DMX software search and review - (hippydog style)

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hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
#1
OK.
I'm would seriously love to get rid of my DMX-55 board and move up to a software solution..

I decided I would post my quest the same way I did when I was looking for an update to my DJing software.
see :
http://start.prodj.com/viewtopic.php?t=41847&start=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=

Step #1, get a list of software to play with..
Step #2, decide which one I like best..

Keep in mind, this review/search is completely for my needs and will probably not mean anything to many of you..

I want something that can co-exist on the same rackmounted computer that will also house Virtual DJ.
It has to be an improvement over my DMX-55 which is running 8 DMX lights.

I need to decide soon, as I want to order my parts for my rackmount computer, BUT if I decide to continue using my DMX-55, I also want it rack mounted and this will change the type of computer I will build.. (IE: unable to use a standard rackmount case)
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
#2
software list..

feel free to give my some more suggestions! thoughts or ideas!

martin lightjockey
chauvet showexpress
sunlite
freestyler
compuware
lumidesk
ADJ mydmx

Also I have to find out more about the DMX capabilites of Virtual DJ.
This may have to wait till I pick up my numark dmc2 as the manual say nothing and the forums don't give much more information..
Alls I know is its supposed to work with the same dongle that Sunlite uses??

Also, I realize martin lightjockey is the "cats meow" and all that.. I'm just not seeing the need to spend $1200 for DMX software.. (way overkill)
 

len

New Member
#3
If you want to keep the Chauvet, you might consider whether the software has dmx in capabilities. You can patch it to scroll through wheels, control intensities, etc. and in general have the hands on faders that is typically lacking in software based dmx.
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
#4
len said:
If you want to keep the Chauvet, you might consider whether the software has dmx in capabilities. You can patch it to scroll through wheels, control intensities, etc. and in general have the hands on faders that is typically lacking in software based dmx.
I was thinking about that, but my first reaction is to see how will the software might work in 'live' situations. Right now I'm assuming they should do better as the joystick on the DMX-55 kinda sucks anyways LOL
I've never used the over ride yet (in real life), and I only run it manually (no chase) 1% of the time (to say set the scanners on a dancing couple)

As to keeping the DMX board, If i have to spend 5 times as much to get the same effect in software.. I just might keep it, and wait until a simple DMX software for DJ's is made.. LOL
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
#5
LumiDesk

Though I have to strike Lumidesk off my list right from the start, it did have some parts that impressed me. It was also the first software I tried.
so I will go thru the parts it has assuming them to be a minimum basic all software should have (In my opinion)

One thing i enjoyed about Lumidesk is it is very well thought out and nicely organized.. Only once did I feel like I needed a manual to run the thing.

Patching

very easy, find your lights in the manufacturer folder, select (and the first available address is automatically selected), and hit "patch"

desktop

graphical Icon of each light shows up on the "desktop", where you can select, unselect, group and move around..
Below that is the "Sequence" which holds all the scenes from 1 to ???, and each scene's wait time and fade time..
the next column is the "cue" which holds the sequences and the FX button (automatic scanner programming like circles and figures)
The last column is the "cuelist" cue 1, cue 2, cue 3 etc..

The right hand side show the presets, and graphically shows the options available for the light you have selected.. (it will also show the changes to that light as you step thru the scenes)
for example: a scanner preset might show X, Y and below that Gobo, then color..

setting up scenes is a no brainer. since Lumidesk does everthing graphically (no faders or dmx values needed) IE you want red, you click on red, you want the swirly gobo, you click on that gobo..
you want the mirror to the right, use the mouse and pull the X,Y dot to the right..


3D window..
very nice.. colors and gobos and the lights were nicely represented. You could build a bunch of cues and get a very good idea of what a live show would look like.

The bad:
The demo crashed about 3 times.. this could be my computer as I installed it on my highly abused home desktop.

No sound to lights, no easy way to sync or run the lights to your music... an audio (from the soundcard)BPM detector and or a hotkey to set the BPM manually would make this software a winner for DJ's

No "overlays" or "masks"...
you can use the FX button to generate a nice sequence, but if you wanted to generate a separate 'type' of FX for other lights (in the same sequence) you couldnt do this..

IE: you want two of your scanners to do a circle in 8 scenes, and another two scanners to do a square during the same 8 scenes..
not possible.. (as far as I could see)
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
#6
2 more software choices for DMX I need to also check out.

Daslight

Masterpeace DMX software ??

