The easiest way to sync lights to music?

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Moskus
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The easiest way to sync lights to music?

Post by Moskus » Sat Nov 07, 2015 7:58 am

I'm no professional in controlling lights or anything. We do have a "smarthouse" which I've spent the last 7-8 years tuning, and my daughters (2 and 4) thought our regular Christmas lights last year "were so booring". So, what's a dad to do? ;)

I've gotten some lights, RGB strips, a DMX-King controller and some DMX receivers. All hooked up and ready to play. And here's where I get stuck!

I have a little studio in my basement, and I'm used to multitrack recording and MIDI-editing. I thought QLC+ would give me some of the same options. And perhaps it does, I just can't figure it out. My inital idea was to bind various functions and each light individually to a key on my MIDI-keyboard and just "play" long with the music. Repeat alot of time, and then you have a song. I don't see anything resembling a "record" button in QLC+, so perhaps I should just keep it MIDI and play it from my sequencer.

Or am I missing some cool functions in QLC+?

So I guess what I'm asking:
What's the easiest way to make some lights blink synced to music?


Thank you for your help! :)

bestdani
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Re: The easiest way to sync lights to music?

Post by bestdani » Sat Nov 07, 2015 8:57 am

Hi,
as far as I know (I'm pretty sure) it's not possible to record a timed sequence (That's quite the same question) but I think it's a nice idea.

If you're already used to MIDI sequencers it's maybe the best option to do it using the sequencer and MIDI input in QLC+ when it works fine for you.

But QLC+ also has a show editor which is quite comparable to a MIDI sequencer track (however operated a bit different) and I've programmed some shows for my nephew using it, but you don't play it live, you can create some light sequences in the show editor directly and use the timing (fade in time, fade out time, duration) of a time step to match it to the music.

I used the waveform display of the track for orientation, placed a sequence at the first beat, then I created some steps of the sequence, copied them (sometimes reordered them randomly) and used the timing control to match the sequence to the beats that could be seen on the waveform. This works the fastest for constant BPM songs but it works also quite fast for human played songs with fluctuating BPM. I always set the timing to be "per step", so you can use the average BPM and then just nudge some single steps that got offbeat. It works the same if you want to match a sequence to a melody instead to beats.

A Screenshot of this is in the Attachement.
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Moskus
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Re: The easiest way to sync lights to music?

Post by Moskus » Sat Nov 07, 2015 9:31 am

Thanks for your input! :)

As far as I see I have two options, and they both have different strengths and drawbacks. I'll see if I have understood it correctly:

1. MIDI
Send MIDI from my sequencer to QLC+. That may give me a fairly good control over each light. Editing MIDI is very easy, especially if I can map one note and it's velocity to a specific channel and level. I don't really know how to do that, but I guess I can use the Layout and map custom buttons to MIDI there.

This has the advantage of giving me easy but total control of each light as well as of already defined Effects. The drawback is that I need a third party playing a MIDI-file (or even worse, having my sequencer running non-stop for a month).


2. Use QLC+
As far as I can see, I have to create different Functions and trigger them in the "step sequencer" in QLC+. Having created some functions with 15 lights in each, I think this will require alot of work compared to the MIDI-method. There's a lot of clicking around, but then again, I might be doing it wrong.

The advantage is that I don't have to run multiple programs to get around the sync issue, and I'm betting it will be more reliable.



I guess the follow up questions are:
1. Is it as easy to map MIDI as I think?
2. Is the Show function as hard to use as I think, or did I miss something?

bestdani
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Re: The easiest way to sync lights to music?

Post by bestdani » Sat Nov 07, 2015 12:14 pm

Mapping MIDI is quite easy, you would have to create a slider for each DMX-Channel that you want to control on the virtual workspace and assign the MIDI input to it, I'm not sure if QLC+ supports note velocities for the sliders, so if not you would have to use another software in between to convert the note on velocity to a control change message.
This is maybe a disadvantage and also the MIDI resolution is 128 steps instead of 256 steps (DMX) - an alternative would be OSC instead of midi which is not limited to 128 steps.

