ETC Ion/ Eos LTC/Midi Playback

A common feature of most moving light consoles is the ability to take in external time code for synchronization of lighting with other sources such as audio or video. ETC's Eos line is no exception though it often requires external gear such as a Show Control Gateway to actually take in SMPTE LTC. Having one or more the the gateways on your network opens up a whole set of options as to how and where you can get various kids of external time code from. Unfortunately the price of the gateway can put it out of reach in some situations. Luckily, several of the consoles in the line offer MIDI ports on the console which can be used to get external time code into the console through a little bit of adaptation. ETC also offers the ability to run an internal clock on the console which can be usefully if you want to use the console itself to trigger external events.

ETC does not include the full so control information in the manual that they ship with the console. The full list of operations relating to time code can be found in ETC's Eos Show Control Supplement which provides detailed instructions on how to use the Show Control tab (pictured below). This can be brought up by opening a new tab and selecting show control or by pressing [Displays]><More SK>>{Show Control}.

The first step is to create a list and select all the information you want it to respond to through the soft key options are presented. The best place to look for this is in the ETC supplement starting around page 13 as it could potentially change from version to version.

In the picture I have two lists, one for each of the numbers in that show that were time code driven. I prefer to do this as you can write macros to turn on that particular list. I would manually take the first cue at the top of the song enabling the time code and giving the console a chance to sync with the time code. The macro is nice because it can also prevent accidental playback when working on something else.

As I mentioned, it is possible to take advantage of a SMPTE input using one of the consoles with the Midi ports through a little bit of creative conversion. In all of these cases  I'm assuming you have an external SMPTE LTC time code source and are converting it MTC (MIDI Time Code) for the console to use. One of the most accessible ways of doing it is using a computer with a 1/8" microphone jack (or a USB Audio Interface), a USB MIDI device, and Reaper software. Using Reaper you can create a MIDI time code generator track which is triggered by SMPTE coming in through the audio interface. For more explanation on this see my earlier post about using Reaper with Time Code. If you don't want to use your computer and the ETC gateway is financially out of reach there are other options as well. Horita's TR-100 offers SMPTE LTC> MTC translation and offers a large read back display which can be helpful. Another useful product is a JLCooper PPS-2 which can serve as a master clock if needed. Finally MOTU offers a variety of devices that can do all kinds of fun things with MIDI and other audio related protocols depending on the flavor of device you use.