ProPresentor Control for ETC Ion

UPDATE- This may not work properly anymore see this instead.

One of the the church's that  I work for regularly uses ProPresenter to control their lyrics/ graphics along with an ETC Ion for lighting. They often have problems staffing the lighting position for normal Sunday services yet want to be able to create some different lighting looks through out the service. With the most recent versions of the Eos software ETC added OSC command functionality to the console allowing just about anything to be remotely triggered. OSC (Open Sound Control)  is somewhat of a successor to the original MIDI protocol that sends data over network connections in a much more user readable format for editing. Through ETC's implementation of the protocol you can get an Eos/ Ion console to remotely complete almost any action you could while sitting at the console. The full guide to what ETC has allowed users to do with OSC is available in their latest Show Control User Guide.

With the added communication module ProPresenter has the ability to send MIDI notes when a slide is advanced making it possible to control external gear. Unfortunately, the Ion is not able to receive MIDI notes and perform actions with them, only MIDI commands. However, the implementation of OSC commands it is possible to make these MIDI notes be useful. A software called OSCulator can run on the same computer as ProPresenter and translate the MIDI notes to OSC commands and send them to the Ion. This unlocks the ability for ProPresenter to control the Ion without having a separate lighting operator present.

In discussions with the worship leader, we were able to figure out the best way for the console and ProPresenter to work together based on their normal usage. For most services only a few looks are needed which could be programmed at any point through out the week and submasters for various areas are brought up throughout the service. We wanted to be able to make this without the need for an extra volunteer operator. To implement this, we decided to use the person running video to help control the the lighting. When setting this up we decided to use the main cue list to control the scenic elements and background while the band, house, and other key lights were still controlled by subs as was being done previously. In order to make this work we decided to make cues 1-200 recallable with MIDI notes and subs 1-10 controllable at 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and Full. The decision behind the cue number rather than the "GO" button was that it enabled the slides to be mixed around and not cause a ton of problems if things happened out of order. In the end we did include the GO and BACK functionalities in case we needed to run point cues through ProPresenter control. One setback that I found was that I was unable to control the timing of subs with the OSC sub commands so I ended up using macro commands to set the sub levels even though the console lacks moving faders.

The rest of this post is a how to guide. It is more geared towards ProPresenter but references this guide from the ETC forums by Paul Toben which is referring to QLab which I would suggest following for the initial setup for the computer and console. I'll stick mostly to the ProPresenter side with some OSCulator info thrown in.

Items Need:

  • ETC Eos based console running v2.3 or later
  • Mac OSX based computer
  • Possibly a second NIC card for connecting to your lighting console depending on how the computer is set up
  • ProPresenter with either the MIDI or Full Communications Module


  • Ensure OSCulator and ProPresenter with the MIDI/ Communications Module are installed on your computer
  • Complete the network setup as described in the Paul Toben guide
  • In ProPresenter create a MIDI device by following the instructions on pages 126 & 127 of the ProPresenter user guide
  • I forgot to grab a screen shot of this but its fairly simple
  • I chose to name my device OSCulator which appears in the rest of the guide
  • Select a slide and add a not
  • Right click and select “Add Cue> Communication Cue> OSCulator> MIDI Note On”
  • Select the channel and note and send
  • An item should appear in OSCulator
  • This is only the channel which you will want to expand to give yourself more option
  • Highlight the note/ pitch section and "Edit> Demux"
  • Keep changing the notes in ProPresenter and more lines should appear
  • If you change to another channel you'll have to Demux again
  • Keep sending notes to OSCulator until you're satisfied
  • You'll get something like this without the Event Type and Values filled in
  • Set the Event type to OSC Routing
  • Set the value based on what you would like by clicking on the blank field
  • This will bring up the routing table 


  • Click the add new address section and type in the desired values in the new window
  • Examples:
  • Go to Cue #= /eos/cue/(list)/(cue)/fire
  • This executes with the time applied to the cue, not the standard goto cue time
  • Go= /eos/key/go_0
  • Back= /eos/key/stop
  • Macro #= /eos/macro/#/fire
  • For subs my macro is "Sub 1 @ Full Time 3 Enter", running in the background mode
  • In my file I used macros 151-200 because that was available in the base show fil


  • Test sending note
  • The box by the given note should flash when the command is sent from ProPresenter
  • On the console if you open the Diagnostics Tab (Tab 99) and set it to display incoming OSC you should see the items incomin
  • If you see the notes incoming and you see the message coming in make sure the velocity on ProPresenter is 1 or greater
  • If nothing is coming in check your network setup
  • Once you are sure setup is done you may want to lock OSCulator through "Routing>Lock Routing"

Hopefully this is helpful in getting you started using ProPresenter and OSC. Here is a ZIP file containing the various manuals, a usage guide once set everything is set up, and my OSCulator file withe cues 1-200 mapped and subs 1-10 mapped as well.

