Video: ProPresenter + Lightkey – How to Control Lighting Software

Video Transcription:

ProPresenter 7 makes it possible to not only control complex visual presentations, but also control other production gear like stage lighting without leaving the ProPresenter interface.

One widely used software based lighting program is Lightkey on the Mac, that we’re going to set up in this video. Now, while I’m not able to create a video about every app out there, I hope the basic principles here can help you learn how to set up ProPresenter with any lighting program, not just Lightkey. You can even control hardware based lighting consoles with ProPresenter as long as that console can accept the correct commands. So as long as ProPresenter can communicate with your gear, you can control it.

First, let’s look at Lightkey and get our lighting software set up. I’m going to give you a basic overview here, but you can find more detailed information and video tutorials at the Lightkey website. I would encourage you to go check that out and learn more about the program after this video.

Now, the first thing that we need to do is head over to the Lightkey website and download and install the program. This free download comes with 24 channels of lighting, but if you need more channels based on your setup and how many lighting fixtures and DMX channels you’re using, you can get an affordable, yearly license to match your need and give you more channels.

Now, the next thing that you need to do is you need to actually connect your computer to your lighting gear. If you’re coming from a traditional environment where you have a hardware based lighting console, you need a way to hook up your computer to your lighting gear. On the Lightkey website, they have a listing of all of the different interfaces that you can use, because one of the of great things about Lightkey is they give you a lot of different options on how to connect your computer to your lighting gear.

I picked up this DMX USB Pro interface, which is really affordable and works great with Lightkey. Now, when you launch Lightkey and create a new project, it’s going to bring you to this patching window. You just need to know the DMX addresses and the types of fixtures that you’re patching in so that Lightkey can use them properly.

Now there’s a list of generic fixtures here that you can look through, or if you know your fixture name, you can just type it in. On my desk here, I have this 12P HEX fixture, and it starts at DMX address 80 so I’m just going to drag and drop that in. This fixture can run in a few different modes, so I could select which mode, mine’s running in six channel mode, and then we could give it a short name if we wanted to. I’m just going to type in desk here. And then we can say how many of those fixtures are there? And do we want to patch multiple consecutively? And so you can see those would be all added in one after each other, but we need to add in one so we’ll just hit patch.

This is going to bring us to our main visualizer where we can lay out our lighting fixtures just like we see them in our space. You’ll see here. I have like a back wall of some fixtures. I have some overheads, so this is kind of over my stage. And then I have my front white lights here. So I’m just going to take my desk light and just put it right in the middle of my stage, so that works and then we can hit done.

Now you can see we have all of our lights here and you can see how they’re currently set. And if you look at our shot here, we have our light here with our blue desk light. Now I can go to my design view and I could dim that light down a little bit so we can see it better on camera. And then we could change up the color there. I’m just kind of scrolling through and you can see how that color is changing of our lighting fixture.

Now that we have Lightkey configured, let’s open up ProPresenter and set up a connection between Lightkey and ProPresenter. We’re going to do this by using MIDI. Now you might be wondering what is MIDI actually? MIDI is the Musical Instrument Digital Interface, and it’s commonly used for musical instruments and audio gear, but it’s also used in a wide variety of ways throughout all of production. MIDI allows hardware, devices and software programs to send and receive MIDI notes at varying intensities across different channels.

Now don’t get overwhelmed by that. These are just ways to send data between devices and programs, and that data can be used to control them. It’s as simple as that, it’s a way to talk between different devices and programs. So, let’s add a MIDI device inside of ProPresenter.

First let’s go to ProPresenter and to preferences and let’s go to devices. Here’s where we can add in our MIDI devices by clicking this plus icon in the bottom left corner. And I’m going to add in a MIDI device. I’m going to name this MIDI device Lightkey because we can have multiple MIDI devices and I want to remember that this one is for Lightkey. I’m going to set this to auto-reconnect so once our communication is set up between Lightkey and ProPresenter, every time we restart ProPresenter it’s going to automatically reconnect.

And then the next thing is the most important. Do we want this to be a source or a destination? And then you’ll see a listing of all of the different MIDI devices that our computer can see. So you can see that we have our computers MIDI bus, you’ll see that my audio interface has a MIDI bus and you’ll see Lightkey’s MIDI bus. Now, do we want to receive MIDI from a program? So we want to receive MIDI information from Lightkey, or do we want to send information to Lightkey?

We want to send it to Lightkey. So we’re going to set the destination as Lightkey’s input. Then we can hit back and we can connect our MIDI device. Now ProPresenter has a MIDI device that is sending information to Lightkey’s input.

