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Thread: Looking for a tempo grid patch

  1. #1
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    Default Looking for a tempo grid patch

    I originally posted this in the lounge thread, but think its better suited here. Here goes....

    I've been working with Quickshow to control my X-beam 2500, and two Ds-2400's from laserworld. After a week with the software, I've logged around 60 hours (I'm a full time musician so I definitely have time for obsessive compulsive software learning ). I discovered that a tempo grid does not exist on Quickshow. After a little research, i found a tempo grid was non existent for any other projection software (I hope I'm wrong).

    When I say tempo grid, I'm referring to viewing your timeline in musical "measures" or bars. In Quickshow, the timeline editor has BPM but is displayed in seconds with a minimum of 1/10th second intervals. This is problematic when trying to sync intricate rhythms to your laser show. You can sync cues on downbeats easily, but try syncing a syncopated rhythm in the middle of a phrase and forget it! It's possible but takes hours and involves a lot of shooting in the dark. You might get close, but will never have 100% accuracy.

    If you're completely confused as to what I'm talking about, heres the quickest music lesson you'll ever learn.

    All music is dictated by 3 things. 1) a key signature (what notes are played) 2) a time signature (the most common is 4/4 meaning there are 4 beats in one measure. 3) a tempo or BPM (how fast you count the beats in order to complete one "measure" of music). As you know 60 BPM represents 1 beat per second. So in a time signature of 4/4 at 60 BPM, it would take exactly 4 seconds to complete 1 full "measure". Likewise 15 measures would take 60 seconds.


    The song I'm currently working with has a BPM of 126. If you divide 126 by 60 you get 2.1 beats every second. In one "measure" of music, there are 4 quarter notes. At a BPM of 126 It takes 2.1 seconds to complete 4 quarter notes. Each quarter note takes exactly .525 seconds (2.1 divided by 4). It takes 8, 1/8 notes to complete one full measure and lastly sixteen 1/16 notes to complete one full measure. Each 1/8th note would take .2625 seconds (2.1 divided by 8) and each 1/16th note would take .13125 seconds (2.1 divided by 16).


    Lets take the famous Maroon 5 song "harder to breathe". Near the beginning of the song the drummer plays eight , 1/8th notes on his snare drum. Lets say you wanted your lasers to change color and shape in perfect time with the drum beat. The song is at 150 BPM or 2.5 beats per second. That means each 1/8th note takes exactly .312 seconds (2.5 divided by 8). Using the Quickshow time line method, you would first have to figure out the exact time at which the drummer started the notes (It's approximately 3.75 seconds). You would then set 8 laser cues to exactly .312 seconds. Quickshow timeline editor only goes to .1 tenth of a second. You will never be exactly precise.



    You're dealing with 1/10th, 1/100, and occasionally 1/1000 of a second. It is physically impossible to have perfect precision unless using a tempo grid. There are dozens of examples with Garage band, Logic, Ableton, pro tools, or any music software.


    Lets replay the earlier scenario, but on a tempo grid this time. The maroon 5 song "harder to breathe" is in 4/4 time signature with a 150 BPM tempo. Our goal is to have the lasers change in sync to the 8 ,1/8th notes the drummer plays. On a tempo grid, the first number would represent the first measure. We know there are 8, 1/8th notes contained within 1 measure. Because you know what the BPM is, you wouldn't have to guess what time the drummer's 1/8th notes started. It would simply start exactly on the second measure, or number 2 on the tempo grid. The 8 laser cues could then be evenly placed at perfect intervals in the second measure. This would synchronize the lasers perfectly to the music within a matter of seconds. Music is universally controlled by this method.

    Being a musician, I only work with tempo grids on my other software. It would be impossible any other way. Seeing that lasers and music are almost synonymous, you would think there would be a more intuitive control for intricate precision. I'm splitting hairs a little, but I really want to create some beautiful intricate art work with my music and lasers. For now I'm having to dumb down the show a little to stay in time with the music. I'm still new to this so I'm hoping theres an answer out there.

    I'm officially addicted to lasers and look forward to growing with this culture.

    Peace & love

    -John Pop
    Morning Fatty

  2. #2
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    Programming to the nearest "Hemidemisemiquaver" are we?

