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How do you record a light show to a song?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by koimystic, Dec 7, 2008.

  1. koimystic

    koimystic Member

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    We have an Ion and I was wandering how can you record a light show to a song (I am mainly thinking Trans-siberian Orchestra) and then play the light show to the song. I know that starting the song at the same time as the light show could be an issue. I know has to record a macro, but I don't think that is how it should be done. This is with conventional lighting and no moving lights. Also, what is the technical name for something like this? Could a computer and a USB to Midi be somehow involved? Thanks!
    (Ion light board, 2x10 fader wing & 96 Channel dimmer rack with CEM+ or something like that)
     
  2. TheDonkey

    TheDonkey Active Member

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    I'm not sure about the Ion and Prerecorded music, but I know that it's (sorta) possible, and would require USB MiDi,

    The Strand MX at our school has Midi ports on it deisgned for syncing with live music, the idea is that you plug the OUT into your computer/Midi recorder, hit Record on the recorder, then on the MX hit the Sync button.

    After this point you start playing the song and change the fader levels to sync, any changes you make, scene progresses, FX Starts/steps/stops, etc etc will be transmitted oevr Midi to the recorder.

    With the use of a Multitrack midi recorder you can sync your show to the midi timecode, so you'd then plug your computer into the IN port of the console and when you play back the file it will repeat those changes.

    Now that's how it would work on a Live show with an old Strand MX, I don't know how it would work on the newer, computer based consoles as highschool's don't exactly have the biggest budget.


    P.S. As I wrote this, I realized that any decent Multitrack software can handle running both music and midi at once(Garageband for starters), but it all depends on how the Ion software handles or if it even supports Midi out/in, now that I've had this revelation, i shall be bringing in my laptop for the free time that I get to play around in the tehater with.
     
  3. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    You can use the ION's internal SMPTE timecode if you want to, 30 frames per second. Then you can use SMPTE Learn if you know when you want each go - just listen to the music, hit go every time you want the cue to go, and the SMPTE show control section of the ION will record all of your GO button presses as events. Then you can press play on the sound and go on the SMPTE clock at the same time and you're golden.

    Or you can use a program like Qlab with the Pro Midi license to send the console MSC Lighting commands.

    I have done both of these - as well as doing SMPTE timecoding by hand (massive spreadsheets with cue numbers and timecode times and Adobe Audition's time display set to 30 FPS SMPTE). I like them all for different reasons. Some of them are really not feasible in some situations, but I have found uses for all.

    As a note, I did all of these with hand-coding of SMPTE Timecode.

    [media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpIUK8cHyWQ[/media]
    [media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPwnE6t6OwA[/media][media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6S-WbqPl7Y[/media]
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2008
  4. koimystic

    koimystic Member

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    So I would have to set up a ton of cues for each part and hit go for each cue as it plays to the music? Can you edit the show after you record it using the built in SMTPE clock? This area of the board is new to me. Thanks for your help!
     
  5. TheDonkey

    TheDonkey Active Member

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    That seems about right.

    To change the actual lights, you'd probably want to edit the cues themselves, to change the time at which they go off, you'd have to go into your Midi recorder and move the "Notes" to a different time.
     
  6. koimystic

    koimystic Member

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    Ok, that makes since, I just thought that their would be an easier and mroe fun way to do it. I am not sure if this relates to this, and I don't want to get off topic with this, but can you do this same process to make a looping light effect that is neverending(I think it is called a chase)? Thanks.
     
  7. TheDonkey

    TheDonkey Active Member

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    To make the lights chase to the beat of the music?

    I love this thread because it's making me totally LOVE our almost 20 year old Strand MX(1991)

    On our board, there's an Audio In on the back that can be plugged into the mixer, you program an Effect with all the steps, then you run the effect, set it to Chase Audio mode, slide the Audio fader up, and watch the lights flash.

    In the settings you can set it to High Pass, Mid Pass or Low pass so it'll go off with a certain frequency, and the Audio fader sets the sensitivity.


    I've yet to actually try this on the Strand MX because it uses DIN for its audio in, but our Drama Studio Strand 200 handles the feature wonderfully.
     
