Author Topic: [AZ, Symetrk, Gswitz and Frankjcc] Frontier AlphaTrack  (Read 33378 times)

Offline azslow3

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Re: [AZ, Symetrk, Gswitz and Frankjcc] Frontier AlphaTrack
« Reply #30 on: May 20, 2015, 06:27:29 PM »
Released in 0.3r9.

Thanks for pictures, I will try to updated the display soon.

Offline symetrk

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Re: [AZ, Symetrk, Gswitz and Frankjcc] Frontier AlphaTrack
« Reply #31 on: May 20, 2015, 06:42:11 PM »
Great! No hurry of course.

I also made a video but I need to reduce it to a file size that I can post somewhere... maybe later tonight. In case it's helpful.

I haven't figured out the LED thing yet (state monitor / value monitor) but playing around with it...

Offline symetrk

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Re: [AZ, Symetrk, Gswitz and Frankjcc] Frontier AlphaTrack
« Reply #32 on: May 20, 2015, 10:30:19 PM »
So, out of interest I've been trying to get an LED working on a Function button, to see if I can understand the flow of information within the plugin. I've chosen to toggle the inspector with the F1 button, just as a test bed. I can get the button working, and by looking at what various existing button/LED combinations do I can get the LED working too, turning on and off with the Inspector, using a state and triggering the Control Midi message to turn it on and off.

It works... until the view is changed from somewhere else, say via the mouse or a key command. Then the light gets out of sync. The Loop LED, however, does not do this - it is obviously reading the Loop state from Sonar, so if it gets changed in some other way, the plugin knows it and sends the command to turn the LED off. I can't figure out how it's doing this - I've tried to track it down but so far, no good. I've also read your documentation, but so far I can't find anything in there to tell me how to get the plugin to monitor a program state like this. Maybe it's not possible currently, except with specific things like Loop?

Also, I can't figure out how to make it Shift-dependent, as the Loop LED is - once Shift is pressed, the Loop button changes its function, so the LED changes to monitoring Punch state.

Any quick advice you can offer would be great - I'm not obsessed with this, or even committed to this particular mapping, I just thought it would be a useful little test to see if I could get the LED to sync with the software state. So far, no luck...

Offline azslow3

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Re: [AZ, Symetrk, Gswitz and Frankjcc] Frontier AlphaTrack
« Reply #33 on: May 21, 2015, 12:14:47 AM »
Maybe it's not possible currently, except with specific things like Loop?
Unfortunately, it is not possible. I can not get that information from sonar, as many other thing which are not accessible with API. The only states which are changed in sync with sonar are System states (Loop, Transport, etc). User defined state are under full user control, there is not magic in my software.

I have spend quite some time to understand how to ask which strip type is currently in focus. And than it took me many iterations till I found working way to switch them. Because: "Switch to Bus panel" alone does not work (buggy), "Focus Bussed" does not work (buggy). But, if you are on track, "Switch to Track panel" (we already here!) followed by "Switch to Bus panel" works!

As you can see, I am also digging and digging, frustrated by bugs, sometimes with success.  But before you spend your time, you can always ask me either something is known to be possible. If you like challenges, I will just answer "Yes/No", without writing the solution  ;)


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Also, I can't figure out how to make it Shift-dependent, as the Loop LED is - once Shift is pressed, the Loop button changes its function, so the LED changes to monitoring Punch state.
The trick here: many LEDs are controlled from the Shift State monitor (Flip, Loop, Punch). Corresponding monitors just trigger Shift monitor, so the same code is working either Flip, Loop, Punch or Shift state is changed. I could do it other way around: update LEDs in corresponding State Monitors, and trigger all that monitors on Shift changes. That second approach is better, since it will not update all LEDs on any state change. So, the first implementation is a kind of "historical".

Offline symetrk

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Re: [AZ, Symetrk, Gswitz and Frankjcc] Frontier AlphaTrack
« Reply #34 on: May 21, 2015, 12:29:39 AM »
OK great, thanks - clarity is good, and I'm not really interested in tilting at windmills so I'll let that one go. The 'I' key works pretty well after all, and even if I decide to use the button, the LED is hardly of great importance when there's obvious visual feedback on the screen, that being the whole point of the Inspector! Anyway I'll gradually find things that seem useful to map to the Function keys that either make sense on a per-mode basis, or aren't easily accessible with key commands (or use complex combinations that are hard to remember).