    The timeline is implemented the way it is historically match SMPTE time code for 25, 29.96, or 30 FPS video sync for use in large productions. Plus when songs are edited in the recording studio, we see changes in the note spacing/duration from the edits. Many of us here can tell you about receiving scripted, complex shows and having to adjust the timeline for different versions or the CD, or compensating for custom music edits used in a production.

    Timing things that annoy you as a musician are pretty much NOT seen by your audience... I assure you only the smallest group of people would notice the difference. The President of Pangolin is away for a industry conference, but I'm sure he'll listen to your request for a tempo timeline. However very few users want to program laser shows that way, because we'd need the sheet music and the ability to read/know music. (while I know what a measure, coda, note duration etc is, It does not effect my programming much once I figure out the "Count" for the beam effects) We only have a few musicians doing crossover work, probably less then 10% of the programming "audience".

    I will somewhat defend your assertion, but on the other hand I've ran a 40 minute pre-scripted stock Floyd graphics show (done at 30) on the theatre ceiling for 3000 people, and found the show pretty much lined up with the tribute band's tempo for almost 30 minutes... The original track was by Floyd, and the Tribute band's tempo was tight, but not off a clicktrack.. I did it on a whim, as I had multiple projectors with me, and it stunned me. The band asked that I come out and take a bow, as they had never had a "live" show synced that tight.

    In the more advanced programs, we do have some tools so we can see beats or waveforms out of the CD, MP3, or WaV and/or do a FFT..

    Are you trying to do something with live control manually or with MIDI? Or are you scripting a show? That changes how the members of the forum will respond, as well...


    If your timeline is configured correctly in most Pangolin products you have 1/30th or 1/60th of a second resolution. I've never used the timeline in Quickshow, so other users will have to chime in, as I use Showtime and Soon I'll have Beyond..

    I've been at this for over 25 years and I've never seen a Tempo grid in any laser show software... Maybe in one of the very expensive semi-custom German products, such as LACON 5.


    I will still assert that odds are your audience will NOT see the difference if you edit your show at 1/30th... In many years of doing this, including working on a peer juried, award winning, beamshow, I've only ever had two people complain about timing, and both of them were Musicians who were also Laserists. In both cases it was only for one or two measures in a song... But that is with using Showtime, not Quickshow..

    If you had the next level of software up, you'd have a "mark time" command for recording beats onto the timeline, and enough resolution for sure...


    Steve
    Last edited by mixedgas; 06-17-2016 at 09:41.
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  3. #3
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    Hey Steve

    Yes I'm definitely splitting hairs a little trying to get precise rhythms. It's more than just precision though, using a grid is far more intuitive and takes out any sort of guess work i.e tapping to a rhythm, dropping cue markers. What took me 15 hours could have been accomplished in 3-5 hours and with more precision. I have no problem logging hours into a creative project, but wasting time lining up rhythms seems wasteful.

    I'm not talking about software built around this platform. I just think it would be incredibly useful as an optional feature. Once people learn the basics, they would see how intuitive it was. Ask anyone who uses Logic, Protools, Ableton Live or any other DAW applications. To make everyone happy it would need an algorithm that converted time mode view to tempo mode. I definitely understand your point though.... i just don't like the answer

    A) Hats off for being spot on with the original recording B) If they played the whole show in sync without being on a grid....Hats off to them as well.

    I am running Quickshow for my Lasers and Sunlite suite 2 for DMX. All of our music is on a tempo grid. I'd like to program a show for each song in the set. It's our own music so yes we know every single note and rhythm. I want these lasers to make love to our complex rhythms baby!!! (this is where I need a tempo grid). Then I need to figure out a way to trigger both Quickshow and Sunlite suite in sync with my midi board. (I think Bome Midi Translator is the way to go there, allows one midi interface to communicate with multiple applications simultaneously on one computer).

    I suppose you're right though. To an audience, the difference between a time grid and a tempo grid is probably negligible. I still hope to see this feature as it would boost both work efficiency and precision. Music theory will outwit your eyes and ears any day of the week.

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    BEYOND will offer some timing and show creation capabilities you won't get in QuickShow.