  8. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Well, what exactly are you trying to accomplish? If you are trying to do a synchronized light show (a la trans siberian orchestra, or like any of the 3 that I put up), you'll need to either use SMPTE learn or actually find your timecode points in the song song and enter those for the cues that you want to fire.

    If you want to simply write an effect with just intensities (no movers), you can build a basic step effect in the effects section of the ION.
     
  9. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Also, as a note, I've been told that the ION has cue times (fade/wait/follow) to two decimal places, so that can be useful. I have done shows that are a mix of MIDI and follow times in the past, but I see myself doing short all-follow-time shows in the near future with that 100 step resolution of follow times.
     
  10. Schniapereli

    Schniapereli Active Member

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    I made one recently on an old Impression 2 just to see if I could do it. I did it to Stronger by Kanye West. I had a macro commanding both playbacks, because of how the song has parts that just come in and out. (Otherwise, I would have just made a bunch of follow cues, like i do for dance concerts) The board only has one decimal place, so I shifted the decimal over on the time, and put the rate at 1000, then adjusted the rate a little more to match it perfectly.

    Once I had that beat nailed, it was easy to set up the rest of the effect cues, but it was hard to write the macro, cause the board is a little slow, and you had to compensate for thinking time. I also had to make the macros trigger other macros because I ran out of space.

    I was hard, but pretty cool, and a good learning experience.
     
  11. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I think that this thread needs a little housekeeping, it seems that a lot of terms and techniques are being tossed around and it doesn't seem like everyone is on the same page.

    The goal is to create a light show that is synced to music, there are many ways to accomplish this. The simplest is to write all the cues and just push the GO button as you listen to the music. The next simplest is to write all your cues as auto-follows. To do this, you would have to time out the piece and figure out where each cue goes and then add and subtract and do some math to figure out the follow times for each cue. then you just start the music and push go at the right time and all the cues will go.

    The next way requires your lighting console to be able to accept MSC (MIDI Show Control) commands and you need software on a computer that can playback the audio and send MSC commands. Then you write all your cues and wherever you want them to go, you place an MSC GO in the sequence on the audio controller which in turn will trigger the cues. Audio Playback from software like QLab and SFX and Devices like the RSD AudioBox can easily sequence MSC commands. Most newer consoles like Ion have MIDI capabilities built in.

    The next way is to use the SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) timecode. Timecode is just a clock with which you can set events to happen at given times. Most consoles can generate the clock themselves, but they can also sync clocks with other devices. So if you had an audio playback device that could output timecode you could connect it to the console and sync the timecode, then just tell the console where each cue goes in time on the SMPTE list. The other way to do it if your audio device can't output timecode is to have the console's clock start when you push the GO button, then just start the audio and push GO at the same time and off you go.

    Those are the basic ways to sync lights and audio. One of the other topics that was brought up was chases. A chase generally refers to an effect that changes the intensity of some set of fixtures and loops. Chases are comprised of a series of steps. A step is like a cue in that you can assign it a fade time and what channels are in it at what level. When you run and effect it plays back the steps in the order you specify (forwards, reverse, random). Effects can usually be loaded into cues or subs, or called manually. On some consoles when you run an effect you can control the rate of the effect with a fader on the console.
     
  12. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Also, there is this device, or this one for this. It can be used at times other than December.:twisted:
     
  13. cynikal

    cynikal Member

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    Sorry to resurrect this thread after 2 years but.. i'm looking to do EXACTLY this, with the following monkey wrench thrown into the loop.. the music is actually a live mix being dj'd (by me), and so tempo changes have the possibility of throwing off the timing. Is there a way to accomplish this with QLab also ? The DMX software i'm using is ministageconsole. The mixing is being done by M-Audio Torq connected to a usb midi controller the Xponent (also by M-Audio).

    Trying to figure out if there's a way to have everything play nice, pre-program the lights via QLab but not have it locked down to one tempo (because the tempo needs to change over time, and unless it's precisely as pre-planned/practiced, the timing of the lights will be thrown off).
     
  14. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I don't know of any software that can be tempo-aware on the fly. For you I would suggest maybe rigging a footswitch as a GO button for your lighting. You probably tap your feet to the rhythm already, so why not use that to trigger your cues!
     

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