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 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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Previous comments

The Behringer mentioned in this article has active/motorized sliders. They also make a unit that is just all knobs, called the bcr2000 that has 24 knobs where the sliders are at in the pics above. You could use more than one at a time (or both) if you were really going to go nuts with it. The software mentioned at the end, made by pusher labs, says it works with version 4 so there is that too. I guess you could use something larger and crazy expensive, but people are picking the behringer type stuff, as you get the same functionality for this with a fairly low price. When it is just midi data, you don't need all of the extra audio IO etc anyway.

Ben- Any possible future of your product working with Aperture?

When the original article was up on FStoppers about this I was a little intrigued (and still am). But as a user of Aperture the first hurdle was that Paddy is Windows (not a chance I'm making that change) and all the setups seemed to be Lightroom- which I can understand but there's very little chance I'll make that switch either.

But, the one thing I did get from the previous post was in the comments from another user and they mentioned using a gaming keypad. That put me onto the Razer Nostromo and it has made a HUGE leap forward in my culling/editing time. I can't suggest it enough. I've been able to map out 90% of my most used keys (& combos) and I still have plenty of options for customizing it more. Now my right hand stays on the mouse almost the whole time, my left hand on the Nostromo and my eyes on the display and it's made me so much faster.
In case you have no idea what I'm talking about (I didn't really either the first time I read their first comment about it) you can check it out here:

I'm sure there are plenty of other options but I've been very happy with mine.

Does this only work with the Behringer unit, or can I use any MIDI controller device (ie: Digidesign Digi002)??

So, is it usable on a PC? Pusher Labs product is OSX only. KnoBroom seems it might because it's a load of .js files, which should be universal. But really dislike these one sided apps. Just like TIVO developing for iPhone/iPad and ignoring Android.

Thank you so much for posting the settings for the Behringer. I was loosing my mind trying to figure out how to make the system detect that it was there. Started to work almost immediately after that. Is there a way of making the sliders or knobs increment higher? Right now everything stops at 25

Just processed my first wedding using PFixer. Cut my processing time in half. I am incredibly happy with my purchase. The concept is the same as the one detailed in the artice, but literally you plug, you play. No configuring, no multiple software package headaches. I am a HUGE fan.

can this be used with Photoshop (ACR) or just with Lightroom?

Although the post is almost 2 years old, I hope to get your support. I just moved from Win to Mac and as photographer I used Paddy and BCF2000 before. Now I was happy to see that there is similar software for Mac available as well. But the configuration is horrible. Your guideline helps me a lot. But I am confused with the configuration of button banks. Can anybody tell me, how I can program the button? I can choose only cc but not the channel number itself (in according to MIDI Monitor). How to solve / map the buttons with commands like mapping with presets?

Tomek Fryszkiewicz's picture

Hey! Got any hard evidence if it works well with Capture One?