I think in general you're better placed to do the complex implementations, and of course most of the important ones are already done and working perfectly, so I'll stick to my testing role except for mapping simple commands as above.

Again, if you do get into trying to implement the sliders, let me know and I'm happy to test and/or provide further information where required...

Offline azslow3

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Re: [AZ, Symetrk, Gswitz and Frankjcc] Frontier AlphaTrack
« Reply #35 on: June 10, 2015, 09:30:00 PM »
Hi friends!

We had a pause, and it was nice, at least for me and my family.

But it is time to continue...

I have uploaded a test version. There are several internal changes there can be some regression! in general, not only in Alphatrack preset. So, please test everything is working as before and does not crash.

To make that test a bit more interesting, I have added display update for Fader (only fader at the moment, no changes for encoders). It should work correctly in normal and flipped mode. In case you are curious what you should expect there, open internal display. While the information is the same, it is transfered different way and I can not test the result.
Complete display functionality should be there! All modes, flips, indicators ("normal" and "pan"), flip indication, resolution indication. I do not display separate views for switches since I do not see a need for that ("On"/"Off"... Why you may want display it "full screen"?). For values it make sense, to display complete value (it is 5 characters only otherwise, cutting some important information) and visualize the "position" for encoders.

I had to increase the traffic for display, so check that disconnects  have not returned. I have modified a bit how the information is transfered to display (at all places), with the hope it works better. But as a former Russian prime-minister sad once: "We wanted make it better, but the result is... as usual..." So who knows, I am also Russian  ;)
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 09:18:12 PM by azslow3 »

Offline Rhenn

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Re: [AZ, Symetrk, Gswitz and Frankjcc] Frontier AlphaTrack
« Reply #36 on: October 23, 2016, 11:45:04 PM »
Hi - Not sure if this is the right place to post. New user. Have downloaded and installed AZController, read tutorials, followed instructions, and things are mostly working as I like. Most of this is over my head tech-wise, but so far so good. Setup is Win 10, Sonar Plat, Roland A-Pro300 and Frontier Alphatrack. Delighted to be using Alphatrack again! Here's my question: I would like to use Alphatrack motorized fader to record midi CC 11, CC1, and others occasionally. It works well controlling the track faders/strips in Sonar, but I would like to be able to switch it to midi and then back to it's default ("normal") function. Is that possible? Thanks for all you've done here and for any help you can provide with my request!
Randy

Offline azslow3

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Re: [AZ, Symetrk, Gswitz and Frankjcc] Frontier AlphaTrack
« Reply #37 on: October 24, 2016, 12:54:21 AM »
Hi and welcome!

Control Surfaces can not "inject" MIDI, in addition the Fader is sending PitchBend messages. Even if I "free" it "on the fly", I can not influence what it will send. So MIDI track will receive PB message (not configurable). Well, it is possible using MFX plug-in on the track to "convert" the message into arbitrary CC. It still will be recorded as PB, so every time you want edit it in PRV, you will have to apply that MFX to track. In addition, there will be no "feedback" nor Touch, that is simply not supported by MIDI writing.

What I want to say, even if I implement that functionality, there will be absolutely no benefits over using faders from you A-Pro for the same purpose. And you can configure APro to just send required MIDI when you switch it from "Sonar" to "MIDI" mode (and since you have several faders, you do not need to reconfigure that all the time).

If you do not really want CC1, CC11, etc. but write automations for some Synth, that can work out of the box (for one automation parameter in the current preset, but that I can tweak for you) using ACT mode and "flipping" fader with corresponding encoder. Advantages: you can overwrite automations the same way you can do with volume, I mean with touch and feedback. But I want to repeat, that is going to work with automatable parameters only and it will be recorded as a track automation, not into the MIDI clip. While Sonar support track automations for CC on MIDI tracks, Control Surface API unfortunately has no access to such automations.

Offline Rhenn

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Re: [AZ, Symetrk, Gswitz and Frankjcc] Frontier AlphaTrack
« Reply #38 on: October 24, 2016, 04:21:44 AM »
Thanks for your fast reply! Let me attempt to explain my workflow and see if that sheds any light on the issue: I do orchestral work with East West Hollywood Orchestra Libraries, etc. I write CC1 (modulation) and CC11 (expression) curves in almost every track in the piano roll.  I find the A-pro sliders "throw" is too short for accurate work, so I usually wind up drawing in the curves with the mouse using the Smart Tool or Drawing tool. Very tedious, very slow process - frustrating but necessary. This made we wonder if I could use the full-size Alphatrack fader to record the midi automation with better results.  It sounds like I "might' be able to do this in Track View in an automation lane - perhaps a 2-step process?