Now we can close this out and let’s create a new Macro for our lighting command. And the reason we’re going to use Macros is because these are a great way to set up presets that we can use over and over throughout our presentations, instead of having to remember different MIDI notes and values. You’ll see how that works here as we set this up.

Let’s add a new Macro and I’m going to call this Lights: Song 1, and now we can right click on this Macro and we can add an action. You’ll see, one of our actions we have available is a communication action and you’ll see Lightkey, which is what we named the device we created and we want to send a MIDI note on. Now we can choose what channel we’re going to send, which note we’re going to send, and at what intensity. I’m going to just set this to channel 1. And we can set this as C-2, the first note. And then the most important thing is that our intensity is more than zero. You can’t choose zero, but you can choose any intensity above it.

Just to make it easy as I’m setting these up, I’m just going to always choose the intensity of 1 so that I don’t have to scroll through the list any further. For our first communication between ProPresenter and Lightkey, we’re using channel 1, note C-2 at intensity of 1.

Now ProPresenter is sending MIDI information every time we click on that Macro to Lightkey, but Lightkey doesn’t know what to do with that information, so we need to tell Lightkey to trigger Song 1 every time it receives that MIDI note.

Let’s move the ProPresenter interface over so that we can see our Lightkey interface. I’m going to right click on Song 1 here, and you’ll see one of the options is external control, and we have an option to add a trigger. So I’m going to say add trigger. And now it’s waiting for a trigger, some sort of action that Lightkey is receiving to tell it to do something. In ProPresenter, we’re going to click on our Macro with our communication action. And when we click that, you’ll see that channel 1 C-2 showed up and now Lightkey knows what to do with that MIDI information that’s being sent. Now if I select light Song 1, it’s going to trigger Song 1 inside Lightkey. Let’s click that and you’ll see that it’s faded over and it’s changing our lights and switching that to Song 1.

Now we could add another one for our first cue, so let’s do that. We’re going to right click on this and we’re going to say duplicate, and then let’s right click and rename this. Let’s rename this and we’re going to just say, maybe walk in and that’s maybe walk in lighting. Now I can right click on this and say edit to action, MIDI note on. And I want to change the MIDI note because we can’t use the same MIDI note for everything. I’m just going to change the note of this to C#-2. Again, I want to make sure that intensity is at 1. Now this note is different than this note.

Now we can do the same thing we did a second ago. I’m going to right click on cue, I’m going to say external control, add trigger, and now we can say walk in, and now that’s received C#-2. Now if I hit Lights: Walk In you’ll see that it goes back to that first cue. And if I hit Song 1, it’s going to go to that other cue.

Now, the one thing that we need to watch out for is that all of these triggers inside Lightkey are set to toggle by default. So if we click on this icon up here, this is our external control window. We’ll see all of our different actions. I’m going to go into our MIDI actions here, and I’m going to look at my Lightkey input and you’ll see all of our different actions here. So under MIDI and our input of Lightkey, you’ll see our different actions here.

You’ll see that we have our C-2 and our C#-2 and what it’s doing, but you’ll see the behavior is set to toggle, which could cause a problem because if we select that cue again, it’s going to turn it off. So if I hit Song 1 again, you’ll see all of the lights turned off. We don’t want it to do that. We want it to just turn on and only turn on.

Let’s fix that. We’re going to go back to this interface and instead of the behavior being toggle we just want it to be activate. And we’re going to do that for both of these. So we’ll go to this other one. We’ll set that to activate. So now if you click it a bunch of times, it’s only going to turn it on. So you can see how we can adjust those from that toggle to activate using this external control window.

Now, I went ahead and created a few more song lighting scenes inside Lightkey, and I created a few more Macros inside ProPresenter to control them. I did it just like I showed you. Now let’s use all of those to create our playlist inside ProPresenter and see how easy it is to utilize these on a weekly basis.

Inside ProPresenter, you’ll see we have our playlist here and the first thing we need to do is add our walk-in lights to our announcement loop. Our pre-show, we have our announcement loop going, and we want our walk-in lighting, so we’ll add that lighting cue there. And then we’ll go to our first song and on our first slide with our motion background, we’re going to add in our Song 1 lighting cue. And then for Good Grace, we’ll go in and we’ll add our Song 2 lighting cue. And Way Maker, we’ll add our Song 3 lighting cue.

Now we can see this in action. When I click on my announcement loop, you’ll see that it’s on walk in just like it currently is, but when I go to Living Hope and click on that, we’ll get our motion background and our lighting changes here on stage. When I go to Good Grace, you’ll see that our emotion background will start up here and our lighting will change to a purple color. And when we go to Way Maker, our lighting, again, will change along with our background.