LED Flicker and Video

One of my activities more common activities during the Christmas season is designing lighting for my church using a variety of fixtures they have acquired overtime. While the majority of their LED product is of good quality they do have some off brand lights that flicker on video. This is a common problem with cheaper LEDs built with lower quality components. So here's and explination of why and a work around for recorded video only.

The video flicker comes from the way that the individual colored diodes are dimmed to color mix or for intensity. In order to dim an LED it is turned on and off rapidly maintaining its nominal operating voltage when in the on state. This helps preserve color integrity and relative brightness throughout the cycle no matter how long the LED is actually on. The process is known as pulse width modulation or PWM. For a look at this see the picture on the right. More often than not, this process happens more rapidly than the eye is able to perceive however sometimes camera's are able to pick this up due to their frame rate and shutter speeds. This process becomes more noticeable as the LED is "dimmed" (turned on less frequently in the waveform) such as when the fixture is at a low level or if certain colors are mixed. While the LED product may work well for live events without video there is no way to fix the problem when using video and the flicker is going to happen any time a camera is used. The best way around this is to buy "camera friendly" products that have a high PWM frequency or rely on other methods of dimming.

After doing some research I was able to find a solution that works decently for RECORDED video. I'm almost positive that this can not be employed on live video. Any ways here are the steps:

Open the video in an editing software that allows you to manipulate tracks (Final Cut, Adobe Primeier, Sony Vegas, etc.)

Copy the video track with the offending LEDs from the main track to a secondary one on top of the main

Delete the audio from the secondary track

Offset the secondary video by a frame or two

Set the opacity of the second track to ~50-60%

After messing around with the opacity and frame offset of the second track you end up with something masking the LED flicker. The video ends up turning out fairly decent but judge for yourself:

ETCP Entertainment Electrician Certification

I recently took and passed by ETCP Entertainment Electricians Exam even though there is a fair amount of discussion in the industry whether or not it is truly needed. One of the main reasons behind my decision is that it add validation to the knowledge that I know I process. Going through the process of studying was also a great way to fill in the gaps of what I already knew. ETCP provides an outline of what will be on the test which is a good guide of what to study and ensure you having a good general working knowledge. Another reason was that when it comes to looking for a job further down the road it may help to influence an employers final decision in my favor of job candidates. The fact that my current local (IATSE) was willing to reimburse the $550 also helped make it seem like a really good idea with minimal downsides.

One of the thing that made me hesitating on taking the exam was the verification process. I wasn't sure exactly what ETCP/PLASA was looking for as far as proving hours and what process they were going to follow. Luckily for me, my primary employer keeps records of total hours worked through payroll. Having worked way more than the 3,000 hours required to qualify on points alone I was more than good to go. With so many hours in the bank I was very confident that at least the required 3,000 hours of electrical was completed. I also ended up submitting an official transcript from school which I had acquired a stack of at some point. Before submitting anything I did send ETCP an email and got a reply to all of the questions that I had which was very helpful. After submitting my paperwork and payment it took about two weeks for the ETCP people to call and verify with my direct report manager at work (yes they did call and check) and give me the go ahead and take the test.

After I got the go ahead to take the test, its a matter of going onto the AMP website and setting up a testing appointment. The test is administered on a computer which is the standard for industry testing. It is possible to take the test at the larger trade events on paper if that is something you desire. In the Southern California area all the testing center locations were located at HR&R Blocks. The actual venue is a back area they have set aside with computers in cubicles for privacy. As far as taking the test, the questions displayed on the computer with the multiple choice answers below them. The software makes it very easy to flag questions to go back to later so its possible to skip the more time consuming questions and come back later which is what I ended up doing to ensure I at least saw everything. In fact, the computer will not allow you to finish the exam without acknowledging unanswered questions and will scroll through them for you so you can answer them. At the end of the test, the computer closes out and asks you to return to the lobby. Once back in the lobby is when you get your results and a printout with the number of questions correct and the number of questions needed to pass. It also mentions that with in 6 weeks you will receive your certificate and ID card.