    One possible approach (I'm making this suggestion without a PC in front of me to test this out):

    Assuming you are using a DAW and it is SMPTE-enabled (I use Sonar, not really familiar with most other DAWs) you could setup markers for your laser FX in the DAW, then change your project's time from M:B:T to SMPTE. This should give your markers VERY precise time references that you could use for each of your laser FX on the Beyond time line.

    Since Beyond is SMPTE-enabled, you could then sync Beyond with your DAW (even across different computers) and have a very tightly-synchronized show.

    If you decide to look into the Beyond options, keep in mind you haven't wasted any money ~
    There is an upgrade path from QuickShow to Beyond, and Beyond functions just fine with FB-series controllers.

    If you aren't using a DAW, but still need to be able to trigger via MIDI -
    The cue grids (and many of the controls) in both QuickShow and Beyond are already MIDI (and DMX) enabled, so a MIDI translator shouldn't be needed, at least for the lasers; you should just need a virtual MIDI port and router to connect the Pangolin software with whatever you are using as your MIDI board (MIDI-Ox is a GREAT free MIDI router utility, and works great for this, BTW!).

    Provided an Enttec DMX USB Pro interface is being used, both packages can output DMX, as well.

    Randy
    Last edited by Stuka; 06-18-2016 at 03:01.
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    Awesome info Stuka! Ill look into MIDI-OX. Looks like I'll be making the upgrade to Beyond

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morningfatty View Post
    Awesome info Stuka! Ill look into MIDI-OX. Looks like I'll be making the upgrade to Beyond
    Glad I could help a bit!
    I generally use LoopBE (which I believe is still available as freeware) as the virtual MIDI port along with MIDI-Ox, and the combo has worked great for me from Windows 7 up through the latest Windows 10.

    While there are a lot of similarities between QuickShow and Beyond, especially when working with the cue grid, Beyond really is a different and much more powerful beast. If you decide to go that route, you'll probably want to spend some time on the Pangolin website and forums. The manual is available as a download in the form of several PDF files, but IMHO they don't really cover the full capabilities and operation of Beyond ~ some quality hands-on time will definitely be required for most users!

    Keep us posted on your progress -
    It's always cool to hear the different ways folks are able to integrate their music and laser projects!


    Randy
    Last edited by Stuka; 06-19-2016 at 03:37.
    RR

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuka View Post
    Glad I could help a bit!
    I generally use LoopBE (which I believe is still available as freeware) as the virtual MIDI port along with MIDI-Ox, and the combo has worked great for me from Windows 7 up through the latest Windows 10.

    While there are a lot of similarities between QuickShow and Beyond, especially when working with the cue grid, Beyond really is a different and much more powerful beast. If you decide to go that route, you'll probably want to spend some time on the Pangolin website and forums. The manual is available as a download in the form of several PDF files, but IMHO they don't really cover the full capabilities and operation of Beyond ~ some quality hands-on time will definitely be required for most users!

    Keep us posted on your progress -
    It's always cool to hear the different ways folks are able to integrate their music and laser projects!


    Randy

    Ive been communicating with Alexey, a software developer from the Pangolin team. He stressed that Quickshow is the red headed stepchild of their product lines. Even if a feature like this was made, it would definitely not be in Quickshow..........So I bought Beyond . He was saying that using time and beat based timeline causes "artifacts". Having a function that switches from Time to Beat (key signature) then back to time is a very complicated process. But heres to dreaming. (Logic Pro X currently has this feature, but that is dealing specifically with audio, so I can see how its different.)

    For now, I will use my program Logic Pro X to magnify the wave form of the music to find exactly what time the rhythm comes in. I can then use my math conversion of BPM to notes/second conversion and will line up almost exactly (BPM divided by 60, Then divided by each respective note value)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morningfatty View Post
    Hey Steve
    I definitely understand your point though.... i just don't like the answer
    .................................................. ...................... (good reply!)
    . I want these lasers to make love to our complex rhythms baby!!! (this is where I need a tempo grid)............
    I want to see some of this stuff......question of phase relationships is paramount in my opinion as well !
    Cheers

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    Just an idea here:
    Why not just record your DAW metronome as a grid guide. It would clearly show you every beats, this won't solve the precision problem but it might be easier to lay down some of your main cues quickly...

    Fred.

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