Your 3rd paragraph option sounds interesting. The "flipping" option might work? That would require tweaking the preset?

Does this make sense what I'm trying to do? Any ideas?

Thanks so much!  :)



Offline azslow3

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Re: [AZ, Symetrk, Gswitz and Frankjcc] Frontier AlphaTrack
« Reply #39 on: October 24, 2016, 11:09:13 AM »
For that purpose automation writing throw Control Surface is not possible. We should try to find a reasonable way to write CC.

But I propose we first check that controlling CC mechanically from AT Fader is going to help you. If it is, we can think how to optimize that process.
The following takes less time to try then it looks like, also you can find it useful for other MIDI manipulation purpose:
1. Please install AZ Lua : http://www.azslow.com/index.php/topic,286.0.html There is a link to YouTube video with step by step explanation.
2. While you can also install proposed "Example presets pack", for the test you will need the preset attached to this post (AZLua_PB2CC). Install it the same way as examples in video (throw Cakewalk Plug-in Manager, NOTE: it is for "MIDI Effects(MFX) / AZ Lua", and NOT for AZ Controller!).
3. Put AZ Lua into FX bin of some MIDI track in question (if you use "Instrument" tracks, switch the Track Inspector to MIDI), select PB2CC preset
4. In Sonar preferences / Control Surfaces, temporarily remove whatever plug-in you are using for Alphatrack (AZ Controller or original). If you have some "unused" MIDI, you can set the plug-in input to that MIDI instead of removing it completely. That should "free" Alphatrack to send all messages to MIDI tracks instead of plug-in.
5. Set MIDI track input to Alphatrack or Omni.
6. Record fader movements into the track, so effectively the procedure we test. PitchBend(Wheel) changes should be recorded (otherwise check the routing). You can also try with PitchBend of your A-Pro. While PitchBend messages are recorded, AZ Lua convert them "on the fly" (and on playback) into CC. Probably you could notice, you can set/change CC number in the AZ Lua GUI, but the effect is immediate, you can not have CC1 and CC11 at the same time (also you can not use REAL pitchbend now, it will be also converted, but do not worry, that we can avoid).
7. You can "bounce" recorded PitchBend into selected CC. Select the clip/track in question, from  Sonar menu select Process/Apply effect/MIDI effects. In the dialog uncheck "Delete the effect...", since we still need it after. After you press OK, AZ Lua will permanently convert PitchBend into selected CC. And you can second next CC (using PitchBend)...


Please let me know either you find that way of recording convenient, I mean either you like the feeling during recording and the result.

Offline Rhenn

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Re: [AZ, Symetrk, Gswitz and Frankjcc] Frontier AlphaTrack
« Reply #40 on: October 24, 2016, 09:22:49 PM »
Impressive! Works just as you described. And YES, I DO like writing the midi expression automation this way with the full-size AT fader.  (Much easier than the little faders on the A-Pro.) I can probably get used to the extra steps of adding the MFX plug-in, recording, and then bouncing the effect, (multiple times, probably).  Of course, the other AT functions are now inoperable because the AT plug-in is disabled...
So, is there a way to have both? Can we (you) program the flip button to swap Pitch Bend with CC11? Or some other solution?
In the meantime, I will experiment some more with actual project files and see how that goes...
Thank you!

Offline azslow3

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Re: [AZ, Symetrk, Gswitz and Frankjcc] Frontier AlphaTrack
« Reply #41 on: October 24, 2016, 11:07:01 PM »
I am glad the first impression is positive! Please give it a try in real project, and in case you are still convinced that the idea is good, there are possible solutions:

1. external MIDI translator
+ pro:  you can switch between controlling mode using AT buttons, no MFX required, data are recorded directly as CC, you can still use original AT plug-in
- cons: you have to "sacrifice" either the number of buttons you need different CCs (f.e. for CC1+CC11 you will need 2 buttons) or one button, but with "looping" functionality (f.e. for CC1+CC11 you will need to press it 2 times to start CC11 writing and then 1 time to return, for CC1 - one time to start then 2 times to end... can be rather boring, especially when the number of possible CCs is more then 2), there will be no indication in which mode you are; most probably I will not manage to do this with free tools, so $60 for Bome's MIDI translator pro
note: it will take a while for me to even start implementing that since I am far away from my Windows PC during this week

