Alex le Lievre has built what looks like an insane custom controller for Pro Tools LE using an iPhone. He seems to have mimicked the look and feel of Pro Tools so successfully that some called the results a fake. There’s incredibly detailed feedback on track status, including live audio signal feeds and transport controls. It even uses iPhone’s tilt mechanism.

This is interesting for two reasons: one, those lusting after iPhone and iPod Touch have another reason to drool. But secondly, Digidesign has been pretty closed about their controller mechanism. If this is real, Alex did a pretty great job of cracking into it. (I only just heard from JazzMutant, by contrast, that their Dexter won’t support Pro Tools because it’s not possible.)

ProRemote 0.0.1 on YouTube (darned nice “0.0.1″ release!)

Alex’s video on his .Mac page

Thanks to Chris O’Malley for the tip.

Could Apple be working on a Control Pro? One commenter thinks so, and this patent evidence from last year at least suggests they’ve thought about it. (Keep in mind, though, sometimes experimental ideas don’t become products, and patents are hard to read.)

Updated: How Alex Did It

Alex wrote in. He’s in fact a very experienced programmer with background in Pro Tools plug-in development, software architecture, and Macromedia’s multimedia architecture (pre-Adobe), among other things, and he’s kind enough to share with us how the whole thing works.

The remote is real. I plan to sell it if Apple lets me once they certify my code- I assume that will happen after they release they native software SDK in February.

Here are some snippets of previous posts that may answer some of your questions. If not feel free to ping me anytime.

It works on the iPod touch and the iPhone (on all firmwares supposedly) and the reason “why” you would want this remote in the first place (at least for me): by the time I have gotten up and walked over to my console 10 times to adjust the levels, I no longer want to play music. This software allows me to control my rig from the drums or my guitar setup and hopefully keep the music flowing.

I have a Tranzport which is what inspired me to write this software. I can’t get far enough away with my tranzport and it doesn’t have touch sensitive faders! :( Not to mention the UI on the tranzport is 2 lines and certainly not in color… I was thinking it would be cool to support their plugin architecture so that I could support the same DAWs as they do on my iPhone (they support them all it seems). I don’t think I can distribute their code but I could probably tell people where to get it! :)

more technical:
This software is in three pieces: the first piece is the software on the iPhone (the remote). The second is the server (the brains) and the third is the MIDI driver (to communicate with ProTools)… The midi driver and server live on the ProTools machine.

The server process uses a proprietary protocol over TCP on port 8183 and 8184. This isn’t some lame web service- it’s a high performance, low latency, full duplex server. It kicks ass and yes, it can act as an internet server if you so choose. The ideal however is to have local access to the server.

You can run the server program on any machine you like (this may change for performance reasons). In my case (and the best case) is to run the server on the same machine as ProTools is running on- This reduces any latency to the iPhone.

I’ve also tested the remote on the AT&T EDGE network which means you can control your rig from anywhere in the world that has internet or EGDE. Why you would want to do that is beyond me.

The communication between the remote and server is not standard MIDI over IP. The ProRemote protocol is optimized for Wifi-remote access versus serial access for MIDI. The server communicates with ProTools (and soon other hosts) via a MIDI driver using the Mackie HUI (MIDI) protocol.

Future:
There is a transport control in the app where you can also see the timecode. I may put the timecode somewhere else… I’m also considering adding a dedicated transport “page” with a large “footswitch” style button for punch (you could use your big toe or something to trigger the big punch button) and a finger controlled scrubber/scroller as well as the usual host of transport buttons (but larger) and buttons for track selection, in, out- loop, etc…

I was thinking it would also be cool to use the accelerometer inside the phone as a panner… (think Wii but with the iPhone as panner)- People who think you are crazy will know for certain if you start panning by making insane gestures with your iPhone.

Finally, there are other goodies planned for the remote that I can’t talk about at the moment!

