Thinking of doing DMX Stage Lighting through C3 - best practice?


#21

Hi,

I have one for the Equinox Microbars, which may be compatible or at least good starting point. I can dig it out and provide it later on. This is one I wrote myself. They are quite easy to create as they are just text files. All you need is the manual for the lights and the DMX table.


#22

Yes please Derek, that would be helpful, I’ll need to modify it, as according to the manual the Microbar DMX layout is different from the the Gigabar.

On another note, I’ve been testing select the preset using the plugin API to select Bank and Preset as in my earlier post.

It doesn’t work properly all the time. Sometimes when i change rack state the DMXIS bank is selected properly, but no preset is selected. I suspect this is because of race conditions. The preset is a subset of the bank. My theory is that the bank has to be selected before the preset. If C3 sends the preset and the bank all at the same time, then it fails if the plugin has not finished selecting the bank before it starts with the preset. @brad does this seem plausible?

So now I’m testing using state bindings to send MIDI notes for the bank and preset, with the preset delayed by 100ms. This is working fine on initial testing.


#23

Here you go.

Microbar.dmx.zip (403 Bytes)

The following is the webpage that I used as reference when creating the fixture

http://www.dmxis.com/creating-new-fixtures/

I did not bother with using their on line fixture editor . I am not sure way, but it could have been as simple as it did not exst when I wrote my own fixture definitions. :slight_smile:

I have used bindings to send MIDI notes with no problems to select bank and cue . Whilst my lights were driven from the MIDI File, I used bindings to automatically select the first bank/cue before I started the playback of the MIDI file. The cue was slightly delayed from the bank and that always worked.

HTH


#24

An update:- We got the 2 Gigabars about 3 weeks ago, and they are brilliant! The band members weren’t too sure to start with (not more technology!), but as soon as we tried it, they liked it. Even during the rehearsals the lights add a bit of excitement. The singer gets a spotlight on him all evening so he’s happy!

Thank you everyone on this thread for steering me in the right direction. I thought I’d take the opportunity to describe the setup in case it gives anyone inspiration.

Hardware
As well as the DMXIS, I also got a DSPLIT to give me 4 DMX outputs. I run a 10 metre IEC power, audio and DMX snake from my 4u rack to each of the 2 main powered speaker and then split the power at the speakers to go to the lighting bar.

I can use a 3rd DMX output for the panel lights we have around the drums.

I’ve also repurposed one of these to quickly set all the faders when making new presets.

It has 9 faders so 3 lots of RGB controls.

I’ve used BOME to modify the midi from this controller so that the 0 to 127 values map to one of 5 values. 0, 25%, 50%, 75% 100% in DMXIS for consistency.

DMXIS Configuration
I have grouped presets within DMXIS by whether they are “static” or “sequences”. Sequences switch between 2 or more presets every few bars.

I have a few standard sequences set up - eg GreenRed which has the front of the stage green, and the back red, and then smoothly fades to the opposite every 4 bars. Others are BlueWhite or RedYellow. I’ll add to these as I get time.

I also have some standard “solo” presets for Keys, Drums, and even the guitar player (if he behaves himself!) which dim the lighting except for the person who is soloing.

To start with I set up all my songs to use either one of the standard sequences. This gives me moving lighting across our setlist without too much effort.

I also have a standard “in between songs” preset which stops the seqence, dims the band lighting a little, but keeps the white light on our singer/frontman. The lights on the singer are consistently white all the way through.

I also have a “before set” preset for before we come on.

Each preset or sequence I create is reusable within other songs.

Sound Active
I can then add custom presets for particular songs. For example, my MOTU interface also runs the band live and monitor mixer, so I have access to all the indiviudal audio channels. We don’t amplify the kick and snare drums, but they are miced for recording, and now lighting! I’ve created separate aux audio sends from the Kick and Snare drum mics and brought them into C3. I can then enable that audio route into DMXIS for a single rack state. That gives me a way of having the kick drum flash the lights up to full white using a rack state. Same with the snare drum - for example for the intro to Jailhouse Rock. Our drummer likes this!

Cantabile Config
I have DMXIS in a “lighting” rack. Within C3, I trigger the DMXIS presets by sending MIDI notes from bindings on each rack state.

I have each scene or sequence as a rack state within a Lighting rack. The bindings are then triggered on Rack state load.