Since I took the test right before the Christmas/ New Years holidays in the middle of December it wasn't until after the New Year that I heard back from ETCP. They emailed me asking for a picture for my ID card as well as some information to put up on their website for my listing if you search for me there. About a week or so after that (a few days before this posts) I received my packet with my certificate, ID card, and some other goodies. So now all I have to worry about is the recertification process in 5 years or the process of adding one of the rigging certs if I chose to go that way in the future.

Windows 8 Tablet for Lighting Work

One of the most important tools a lighting programmer can have these days is solid personal computer. As a matter of personal preference, I lean more towards using windows computers over a Mac due to the wider range of software choses and ability to customize. One of the recent trends that caught my eye was the small convertible netbook/ tablet. They tend to be on the inexpensive side and seem like a good field computer that I don't care too much about getting damaged. So I decided to buy an Asus Transformer T100TA that keeps showing up on deal website such as for about $200. While it doesn't replace my main laptop it still offers me some additional flexibility in how I can do things. It weighs next to nothing, even with the keyboard attached, and has all day battery life (~ 10hrs) allowing to go anywhere. It has more functionality than my iPad as well and has even come with me to several gigs when I just didn't need my full laptop but actually wanted to get some work done. In fact this post is being written on it!

Here's a quick look at the specs:

  • Full Windows 8.1 upgraded to Windows 10 (fixed with Classic Shell)
  • Intel Atom Z3775 Quad Core @ 1.46ghz
  • 2 Gigs of Ram
  • 64GB internal storage
  • 10.1 Inch Touch Screen (1368x768)
  • MicroSD Slot (Capable of reading 128GB cards, see this post on how to make this more useful)
  • Micro USB 2.0 (Charging and OTG)
  • Micro HDMI
  • USB 3.0 on Keyboard
  • 2.4lbs w/keyboard

Looking at the specs its not an overly powerful machine but it has enough horse power to get things done.  The biggest advantage is the full version of Windows, meaning you can run just about any software on it as long as it doesn't need a ton of processing power/RAM, unlike other tablet options. The hard drive space a somewhat of a limit but there are ways to work around this. In my next post I'll give you the steps I used to get the OS to think an SD is a regular hard drive and install programs such as Drop Box to it allowing you to greatly expand the SD cards utility. When used with USB Ethernet adapter you can join wired networks and use programs like remote desktop to access other network computers or other show critical functions you may not want on WiFi. 

Here's the list of lighting type programs I've tried and some of the results:

  • Magic Q- Works great, outputs fine over the USB dongle, the touch screen is nice too. I actually ended up running a small show off it in a pinch.
  • EOS Offline- Runs as expected, able to connect to a console as a client, haven't tried outputting via Nomad
  • Grandma 2 OnPC- Runs but needs a wired connection via USB> Ethernet
  • Reaper- Works fine for audio, video not so much

All of this comes together to create something that is worth considering if you want a utility computer or are a Mac user looking to get into Windows for certain applications with a very reasonable price tag.


Time Code Playback via Ableton Live

This last winter, while working on a Christmas Service, I came across a fairly common scenario. A church that I do a fair amount of work/ volunteering for wanted to synchronize lights and video for one number as well as lighting for a another show piece song. Normally this is no big deal, but I was unable to be there for the actual event and they were not equipped with any of the methods for generating/ playing time code that I had used previously.

After doing some research I found I way to make it all work. In order to provide a click track to the band and well as some additional audio tracks, the worship leader was using Ableton. Ableton is a DAW that is well suited very for playback of multiple tracks to various locations making it great for live work. The tracks can be used for samples, loops, or instruments which can be routed to outputs as needed and started through cues. I ended up loaning the worship director my audio interface a Focusrite Saffire 6 (now outdated, current model is Sacrlet 2i4) so he could output more than the usual two he uses for worship. We inserted another track and dropped some premade SMPTE .wav strips for him to playback along with the click track and samples. After some adjustments to their start as locations everything was great. This enabled him to send a SMPTE track to the church's ETC Ion which we translated to MTC on the console end using a Horrita TR-100.

The SMPTE stripes that we ended up using were the pregenerated in one hour increments (song 1= 01:00:00:00, song 2= 02:00...) for each song. In order to get these stripes I used a SMPTE generator website with the flavor I wanted and gave 10 minute stripes to the worship director to add to each song. Ten minutes may have been a little long but I wanted to be safe. I could have used Reaper to generate the strips but the website was faster. Another option we looked into was ClipSMPTE. It appears to actually generate time code on the fly but we didn't have Ableton's Max for Live edition to test it out.

