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Author Topic: DMX - midi - Mac  (Read 2805 times)

Steve Garris

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DMX - midi - Mac
« on: December 11, 2018, 08:36:11 pm »

I'm looking for a Mac-based dmx lighting program that will allow me to control via midi. I see a few out there at a quick glance. I currently use Luminair3, but I want to do more. I do not have any idea how midi works, so I need to learn that.

The band uses Mac files for tracks, backing vocals and click, so they want the system to remain Mac based. Look forward to your recommendations.
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Michael Thompson

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Re: DMX - midi - Mac
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2018, 02:38:32 am »

I'm looking for a Mac-based dmx lighting program that will allow me to control via midi. I see a few out there at a quick glance. I currently use Luminair3, but I want to do more. I do not have any idea how midi works, so I need to learn that.

The band uses Mac files for tracks, backing vocals and click, so they want the system to remain Mac based. Look forward to your recommendations.

Try LX console.  I use it all the time and trigger it with midi sent from qlab.
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Taylor Hall

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Re: DMX - midi - Mac
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2018, 07:02:42 am »

QLC+ can also accept MIDI triggers and works on MacOS
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Steve Garris

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Re: DMX - midi - Mac
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2018, 01:03:23 pm »

Has anyone used Lightkey?
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Steve Garris

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Re: DMX - midi - Mac
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2018, 06:18:53 pm »

After digging around online I'm now looking at DMXIS & Show Buddy Active. The playback program will handle the itune backing tracks. DMXIS is looking pretty easy for dmx programming. $307 includes a dongle, and add $100 for Show Buddy.

My next problem, I don't have a MAC! (I'll be using the band's Apple laptop).
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: DMX - midi - Mac
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2018, 06:39:04 pm »

Hi Steve, DMXIS is a solid choice but can be somewhat limited from a programming and general horsepower perspective.  The limitations of the program can also be seen as advantages to some users, however.  One of the things that DMXIS does better than most programs is sync with MIDI or third party software, so that might be a good solution for you. 

MagicQ PC can run on a Mac and will accept MIDI commands, however you must use the ChamSys MIDI interface for this option to be enabled (and it's not cheap).  ETC's Nomad can also run on Mac and accept MIDI commands, though read the documentation first before buying because certain combinations of Nomad (either the Eos or Cobalt flavor) and computers (Windows vs Mac) have limitations - MIDI being one of them.  I'm not a computer expert and owning both Windows and Mac machines I can say that they handle MIDI differently, and that at least for me the Mac has been more temperamental when streaming MTC from FL Studio via a MOTU interface.  Good luck! 
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Steve Garris

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Re: DMX - midi - Mac
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2018, 07:23:21 pm »

Hi Steve, DMXIS is a solid choice but can be somewhat limited from a programming and general horsepower perspective.  The limitations of the program can also be seen as advantages to some users, however.  One of the things that DMXIS does better than most programs is sync with MIDI or third party software, so that might be a good solution for you. 


Thanks Jeff. While looking I stumbled across DMXIS and liked how it looked regarding the interface. Also liked how well it is integrated with Showbuddy. This will be my first midi operation, and I need something easy to use. Can you elaborate on its limits, or lack of horsepower?
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: DMX - midi - Mac
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2018, 10:47:39 am »

Can you elaborate on its limits, or lack of horsepower?

Sure!  So to start with the obvious, you're capped at a single universe of DMX.  I don't see that as a limitation per say because this unit is intended for use with smaller systems, but it's still worth mentioning if you think you might ever want to expand. 

My bigger gripes with the product have to do with the software.  Keep in mind that this was developed more or less as a niche product that works well with integrating lighting control with simple MIDI triggering or use with a DAW or other DJing program.  That's not necessarily a bad thing especially given what you want to do with it, but to someone familiar with larger consoles there's going to be a lot missing.  I don't think the software does a good job handling moving light attributes (pan/tilt/color/etc.).  Every channel of DMX is mapped onto a fader (0-100 at that, instead of what should be 0-255).  This works fine when you're just dealing with mainly conventional fixtures and maybe a few basic LED Pars or moving heads, but it's a real pain when working with larger systems.  What I can't comment on with certainty is how DMXIS then handles HTP vs. LTP.  Last time I played with DMXIS (about a year or so ago) we couldn't figure out how to enable LTP on presets.  Maybe we just missed it, but if that's a truly missing feature then that makes moving lights very difficult to use, especially in a busking scenario.  I know at least at one point in time this software also struggled significantly with any sort of cue stack or playback function with variable but non-consistent timing on movements.  A quick browse of the manual seems to imply that none of this has seen much (if any) improvement.

