Tag Archives: control

2013-12-14 21.33.01

Not So Silent Night 2013

2013-12-14 21.33.01It’s that time of the year!  2013 is ending with a bang here at Calvary.  Lots of big events leading up to Christmas!

One of these December events is Oceans Edge School of Worship’s Not So Silent Night.  This is their annual Christmas concert and it’s the first big concert of the school year.  It’s the students time to apply what they have learned so far and push themselves.

For us on staff it’s a chance to try and do some new and cool things on the tech side.  We pretty much get free reign with all the toys we have at our disposal, ha ha.  This year I got to try something I’ve been wanting to try for a long time, using a projector as a moving light.

We happened to have a spare projector that’s pretty bright, 17,000 lumens!  We positioned this upstage and shot it forward over the stage and over most of the audience.  With lots of haze in the air the results were some pretty awesome beams that were very laser like if we wanted that effect.

Since it was a projector (and not a gobo in a light) we could put out any content we wanted.  Anything white on a black background looked like nice sharp beams cutting through the air.  The results were really cool and couldn’t be done with a moving light or even a laser.  It also allowed us to project words that were actually readable in the air which was really cool.

The projector provided some very high tech kinda looks.  To contrast that we used a lot more conventionals than we normally do.  We had a flown row and a ground based row of pars which we used as audience blinders.  We also had 10 lekos with gobos spread throughout the room to put out some nice, warm, beams.

Between the usual intelligents we have, the projector, and all the additional conventional lights we had lots of options.  I like to try and create variety to keep things from getting repetitive.  Even if something is only used on one song I think it’s worth the effort.

We also had fun with other effects.  Lots of haze (of course), plus low lying fog from a pair of Martin Glaciators, and confetti cannons.  Our rigging system had a lot of cues, bringing lights up and down for different looks.  Plus some different flown backdrop elements that the students created which flew in and out.

Another cool element was some “screens” made out of recycled pallet wood.  This gave a stylized look to all of the projections.  Not everything looked great on it with the texture but once we found the right content it was a cool look.  We purposely left some gaps between the panels so that a light could be put behind the screens and shine through.  this create beams through the cracks and gave us more options.

Once again we made Ableton Live our master control for all click, loop, ProPresenter lyrics, lighting, and projection.  One machine ran Ableton, another ran the two side screens with ProPresenter, a third computer ran Qlab for the stage projection that faced the audience, lastly out ETC Ion controlled lights.

A combination of MIDI notes and MIDI show control was used for all of these commands.  Some devices were hardwired and some were sent commands over our WiFi network using Apple’s built in MIDI over Ethernet.  An iPad with Qlab’s remote app was our backup control for the projector on stage.  Everything worked great!

This seems like a lot of extra work but in the end it’s actually less work.  Start one machine and several follow in perfect harmony.  It also let us hit cues that just aren’t practical when everything is human controlled.  We had lots of hits on specific notes that were hit perfectly every time with this system.

We had two sold out nights in our theatre and it was a lot of work but a lot of fun.  Now it’s time to get ready for our main Christmas outreach service in the BB&T center!  Load in starts tomorrow, I’ll be sure and post some info on that as well!

Check out Oceans Edge’s Instagram for some more pictures.  I’ll post some more pictures and videos as soon as I can.

Screen Shot 2013-06-09 at 5.50.26 PM

The Show 2013 Ableton Live Show Control

Screen Shot 2013-06-09 at 5.50.26 PMI can’t believe we just got done with The Show 2013, just doesn’t seem like another year has passed!  Will Doggett from LoopsInWorship.com and myself put together a video showing how we controlled everything for The Show.

Once again everything centered around Ableton Live and it worked great!  All 3 nights went very well considering the hundreds of cues that were happening.  Check it out!

