What is Solo Performer Show Controller?
Solo Performer Show Controller is a system for controlling background audio, lyric displays, MIDI, and lights - all in one easy to use package. It consists of a foot controller that connects to a computer by USB, and software that runs on Windows and Macintosh.
How is Solo Performer Show Controller used?
The system is primarily designed for a solo musician who want to have background accompaniment to his or her playing. A singing guitar player could, for example, use Solo Performer Show Controller to play the bass and drum parts of the songs being played. Many people find Solo Performer Show Controller to be a great rehearsal tool as well. The lyric display capability makes it much easier to learn songs by either displaying lyrics or chords.
When I buy one, what do I get in the box?
You get a foot controller that also serves as a light controller, a USB cable to connect the foot controller, a software installation CD, and a manual.
Audio...Lyrics...MIDI...Lights... This is overwhelming! Where do I begin?
Making a spectacular show does take some effort, but we try to make it as easy for you as possible by providing tools that are easy to use. To start making shows, we recommend starting out small and adding as you go. First, add all of the audio to a play list. This will get you up and going by giving you something to play along with. Then, add lyrics to a few songs. If you use MIDI effects and lights, make up a sequence or two to go along with a couple of songs. The key here is that you don't need to do it all at once, simply add features to your show over time.
How does the audio work? Do I need to buy anything else?
The audio plays back on the computer. Typically, you would want to attach a cable to your computer's audio out port and route it to a mixer and pa system for performing.
How is the light control done? Do I need to buy anything else?
The foot controller with the switches contains a DMX512 light controller inside of it. All you need are lights that are DMX512 compatible. If you want to use lights that are not DMX512 lights, you can do so with a DMX512 relay pack or DMX512 dimmer pack.
How is the MIDI control done? Do I need to buy anything else?
MIDI control is done through your existing MIDI hardware. You will need a MIDI interface adapter, if you don't already have one, to connect MIDI devices to your computer.
What is new in the latest release of Solo Performer Show Controller?
The latest software release includes the ability to play MIDI files on external devices, the ability to send MIDI program changes and control messages, the ability to send hotkeys to control other programs, and the ability to re-map the button functions on the foot controller to do other things. Apart from these major feature additions, numerous small enhancements have been made as well. See the readme file included with the software for a complete version history.
This would be really great for me if it only did (insert feature here).
Let us know! Submit a feature request via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Most of the features that were added to the latest release originated from customer feedback, so we do listen!
How can I make make my MIDI files sound less "fake"?
WThe quality of MIDI files that are on the internet varies considerably. Even more importantly, perhaps, is the choice of instruments being used. Typically, the guitar parts don't sound very real and you will find that if you remove these tracks using the Solo Performer Show Controller software, you will end up with rhythm tracks that may be much more usable.
I have audio files on cd that I'd like to use, but I want to strip out the guitar parts and the vocal parts. Can your software do this?
No, and at the moment, no software can. There are tricks that some software programs use to attempt this, with marginal success that depends greatly on the panning of the instruments in the mix. There are even a few programs out there that attempt to convert audio files into MIDI files, but we have not seen any that work well with audio that have multiple instruments in it.
When I play an audio file, I do not hear any sound. What can I do?
First, make sure that your computer is set up to play audio. If you are running the Windows version of Solo Performer Show Controller, make sure that you have a sound card installed. Check the computer system sound output volume to make sure that the sound is not turned off. Verify that QuickTime is installed.
I have a DMX512 compatible light, but I do not know its DMX Description Table. What do I do?
The first suggestion would be to try to obtain the table from the manufacturer. Most manufacturers publish their manuals on their web site for free downloading. Also, on the Alien Apparatus Company, Inc. web site, there is a library section with DMX512 description tables and device files for lighting equipment from many lighting manufacturers. See the following web page:
If you come up completely empty in getting a table, the light device can still be used provided that you do some experimenting to figure out how it works. It is recommended that you make a test device file using the Device Editor and fill in the descriptions for lines 1 though 20 with the numbers 1 through 20. So, for example, DMX value 1 would have a description of “1”, and DMX value 20 would have a description of “20”. Save this device and go to the lightshow editor screen. Set the device on one of your channels to be your newly created device. Attach your light fixture and make sure its address matches the address on Solo Performer Show Controller’s channel. Now move the slider and record what the light does for each number.
