as soon as you hit PLAY, the whole thing is synced together from the start, and stays in sync all the way.

The downside of it is that you have to worry about the standard computer issues that plague everyone doing computer live performances - crashes, loading programs, setting up. etc.

Total cost: Laptop US$200-400 s/hand, Cubase/Ableton software $US200-300, USB-MIDI interface US$50 = about US$700


If you want to go hardware, then you can use any cheap MIDI sequencer eg. Alesis mmt8 (get the black-faced mmt8 though, not the grey one! - US$50-100 ebay) and a small MIDI phrase sampler such as a roland sp202 which will store and sync the backing track to the sequencer (US$50-100 ebay) = total US$200.



To both of these options you will have to add the cost of your MIDI light controller box as well.

I have gone the hardware option, and have no regrets, I have my Alesis mmt8, an old Roland MS-1 phrase sampler, and my MSA-T MIDI light controller box. A totally reliable, tiny, lightweight setup, and cheap!

Cheers, Graham

bionic muffins
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 30
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2007 7:39 pm

Post by bionic muffins » Mon Feb 05, 2007 5:29 pm

cool guys, thanks for the replies! answered a lot of my questions.

graham, what do you use as your trigger for starting your sequences?

User avatar
space6oy
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 5401
Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2007 5:29 am
Gear: vimpat, citalopram & vitamin D.
Location: stuck in ohio.
Contact:

Post by space6oy » Sat Aug 25, 2007 9:24 pm

found this thread digging for info on lighting controllers. have seen some in catalogs but without any good explanation of them (even not the greatest explanations in the manuals i've looked up).

only lighting i've messed with is simple on/off floods. thought i'd be fun to find some way to rig them to turn on and off in sync with a sequence via midi - i.e. simply starting out w/ having the lights flash each time a kick drum hits.

also wondering if this stuff only happens with "intelligent" lighting. most controllers i've read about mention that. imagine that means i wouldn't be able to simply have it power on/off simple lights...

anyone know of a good starting point for me to learn about this or suggestions on a piece of gear i might give a shot?

User avatar
space6oy
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 5401
Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2007 5:29 am
Gear: vimpat, citalopram & vitamin D.
Location: stuck in ohio.
Contact:

Post by space6oy » Wed Jan 16, 2008 6:32 am

dug this up and am bumping it again since it's been months and i never got a response...

anybody using any lighting rigs w/ their gear?
i'm curious about it again because of my 555 having this V-link scenario.
not particularly looking to start using an edirol video controller though...just would be fun to have lights in sync w/ beats.

Post Reply