These MIDI notes going to DMIXIS change for each rack state which is why “target” is enabled as a state behaviour on the binding.

The VST automation enables the “autorun” for the sequences and disables it for the static presets.

Tempo
The DMXIS plugin takes the tempo from C3’s metronome. This is how it knows to switch the sequence after 4 bars. I’ve set the tempo in C3 against each song. We don’t play using backing tracks, but I’ve found that as long as we play at roughly the same speed the lighting changes match up fairly well over a verse. I do have a “next lighting preset state” on a footpedal switch so if the sync does drift then I can reset it mid song.

Typical Song
Normally, in a song I have a “pre” song state which loads up the default “in between songs” lighting preset
Then I have a binding within the song to move to the next “start song” state when I play the 1st note of the song - this obviously changes for each song. This next song state will change the lighting rack preset which will put us into the song sequence, and off we go. I do have to trigger the song start manually if I’m not playing to begin with.

Within the song if I have different song states for verses, or choruses then it is really simple to change the lighting rack state for that part of the song.

Problems
I’ve had some stability issues with the DMXIS plugin - where having the plugin GUI open and switching between presets has caused C3 to completely hang and require a restart. @Brad has been very supportive in helping to isolate the problem to the plugin itself, and the plugin developer is apparently looking at the issue.

Conclusion
This all means that we get a customised lighting show synced up to the music which is fully automated with almost no extra work from me on stage regardless of the setlist order. The VST automation in C3 along with the DMXIS features themeselves are very powerful.

Phew, that was a longer post than I expected!


#25

Hi

Glad you found the right solution. Once you have used DMX controlled lights which are light and portable, there is no going back! :slight_smile:

I hate doing gigs where there is no lights for atmosphere. I really loved doing the light shows against our back tracks and had the lights perfectly in sync.

That is a nice way of setting up DMXIS in Cantabile as well, and it’s good to share experience to gain ideas and of course for new people to see how it is done. :slight_smile:


#26

Updating this to say that I’d finally got DMXIS working how I wanted it a month or so ago.

Then I decided to get some cheap moving heads to play with, and at that point I outgrew DMXIS. It would have driven them, but it would have been way too difficult to keep track of what was going on or visualise the actual lights.

I now use LightJams

It’s great - I’ve got it doing everything I imagined, and lots I didn’t. It is cheaper than most of the other software, more expandable, and isn’t designed around an existing hardware console. It reacts to MIDI messages properly, and support is pretty good too. It has a 2D visualiser so you can see what the lights are actually doing.

I send it the kick drum audio and it automatically syncs to the beat, so no more trying to match tempos up.

For some presets I send it other audio channels and it uses them to modulate the underlying effects.

I have racks set up in C3 for the fixed lights, and the movers. It looks like this.


#27

Sounds interesting. Does it work with the DMXIS interface or do you need a different interface?


#28

It works with the USB DMXIS interface. And you can add more interfaces via ethernet when you start sticking individual addressable LED strips like this to the back of your keyboard stand. :stuck_out_tongue:


#29

Bummer. LightJams locks onto a single computer and won’t let you transfer your license. I’m waiting on the new gen 8 NUC coming out this Spring.


#30

I bought the pro license which lets you transfer it a couple of times.

You can test it out including with DMX output without paying anything. - just a nag screen every 15 mins.

You can transfer the cheapest license once within 3 months I think.

You can always email him and ask him if you can transfer it.

He let me activate a 2nd PC (home and live) for free as a hobbyist.


#31

You change your light software very often :sunglasses:
what was the problem with D-Pro?
…for my workflow the concept is perfekt so i can everytime i need add or delete funktions or lights to the snapshots (maybe when removing a light and buy another one) …so no more changes in my cantabile rack are necessary in this case.
…for me it is very easy with this program (D-Pro) to comunicate with Cantabile.
The Player offers all I need… and every Parameter / Cue/ snapshot can get the direct Controll if I want to do…
…was it only the price?


#32

Thanks, I’ll stick with DMXIS now as I know it pretty well, and am not gigging much right now, but if that changes I’ll give it a look over. :slight_smile:


#33

Hi Juergen, lol, yes you’re right, it has been a frustrating and time consuming learning curve since November when we got our 1st light!

I think I’ve been spoiled by expecting modern software with the same level of functionality, flexibility, and intuitiveness in the lighting world as we get from Brad with Cantabile.