Screen shot 2012-12-16 at 5.56.45 PM

Ableton Live Controlling Lighting, Video, and Lyrics

Hey guys, we just got done with a week of rehearsals and shows for Oceans Edge’s Not So Silent Night.  Everything went great!  In this show we tried out some new ideas that we haven’t done in a show yet.  The biggest one being some pretty heavy automation thanks to Ableton Live and MIDI.

We ended up with Ableton Live sending out MIDI commands to our lighting console for lighting cues.  To another machine running ProVideoPlayer for videos on our stage screen.  Then to yet another machine with ProPresenter for lyrics which was a master for two other machines running ProPresenter in slave mode connected to our side screens.  We didn’t have video cabling to those areas so we wirelessly connected to them.

In the end Ableton Live on one machine was triggering a grand total of five other machines running different programs and performing different tasks.  All through MIDI and MIDI Show Control.  Pretty cool stuff!  This allowed us to have the precision of automated cues but unlike timecode we could easily change the order of cues, repeat cues, skip cues, change the tempo, all things that timecode is too rigid to do well and simply.

This involved some testing and extra work on the front end but resulted in a better show that was very easy to run.  We only ended up with about 100 lighting cues, about 5-10 were manually triggered.  If Ableton Live wasn’t triggering most of the lighting it would have been at least 175-200 cues.  This is because we used Ableton Live to repeat cues (for easier programming) and trigger presets saved to our submasters that could then be triggered as individual lighting cues or looks.

Just like you can hit the bump buttons to make the submasters go Ableton Live can do the same thing through MIDI Show Control commands.  So one song that would have been 50-100 cues was simply 23 presets triggered remotely in different arrangements.  This even allowed us to divide up the programming between several people.  I was able to focus on lighting looks and programming the lighting console while other people carefully placed cues into Ableton Live to trigger the lights.

Connectivity was pretty simple as well.  In fact only the lighting console itself had a physical MIDI cable plugged into it.  The rest of the machines received MIDI commands over the network using Apple’s Audio MIDI setup that’s built into the OS.  We have used this a lot and it has proved to be very reliable provided that you have a good network connection and not a lot of network congestion.  We created our our network just for these machines in order to make sure everything worked as fast as possible.  Everything in the lighting booth was hard wired together and the two remote machines connected over the wireless N WifI network.  This worked very well.

My buddy WIll Doggett and I put together this short video where he walks through the setup.  Ignore the messy lighting booth, ha ha.

ProPresenter

ProPresenter Communications Module

Renewed Vision, the makers of ProPresenter, announced a new add on communications module.  It adds Art-Net support for DMX over ethernet.  All kinds of video switcher control for playback control from a video switcher.  And last, but not least, MIDI over network control.

The MIDI one caught my eye.  That’s how we have been controlling ProVideoPlayer for video playback from Ableton Live during nights of worship.  My friend Will Doggett from LoopsInWorship.com put together a short video and some resources for MIDI from Ableton, check it out!

ls92

Yamaha LS9 StageMix iPad App

The Yamaha LS9 is a great little console for the money.  For lots of venues this is a good entry level digital console that won’t break the bank.  If you’re familiar with the Yamaha M7CL and then go to an LS9 you will quickly notice some things that are missing though, mainly the touchscreen.  The StageMix iPad app for the LS9 goes a long way towards filling those gaps and making the console easier and quicker to use.

I’m not gonna go into too much detail on connecting the console to the iPad, Yamaha has good info on that.  I will say that it’s not very hard, you just need a wireless router then connect both the iPad and LS9 to the router.  Getting an N router or faster will help sync faster when you connect to the console.  We have multiple LS9’s and M7’s in different venues.  To help organize things we name the wireless network after each venue and then turn off the broadcast SSID feature just to help keep people off of the network.

Ok, enough of that stuff, ha ha.  Once you have the app talking to the console you’ll be able to remote control all kinds of stuff.  For the most part you can just dive right in and start playing around.  The app is very well designed, easy to use, and you can’t really hurt anything.