Palettes are a notable feature that's absent.  While there are ways to work around this such as how the software can auto-group similar fixture parameters and can also mask to some extent while programming, it's not the same thing.  Effects are handled mostly via something called an oscillator.  It's a quick and easy way to get some movement on stage - either via moving lights or just chasing colors through Pars.  This is wonderful if you like what it does - if you don't - you don't have many other options.  As example, if all I want is for a row of moving heads to do the wave - I'm covered.  Great!  If I want each head to individually fly in to a predetermined point on stage (ideally driven by a focus palette), change color, and fly back out - I'm out of luck.  That's really beyond what this program can do, at least gracefully.  In contrast I could program such an effect on ETC's Cobalt platform in only a minute or two. 

So yes, it really depends on just what exactly you want the lights to be capable of and how demanding you are of your system.  DMXIS isn't bad by any means, but it's meant for DJs and small bands who want a synchronized light show with minimal peripheral equipment to do so.  That comes at the expense of horsepower.  I also think this is very expensive for what it offers compared to other choices on the market (MagicQ PC and M-PC), but I'll concede that this is one of the cheaper and most streamlined way to get true sound-to-light control of a system.  Hope this all helps!         
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Steve Garris

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Re: DMX - midi - Mac
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2018, 02:52:52 pm »

What I can't comment on with certainty is how DMXIS then handles HTP vs. LTP.  Last time I played with DMXIS (about a year or so ago) we couldn't figure out how to enable LTP on presets.  Maybe we just missed it, but if that's a truly missing feature then that makes moving lights very difficult to use, especially in a busking scenario. 


Hope this all helps!         

Yes, helping immensely!

Not sure what HTP and LTP is. I typically use preset scenes if I'm busking. I've never used pallets. As for the movers, we have only (2) focusable movers, and (6) mini wash movers in our show. (1) Universe is fine, but I'm sure as I learn more I'll want more. I'm coming from this progression: Cheap dmx board > Magic 260 > Luminair3. The Luminair has the oscillators and a separate movement generator, much like you're describing. It works, but like you said it's very limited.

I'm going to keep looking, and I'll check out those that you mentioned. My concern is that the Mac-software-midi connectivity will be too complicated. I've not worked in any recording scenario and I'm not familiar with any DAW, so I've got a lot to learn to make this work. I'm a sound guy that got interested in lighting. I just wish there was a "package software" that would do it all, made specifically for band lighting.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: DMX - midi - Mac
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2018, 03:16:42 pm »

Great!  Always happy to lend useful advice! 

HTP stands for Highest Takes Precedence and LTP is Latest Takes Precedence.  Let's say we're layering two different presets/memories/submasters, each having an assigned value to a specific channel (for instance Preset 1 has Channel 1 at 50% and Preset 2 has Channel 1 at 75%).  If I run both presets at the same time in an HTP environment Channel 1 will go to 75%, as that's the highest of the two commanded values.  If I then fade down Preset 2, Channel 1 will fade until it hits 50%, at which point Preset 1 is now the highest value so it'll stay at that level until I either fade up something else or pull down Preset 1.  In an LTP environment, pulling down Preset 2 will take Channel 1 to 0% despite the fact Preset 1 is still active because the movement of Preset 2 was the most recent command made to that channel.

Typically you use HTP for dimmers and intensity channels and LTP for moving light attributes or LED color mixing.  Lack of LTP is a dealbreaker for me on any platform meant for LEDs or moving lights because of how dynamic attributes can be.  If I have a scene set onstage and want to "bump" a color into moving lights or LEDs via a bump/flash button but the color I'm bumping is lower on the 0-255 scale than what's currently being sent, the effect won't work.  The board would essentially ignore that input in an HTP environment, whereas in LTP the desired effect will bump in when pressed since it was the most recent command executed, yet the scene can be set to "rubber-band" back to its original value once the bump button is released.  I hope that makes sense!  If everything is preprogrammed and scripted this isn't a big deal, but I'm sure you can see why in a busking environment it wouldn't really work.

Have you thought about a small but capable hardware console?  While I have yet to get hands on one, the QuickQ Series from ChamSys is quite promising.   
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Re: DMX - midi - Mac
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2018, 03:16:42 pm »


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