Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Notes Page: Towards Appliations of MIDI Show Control and DMX for Performance Lighting Control and Audio Cue Systems

During a discussion, today -- as with regards to applications of electro-reactive circuit elements -- in an online college program, I made the following response, such that I would like to maintain here in my private web log, for purpose of later reference. Perhaps it might also be to an arbitrary reader's interest, somehow.

I remember from an Elenco 200-in-1 Electronic Projects Lab kit that there may be some knobs in a circuit that would function as variable capacitors? I'm not familiar with any digital interfaces onto such tunable circuits, but -- in update to my comment -- have found one example of a Digitally Tunable Capacitor (DTC) -- tunable, as via a serial I2C or SPI interface --  namely, the  DuNE UltraCMOS DTC from Peregrine Semiconductor. Perhaps the manufacturer would have samples available. Alternately, there are search engines for microelectronic components, including  Octopart.

Candidly, I'm familiar with the mechanics of a light board and a lighting harness -- in previous experiences in post-secondary education, I had been trying to major in theatre, for a copule of years, though that did not "Work out" from at least the performance aspect. Presently, though personally I am no less interested about the technical aspects of theatre, including scene and lighting design, but there are not a lot of venues in the old State of Jefferson, LoL. I don't foresse myself living there for any long time, so would not want to begin to "Set in" with any venue's own tech shops, LoL.

Towards applications in music, the performing arts, and the broader venue of a theater, however -- as an item I'd found in some research -- there is a MIDI Show Control (MSC) specification.[1] MSC can be used for digital control of analog lighting systems.[2] I believe I've read that MSC also may find applications in audio systems, like perhaps towards triggering audio cues from media and mixing resources in the sound room.

There are some "DIY" projects online, also[3] like towards design and development of electronics for applications of MIDI Show Control. MSC, I think, represents something of a subset of the MIDI protocols.

On the software end, there's some support for MSC in some digital audio workstation (DAW) applications, such a QBase[4] and Ableton Live[5]

Alternate to MSC there's DMX[6] as a protocol for control of lighting fixtures. Presumably, DMX might be in more widespread use than MIDI Show Control, in creative lighting systems? The LanBox-LCX provides a DMX interface, for instance,as well as interfaces for MIDI and ethernet protocols.

[1] Wikipedia. MIDI Show Control 
[2] Kennedy, R. Lee.  An inexpensive MIDI show-control system (University of Virginia Lighting DesignSource)
[3] Ebel, Matthew. Building a MIDI-Controlled Light Show via Arduino, Part One 
[4] Lighting Assistant.  Midi Show Control tutorial 
[5] Cycling 74.  MSC for Live 
[6] Wikipeida. DMX512
[7] Open Lighting Project. DMX512-A