LightJams does come close in my view - It is designed from the ground up to be used with external programs and inputs, rather than MIDI and sound input feeling like an afterthought.
D-Pro, although reasonably modern and intuitive, still feels to me like it is designed to be used by a separate lighting person, rather than being driven programmatically by a playing musician.

I’ve evaluated most of them - DMXIS, D-Pro, M-PC, Chamsys, LightJams, Freestyler, QLC, and a couple others I’ve forgotten.

The issues I had with D-Pro were

  1. It did not have Override feature - this was apparently in the beta, but as I havent bought the software it wasn’t available to me to test. I did ask. So no “guitar solo” light presets that just add a couple of lights on full over whatever else is going on.
  2. It did not have LTP colour mixing, it was HTP only, so adding active presets together created a white mush of colour. The radio button grouping does help, but there were some scenarios I wanted that would have needed lots of manually created presets as a workaround.
  3. You can’t restart a timeline and reset a cuelist via a MIDI footswitch once it has started - I’m not using backing or click tracks, so the tempo drifts. When doing a lighting flip/flop every 8 beats, then I needed a way to reset it. This was a stopper for me.
  4. No sound or beat detection. Having seen what’s possible with LightJams, I’ll not go back to trying to match up tempos.
  5. No virtual dimmer functionality for RGB lamps, which means I needed to make presets for every bright and dim variation of colour. I couldn’t just make a “dim” intensity preset.

On the plus side, I really liked the 2D visualiser, and it is easier to get started and learn than most of the other packages.


#34

Thank you for the detailed description…

the only feature I miss in D-Pro is your point 4. the sound detection…
all other poblems you can bypass…(so i hope to find a vst or an other way to do this)

At the end DMX is nothing else than manipulating channels from 0 to 255
and there is no real cred,green,blue…so I use also the possibility to create own python macros… that helps.

also it is possible now to make momentary buttons so a cue can run and rerun at every time.

I also had a look at your programm when searching for sound detection…but for me it looks a little complicate… and also I have not enough time to test all prog’s…so I worked on with D-Pro.

Now I have a good way to automate Lightswitches with small effort.

Have much fun with LightJam


#35

Hi, also I don’t want to give to many time to DMX and more for playing Music so i created for me this procedure…

My Lightsoftware is D-Pro and for me this is a good solution because it is Modular and so when once designed a position/ move/ cuelist i take it on a button and can take the scene direct in the player Window
so you can add a move ore change a Colour ad a Movinglist that cycles the commands from the scanner.

Is one Scene completed it was saved in a Snapshot

For me it is enough to have 10 Scenes for a normal Song
( because I can also call Moves directly from Buttons If I need this in special Songs)

so the System is 10 Presets (fitting together) in one column and 5 in a row.
…same in my Cantabile Rack

16 Lightracks (per Midichannel 1- linked to the 16 Tab’s) with each 50 States

Here in this Rack Snapshot1 ist Tab Number1

this Rack is at the moment pointed to the Snapshot Table (Picture1-on Top)…NR.37

Idea was not must have a Songstate for every Lightchange…now I can select if I call direct or with Autoselect by each Songstates…
The oder Rack allows me to cycle a specific part of presets… (On or Off)
because I dont like it complicate mostly these are the first 5 Presets in the TabRow…

so the green line is mapped from 10 to 15 and this is cycling
States gives the stepwide…

Heartbeat comes from a second instance of Cantabile that includes CC-Stepper (SLAVE)
…synced to my Keyboard …so now I can also call the next Song whithout losing the beat when my KeyboardArranger wasn’t stopped because I want to play a flexible Medley…

this sends Controller as Trigger for the stepcommands

First the Programmnumbers mapped to Notes (Pic.3) and send a TriggerNote

(to kill the Latency until the lamps/movers react i set the point of each lane specific)

This is the routing for the selection
First step proofes the range of incomming TriggerNote
10-19 CC#1 = 1
20-29 CC#1 = 2
…and so on…to 5

This open’s the Route where the note goes…

Here with transpose it goes the right way to the Taget…

but first back to the opened Snapshot Rack where it is packed on the right channel.
(red line Pic.3)

…I found no easyer way to do this but it works :wink:

so now I can step the cycle directly in D-Pro and look for changes and optimizing…
with only 2 Racklines in my Song


#36

Nice setup Juergen. I like the flexibility you’ve got in being able to call the presets directly, or by using song states. In my setup I only use the song states.