Since the LS9 only has a small screen and it’s not touchscreen I find myself using the iPad app for almost all EQ tweaking.  I find it a lot quicker and easier than using the controls on the console.  Then on the console’s screen I’ll typically tweak the dynamics settings.  Now between both screens I have just about everything I want to tweak for a given channel at my fingertips.

To make things even quicker to work with there’s a little setting that I turn on.  In the settings for the app are a couple of options for selecting channels.  I turn on the StageMix follows console mode.  Now when I have the EQ on the iPad and select a channel on the console that channel’s EQ pops up on the iPad.  Sounds simple but it’s a huge time saver and makes this console 10 times better to work with in my opinion.

Another thing that’s nice is loading and saving scenes through the app.  Typing on the LS9 is well, terrible, ha ha.  No touchscreen so that means using the arrow keys to select each letter one at a time, it’s really slow.  When you use the iPad app you get the iPad’s keyboard and wallah, way easier typing.  You might even take the time to actually add a comment, ha ha.  Not something you would bother doing through the LS9 controls unless you really had to.  Naming and color coding channels is also best done through the app.

I wanted to point out those features since that’s what I use the most.  During rehearsals I’ll walk the room and dial in the mix from outside the sound booth.  In the rooms that have stage wedges then the app is great for tweaking things from stage at the performer’s location.  We’ve done shows where there’s a FOH guy at the console and a monitor guy hanging out on stage with the app.  It works really well for that, you just have to be careful that you don’t foil each other.

I guess if the app had a flaw it’s that you can’t set it to a monitor mix only mode or something like that.  If you give someone else control from the app you just need to trust them and make sure that they don’t mess with your EQ or preamp gain.  The only other thing I can think of is that you can’t connect more than one iPad at a time.  If you could connect several iPad’s and assign each one to have just fader control of a monitor mix you would essentially have a complete personal monitoring system built into the console.  That’s not something they’re working towards though, at least not the last time I talked to Yamaha.  Oh well, can’t have everything!

Best part, the app is free!  There’s even a demo mode if you just want to play around and see the features without connecting to the console, check it out!

Screen shot 2012-10-27 at 12.12.53 AM

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!

QLab

QLab for Audio, Lighting, and Video Control

So if you saw the other post about QLab you’ll know that we love it for track editing and playback of audio for shows. Recently we were playing around with some of the other features.

We were trying different options for controlling our lighting console from Ableton Live. We managed to get Ableton to output MIDI time code (through an in between program) and have our ETC ION console chase it. I’ll make another post about how we got that to work.

After some playing around with that setup we opened up QLab. QLab has native support for all kinds of timing and MIDI options. Using QLab we were able to simultaneously send time code to Ableton to track and play audio and send MIDI show control to the lighting console to “go” on the the cues. Basically we found that it would be pretty easy to set up QLab to be the center of control for everything. Hit one “go” button and trigger Ableton, lighting, the built in audio playback, built in video playback, just about anything!

Mainly we were testing sync’d playback from Ableton which is actually pretty easy. Either have the lighting console and Ableton both track to time code. Or have Ableton track time code and the lighting console track MIDI show control. Both options mean we can have our lighting cues precisely mapped out and repeatable all with the touch of a button.

And since you can set up multiple devices we were able to send MIDI timecode internally to Ableton and externally to our lighting console at the same time at different timecodes is we wanted to. This means if we needed to offset the timing to one or the other it’s pretty simple. So if you programmed a bunch of cues to a certain timecode range, but then had to change it in Ableton for some reason, it wouldn’t be a big deal, just offset the times.

I can’t wait for the next show where we need this kind of precision. By linking Ableton directly to the lighting console, or controlling both Ableton and the lighting console from QLab, we’ll have all the control we need! One “go” button and everything will sync up perfectly, pretty cool!

For more info on all of these products check out the manufacturer’s sites.

Ableton Live

ETC ION

Figure 53’s QLab