Really amazing stuff, and I think says a lot about where hardware/software integration will go in the post-MIDI world — not just for the iPhone/iPod, but new generations of hardware devices. Alex has more planned, so naturally we’ll keep you posted. (Now, Alex, about an Ableton or Logic version…)

  • http://plungingin.blogspot.com Chuck

    Perhaps they are using a remote windowing app like VNC? Check this link for an example – http://cre.ations.net/creation/webvnc—remote-de

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Chuck: Oh, yeah — very possibly (which could actually be a pretty practical solution).

  • http://blog.renaudguerin.net reno

    I also thought VNC until I saw (on the iPhone) :

    - the faders and track record status are initially blank/reset, then they read their state and instantly fall into place.

    -the faders on the iPhone are all mono

    - look at the transport bar.

    No dumb VNC can do that. It does look like the real deal. Wow.

    I predict the same thing coming from Apple soon for Logic, but with a dedicated, larger multi-touch control surface. You read it here first (not that "Lemur" or "Dexter" don't exist, but … ;) )

  • http://blog.renaudguerin.net reno

    I meant mute, not record enable, but you get the idea…

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Reno, good point — see the link I added above for a patent that would support your idea. ;)

  • http://www.slapdelay.com stiff

    I don't get it… There are a lot of things that can move faders and access the transport in Pro Tools. Anything able to emulate HUI for instance. Digidesigns own controller protocol on the other hand, now THAT would be a feat!

  • http://www.slapdelay.com stiff

    That comment came out a little strange, so just to clarify: Cool about the iPhone, I just didn't see why it would be impossible for JazzMutant to do it.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Re: JazzMutant, I may have spoken out of turn. I think the big thing is the need to transmit data from Pro Tools, because of the way Dexter works. As far as specifics, though, I'm not certain — and very interesting how this is implemented here.

  • kentai

    I wonder if it can use the multi touch capabilities of the iphone, so one can move several faders at the same time.

  • http://blog.crea-bmb.de Patrick

    The server process uses a proprietary protocol over TCP on port 8183 and 8184.

    Why don't use Open Sound Control (OSC)? Bad performance/Timing? At least everyone could easily do his own stuff with it.

    But great work!

  • Alex

    Hi there,

    Just to clarify a few things: The remote doesn't use VNC. It uses the Mackie HUI protocol (which is what most control surfaces use) and then its own protocol to talk to the remote. I had to use a custom protocol for many reasons to talk to the remote OSC was not an option… Internally the server can do load balancing of the MIDI data it receives so it was impractical to use any protocol other than the one I designed specifically for this task.

    Also the current version of the software can detect stereo channels and will display stereo meters. I will post another video next week. Also planned is the ability to hit two faders at the same time but this will be the limit. My software should work fine with Logic or any other app that supports the Mackie HUI protocol. I do plan to support all these DAWs after the initial release (and make the remote look like the app) and eventually will allow other developers to add support for their favorite DAWs too.

  • http://www.rolandreinke.com Roland

    This is a really cool view of how we all will be making music in say five years.

    Great work Alex!

  • brett

    This is amazing Brett, are you planning to have this work for both OS X and windows?

  • autoy

    I don't know if this has been reviewed before but just check it out:

    http://thrill.artificialeyes.tv/i3L_v0.2

    Seems to be very similar, though just using standard MIDI, no mackie control.

  • http://jackit.sf.net/ Paul Davis

    Alex, maybe you'd like to consider doing this for Ardour as well? It has OSC control over the tranzport and per-track solo/mute/rec-enable (adding new OSC functionality takes 10 minutes). There is also a reasonably clear API for writing control protocol support (4 or 5 already implemented, including MCP, Tranzport, PowerMate etc). No grovelling around in inaccurate documentation, you get to read the source! :) )

  • Ainslie

    Why I may wish to use it over the internet …

    i have situations where the producer is in another city and wants to tweak. Using nicecast to stream the audio and this remote for control may enable some level of interactivity and improved workflow. Of course right now there is no streaming to iPhone that i Know of but I am sure that will change

    However – VNC would allow drawing automation, Midi editing (basically everything, not just mixing). My initial attempts at sucessful VNC / Streaming combos dont work well on a computer – too sluggish to be any use. Perhaps that will be better as internet speeds increase

    I will however be sticking this app on my iPhone the instant it is released. Woo hoo … love it.

