Ableton Live Lighting Control

So today we got some time to experiment with Ableton Live controlling our lighting console.  Basically the goal was to find a way to have Ableton control the lighting cues and trigger everything.  This way we have everything in sync and it’s all automated.

Today was time well spent.  We figured out all kinds of cool stuff that has really opened the doors wide open to all sorts of possibilities.  Basically we can now have Ableton be the center of control for the entire show, lights, media servers, lyrics, anything that can see MIDI!

The best part is that since it’s through Ableton we can still have the creative freedom to change tempos or repeat sections and everything will follow along.  So everything can be programmed but we can still be flexible, pretty rad!  This is a lot better than the other way around where Ableton chases another source and the performer can’t change anything on the fly.  Locked into a timecode that can’t speed up, slow down, or jump around.

For now here are just a couple of teaser videos.  Ableton was on one laptop outputting MIDI commands to our ETC ION console.  The the ION was outputting DMX over ARTnet to another laptop running Light Converse visualization software.  We’ll make another video explaining things in more detail at some point.  For now this shows a couple of lighting looks mapped to MIDI notes that could be played live or played from the timeline.  You can just imagine where this could lead with some more time to plan out looks!

Interesting Setup For Synchronizing Music, Lights, And Sound

My friend Will Doggett from sent this video to me a few weeks ago.  With all that’s been going on I just got a chance to watch it and it’s pretty cool.

Music, Lights, Sound

Basically they pulled off a pretty unique way of syncing everything together with the music in a preprogrammed way but the trick is that the artist still has creative freedom to change tempos, repeat sections, whatever he wants.  So there’s the precision of a preprogrammed show without locking the artist into a setup that can’t be changed.  Pretty impressive stuff!

Night Of Worship

We just finished another great Night of Worship.  Over 3,000 people showed up to worship with us and it was awesome!  We put together a projection setup like we have done in the past and overall things worked very well.

I don’t have any shots from the event, it was too busy, but here are a couple of pictures I took during setup and testing.  Next time I’ll get some pictures during the event.

Getting Ready For Our Next Night Of Worship

We just set up some projectors for our next Night of Worship.  We rented three 12,000 lumen projectors and blended the image together resulting in about a 70′ wide by 18′ tall image.  Everything is being fed from a MacBook Pro running ProVideoPlayer using a Triple Head 2 Go.  We have 18 songs tonight, about 118 video cues in PVP.  Lighting will be fairly simple since we’re not hazing the room but will compliment the videos.

Blending the three projectors is fairly straightforward.  We’re not edge blending where the three projectors overlap a little.  I’m using the existing architecture on our back wall to try and hide the seems.  So where there’s already a break in the wall that’s where I have the projectors meet.  Simple and works pretty well.  One day when we have our permanent setup everything will be blended and keystone corrected to perfection, ha ha.

Since these are rented projectors I kinda have a checklist in my head for setting them up.  Who knows how they were used last so I have to go through each one and make sure they’re set up right.  I check for front projection mode so my image isn’t backwards.  Then I check the image settings like color and brightness.  With larger projectors they typically have multiple lamps and sometimes they’re not all on.  Maybe the last event didn’t need 100% output or a lamp could be dead.  I need everything I can get so I double check that.  A good rental company will include a spare lamp or two just in case.

Color bars are a good way to test things.  If the image is dark or the colors don’t match it’s easier to spot with color bars than your favorite motion background.  PVP has a built in color bar slide that I’ll use to check color and brightness. Once I know that the three projectors match I’ll start to blend them together.  I like to start with the middle and work my way out, then I know the image is centered and level.

PVP has a decent blend grid built in, that’s what I’ve been using.  It has vertical center and horizontal center lines, I’ll square those up with the dead center of the stage first.  Then I’ll use the center marks and grid to line up the other two projectors.

It really just takes trial and error and a little bit of time.  Most larger projectors have lens shift options which is easier than physically moving the whole projector to line up the image.  From there’s you just have to play with zoom and the legs of the projector to tilt the image if needed.

I’d say it takes about 15-30 minutes to get everything set up now that we know where to place the projectors and we rent the same ones each time.  The very first time we did this setup it was probably closer to an hour of trail and error. Once you’re all set you should have an image that looks like one large projection to the audience.

Since we don’t always have this set up I played around with a program called Aeon during a soundcheck.  It’s a pretty cool program that does live motion backgrounds that can react live to the music.  The video isn’t great since we were on the catwalk but you get the idea.  It looked pretty cool, definitely going to use this for a concert in the future.