As Peter has already dropped the Create Digital Motion word I feel like I’ll be able to get away with calling this a CDMotion preview.

“What midi controller should I use for VJing?” is similar to “How long should my piece of string be?”. Without knowing what you’re using the string to produce, what kind of environment the string is going to be used in and what programs the string is going to control, there isn’t really an answer. So I’m going to start with “How are the midi-controller requirements for VJing unique”, and then give you my current solution for “What midi controller should I use for VJing with Resolume, if I don’t have enough money to buy the ReACT custom Resolume controller?”.


VJing doesn’t require so much in velocity sensitivity or aftertouch, so those fully-weighted super-responsive keyboards aren’t really going to help. Piano keys work fine for triggering clips and applying effects – programs such as Arkaos have taken advantage of the proliferation of keyboard style midi controllers – but for the VJ’s traditional grid-o-clips a couple of rows of pads or a simple qwerty keyboard is a much more intuitive method of triggering source material.

The unsubtle triggering control is made up for with knobs and sliders. With each image layer requiring controls for opacity, speed and scratch (or playhead position), filter parameters, filter opacity, in point, out point… The slider and knob requirements build up quickly.

Controlling Resolume (on a budget)

Obviously if you can use a purpose-built controller such as the ReACT or Edirol’s MD-P1, but where’s the fun in that! The whole point of midi is spending weeks assigning controls and tweaking until you’ve got a finely tuned setup which is second nature to you and completely incomprehensible to anyone else so those backseat drivers in the club will have no idea what you’re doing or how you’re doing it.

I tried out Evolution/M-Audio’s UC-16 and X-session, but 16 knobs is only just enough to dip your toes into the pool of ninja fast Resolume control. I was considering a Trigger Finger (while bemoaning the prevalence of 4×4 pad controllers) when one of my bandmates picked up a Behringer BCR2000.

Only a mother could love this face

10 minutes with it plugged into Resolume and I was hooked. I’m fully aware of the… interesting reputation Behringer audio gear has picked up over the years. But set your prejudice aside for a moment and marvel in the hottest combination of cheap and midi control in one knob encrusted box.

32 endless rotary controllers (8 of which have push function) and 24 buttons. Over 500 LEDs. AU$265 (US$195) street.

Smoke filled club? No problems.

This is a particularly attractive controller for Resolume because the 3 main groups of knobs mirror its 3 layer control scheme. Even the ReACT requires the use of shift or layer select keys to choose which layer you’re tweaking. Clip triggering is covered by a qwerty keyboard (handy hint: recent model Thinkpads have a built in LED to illuminate your keyboard in dark clubs), but most other controls can be covered with a BCR2000.

After a year of use (and several iterations of assignment tweaking) here’s my BCR setup for Resolume. This allows for extremely detailed and intuitive live control. The biggest drawbacks being:

  • Scratching with a rotary encoder is never going to be as fast as a jog wheel or fader
  • The magic number for opacity is 50%, this is the level at which layer modes such as Add, Darken and Lighten show both the current amd underneath layer at proper luminance while showing as much of each as the blend mode allows. It would be nice to have a “sweet spot” so exactly 50% was easier to select at 2am and 7 beers. Perhaps some of the top pushbutton rotaries could be remapped as “layer x, value 128″

Midi mapping is as personal as operating system setup or plugin selection. I expect every VJ to have their own method of control and preferred layout. There’s no way I’m going to tell you my kung foo is superior, but if you’re still VJing with a qwerty keyboard and mouse it may be time to take a little of that gig money and see how much further your style can go.

  • gabe

    I have to give props for that string metaphor. I might just have to steal it for the countless djs asking me if "ableton is better than serrato"

  • http://blog.steamshift.com SteamSHIFT

    This is the one I settled on for my stuff; worth looking at the BCF2000 (has 8 faders instead of 24 of the rotary controllers) and, if it ever comes out the BCD2000. The latter has the advantage of audio in as well – useful for reactive stuff.

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis

    I looked at the BCF2000, but there just weren't enough controllers for me :)

    I've been eagerly waiting for the BCD2000 to be released since it was announced. I have a friend in Germany who had a talk to the Behringer guys at Messe, he didn't find out why it was delayed, but when he got back from Messe his preordered BCD had finally been delivered. So hopefully they'll be making their way around the world soon enough. I shall definitely be adding a BCD to my rig, you'll hopefully hear about it on CDMotion.

  • Rainer

    BCD is out europe and america wide….jaymis' friend from germany speaking here.

