Old 06-04-2015, 12:12 AM   #1
mschnell
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Default Reaper to control Lighs

Hi Experts

We need to use Reaper to control the intensity and color of lights.

We are going to do a Midi to DMX converter (hardware), so the Midi data in one or more Reaper track will be the origin of the changes.

So we want to "draw" CC value curves in these tracks and/or record controller changes generated by BCF2000 or similar device.

How is this best done ?

Alternatives ?

Thanks,
-Michael
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Old 06-04-2015, 01:02 AM   #2
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Hi Michael,

I'm not by any means light expert, but there are couple of options besides your idea, which isn't bad.
First I assumed, you want to use Reaper, because all pre-sequenced lights movement needs to be in sync with some music program. Otherwise, most of DMX control software supports built-in sequencing.

- use some standard dedicated DMX control software and of-the-shelf DMX hardware I/O running at the same computer as Reaper and sync it via MIDI and some software loopback driver (eg. LoopBe1). This will have of course slight disadvantage, because you'll need to create projects in two programs. Of course, advantage is, you can use all features of dedicated DMX control software (eg. libraries of common DMX hardware, sliders with meaningful names etc.)

- grab something like DMX PIPE (one of most common USB to DMX interfaces), it is basically FTDI serial port chip. With FTDI drivers and standard serial access. Instead of writing of software for your own box, you can write VST plugin, which will translate incoming MIDI events and send it to DMX PIPE.

- buy ENTEC DMXIS
http://www.enttec.com/?main_menu=Products&pn=70570
This is bundle of DMX interface and control software, which can be hosted as VST plugin in Reaper. This somewhat combines quite refined DMX software (eg. shows management, addressing, macros) and tighter communication with VST host (automation, MIDI).
That would be probably my preferred choice for 189EUR.

Michal
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Old 06-04-2015, 01:12 AM   #3
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Previously mentioned DMXIS demo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xW6IZUnO2Cg
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Old 06-04-2015, 02:27 AM   #4
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Thanks for your answers.

Interesting stuff, but in our case we want to use Reaper to create data for the "DMX+MP3 player" device we offer. The little box can playback MP3 and with this create DMX data via multiple algorithms. Of course it also can just playback appropriate "DMX files" (that are in a format similar to Midi Files: including DMX data and timing specification). It can record these files when DMX input comes in from a DMX "mixer".

Now the customer's request is to do an "Audio and Light" production in Reaper. As Reaper can't do DMX natively, the idea is to have Reaper manage audio and MIDI data, and convert some of the MIDI tracks to DMX before recording them as the propriety "DMX-Files" (in parallel with the Audio on MP3).

Obviously we can extend our hardware device to be able to capture not only DMX but additionally MIDI and convert the controller changes to DMX data on the fly.

Now the core of my question was how to "produce" MIDI controller "runs". Obviously Reaper can record such MIDI data from a controller device such as a BCF 2000. But it will be necessary to edit and/or create them by software.

I found that the Midi editor already does provide great means for this. It even seems to be able to manage "high resolution" (14 bit) controllers, which does seem appropriate, as DMX uses 8 Bit data rather than the 7 Bits of standard MIDI CC.

Now the question is, if it's possible to "draw" Lines, sine waves or similar stuff for controller values.

Thanks,
-Michael

Last edited by mschnell; 06-04-2015 at 03:10 AM.
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Old 06-04-2015, 05:39 AM   #5
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I see, what you want, although I'm not really convinced, it is practical thing to manually create curves for DMX like that*.

To answer your question, I believe, it isn't possible to draw just CC curves or lines without existing MIDI events (eg. recorded notes) at place.
But you can use track automation envelopes, where you can draw curves, insert points, adjust interpolation and curve tension. Just place ReaControlMIDI at track, where you assign 6 CCs, you want to control, and then automate it as normal plugin. If you find, 6 CCs is not enough, just insert another instance of ReaControlMIDI to the same track.
You can of use basic function generator from SWS Extensions - it is called Envelope processor. Additionally, it is possible to create envelope manipulation based audio or LFO, using parameter modulation.
When you finish that, you can easily route MIDI vi send to another track and record its output as normal MIDI file.

*Why I think, drawing is impractical thing. Well, because, most DMX controls for shows or music program isn't created like that. Usual workflow is more like this - create several snapshots of all controllers, each type for appropriate section - tune everything for intro, verse, refrain.. And then, you'll blend between snapshots at the right moment, all controllers are smoothly "animated" to new values (kinda like at some video animation software). It is much easier, than repetitive manual control of dozens various parameters, including one, which are naturally tied together eg. RGB values for particular lights.
Of course some parameters are controlled by rhythmic synced LFOs thorough whole section and there is another parameter in DMX sequencer, which controls modulation depth, but basic workflow is usually like I described.

To some extent, it is possible to do in Reaper with mentioned automation envelopes and touch/latch modes (be sure to check Automation option at preferences "Add transition point when recording automation while playback is stopped"). You can also write some JS plugin (API can operate rather nicely with MIDI events). But at overall, I believe, it will be bit cumbersome in comparison with dedicated software.

With regards to your box, maybe more attractive general option will be possibility to do realtime recording of DMX events from other device.. Of course DMX input port will be necessary. That way, one with dedicated control panel or specialized software like mentioned DMXIS can prepare show(song) with all of its bells and whistles comfortable way and record to the box in realtime.
There are some existing solutions - http://www.thomann.de/de/dmx_recorder.html but AFAIK no one can play also synced audio.

Just few thoughts,

Michal

Addition: I wouldn't personally bother with 7-bit precision, IME in most cases, is already exceeds number of real obtainable levels, you can control with normal dimmer or casual PWM controlled LEDs. Maybe in case of some real high-end devices or servo controlled heads it could be too rough, but I don't expect this to be big issue during real use.
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Old 06-04-2015, 07:06 AM   #6
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Be aware that ReaControlMIDI generates MIDI at a rate of once every audio buffer. So, when using that, I'd recommend to use a (very) small audio buffer size in order to maximize the resolution on the time axis.

Fwiw, I wouldn't even consider using REAPER for such a purpose, as (imho) its MIDI and automation editing features suck in comparison to many other applications.
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Old 06-04-2015, 03:05 PM   #7
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Thanks a lot for the answers regarding ReaControlMIDI and alternative concepts.

In fact I was told that CuBase does allow for doing polygons for MIDI CC runs. (Finally something that CuBase does and Reaper can't do )

And in fact our box does feature a DMX in and can record the data.

We will consider all the stuff you pointed out.

-Michael

Last edited by mschnell; 06-04-2015 at 08:54 PM.
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