2. external MIDI looper (I use loopMIDI, but there are other, free) and 2 AZ Controllers in "cooperation mode"
+ pro: what you control and when you control will be inside preset, you will be able to select required CC with encoder and corresponding indication on display, data recorded directly as CC, all tools are free
- cons: obviously will work with AZ Controller only; there will be some delay between you move the fader and CC is recorded, in my experience it is under 1ms but we better test it before implementing complete configuration
note: I can prepare corresponding test rather fast, 1-2 CCs on function keys are also not a problem, complete solution will take some time

3. modified AZ Controller which can temporarily put the fader "out of control" (not so easy since Sonar has a bug in PitchBend+ControlSurfaces part)
+ pro: no external tools, free
- cons: only PitchBend can be recorded, so with MFX + bouncing, the same way as you are doing this now
note: AZ Controller modification is required and I will be quite busy these days, but probably manageable till the end of the week

-----

From "usability" perspective, (2) is probably the best. But I have mentioned everything which come into my mind this evening ;)

Offline Rhenn

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Re: [AZ, Symetrk, Gswitz and Frankjcc] Frontier AlphaTrack
« Reply #42 on: October 25, 2016, 12:21:13 AM »
This still looks promising. I'm always looking for a better/faster way of doing things. I neglected to mention that my main controller keyboard is a Kurzweil K2600. I bought the AlphaTrack, and later the A-Pro, in an ongoing attempt to use knobs & sliders with soft synths, etc. The whole 'ACT' concept, as advertised, sounded great. However, in reality, ACT doesn't work reliably or well, as you point out in your discussion re: the ACTfix utility (which I have now downloaded and attempted to use).* Since the A-Pro was custom made "for" ACT, I figured it would work out of the box. Not so much.
Back to the K2600: using your AZlua MFX plug-in, I can use both the Mod wheel and Pitch Bend wheel to simultaneously control CC1 & CC11, which is cool and useful. The wheel has the added advantage of "springing back" to the middle (value =65), which works well for expression. So I like that!  As of now, I can use the K2600 pitch/mod wheels for the CC automation and use the AT in native mode with your AZ Controller to do other things. Progress!

Still, working with the long fader on the AT is nice. So your solution #2 sounds interesting! It also sounds like a fair amount of work for you, and I don't want to take advantage of your kindness. And I wouldn't want to waste your time if I wound up not using it. BUT... if you want to give it a go when you have time, I'll definitely try it out!  (A <1ms delay shouldn't be a problem for me).

A couple notes on my test of the MFX plugin: 
1. The AT fader motor keeps resetting itself.  It returns to zero, or some other setting whenever I stop moving it for a few seconds. And I can't turn the motor off using Shift-flip since we've disabled the "normal" plug-in. I suspect using it in this fashion might eventually harm the motor?   
2. I assigned the AZ Controller to an extra midi port as you suggested. After the test, when I reassigned it to the AT ports, the AT wasn't recognized by Sonar (or visa-versa) even after exiting and restarting Sonar. I had to reboot the system to get full functionality back. Just FYI.

*Working on this has reawakened my interest in ACT which I had more or less given up on.  I have more questions about using ACT with the A-Pro and your ACTfix utility, and various soft-synths, like Ivory, Kontakt, etc.  Should I start a new thread over at your ACTfix discussion?

Hope this all makes sense.
Many, many, thanks!

Offline azslow3

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Re: [AZ, Symetrk, Gswitz and Frankjcc] Frontier AlphaTrack
« Reply #43 on: October 25, 2016, 11:41:14 AM »
Still, working with the long fader on the AT is nice. So your solution #2 sounds interesting! It also sounds like a fair amount of work for you, and I don't want to take advantage of your kindness. And I wouldn't want to waste your time if I wound up not using it. BUT... if you want to give it a go when you have time, I'll definitely try it out!  (A <1ms delay shouldn't be a problem for me).
Ok I will prepare something (may be not today, but during this week).