  • Pingback: Create Digital Music » Cheap, functional, quirky: BCD2000 Midi Controller Review

  • Alan

    Hi all…. im new in the buissness and i would like some info on whats best for resolume and what are the prices.. im also looking if someone is willing to be a friend and help me out with resolume… i just did a party but i used my pc.. any it would be awsome if some1 will be willing to help me… thanx

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis Loveday

    Hi Alan. If you're just looking for a single controller which will work out of the box with resolume I'd get the BCR2000. Froogle.com searches (if you're in the US) or google if you're elsewhere. Hit the resolume forum pages. Read the manual. Good luck!

  • Alan

    thats jaymis.. im from israel… do u know resolume??? if yes. it would be awsome if u showed me a few stuff there….

  • Alan

    are there keyboard shortcuts for effects on resolume???

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis Loveday

    Read the manual, seriously – http://www.resolume.com/support/manual/ – print it out and follow along while you learn the program.

    Keyboard shortcuts are covered here – http://www.resolume.com/support/manual/#Keyboard_

    Anything not listed there you'll need to setup yourself. Resolume doesn't ship with shortcuts mapped for effects because there are so many different effects, so you have to setup shortcuts for them yourself. Double click on an effect in the list to add a midi or keyboard shortcut.

    There is also a forum at the resolume site – http://www.resolume.com/forum/ – the creators are very friendly.

  • Alan

    cool. thanx alot… one more question… is a "bcd2000" good for vj'ing?? and can i use all the functions?? for like effects and pitch and fading and stuff…? would u recommend??

  • http://discomfort.multiply.com Ni'ang

    hi guys, is it possible to save the midi assignment in resolume?

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis Loveday

    @Ni'ang: You can indeed, as with Alan, it's Manual time for you: http://www.resolume.com/support/manual/#Midi

    @Alan: Short answer: Yes, but not straight out of the box, and not simply.

    Long answer: I've done a review of the BCD here. It mentions the biggest problems I've had with the BCD2000.

  • Alan

    Jaymis Loveday: what do u mean by not out of the box? Like i said. im new in vj'ing. i need a midi controller as soon as possible and can get the bcd2000.. i just want to know if its fully functional and would u guys recommend it?

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis Loveday

    Alan: have you read the articles I linked you to? This isn't something which has a single, one line answer. It's a complicated issue which is covered in these articles.

    However, I think if you're looking for a Behringer controller, the easiest option for you would be the BCR2000.

  • Alan

    nevermind guys.. thanx for ur help.. but i bought the NUVJ.. its and awsome piece of machine

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis Loveday

    Nice one Alan. We'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it. Are you using it with Resolume or Arkaos?

  • Alan

    well, actually i didnt get it yet.like i said. im from israel.. but i will definitelly share my thoughts with you… i guess i'll use both resolume and arkaos.

  • http://discomfort.multiply.com Ni'ang

    Hey Jaymis, I've read the manual a couple of times and i didn't find anything about saving the midi assigning setup. I succeed in assining the controllers, but each time i turn off resolume, it resets when i turn it back on. Thx 4 the help!

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis Loveday

    Hi, do you mean the midi controllers resolume is using or the actual controller mappings?

    It should automatically save the mappings, and you can also save your settings to an XML file in Preferences > Midi General.

    Resolume may need to quit properly to save settings though, so if it's crashing or not exiting properly it may not save your settings.

    If you need more help, check out the resolume forums, where people who actually built the software can help you.

  • http://discomfort.multiply.com Ni'ang

    okay Jaymis, n thx again for your help

  • http://www.stickman.biz Stickman

    You can save your MIDI setup in resolume 2.3 and 2.4 – it saves them as an XML file.

    I use a BCR2000 for Vj'ing with resolume and it's great, although I have a different setup to the one above as I use the note buttons to trigger a 4×4 matrix of clips.

    Stickman

  • wrybread

    I'm new to Resolume and have been putting around with it on a midi keyboard. Definitely not ideal. I'm wondering if there is now a better budget midi controller for Resolume?

    And any chance you might post the XML file of midi mappings?

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis Loveday

    Hi Wrybread. You're at the wrong site for this information! Check out CreateDigitalMotion, and especially the MIDI tag.

    As mentioned in the above article though, the BCR2000 is an excellent budget controller for Resolume.

  • wrybread

    Thanks for the tip.

    Any chance you might want to share your midi mappings for the BCR2000? Possibly email to wrybread at gmail dot you know what?

  • wrybread

    I got my BCR2000 and was curious if you're experiencing the same problem I am: all the midi notes (the row of buttons across the top for example) are showing up as 1 0 in Resolume. In other words they're all showing up as the same note.

    Other applications see the notes as unique. I don't imagine anything occurs to you right away? I posted the Q on vjforums.com too, but have an event tonight and am in a rush to get this working…

    I get the problem even when using the same midi mappings as you in the above picture.