The new ProVideoPlayer from Renewed Vision is pretty sick, and one of the features that I have been most excited bout is the new MIDI control setup. I have been dying to try this out! So, I bought a Korg nanoKontrol2 to control ProVideoPlayer2 via MIDI.
What I discovered is that Renewed Vision’s implementation of MIDI is a little misleading. By saying that they have MIDI support, what they really mean is that they have MIDI Note support. That “Note” is a keyword. You see, MIDI (as I’ve recently learned), as a standard, transmits all sorts of data: Notes, Polyphonic Aftertouch, Channel Aftertouch, Control Change, Pitch Wheel, Program change, messages, etc. The crazy thing is it does all this without you really knowing. A Note would be something like a middle C on a keyboard. A Control Change would be something like a sustain pedal. The bad news (for me) is PVP2 only listens to the “Note on/off” stream. This means that the $50 MIDI controller I bought would not work natively with PVP2, because the controller only sends out “Control Changes”, not Notes.
Introducing MIDI Pipe
I got some help through the Renewed Vision Forums. I knew that my new MIDI controller was working because I could see the “sustain pedal” doing things in Garage Band, MIDI Monitor, and Quartz Composer, but couldn’t figure out how to map the sustain pedal to, say, C#. It turns out, you certainly can’t in PVP, but there is a way to intercept the signal and create a new signal. This is done though a free app called MIDI Pipe. You can do a ton in MIDI Pipe, but all I really wanted to do was take the incoming MIDI from my controller, change every button (control change) into a note or velocity of a note (which I will explain later) and then spit it out as a fake MIDI controller. So, in PVP, instead of selecting the external MIDI controller, I selected the MIDI Pipe controller. Then I could map anything to anything to my hearts content.
This actually worked! What’s I like about using a MIDI controller instead of just a mouse is you can affect multiple effects simultaneously. I can roll through hues, slow the speed of the video and drop the RGB to black all at the same time. Doing this without the MIDI controller would require 5 cursors on my screen, which is impossible. You can control most of the sliders and values of most effects, cycle through playlists, trigger clips, clear layers, text streams, or all, play/pause… You can do a ton. I would still like to see an A/B transition MIDI cue and resets for effects (you can turn them on/off, but not reset back to defaults), but I guess that is what version 3 will hold, right?
One other thing to point out is an inherent property in MIDI that PVP2 takes into account: velocity. You see, musicians (whom I am no), have known that a key-press is almost nothing without knowing how far and fast you pushed the button. Well, PVP uses this in a different manor. They have mapped out cue triggers (the video in positions 1, 2, 3, let’s say) in a playlist to one MIDI channel. But, within that channel you have 128 possibilities. This allows them to not take up and entire 88 note keyboard with just cue triggers, but use the data for one button. Obviously this is impractical unless you map it properly.
If you’re interested in more, check out my next post on how I got this working.