Also found another cheap dongle from "dmxsoft" at $109.00
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
#7
ADJ MyDMX

I tried this one next because it was kinda what started me trying all this software out in the first place... :)

Their are three tabs in MyDMX
The first one is "Setup". this is where you patch the lights.. across the bottom is a bunch of faders (where you can see how each channel changes the options)

The next is "Editor"
this is where you can program "steps" that make up a "scene" (I guess someone forgot to tell ADJ that a 'scene' in theater terms means a lighting set up that does not change untill the next 'scene'..)

Lumidesk does a MUCH better job at this!

for instance in MyDMX to change a gobo or color you have to move the fader to the correct spot or click just off the fader to have it jump how many times you need it to move..
With Lumidesk its just one click..
The difference REALLY shows up when you setting the X & Y of your scanners (even my DMX 55 has a joystick)..

The FX button is pretty much a copy of Lumidesk's

Like Lumidesk this program is also limited.. No "masks" or "overlays"
and no way to sync your show to your Music..

A funny side note:
I own ADJ lights.. The ADJ DMX software got the features wrong on one of my lights!

End note:
Feature to feature ADJ MyDMX is pretty comparable to Lumidesk.. Though Lumidesk is a LOT more user friendly, A found Lumidesk a pleasure to play with. MyDMX seemed to annoy me..
 

djjd

New Member
#8
did you try PCDJ DMX? That's what I'm using and I'm pretty happy with it. Not the most intuitive program, but it has a lot of power.
 

jimmie

DJ of the year
#9
I'm very glad to see you doing this. I am currently searching for the best solution and I'll be closely watching your results.

Lumidesk is the only software I've demoed recently and I really like the interface and ease of use. Some of the points you brought up didn't enter into mind so thanks for pointing out the drawbacks. I'd like to point out that I also had problems with this program crashing... very unfortunate because I really like this software.

Question for anyone qualified to answer: A dongle for $110 is mentioned above. Will any dongle work with any software or do you have to get the software and dongle together to ensure compatibility?
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
#10
djjd said:
did you try PCDJ DMX? That's what I'm using and I'm pretty happy with it. Not the most intuitive program, but it has a lot of power.
I'm going to try them all. :) and PCDJ DMX is definatly on my list..

The next one I had on my list to try out is Sunlite 2006..

It might be a few days (weeks? LOL) before i can make a post about it though.
Opened it up last night for the first time..
Ummm... wow.. very scary in the good & the bad sense..
Right from the demo you could see how powerful this program is... but try and easily build a simple show yourself, no way..
Definetly with Sunlite I'm gonna have to read the manual and learn and play with this thing bit by bit..

I've also noticed when it comes to the FX button, that portion is all the same in the 4 programs I've looked at so far.. Once you learn how to "generate" circles and pologons with the FX button on one program you do the exact same thing in all of them.

P.S.
In my last post I bashed ADJ MyDMX for not having the features correct on my ADJ color changers I own.. LOL..
Found out Sunlite had the EXACT SAME ISSUE..
So last night I learned how to edit and fix a lighting fixture "profile".. very cool. and so far the easyist(sp?) thing I have found to do in Sunlite LOL..
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
#11
jimmie said:
A dongle for $110 is mentioned above. Will any dongle work with any software or do you have to get the software and dongle together to ensure compatibility?
Its not so much compatibility as it is proprietorship..

Martin, ADJ, Chauvet, Sunlite etc etc etc, Allow people to download the software for free, but to use it in "real life" you need to purchase its "matching" dongle (for $300 to $1200)..

The dongle itself probably cost them less then $20 to build, but they are able to place inside it's $2 microcontroller a secret code that the software looks for.. IE: a chauvet dongle will not work with the ADJ MY DMX..

There are many "open source" and free programs available, they usually accept multiple types of dongles.
The $110 dongle I mentioned was made to work with many of the "freeware" programs out there like freestyler and sunlite 2002.
(I havnt looked into it, but I'm assuming for now that sunlite WAS a paid program? but then got hacked and their now allowing some companies to give it away for free? its also on my list to try out )
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
#12
Sunlite 2007

The good:
This program is very powerful.
Compared to the last two programs I tried it does things completely different.
When you add your lights the Sunlite creates "pages" for each light or set of lights, and then automatically places buttons that change colors, gobos and automatically generate scanner movements.
Each "page" is completely customizable and so is each "button"

It gets better. you have a "master page" where you can 'set up' your lights the way you want.. (IE: have two scanners make a 'red' heart, another two scanners make a 'blue' circle and some color-changers 'step' thru a series of colors) And then record ALL of these settings/sequences into one BUTTON! wow!

