DIY Win: How To Connect a MIDI Controller Desk to Lightroom 5
About seven months ago, we posted an article about an application called ‘Paddy’ that connects a MIDI controller desk to Lightroom. Unfortunately for me, that application is Windows only, so I set out to find a solution for this gadget that I needed in and around my life. The solution is something called ‘Knobroom.’
After reading the initial story, I scoured Craigslist for a Behringer BCF2000. I figured that I would wait to find one of these second-hand, just in case I couldn’t get it to work. (Yes, I know all about return policies, but $125 was a risk I was fine taking – especially if it meant no shipping). So a mere seven months after geeking out over the thought of using sliders with Lightroom, I had the device in hand. Unfortunately, I still had some worries…
“Will this work well (or even at all) on my Mac (especially since there are no additional drivers or programs to map the board like on a PC)?”
“Will it work with Lightroom 5 (the last updates for the software came out right after 4 and were supposedly buggy)?”
“Will this make me very stressed and annoyed and angry and frustrated to set up?”
I’m (un)happy to say that the answer to all three is ‘yes.’ First, the Behringer BCF2000 definitely will work on a Mac. In fact, the drivers are already built into the operating system. Take that, unnecessary driver disk! Second, it will work with Lightroom 5, although not super easily and requires a few hard hours of customization. Third, I set this up with very little documentation on the subject and no real manual, so…yeah. BCF2000:1, Scalp:0.
Before buying the MIDI controller desk, I made sure to do as much research as possible. I read through basically all of the Knobroom website, as well as a fair amount from Paddy, scouring for an indication that I was on the right path and not waiting all of my time. I found one post in a comment (in a reply) that touted that Knobroom did, indeed, work with Lightroom 5. I felt like an archeologist for geek-dom. One comment was all I needed to continue the quest of the Holy Lightroom Grail.
Open Lightroom, and go to File > Plug-in Manager.
Then, go to “Add Plug-in” and locate your file. Once it is installed, click ‘Import Mapping’ and you can select the file that it comes with. There are step-by-step instructions for installing with a Novation Nocturn here. But with me not having one of those, it didn’t help that much. For those that go that route, at least you have directions.
Here is where the fun starts. For me, the current mapping wasn’t very conducive to my workflow. So I set out to map all of the buttons and sliders that I was going to use. For this, I downloaded MIDI Monitor. This program reads input from the MIDI controller desk and tells you which fader or knob corresponds to which number. This is so that you know what command to program where. Here is a what mine ended up looking like…
These settings took a tremendous amount of trial and error. In order for Knobroom to work in Lightroom, you must go to File > Plug-in Extras > Start Knobroom. Every stupid time. You must do it every time you start Lightroom and turn it off and on any time there is an error or you change something in the programming. One you turn it on, it will ask for a MIDI In and MIDI Out. They should both be set on one. Turning the plug-in on every time I go into Lightoom is a little bit of an annoyance, but…REAL SLIDERS!
And this is basically it. I say that, but I really don’t mean it. I expected a fair amount of problems, and I was not disappointed. There are, some things that you will need to be aware of to not pull all of your hair out. The PDF manual from the website is not much help at all. Youtube is much more helpful, but all the videos are for audio. So there’s that.
Your Behringer BCF2000 needs to be set up the correct way. Before you turn on the machine, hold down the third button from the left in the top row and press the power button. You will need these settings. Using the first knob, make sure you are set on “u -1.” The third knob should be set to auto. The fifth knob should be set to “id 1.” The seventh knob should be set to “100.” And the eighth knob should be set to “10.” Then press exit. Turn off the machine. These are the correct settings according to an audio tech on Youtube. I’m not entirely sure what some of them mean, but my board works now, so I’m not arguing.
Hold down the top left button and turn the machine on. This is the Logic Control mode for the MIDI desk and will be your working mode. For some reason, Preset 4 worked best for me, so my LCD reads “P – 4.”
If you have any duplicate commands mapped, your faders will not reset. This is very annoying.
Other than that, I really love how this thing is working now. It makes developing in Lightroom a lot more fun than it should be…at least so far. It adds a great tactility to working with the sliders of the program. I’m not an audio technician, so working with and programming this board was a very foreign concept and I’m sure would be much easier for someone that knows what they’re doing. That being said, there isn’t really any documentation on this board for Lightroom 5 at all, so if anyone has had more luck with this and is getting more advanced controls from the board, I’d love to hear them.
UPDATE: I was recently made aware of a program that does this exact thing for you (and they sell the MIDI controller desk), thanks to Pusher Labs. After some early experimenting, this seems MUCH, MUCH easier. I will review this soon.