DIY Win: How To Connect a MIDI Controller Desk to Lightroom 5

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.

fstoppers midi board

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.

I downloaded two Knobroom versions. The most recent release as well as the latest beta release. As of this writing, I am using the latest beta.

To install...

Open Lightroom, and go to File > Plug-in Manager.
fstoppers midi board 2

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...

fstoppers midi mapping 4

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!

fstoppers midi mapping 5

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.

For those who need to reset to factory defaults, you will need the free program SysEx Librarian and the factory rest settings from Behringer.

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39 Comments

It seems like it would be pretty fun at first but kind of a novelty that would end up hurting production rather than helping it.

On a keyboard and mouse one rarely has to move all that much to hit all the keys. With a large MIDI controller you'd have to really cover a lot of ground moving your hands and arms.
Also, spinning knobs is much more strenuous than vertical and horizontal movement of a mouse, not to mention how it would cause muscle irritation so much faster.

It looks fun but there is no way I'd use that professionally.

Never heard of a sound engineer being hurt for mixing for too long...

I think you are seing a non existent problem...

I run Lightroom 5 with the same Behringer on a Windows machine (using paddy). As small as it may sound, being able to reach over and slide or turn something physical is very nice. I also like that I can adjust my basic (or other mapped) controls no matter which panel I am in, saving the hassle of scrolling and opening panels. Also being able to make small adjustments is easier than trying to get my mouse to move a fraction of an inch.

Patrick Hall's picture

I'd be interested to take this one step further and ask if you can connect a foot controller? I'd imagine both hands on the mixer which would control wb, exposure, fill, etc and then a foot controller for rating or next. Imagine how fast that would be!

This is perfectly possible, the bcf2000 has a foot controllor input. I don`t know why the intergration of midi devices is this type of software isn`t staderdized yet

I have certain commands mapped out on my galaxy s3 so instead of holding down two or three key combinations, i just hold my phone in my hand while it's resting in my lap and putter away. Much more efficient for me .

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.allinoneremote&hl=en

is possible on capture one?

if capture one has keyboard shortcuts, then yes. Just download the app and set it up. It's really easy

Jason Dream's picture

Would love to see a tutorial how you use it with lightroom :)
It seems to be a nice trick to help in a workflow !

"Third, I set this up with very little documentation on the subject and no real manual, so…yeah. BCF2000:1, Scalp:0."

There's this thing called the Internet, where you can find the manual.

Are you a full-time douchebag, or just on F-Stoppers comments?

You are the definition of a troll. You never say anything beneficial and piss me off every time I read you trying to belittle someone else who is trying to put valuable content out there for the world.

Did they pick on you in school that badly?

Well you certainly go out of your way to read my comments. Thanks for reading, and keep it up!

What we need is a time lapse rig that can be controlled by MIDI
Would be way easier map a course of action.
I know it's possible and maybe even been done but I mean a consumer product.

I use the TB3 on my dolly and it controls all 3 axis with a single Wii remote

Do you have a blog post or something on the web with more info about this setup?

Yeah so the company that makes the pan/tilt head is this eMotimo (http://emotimo.com/). Now this device Orange or Black can drive a 3rd stepper motor which you can hook up to a DIY dolly with a proper belt or a timelapse dolly made by Dynamic Perceptions (http://dynamicperception.com/).

The system is extremely simple and only requires

TB3(Black or Orange)

A dolly track

An extra stepper motor

A 12v Battery

Here is a video demonstration of the the TB3 with the Stage One
http://emotimo.com/emotimo-tb3-and-dynamic-perceptions-stage-one/

Feel free to ask if you have more questions

I'll check it out. Thanks.

I use Actions for iOS on my iPad, which controls anything that uses a macro- it comes with templates for Lightroom, Photoshop, and a large amount of apps, or you can create your own in group as well as color code them. And it's wireless. I use it for LR as well as for PS and it really cuts down on the workflow when you have a large bank of buttons that can trigger anything you want in any app. Pretty damn good app. http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/control-any-application-on-your-mac-or-pc-u...

Sounds cool but without the haptic feedback from a physical button/knob/slider don't you still end up having to look away from the image you're editing thus defeating some of the advantages of the setup from the article?

Why oh why would you want to do this? Okay, I guess that's a silly question - and I love it when people do odd and unusual things. You'll have to try tricking out one of those crazy Adobe Premiere or Avid keyboards next!

Excuse my ignorance, but I've got a question: What happens if you apply the slider settings to one image, and then move on to the next? Are the positions of the sliders automatically applied to the next image, or do the sliders revert back to "0". How does it work?

i wonder how that works, too. does this Knob-Control-PlugIn work with active-sliders too? So that the sliders are moving (motor-driven) to the correct position? - But midi-devices with motor-sliders are more expensive, aren't they?

Chris Knight's picture

They are more expensive. I picked mine up for $120 but I wanted the sliders to move to whichever picture they corresponded to

So this really works?! Wow. Thanks for clarifying this :)

which one did you buy?

Chris Knight's picture

The one that the article is written about. The Behringer BCF2000.

Thanks for the writeup. Any chance you would share your MIDI mapping?

Ben,
Thanks for chiming in. Just ordered PFixer along with the BCF2000. Can't wait to receive it. This article sounds so awesome, but I am intrigued by not having to go through all the setup.

Glad to know about the active sliders. Though I am curious how you settled on this controller model in particular. Is this the only one known to function with Lightroom, or may I pursue something larger? More knobs to play with haha.

Also, what about Lightroom 4? I bought it just before 5 was released (and even then I tend to use Photoshop more), so I'd rather wait for 6 if I can.

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