    A

  • Nick

    It doesn't take a genius to imagine the explosion of apps that will happen once Apple releases the official iPhone SDK next February.

    Every developper I know is planning a little something. It really reminds me of the new kind of applications made posible by the Mac back in the late 80's: Photoshop, QuarkXpress, Protools, etc.

    I just hope they don't charge for it, so that really anyone whith an iPhone and some C++/Objective-C skills can do this.

  • FlimFlamMan

    GarageBand, puh-leeze? You know, "for the rest of us"?

    This is so exciting. Potential realized. Forget the iPhone/iTouch. Welcome to the iEverything.

  • http://koks.com draqin

    Remote controlling over LAN would be degrading sound quality due of intensive two-ways background processing.

  • Jhhl

    I've been working on turning the iPhone UI and its other fun features (accellerometer, proximity, microphone, speaker.. ) into OSC messages from and to the iPhone, but I too am waiting for "legitimacy".

    The iPhone (or an internet full of them) would be an excellent alternative controller!

  • http://jackit.sf.net/ Paul Davis

    draqin, you're wrong.

  • Garry Schafer

    Jhhl

    Do you have any plans on releasing it?

  • Gil

    Hi Alex,

    How can I contact you? I can't find your email anywhere.

    thanks

    Gil

  • Leslie Liu

    Hi. Are you releasing a beta version of the controller?

  • Rick

    Awesome.

  • Micah Johnson

    That is the coolest thing Ive ever seen. My whole lifestyle revolves around pro tools and new technology. I cant wait to put this on my ipod touch! Way to go man, bravo!

  • http://www.ingenieuxduson.com papa John

    Yep,

    So nice !I still wait in vain for this app.For the moment I'm doing the same thing with my tablet ps(largest for my fingers)or Via VNC with my Iphone but If u need "precision" to make automation for example use the good and old mouse(Mac. Products too!!!).Stop laughing!Great job Alex,see ya!And Happy new Year

  • http://www.garageband.com/artist/Eyeballs Paul Bowden

    FanBloodyTastic

    Free or paid for… line me up cause its gotta be cheaper and more convenient than Dexter.

    While your emulating HUI, please leave enough extra hooks in there to make a new standard.. HUI is starting the look a bit treadbare.

    Man I want to see you up on stage with Big Jobs….

  • Alex

    You can download the free beta of the app now if you want to try it out on your jailbroken phone or iPod touch.

    The next beta will finally include the dedicated transport page (give me a week or so to finish and test it).

    Go to folabs.com to download the current beta!

    Also, it looks like Apple is gonna help me get Logic Pro support working (better support than using HUI). So look for that in the near future as well.

    Thanks as always for the nice comments!

    alex

  • FUZZIE

    I think the only thing exceptional about the iphone is the touch screen…. (altough more and more phones have it..) for the rest of it it was already outdatet by other phones when it came out… phones with much more open programming environments than apple's…

    Is the user interface that special to make the thing so different than just another new phone???

    so I guess I won't be blinded by the hype and go on investigating same stuff with i.e. an nokia n95 wich also has the same sensorcapabilities (gyro/accellero etc.) except for the touch screen..

    with a bit of programming an n95 could be an wii controller wich in turn can be used as a musical controller like wiij tinski does..

    check http://www.wiijtimski.com

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  • anthony laroche

    great stuff

    it's little remote for Protools (jazzmutant Le mur it's Bigger version)

    Has when a version for Logic pro!

    http://www.jazzmutant.com/

  • from sean to alex

    hey alex excellent work !! where can i get that program?? and could you recommend the best daw suited for le on a budget would greatly appreiciate any input thanx my email is seanfpeterson@yahoo.com , thanx bro

  • sean reyn

    incredible stuff! i don't suppose there's any plans for control of plugins in a novation nocturn

    style?