This definitely. For anyone considering doing lighting, be careful what you’re getting into! It looks like most of us have spent much longer than we planned to get something we’re happy with! For me, my 1st efforts were, frankly, not as good as the sound activated automatic programs built into most lights.

Here’s my summary so far for anyone looking at the available software, we have 3 good options in the thread. Demo versions are available for all 3.

  1. DMXIS - works well for a few fixed lights with some sound to light or oscillator effects. It is easy to get started, and works reasonably well as a vst inside Cantabile on the same machine. It quickly becomes difficult to keep track of and visualise what is going on as you expand beyond this. It has an (extra cost) companion called ShowBuddy which I did not test, but is designed to work with backing tracks. You can apply DMXIS lighting presets to specific times on each backing track. The software works only with the specific DMXIS USB DMX interface. Software is openly limited in functionality so as to keep it simple and not overlap with D-Pro which is written by the same developer.

  2. D-PRO - For a larger setup with moving heads or more complex scene changes. It uses the concepts from the pro-consoles, and it does have a learning curve, but I found it reasonably easy to follow the tutorials and use. It can easily be driven by MIDI from Cantabile, but it is standalone and does not run as a VST. It has some effects built in, and a Python scripting API for building others. Works with DMXIS interface, or various other ethernet/usb interfaces from Enttec or DMXKING. Will run on the same machine as Cantabile

  3. Lightjams - Completely different to anything else I’ve seen out there. Can manage hundreds of moving and fixed lights. But just as easy to get started with a few basic fixed band lighting fixtures. It has audio and video input, so it can run LED poles like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3I_qforngg, or sync the lights to the live beat. It can take MIDI, OSC, or even Wii controller inputs. There is a learning curve to it, and like Cantabile there are several ways to accomplish something. Good built in effects engine including beat detection on multiple channels and frequency bands. Very flexible presets and scene sequencing. I don’t see myself limited by it anytime soon. Works with DMXIS interface, or various other ethernet/usb interfaces from Enttec or DMXKING. Lower cost than the other 2. Very flexible custom effects using Excel-like formulas. Will run on the same machine as Cantabile

Others - The majority of the other software I tested is not designed for a playing musician. Some of the more capable software replicates an existing hardware consoles, and does not follow Windows interface norms. This is fine if working with the software every day, but not for me. Each time I loaded the software, I’d have to relearn how it worked. Other software charged extra for things like MIDI support. Some really needed a dedicated PC to run on.

Others welcome to chip in!


#37

Today I had a look at LightJams but… puhh… what a crazy program
the concept is interesting but for me it’s all too much now

there are some little Problems in D-Pro because the simplest Lights are
most complicated too program
…to integrate my KLS Lightbar is a harder stuff than to make complicated Scannermoves.

but once in the future i hope to program a specific python file to fix this problem.


#38

Some time ago, I played around with Daslight for a while - I liked the fact that you don’t need to play with faders but rather work with actual light fixtures, their colors and brightness etc. It’s also pretty powerful with animations, sequences, etc.

It is based on scenes, which can actually overlap, so while your background fills are providing mood colors, your front lights can flash for a special effect by simply calling the scene “front fills flash” whilst “mood colors” keeps running.

All scenes can be triggered via MIDI command; also BPM tapping works via MIDI, so pretty easy to sync with your performance.

Haven’t played with it for a while (no time to set up a real configuration, so stayed with fixture presets for the moment), but I liked the approach!

Software is free, but you need their proprietary interface to run it. A simple one with 128 channels goes for 179 EUR, if you need up to 1024 channels, it’ll set you back 379 EUR.

Cheers,

Torsten


#39

If a program does not run 100% around, it really annoys me somehow…

And so I did it now… (LIGHTJAM)

And hope that it was not a mistake…

Somehow I was interested in the program because of the possibilities to trigger everything about the sound…

But I’m not going to check what I’m doing right now

now 5 hours later I am also confused than before

-no community you can ask
-all Fixtures I must write by my hands /nothing to download
-no Manual with description /only complicated Videos
-also I do not know how to connect the Midi Timing to MasterTempo

all is very difficult…


#40

Hi Juergen,

I’m Mathieu, the developer of Lightjams. You’re right, Lightjams can take some time to get used to. You can ask your questions here https://groups.google.com/forum/#!categories/lightjams.