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Eurorack->DMX: A Journal
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Eurorack Modules  
Author Eurorack->DMX: A Journal
moogboy
gonna try my hand at one of these eurorack journal things

3/25/17
Introduction and Background

I've been working on modular synth visuals for a little while now, mostly heavy exploration and abuse of the Dave Jones MVIP. I had an LZX system for a short time, and I collect weird home video editing gear. I hadn't really spent any time working on strictly lighting until last August/September, when I started working at a venue as lighting designer. I'd contacted them about doing live video at an upcoming show, and they offered me the position. So I got some experience and started to familiarize myself with lighting then, and recently I started a dayjob at a lighting and pro audio shop. The itch to buy a CV-DMX module was just too bad to not jump in, so I snagged a Soundmachines SY1 from Perfect Circuit Audio, and now we're here!

Recap of experiments thus far:
I've basically only messed around with a single RGBA par can in a 4 channel mode thus far, but it's amazing! The SY1 comes programmed with the 5 CV inputs and 5 associated knobs assigned to DMX channels 1-5, which aligns perfectly with the basic 4 channel RGBA control channels. The test light thus far has been a Chauvet DJ EZPar 64

A couple of interesting phenomena from the early experiments
-Even with a relatively simple video module like the MVIP, a lot of interesting modulation happens when you modulate parameters at frequencies >20kHz. This is definitely not true with this light! After a point it just maxes out and doesn't change anymore. Might be something with the SY1's sample rate, but it wouldn't be surprising for it to be the light.
-You would not BELIEVE the strobe patterns possible with four colors and four channels of Maths! Running strobe-rate LFOs into all of the CV inputs and varying the rates and shapes slightly generates these beautiful patterns that would probably put some people into a trance and some into seizures. Proceed with caution.
-Krell patches are particularly interesting for lighting control. I tend to default to generative patches when I'm just dicking around but I found it really wonderful to just set up a krell patch and let the lights flow to the id of the synthesizer
-JOYSTICKS. I have two joystick modules in my system, and they are AMAZING for creating pretty washes, as one might expect.
damase
Ive been using one for a bit
A VCAMatrix to feed the cv to the SY1 is very helpful. Just Friends is a really cool single modulator for it also within the 5V requirements, but an entire mobenthey system was my favorite for having visual and auditory responses "link" up.

The trick, after the initial honeymoon of cv>dmx, is to harness it all into a light show that actually makes sense and isnt just a bunch of lighting chaos. I think the next step for that is to put a dedicated rack together for the LD, healthy with utilities, clocked modulation, and controllers.... and have him/her recieving the dmx signals on a nice lighting console that has scenes and can route the cv'd dmx at their own will.... To integrate it into a larger system that has direction.
moogboy
damase-I’d tend to agree about integrating with a larger setup! I think I’ll be using the DMX lighting setups a lot in conjunction with my portable video setup (two-tiered keyboard stand with projector and camera on the upper tier, modular on the lower tier) which does have room to eventually include another controller for the lights. I’m in discussions about doing this at a festival in May, which might be the time when joining another light setup is possible.

The First Lights!
So yesterday, I wrote my first entry and immediately started messing around with some of the high value minimal cost lighting setups available at the shop. As time goes on I’d like to control a lot more with the eurorack system but it’s crucial first and foremost to have something that can slip into any show setting. It used to be hard to do modular video projection sets, because I needed all of this space and time to set up (this mirrors the problems I had before I got into video and was dragging around a thousand+ HP eurorack system for audio), but as soon as the setup became compact, tight and immediately expressive things started to pick up and video gigs became fun. Obvious in retrospect, but I’m hoping to bypass a lot of the frustrations of the past this time around.

One of my colleagues and I discussed my needs and concerns about this initial setup, and after thoroughly checking out several of the options I settled on two Chauvet DJ Core Par 40s. The colors mix absolutely beautifully and each light on it’s own is nice and bright, so I think putting one at each corner of a stage combined with video feedback projections on the back wall will look really great.

A couple examples of color mixing. Camera is an iPhone, room is my basement studio with all of the lights turned off.







Beauty Shot:


VIDEO!
All of the CV information in this video came from the recording of Music For 18 Musicians you can hear in the background. I fed an iPod into the ADDAC System 601 Fixed Filter Bank, and used 4 of the Envelope Outs plus a little cv processing to control RGB on both lights.

Euro-DMX signal path looks like this:
FFB Band 2->SY1 Ch. 1 input->Light 1 R
FFB Band 4->SY1 Ch. 4 input->Light 2 G
FFB Band 5->SY1 Ch. 2 input->Light 1 G
FFB Band 7->SY1 Ch. 3 input->Light 1 B, 2 R
FFB Wet out->STG Soundlabs .COM->Maths->SY1 Ch. 5 input->Light 2 B

moogboy
didn't get any good images or video but last night was the first gig with euro-DMX. I combined it with my normal portable video setup (sony camera->MVIP->projector in a feedback loop). Notes:

-I've only got the two Core Par 40's, so I placed them at the front of the stage, on each side of the two center monitors. This worked fairly well, although the band definitely needs more light on stage overall. Once I've got a couple more lights and some stands for them, I think that issue will go away
-Much like with video, no one knows if you fucked up or something wasn't as cool as you wanted it to be. Fortunately, just having those two itsy bitsy lights looked awesome from the crowd's perspective.
-I kept the patching simple this time, using three channels of Maths for modulating RGB levels on the lights independently/semi independently. This looked cool at the show and in a more controlled environment can be exploited to make some gorgeous shadow patterns but live all it really did was slow things down. Next time, I think I'll use mixers to sum CV information so that each color is still independently controllable and I can share an LFO for synchronized strobing
jameswalk
Interested to see how this continues to develop.