The final piece of the puzzle came from the video playback. For lyrics and motion background the church uses ProPresenter which has the ability to send and receive Midi triggers. We ended up using an Ableton midi track to send a trigger to start the ProPresenter video cue. This did require an extra upgrade back to ProPresenter to make everything work but it is now used often by the church to advance lyric slides during worship. In order to send the trigger we created a private Wi-Fi network to send the commands over. Here's a tutorial from MusicRadar on how to set the network up. Another possibility would have been to use a longer SMPTE preroll from Ableton and have the Ion send a wired trigger a couple of seconds after it locked on.

For a look at how this worked on at Easter take a look here.

Show Organization

Often times one of the most difficult things when it comes to programming is show organization and planing. Figuring out when and where cues need to go and what needs to be included in them often requires time to think about. Even if you have all your various pallets, groups, and effects created, figuring out where to put them can be time consuming without a plan. If you have the luxury of having to tracks ahead of time, sitting down and coming up with some kind of organized plan is a great way to deal with this. By putting your ideas down on paper you have some idea of where to start when you actually sit down and begin to program.

Here is how my planning process general works when I get to use it:

1. Listen/ Watch the material you are given to get a feel of what you may want the every thing to look like.

2. Think about how your idea works with your available and how that fits in the the scenic elements and theme of the overall show.

3. Begin listening the the specific songs one at a time. While doing this begin placing your cues. This can be done with a pen and paper or better yet an audio program where you can actually place markers. Again this is one of the huge reasons a recommend Reaper. In Reaper markers can be added by pressing the M key. If you have the SWS plugin installed each marker will show up the Marker List window.

4. After going through an placing all my markers I'll fine tune and label them from the Marker List window. Clicking and a marker will move your cursor to the locations which makes things quick and easy to go to when actually programming

5. Once I'm happy with my marker location I'll then begin moving the cue data over into my cue layout spread sheet. I'll record the cue number, label, SMPTE times, and the fade times I want to use. I also like to include all of my show elements on the sheet as well. This makes it easy to help visualize what is being used for what when. Think of it as a track sheet for developing the song. I can record what I want each group of lights to be doing in a given cue and follow the progression as I work my way through the song.  This can also be done with a pen and paper but I find it harder visualize the entire song in my head and doesn't save me nearly as much time.

6. Get to the console and start programming but be flexible and prepared to make changes as things come up during programming/ rehearsal.

All of this assumes that you actually have the ability to plan and the time to actually program. Depending on what you're doing on that day of the week you may or may not get the luxury to even think about this in which case you just may have to resort to straight up busking your way through the show.

Reaper for Programing

Programming often involves playback of various media, be it audio or even video, for you to complete your work to. Often times media can come in interesting formats which don't always work the best for native players. A prime example for this receiving audio tracks with SMPTE stripes built into one of the channels which can create all kinds of havoc if you have the wrong player. In order to deal with this enter Reaper.


By Reaper I mean Cockos Incorporated's fully functional DAW (digital audio workstation) Reaper. Not only does it have all the audio editing capability you'd expect from any other DAW it has the ability to play back video as well which can be helpful if need some kind of video syncronization. Along with this Reaper offers the ability to both read and generate MIDI and SMPTE LTC tracks. This enables external control and synchronization with lighting consoles and other pieces of gear for playback making it even more useful. A variety of plug-ins are also available for Reaper, expanding functionality even further. The plug-in set that is use primarily is Standing Water Studios SWS/S&M package. My main reason behind this is that it further expands Reapers native marker ability which comes in handing for placing cue locations and other notes. To top it all off, the whole package can be had for $60 depending on your license and usage need.


Finding Reaper enabled a huge change in the way that I am able to program stuff for prepared concerts, events, and worship services. Previously I was using the ancient but still great Cool Edit Pro which has since become Adobe Audition for programming playback. I would go through and mark out my cues and then have to create a largish CEP specific file to save the data for later. Reaper does this with a small separate file which is not big deal especially since I tend to sync things through Drop Box across computers and devices. With Reaper I am able to create and save my cue list then export it out to a . csv for use in Excel. Reaper also has the ability to have multiple songs open in so I can quickly switch between songs while programming.


All in all, Reapers is a great program especially if you're a Windows user such as myself.