The real advantage is that you can then really play the light show on a piano and just record it (if your MIDI sequencer supports this, but this should be the case for every sequencer normally), if your sequencer supports this, you can also record fades using CC channels for instance if you have some controllers with faders to do so, I once saw a video about a professional show that was driven that way where MIDI was sent by Ableton Live to a GrandMA2 console.

If you want to use the internal show timelime of QLC+, you can create new sequence directly there (choose the fixtures and functions you want to be affected by the sequence), they are also visualized on the timeline (look at my screenshot in the previous post), the usage is just a bit "uncomfortable" since you will have to manipulate the time steps in a seperate view (shown on the right) instead of manipulating it directly in the timelime by dragging it with the mouse, but I got used to it and it works almost as fast as direct dragging, you can of course also duplicate complete short sequences and drag them with the mouse (look at the newly attached screenshot).

The disadvantage:
You cannot record a DMX sequence in QLC+ as it could be done with a midi sequencer by just playing it live.

Another alternative:
I'm pretty sure freeware DMX recording and playback software exists (you can also buy standalone devices), at least for DMX-Control a recording Plugin exists. So you could perform the lights to the music in QLC+, record the output with a recorder and then just start the music and the DMX playback synchronized (and hope that they keep in sync). If you want to do it locally on your PC the best option is to use ArtNet (which is DMX over ethernet), but this would require a bit more explanation.
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darrow
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Re: The easiest way to sync lights to music?

Post by darrow » Sun Nov 08, 2015 1:52 pm

The best way I know to achieve what you want is to use the free open source DJ app MIXXX from MIXXX.org. This has a very good beat detection plug-in. It also has Java script support and scripts have been written to output a midi message on each beat which you can use with QLC+. Search the MIXXX forums for the scripts. I use MIXXX for my Xmas and New year party light shows. It works really well.

Mixxx has lots of DJ specific stuff you probably won't want to use but it has the very big advantage that you can point it at your music files and it will analyse them and produce accurate BPM data. I don't know any other app that can do this.

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fooschnickens
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Re: The easiest way to sync lights to music?

Post by fooschnickens » Sun Nov 08, 2015 1:52 pm

darrow wrote:The best way I know to achieve what you want is to use the free open source DJ app MIXXX from MIXXX.org. This has a very good beat detection plug-in. It also has Java script support and scripts have been written to output a midi message on each beat which you can use with QLC+. Search the MIXXX forums for the scripts. I use MIXXX for my Xmas and New year party light shows. It works really well.

Mixxx has lots of DJ specific stuff you probably won't want to use but it has the very big advantage that you can point it at your music files and it will analyse them and produce accurate BPM data. I don't know any other app that can do this.
Can it do this with a live feed being pumped into it? Like if I patched our soundboard output through a line-in on a laptop running mixxx, is it able to do that same beat detection?

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Moskus
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Re: The easiest way to sync lights to music?

Post by Moskus » Fri Nov 20, 2015 9:59 am

I apologize for the very, VERY late reply. Being sick and having sick kids is no fun. :(

I tried giving the Show function in QLC+ a try, but being too used to MIDI, this was a no-go in the end. However, setting up MIDI over LAN (rtpMIDI) was easy as you both have said, so now I'm controlling the lights with Cakewalk Sonar, and can take advantage of all the MIDI (and audio) manipulation tools I'm used too (like arpegiator, quantize, delay, echo, etc). Not to mention easy copy/paste.


Thank you all for your input. I'll see if I can get around to post a Youtube video of my little setup. (Just 15 small light chains and 5 RGB led strips).

topasrec
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Re: The easiest way to sync lights to music?

Post by topasrec » Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:17 am

Hello everyone,

I'm using qlcplus together with "aubio" (audio labelling library) running in real-time on Jack server.
The sound of the OS is fed to Jack audio server using the pulseaudio Jack bridge. From there it is routed/splitted to the aubio real-time instance and out to the speakers.
aubiotrack (one of the examples of aubio) performs the beat detection and feeds the output midi "tick" to qlcplus.
(I had problems with the output midi tick which was not implemented in an older version of aubiotrack, but after fixing this it works like a charm. aubio is open source)
I am using Ubuntu.

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