  • http://WWW.WAPTRICK.COM OLADIMEJI

    DOWNLOAD DO ME TO MY IPOD

  • Shane

    Don't know if anyone's mentioned this already but…

    If further developed, this would be an amazing tool for a live sound engineer to be able to move around in front of stage monitors and FOH to eq and wirelessly control/balance mixes.

    Wireless access to digital consoles… incredibly useful and cool.

    Maybe this is out there already in dedicated hardware but… to have it available on your Phone!! Wow.

  • http://www.google.nl ruud

    does it also work on protools hd???

  • http://www.dailysoccer.nl voetbal

    i just bought an iphone but until now i hate the iphone

  • http://www.newsworld.nl nieuws

    if i am correct it does work on protools hd ruud

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  • John Pine

    Maybe somebody could be interested in this: http://www.adlibitouch.com

    I don't know but I think it's similar.

    Best regards. -> John

  • Dude

    Holly Shit! This is what I need. I am a sound guy who always takes a walk away from my console and would love to be able to mix my live show ( I am using digidesign venue) from anywere in the arena. How awesome would that be. I must know more and would like to be a part in the creation process. please email me and I would love to try it out NOW. I am currently on tour. More details I cn give you in email. thx

    later

  • nynex

    I need this. I am always running into the vocal booth and running back and forth. I do love the excersize but…

    If i could hit record in logic, rewind, playback, delete, fix my headphone mix it would be LIFE CHANGING for us 1 person artists!

  • John Pine

    I'm using a beta version from AdLibitouch.com and it's great in live shows and studio. Remote control over WLan.

    If you contact them I'm sure they can provide some beta version.

    Best wishes!

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  • http://www.sonicsurgery.com Sonic Surgery

    WHEN WHEN WHEN!!!!!!!

    Waiting with baited breath. When and where will it be available??????

    Anyone know where to get it????

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  • Zach

    Where's the multi-touch support to adjust two sliders at once

  • http://www.riller-schnauck.de/gw bmw gebrauchtwagen

    Why don’t use Open Sound Control (OSC)? Bad performance/Timing? At least everyone could easily do his own stuff with it.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    That's easy: Pro Tools doesn't support OSC.

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  • sean

    If I had to guess, I'd say this guy wrote his application in LabView.

    It's a graphical language used for conecting pretty much any instrument to pretty much any process flow using pretty much any interface.

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  • http://www.4selected.de webdesign

    I’m using a beta version from AdLibitouch.com and it’s great in live shows and studio.

  • http://www.jedsound.com Jed

    Hey Alex,

    I'm currently trying to use my mouse as a midi controller for my surround panners in Protools 8. So far, I used it with Steim JunXion 4 which turns my mouse X/Y axes into two controllers (1-2) and send it through a midi channel that I find in Protools Midi Devices. It works perfectly when I record any midi track but that's not my purpose…

    How can I make my mouse seen as a HUI or MotorMix controller? How can I change a .bundle file in the Digidesign Controller folder? Is it possible? Thank you very much for you help.

  • John M

    How did you get the HUI Protocol parameters? I have been trying to find them to make my own control surfaces but I have been unable to do so. I can't wait to try this.

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  • Desmond white

    Can this be used with the digi venue

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  • Avaya

    I looked for the app in the appstore but couldn't find it. I am assuming it is still being approved by apple. Can you confirm?

  • Trevor R

    When will it be out and can I use it on my ipad?

  • Brian

    Trevor R – The developer (who is my pal from way back) has just released ProRemote for iPad :)

    http://www.folabs.com/

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  • Roy H

    It would be great to control the buttons in the automation pane in Pro Tools this way