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Controller Assignments with visual display – I did it!


simoncroft
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I posted about an idea I had a few weeks ago to get each button on my Akai APC40 put up a display of what the controls were actually doing for each plug-in. I now have that working as a 'proof of concept', (rather than a nice-looking graphic for every plug-in). Once I have it finished, I'll happily post videos, but for now, here's the basics of how it works.

 

1. LPX runs the audio project on my Mac Pro. It has the APC40 attached to it, and all the CAs for the plug-ins, transport etc. are in the Preference folder of that machine.

2. I have another copy of LPX running on an old Mac Mini. This has a different Preferences file, assigning the same APC40 buttons to Markers along the timeline.

3. The LPX Project on the Mac Mini has an embedded .Mov, in addition to the Markers. Each Marker point is effectively a new scene, showing what the APC40 rotaries, buttons and faders do for the associated plug-in for the 40 Clip Launch Buttons on the controller.

4. Within the Mac Pro's Audio Midi Set-up, in the Network section, I have the APC40 sending MIDI across the network, to the Mac Mini, as well as via USB to the Mac Pro.

 

Result: Button 1 is Amp Designer on the main machine, and Marker 1 on the MM, Button 2 is Bass Amp Designer and Marker 2 and so on, giving me a fresh graphic for each plug-in. In addition, the LED skirts round the APC rotaries map the on-screen values really well, to the extent that if I use a mouse to move the on-screen controls, the APC's displays follow it instantly.

 

The only limitations I have so far is sharing one of the two displays I have on the Mac Pro with the MM takes up too much real estate when I'm running LPX, so I will need to introduce a 3rd screen that is bigger than the 7" security monitor I have for the MM. Also, I'm experimenting with a work-around for the fact that the Key Commands pull-down menu only lists Go To Marker commands for the first 20, which means I can only access markers 21+ with a Go To Marker Number command and manually entering a number.

Mac Pro 5,1 • Catalina • LPX 10.6 • M-Audio Axiom 49 • Korg nanoKontrol • Focusrite Saffire Pro26 • Embarrassing amount of plug-ins
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I've just had a 'light bulb moment', which I will share, in the hope it helps someone else. If I describe my two related problems, the solution will make a lot more sense.

 

Problem A. Using an orthodoxy of 'one plug-in per button' is incredibly inefficient when some plug-ins only use one or two of the 17 available rotaries on the Akai unit.

Problem B. While it would be great to employ the unused rotaries for a second plug-in, the graphic display for the 40 assignment buttons is already crowded, so how the heck could I list second plug-ins on a button and still keep everything legible?

 

Solution. Just because the Akai can simultaneously address a plug-in on the Mac Pro and the function display on the Mac Mini, it doesn't follow that it has to. All I have to do is choose one button on the Akai that has a controller assignment only on the Mac Mini. That button can show an alternative view of the 40 assignment buttons, with the additional plug-in assignments displayed.

 

That saves me from using smaller-and-smaller type on one already small button. Plus, It means I can probably address 60 plug-ins, even before I've started using Mode changes.

Mac Pro 5,1 • Catalina • LPX 10.6 • M-Audio Axiom 49 • Korg nanoKontrol • Focusrite Saffire Pro26 • Embarrassing amount of plug-ins
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I've just added a third display monitor to my set-up. This video isn't in the public domain, because the handheld footage is frankly awful, but it may give you a better idea of how the system will eventually work. Sorry for the shaky video:
Mac Pro 5,1 • Catalina • LPX 10.6 • M-Audio Axiom 49 • Korg nanoKontrol • Focusrite Saffire Pro26 • Embarrassing amount of plug-ins
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