The pages allow three types of buttons.

"Scene button": when you click this button it forces all the lights to 'follow' the actions/settings you programed into them.
"Switch button": same as the scene button but you can set it up to only affect certain channels (IE: one switch would start the scanners moving up and down, a second switch would change the colors to blue, and a third switch would dim 2 selected lights to 50%. All three switchs could work together or independantly of each other).
"Cycle button": this button can 'record' what you do with the other buttons and then repeat those actions.

The Really Really Good..
As I mentioned with the "Switch button" you can overlay actions on top of other actions.

The "editing" of the buttons is major powerful. You can make selected channels be controlled by a 'chaser' or a 'Sequencer' or 'sound to light' or make thousands of 'steps'

The Audio Analysis is very nice.. it can automatically adjust itself, you can pick the frequencies, and it can trigger off of the bass, mids, and highs or the BPM.. (super cool!)

The Bad:
The learning curve is pretty huge, you definatly must read the manual. (IE: I accidently closed one of the pages and it took me awhile to figure out how to get it back LOL)

The Program crashed many many times (I think I confused it too much..) usually when using the FX generator or the cycle button edit. (once again this could be because my desktop computer is a mess)

This isnt a major complaint as a person can edit the fixtures to their hearts content, but of the 4 fixtures I have been using to practice with, Sunlite only got 1 of them fully correct (IE: the chauvet intimidator did not have any "gobos" showing (just names), and I had to edit my colorchangers to make them work correctly)

The FX generator works great for scanners, but would not allow me to generate ANYTHING for my color changers ?????(and when I tried it crashed), which seems really weird to me as the one in Lumidesk allowed this!


On the whole the program is pretty awesome, I think geared much more towards the DJ, but its still not 100%.
Its two "amazing" features is; the ability to overlay programing one on top of another, and its audio analysis with BPM
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
#13
Lumidesk ... P.S. (add on comment)

I started playing with Daslight a little last night, and it reminded me of Lumidesk..

So I went back and played with Lumidesk some more and double checked the manual..

LUMIDESK DOES have the ability to overlay a scene or sequence on top of one another! I completely missed this when I was scimming thru the manual.. ooops!

When in Live mode you can set the sequence to "stacking mode" or "release mode"

(while I was confirming this... the software CRASHED again! wtf?)
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
#15
Jerry Taylor said:
Have you tried Show Express by Chauvet. Easy to learn.
Compared to? :)

I've taken a quick look at it.
compared to the others (with the exception of maybe Sunlite, it looks actually the hardest..)

Show Express is next on my list after Daslight.
:)
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
#16
Daslight Virtual controller 2

Finally :)
a piece of software that actually met all my requirements..
And easy to use to boot.. :)


when it comes to 'looks' it reminded me of Lumidesk and ADJ MyDMX..

Patching was pretty much the same..
Bonus! it actually got my colorchangers right (so I didnt have to edit them.)

The screen is split (up and down) into two main sections.
in section one there are three main 'tabs' on the left hand side.
"Setup" where you patch the lights,
"Editor" where you edit your scenes and
"Live" which creates buttons from your scenes..

In Section two you can view the channels and faders or select individual fixture groups and view just their channels or see a visual representaion (X,Y or Gobo's, or colors..)

The FX generator looks & works the same as the others.

The "live" tab/section is what brings it all together.

In the 'Editor screen' You can FX generate a scene using one scanner to make a circle, and create another scene to make a second scanner move in random points..
You can then create a scene (or two or three) that does nothing but change the colors of all your fixtures..

Then when your in the "live" screen you can 'click' on scene 1, to get the first scanner moving, click on scene 2 and ALSO start the second scanner moving and then click on the third scene and the scanners will start changing colors..
Easy... and very powerful

(Quick review: MyDMX CAN NOT do this, Lumidesk CAN and does it pretty much the same way, Sunlite does this too and gives you tons more options..)