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A couple notes on my test of the MFX plugin: 
1. The AT fader motor keeps resetting itself.  It returns to zero, or some other setting whenever I stop moving it for a few seconds. And I can't turn the motor off using Shift-flip since we've disabled the "normal" plug-in. I suspect using it in this fashion might eventually harm the motor?   
I remember the reason now... That should not be a problem in solution #2 (good that you have remind me I should take that into account).

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2. I assigned the AZ Controller to an extra midi port as you suggested. After the test, when I reassigned it to the AT ports, the AT wasn't recognized by Sonar (or visa-versa) even after exiting and restarting Sonar. I had to reboot the system to get full functionality back. Just FYI.
It is hard to say why restarting Sonar could not help.

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*Working on this has reawakened my interest in ACT which I had more or less given up on.  I have more questions about using ACT with the A-Pro and your ACTfix utility, and various soft-synths, like Ivory, Kontakt, etc.  Should I start a new thread over at your ACTfix discussion?
Yes, please start a new thread in "Discussions". Since you are using A-Pro + Alphatrack (so more then 1 controller), that is a tick more tricky then usual, even with AZ Fix (there is a bug in Sonar which I have understood and so I guess it is going to be fixed in next Sonar versions...)

Quote
Many, many, thanks!
You are welcome  :)

Offline azslow3

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Re: [AZ, Symetrk, Gswitz and Frankjcc] Frontier AlphaTrack
« Reply #44 on: October 26, 2016, 05:51:25 PM »
Ok... the first test version is ready. Can be it does not work at all since I can not test it, but you can  ;)

Functionality
Almost the same as build-in preset for Alphatrack, generated with default setting but...

F4 button changes the Fader and Right encoder into "Fader CC writing" mode (and back). In that mode:
* you should see "CC 1" on display over the right encoder
* right encoder change which CC the fader will control (for now 1 and 11, can be extended up to 127). Just an idea (if you need it): I can also change MIDI Channel on which CC will be sent, f.e with Shift+Encoder. But for the moment, the channel is fixed to 1.
* the fader send selected CC messages, so 0 to 127 (the fader is hi resolution, but CC values are not).

Note that there is no "feedback" in this mode since it is impossible to get "last CC value" from Sonar even theoretically (imagine MIDI input is enabled on several tracks, each with different "current" value for selected CC). Once the mode is changed to "normal", feedback should return the fader into correct position. But it should not "reset" itself in CC mode.

Installation
* You need 0.5r3b342 or later version of AZController. Currently it is not yet released, so download it from "Downloads/AZ Controller/Test versions".
* You need some software "loopback" MIDI device. I use "loopMIDI", but there are several free solutions which work for all Windows versions. There are many instructions how to set them in Windows and Sonar, but if you have problems with that let me know (better in other thread since that is not Alphatrack/AZController related). The result of the installation should be one "LoopIn" and one "LoopOut" enabled in Sonar such a way that sending to "LoopOut" should produce MIDI from "LoopIn". Also "LoopIn" should be enabled explicitly or as "Omni" on target MIDI track to have any effect.

1. Follow instructions for build-in Alphatrack preset (the first post in this thread) and check it is working.
2. Add the SECOND instance of AZ Controller into Sonar Control Surfaces, setting Input to "None" and output to "LoopOut".
3. Close properties for the first instance (if you have it opened, important!) and open properties for the second instance (f.e. from Sonar menu Utilities/AZ Controller-2). Without touching anything in the "presets" section (the top of the window), switch to the "Options" tab, find drop box where you see "Master" and change it to "Slave 1". Without (!!!) saving preset close this window (and never open again, till you remove that second instance and want restore the settings later, just repeat the procedure in this case).
4. Download and install preset attached to this post, install it using Cakewalk Plug-in Manager in Utilities menu (select there "Control Surfaces" / "AZ Controller" / "Import..." / select the file and press "Ok").
5. Open properties of the first instance (where you have generated AT preset). In the top left corner, select "AlphaTrackWithCC" preset. If you do not see it here, restart Sonar and try to find it again.
6. What I have described before should work now.

NOTE: most Sonar versions "forget" MIDI port assignments for Control Surfaces if the port is not available during Sonar startup (and unlike other use of MIDI, that setting does not return after sonar restart). And unlike connecting hardware surfaces, it is easy to forget to start MIDI looper before Sonar. So if CC sending no longer works, Control Surfaces ports is the first place to check.

Happy automating!  ;)