Having done this, now go back and edit the device so that it now has the numbers 21 through 40 in the description column next to the numbers 21 through 40. Make sure that you delete the previous set of numbers, from 1 to 20. Now go back to the lightshow editor and repeat the testing.
This process should be done all the way through to the last row of the DMX512 description table. When you are done, you will have a list of what all the DMX512 values do. Now you can go make a real device file for the light.
Where can I get audio files to use with Solo Performer Show Controller?
See the audio file tips section of Chapter 9 of the User Guide. Also, visit the user forums at the Alien Apparatus Company, Inc. web site for more suggestions.
How can I play audio files that are on a compact disc?
Audio files can be played directly from a compact disc on the Macintosh version of Solo Performer Show Controller. On Macintosh systems, CD audio files show up as .aiff files. In Windows operating systems, things are a bit different. CD audio contents show up as .cda files that are not audio files at all, but are only very small “information” files. In Windows operating systems, CD audio is not currently supported directly in QuickTime, thus Solo Performer Show Controller cannot read CD audio directly. The CD audio files must first be converted to a format that QuickTime can handle, such as .mp3, .wav, or .aiff. There are lots of utility programs that can be found on the internet to do this conversion.
How do I suppress an instrument in the audio?
If the audio file is a MIDI file, this can be done. See Chapter 10, Suppressing MIDI Tracks.
If the file is not a MIDI file, this cannot be done. For suggestions on how to get appropriate audio files, visit the user forums at:
How do I change the instrument that is being played in a MIDI file? For example, my MIDI file plays back drums and piano parts, but I want the piano part to be played as a saxophone.
Solo Performer Show Controller plays back MIDI files as they are, but does include a utility to strip unwanted tracks from the file. To change one instrument to another, a MIDI editing program needs to be used.
I have an expensive high-quality MIDI sound module. How can I use it with Solo Performer Show Controller?
One of two things can be done. The sound module could be attached to the MIDI system of your computer, and you can setup Solo Performer Show Controller to play MIDI files to it by selecting the sound module as the MIDI file destination in the MIDI preferences.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to bring your expensive gear with you on the road, you can play a MIDI file to the sound module and record its output as an audio file, using recording software. Then, open the recorded audio file up in Solo Performer Show Controller.
I want to run a light show, but my lights don't change. What is wrong?
First, make sure that the light device addresses are set up correctly following the light manufacturer’s instructions. Secondly, make sure that the channel that is controlling the device in Solo Performer Show Controller is set to the correct address. This can be seen in the lightshow editor window. Thirdly, make sure that your cabling is correct and that the wiring on the lighting device matches the diagram on the foot controller. Lastly, make sure that you are using a terminator on the last DMX512 device in the chain.
How do I make my lights change in time with the music?
There are a couple of ways to do this. The easiest way is to active a “sound activated” setting on your lights, if your lights have this feature. This can be done by sending a DMX512 command to the lights. See your lights’ DMX512 description table to see if your lights support this.
Another way is to use a DMX512 controllable chase controller.
Another way is to program the lights scene by scene in the lightshow editor.
I made a new device file, but it does not show up in the popup menu on the lightshow editor window. How can I make it appear?
Only those devices that are in your device library folder will show up in the menu, and then only if their filename ends with “.dmx”. You many change the location of the device library folder in the preferences pane. See Chapter 18.
I saved a light scene from the lightshow editor window, but it does not show up in my scene list? How can I make it appear?
Only those scenes that are in your scene library folder will show up in the menu, and then only if their filename ends with “.scn”. You many change the location of the scene library folder in the preferences pane. See Chapter 18.
My fog machine does not initialize correctly. What should I check?
First, make sure that you have set up the fog machine correctly following the procedure in Chapter 18, Customizing. Secondly, make sure that you have set the DIP switches on the fog machine properly. And finally, the initialization commands are only sent by Solo Performer Show Controller when the program is first launched and when the foot controller is first detected. Unplug the foot controller and plug it in again. Then choose Reconnect Foot Pedal from the File menu.