Also in the "live" screen you you can right click the buttons (scenes) and select how they time thru the steps.. By time (normal), by Fader (you can change the timing on the fly), or by BPM (audio from your sound card)

So Daslight is the first one to finally meet all my requirments..
1.) Generate interesting color and movement patterns (without spending hours programming the scenes step by step)
2.) trigger the scenes individual or together.. (while the scanners and colorchangers are running, instantly change all the colors from all the effects to green or blue etc etc)
3.) step thru the scenes via music from my sound card. (so I could have sound-to-light with ANY DJ software)

(Quick Review : only in Sunlite was I able to overlay scenes and trigger them with BPM, BUT for some odd reason Sunlite would NOT let me generate a color pattern for my colorchangers)
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
#17
Chauvet ShowXpress

First time I started trying this program out, I almost gave up on it, it just didnt feel right, and seemed like another program with a huge learning curve..
The next day I forced myself to learn more about it, and actually started to like it..
I realized most of the software I had tried so far, ALL of them kinda had the same 'feel' to them.. Patching of the lights, BPM/audio, faders, FX Generator, all looked like they came from the same programmer..

ShowXpress is COMPLETELY different.. (not bad or wrong), they simply 'made' this software from the 'ground up' differently..
Because of that, some of it is actually very smart, and some of it is kinda wonky.

For instance...
At first I thought it was a little weird that everything has its own 'window', but later on I realized this might be good for people with small screens so it would make resizing a lot easier. (I also wonder if it makes this program less resource hungry)

The 2D screen was pretty useless (mainly used for clicking on the fixtures), and somehow one of the fixtures disappeared and i was unable to get it to show up again.. (untill I deleted all the lights and re-patched them, it showed up and then later another 'disappeared... wtf??)..

Some of the actions were not user friendly (IE you cant just right click and delete something, you must use the scissors), and if you had a bunch of steps in a scene where you wanted to change the duration, you had to go thru EACH SCENE and change it.. (pain in the butt LOL)

It does have BPM triggering but it was far from accurate ( a simple volume control would help it)

The one thing I DID really like was Chauvet's version of an FX generator.. simple but it seemed more intuitive to how a person would make changes to a generated sequence.. (you can set points and the "phasing" of the lights is shown graphically going from point to point)
The other programs only allowed you to 'set points' when it came to scanner movement..

To be honest since it has Chauvet's name on it, and its been around for bit, I guess I simply expected a little more..

I would call this program usable, but just OK..
Since it DOES have the ability to mask/overlay scenes & has external BPM capability, it is a nice choice for DJ's to look at for themselves and decide..
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
#18
PCDJ DMX

PCDJ DMX dows not come with ANY type of visualizer. you would need to have it connect to your lights to see how the changes look.. Since I don't own it, this of course is not possible..
At the price this software is being sold for, I'm a little shocked at that.. :shock: :eek:

I took a quick look at it and skimmed very quickly thru the manual..

It says it can overlay scenes (cues) and does have a BPM option, not sure how well they work..

from what I could tell the FX generator ONLY works on scanners (IE you can not generate interesting color patterns etc, you would have to set up all your colors manually and store them in the 'cue')
..
Editing seemed very labour intensive.. something that would take me ten minutes in Sunlite or Daslight, I get the feeling could take an hour to get the exact same response in PCDJ DMX..
 
#19
Isn't DasLight the same as Compuware?

I have been using Elation's dongle for 3 years and LOVE it. Best $500.00 I have spent. Steep curve, but very functional for a mobile.

p.s. What lights are you using to benchmark your data?
 

hippydog

wuz here when it was Red.
#20
ThunderstruckDJs said:
Isn't DasLight the same as Compuware?
I have been using Elation's dongle for 3 years and LOVE it. Best $500.00 I have spent. Steep curve, but very functional for a mobile.
Elation Compuware is a rebranded Sunlite..
Even the folder it installs to is the same.

p.s. What lights are you using to benchmark your data?
I start off with the lights I currently own. ADJ color250D & ADJ DJScan250HP.. (because I personally know the gobos and colors)
I then add a few chauvet intimidators (as chauvet doesnt post the gobo assignments and I think its interesting which software gets it right).

After patching, I try and create a simple 8 step cue or scene. I then attempt to go back and make small changes to all the scenes. (changing gobo's, colors, and X,Y)
I then try and get the software to create a generated pattern using one scanner (a circle usually), I then do the same thing but try and make it do all the scanners and "phase" them (so one light 'leads' and the others follow)
I then try and 'generate' a color pattern for the color changers. (I want a phased color step for 4 lights that progress smoothely thru the colors yet only one or two fixtures change per step..)
I then try to 'add' scenes on top of another..

and last I take some of the cues/scenes I have built and see how hard it is to match them to music I'm playing (either via auto BPM (if available) or speed faders or preset timing)


After I have gone thru all the software on my list I am going to go back thru them and try them out with LED fixtures.. (for the simple belief that as LED becomes more prevalent, software will be the ONLY way to easily take advantage of what these fixtures can REALLY do.)
 
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