As a live event production manager, i've worked with many lighting designers, but would love to look into using CV > DMX for my own purposes. It seems it could be pretty scalable. Have you seen the work of Hikari Machina (https://lefantomonde.tumblr.com). Can't find much info on what exactly is going on, anyone know? Is he on muffs?
moogboy
-An Attempt At Universal Strobe

Last night a friend was premiering a new piece of synth music, and I brought the current lighting setup to improvise a little set with him. I filmed the whole thing, and once the recordings are finished they'll get sync'd up and posted here. Anyway, the interesting forward development from the show is that I tried to patch up a master strobe under control of the pushbutton Gate out from an Intellijel Planar. Overall I think it worked well-each CV input on the SY1 was fed by a separate mixer, and each mixer had the master strobe LFO patched to an input. It's not quite where I want it to be overall (ideally, I'd like to set the level of a given color and then strobe it from there to zero, as opposed to from there to 255) but it looked good and was much easier to play than trying to have individual strobe controls for each CV input.

Picture of us after setting up:


-8 Channel DMX

The Corepar 40 lights that I'm using have two DMX modes-3 channel and 8 channel. In 3 channel mode, the red, green and blue levels are set by three continuous channels of DMX signal. For example, if a light is set to DMX channel 1 on 3 channel mode, then channel 1 controls Red, 2 Green, 3 Blue. In the 8 channel mode, RGB is still controllable by individual channels but there are also controls for built in strobing, preset colors, and a dimmer. Some forthcoming experiments include attempts to create a master strobe with the dimmer and to save on some resources by using the preset colors. At this point I'll need to reprogram the module so as to hit the right DMX channels but that's no big deal. One of the cool properties of the SY1 is that the knobs and cv inputs don't need to be married to one another, so with some clever patching and programming a lot is possible.
bafonso
Very cool... I've recently developed a teensy (microcontroller) DMX controller that simply gets audio from my DJing. But for my own music explorations, using multiple inputs to drive each channel is definitely enticing.

One thing I've been playing a bit with is the introduction of dynamics, not simply driving dmx values based on voltage/signal. Things get a bit more tricky and more DSP based...

Regarding the update rate, you need to keep in mind that with DMX, the more channels you use the lower the refresh rate you'll get. It's a serial and it keeps sending until all channels have been sent and then gets back to channel 1 (or first). I think that if you're sending 512 channels you don't go above 44Hz. Please someone correct me if I'm wrong...
waveglider
bafonso wrote:


Regarding the update rate, you need to keep in mind that with DMX, the more channels you use the lower the refresh rate you'll get. It's a serial and it keeps sending until all channels have been sent and then gets back to channel 1 (or first). I think that if you're sending 512 channels you don't go above 44Hz. Please someone correct me if I'm wrong...


DMX usually puts out the entire 512 channels in every frame, even if you only are using the first five channels, all others will be zeroes. You can send less channels and run faster but 44hz is the max speed sending the full 512 channel packet.
moogboy
bafonso wrote:
One thing I've been playing a bit with is the introduction of dynamics, not simply driving dmx values based on voltage/signal. Things get a bit more tricky and more DSP based...


Tell me more! how are you introducing dynamics into it?

I've been working a lot with the ADDAC Fixed Filter Bank to isolate portions of spectra to control different parameters, and using envelope followers a lot to establish dynamic relationships, but I'm always curious about how other people are doing it
bafonso
waveglider wrote:


DMX usually puts out the entire 512 channels in every frame, even if you only are using the first five channels, all others will be zeroes. You can send less channels and run faster but 44hz is the max speed sending the full 512 channel packet.


You're right, I just looked up my notes and you do have to send all channels all the time! So the update speed is limited independently of the channels you're using smile
bafonso
moogboy wrote:
bafonso wrote:
One thing I've been playing a bit with is the introduction of dynamics, not simply driving dmx values based on voltage/signal. Things get a bit more tricky and more DSP based...


Tell me more! how are you introducing dynamics into it?

I've been working a lot with the ADDAC Fixed Filter Bank to isolate portions of spectra to control different parameters, and using envelope followers a lot to establish dynamic relationships, but I'm always curious about how other people are doing it


One of the things I was using was to "slew" the signals but differentially depending if it's going up or down. So I would track a moving average when signals increase but have a exp decay on the way down. This will give you a higher average light level and it can look a bit epilepsy inducing if you're tracking the signals without any preprocessing.

Also yes on the spectral filtering. I'm currently exploring bandpassing signals in order to drive different colors. One tracking the beat (bass), others more midrange and some vocals. It can become an endless time sink.. neutral

The things I want to do next is to play with space. I typically put my lights around the dance floor and I want to explore "wave" like behavior, sort of simulating vibration on a string. Not sure I'm making myself clear...
moogboy
bafonso wrote:

The things I want to do next is to play with space. I typically put my lights around the dance floor and I want to explore "wave" like behavior, sort of simulating vibration on a string. Not sure I'm making myself clear...


I know the effect you're describing, I think it would look amazing under CV control!

Good idea on the moving average for establishing non-seizure inducing related patterns!
moogboy
upcoming gig!

April 27th, at Lightbox in Detroit, Michigan I'll be doing a modular audiovisual piece heavily featuring CV-DMX patches. For this one I've set up the SY1 so that the first four CV inputs control the green and blue levels for two pairs of lights. Will report further as developments happen.
moogboy
haven't been very good about documenting any of my progress but yesterday I played modular video and lights at a festival and managed to get a neat photo.



modular was used to control four par cans and two light bars. In the above photo, the green light reflected on the ceiling is from the light bars, and the par can underneath the mason jar is specifically for projection effects. The projection is a camera feed through the modular. everything was wiggled more or less live. Mutable Music Things Ears was useful in adding blasts of light in time with the music.
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