Now, if we want to make a change to this, maybe we’re using Way Maker on another week and it’s not Song 3 it’s Song 1, well, it’s really easy to change that. All we need to do is right click on this slide and we can go edit actions and we can edit our Macro and just change it from Song 3 to maybe Song 1. Now when I select this slide, it’s going to trigger our Song 1 lights. And to update our Lightkey, maybe we want to change what this looks like. I’ll select Song 1, and I’ll change this from yellow, and maybe we want to change this to teal. So I can just drag that in there and now this teal color is going to be triggered when we select Song 1.

We can always go back to our show controls and trigger any of these lighting cues manually. We can go and click on Lights: Walk In at any time, and it will switch our lighting over to our walk-in lights for us.

We now have ProPresenter controlling Lightkey, making it super easy for your operator to not only control your presentations, but also your lighting. Now, this is all on the same computer. Lightkey is a very lightweight program that can easily run in the background on the same computer. But if you needed to have them on separate computers, how would you do that? Well, the next thing that we’re going to look at is how to control MIDI over your network. And this takes a couple quick steps on two different computers, so I’m going to grab another computer that I have here, and we look at how to get this set up so that we can control Lightkey on one computer from ProPresenter on another.

The first thing that we need to do is go to search and we’re going to search our Mac for an application called Audio MIDI Setup. And when we launch that, we’ll see all of the audio devices, but we want to see all of our MIDI devices. So we’re going to go to window and we’re going to show MIDI Studio. Now this is showing all of the local MIDI devices, but we actually want to see the network MIDI devices. So we’ll go to MIDI Studio and open Network MIDI Setup.

Here we can set up different sessions to connect different computers together to send MIDI information across the network. I’m going to add a new session. I’m going to enable it. We could rename the session if we wanted to, but we don’t need to do that. The most important thing we need to do is rename this computer. I’m going to name this my Lightkey computer and then I want to make sure that this computer can see anyone and can connect to anyone, so I’ll set that to anyone. And then now on my remote ProPresenter computer, I’m going to click here and I’m going to search again for MIDI, and we’re going to go to our Audio MIDI Setup. We’re going to go to window, show MIDI Studio, and then under MIDI Studio, we’re going to open our MIDI Network Setup.

Now you can see that my Lightkey computer is showing up and now we can add a session, enable it, and then we’re going to name this one our ProPresenter computer. And so now each computer is seeing each other and I can now connect to this. I’m going to, again, set this to anyone, I’m going to choose Lightkey and say connect. So now session 1 is connected to the Lightkey computer and on the Lightkey computer, you can see that we’re connected to the ProPresenter computer.

These are both connected to each other, so now on our ProPresenter computer, we can launch ProPresenter and now we can go to ProPresenter and preferences and devices and this is where we can set up our MIDI device. So we’re going to say MIDI, just like we did before, and this is our Lightkey connection, so we’re going to call it Lightkey auto-reconnect. And here we’re going to select session 1 as our destination, and then we can go back and connect that.

Now we’re connected and now we can add in our Macro. I’m going to add in my Lights: Song 1, and I’m going to right click and add an action, communication, Lightkey, MIDI note on, just like we did before, and again, we’re going to set our intensity to 1 and we’ll use that C-2 value. If we go back to our other computer, you’ll see that when I select Song 1, nothing’s going to happen because we actually have to add a new trigger.

I’m going to right click on this, and I’m going to say external control, add trigger. And now we’re going to click on lights 1, and you’ll see that it’s received that. And if we look at our triggers for Song 1, you’ll see that we have a Lightkey trigger, that was the one from the local ProPresenter it, and now we have this network session 1 trigger, that’s from our remote ProPresenter. Now I can select Song 1 on my remote computer and it will control Lightkey on my main computer. That’s how you can connect two different computers together to send MIDI across your network.

Now, here are a couple reminders to help you avoid common issues. First, when you add a MIDI device in ProPresenter, make sure to set it to reconnect. And in Lightkey, when you’re adding external triggers, make sure to change them from that default of toggle to activate to avoid your lights being turned off if you trigger that cue more than one time. And finally only be super clear with your operators, make sure they know when they’re clicking a slide, now they’re not just controlling ProPresenter, they’re actually controlling things outside ProPresenter, they’re changing the lights. Just be really clear that they know that they’re triggering more than just one thing when they select that slide.

But now you know how to use ProPresenter to control lighting to create amazing presentations.

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