DMX (aka DMX512) is the lingua franca for lighting that MIDI is for music. (It even has a number of similarities to MIDI, and as with MIDI, I do hope eventually we’ll see more intelligent networked devices – but, for now, it’s what you use.)

The folks at Synthe-FX have developed a mobile app with full support for controlling DMX from your iPhone and iPod touch. Now near the release of version 2.0, the aptly-named Luminair provides elegant control over channels, cues, color, and other controls. It’s a really beautiful app, too, a lesson for all developers working on mobile apps that adapting to the design patterns of a platform makes a huge difference. (By the same token, if you were to do this on Google’s Android, you’d want to design it differently to fit that platform.)

You can even scroll through cues with your finger in an iTunes-style interface, complete with Cover Flow view with your own images. I’m still waiting to find a club here in NYC that wants to help me test this, perhaps when 2.0 comes out.

But that’s just half the story. The developers faced a real challenge in submitting Luminar to the iTunes App Store, or to would-be software reviews, because not everyone has access to DMX boards for testing. (There’s now a variety of inexpensive computer and Wi-Fi adapters for DMX, but actually having something to control is another matter.)

Finding a solution has led to a new tool altogether. Pixelnode is a plug-in for Quartz Composer and iTunes, so your iTunes visualizer or Quartz Composer patch can now be easily integrated into a lighting rig. It’s a free download, as a contribution to the community. You can use it with Luminair, or not if you prefer.

For those counting, that means Quartz Composer can now easily support MIDI, OSC, and DMX.

Check out both the tools:

By the way, if you’re looking for DMX support in other environments, here’s an open source project:

C++ support, plus a JNI wrapper for Java – OpenFrameworks, Processing, done. Probably worth a separate post, if someone wants to try it out.

Not to be confused with this DMX. Photo (CC-BY-ND) Natalia Elís.
  • On the subject of DMX, I'd like to make a shameless plug for my DMaX system, allowing DMX output from Ableton Live using Max for Live.
    I'm currently working on a big update. Version 0.5 will be uploaded later tonight.

  • eye cany does not al

    i've been using dmx control wireless to grandma consoles on tours for some 5 years now with my pocket pc.
    granted the graphics are not as pretty (and distracting) as the iproducts, and since cdm seems to be a apple site i can see why such athing would never get covered.
    but jeez A LITTLE less bias would be nice.

  • I'm liking QC more and more everyday, its such an amazing environment for visuals.  Its easy to learn, easy to use and is quickly becoming my "glue" of choice to build bridges between my apps.

  • In reply to "eye cany does not always rule":
    I want to clarify that Luminair isn't just a pretty face. All of the "brains" are in the app, and it doesn't require a full-size console or computer to work.
    I think what makes it a worthy mention is the fact that Luminair is "the console". It uses non-proprietary protocols and works directly with lots of existing equipment (fixtures, media servers, even other consoles).
    I'll spare you from reading the feature list, you'll need to look at our site for the full details…
    Ryan Hisey @ Synthe FX

  • Peter Kirn

    pcguy: What PocketPC app are you using? I'm not sure what would give you the "Mac site" impression on CDM except your own bias, given the ongoing Windows and Linux coverage. So if you've got something, send a tip. I can't reply because you didn't leave a real email.

  • VJ Bill

    Well I don't know about all of that DMX stuff, I'm just a beamer guy, but I am an Apple user; having an iPhone, Macbook etc. etc.
    That being said, I have to disagree with you Peter. Even to me I feel this site has an extreme Apple bias. Not that I mind, but saying "ongoing Windows and Linux coverage" is a bit exaggerated.
    I sure as hell am not going to judge your jounalistic integrity, but really all anyone just needs to do is scroll through the postings here (and over at cdmusic as well) to see the the statistical difference.
    I have DJ friends using XP and Seven. Often I have shown them a new APP that I downloaded, me being of the opinion it is something new-fangeled. I have often been corrected by them.
    In any case, sorry that this thread got hijacked 🙁
    If I had something to do with DMX, I'd probably take a look at Ryans APP.
    Cool Site!

  • Peter Kirn

    So, the four or five Linux stories I just posted don't count?
    Well, I'm glad everyone is now an expert on my personal bias. I rarely boot my Mac these days. My main system is a PC, and these days I've been booting Linux more than Windows.
    I think what people miss it that, very often, what this site is about is user tips. So, the bias is a reader bias.
    And much to my own personal frustration, Apple has successfully wooed away a whole bunch of developers to Mac- and iPhone-only development. To their credit, that *is* their job, and a lot of those developers feel they have a superior value proposition. I say it's frustrating to me, because it means less flexibility in which hardware that supports, and a sense that the other OSes can be a bit lonely.
    I can see via Twitter that people are picking up on the mention of this C++/Java library, which should allow development on other platforms.
    Now I'm off topic. 😉

  • VJ Bill

    Sorry Peter, didn't mean to tick you off 🙁
    I was NOT talking about your personal bias, but the amount of Apple postings in general here.
    One thing I think most Apple and Microsoft users will agree on:
    Please Linux, save us 🙂

  • Peter Kirn

    Oh yeah, don't want to sound annoyed — I'm just bemused. 🙂 (sorry, tone + Internet = impossible to tell tone)
    I am really working to make Linux my primary OS. The fact that NVIDIA seems to have fixed their drivers makes a HUGE difference. (Working with non-proprietary drivers really is NOT an option.) I haven't written about it more personally just because I'm still getting comfortable with it,but expect more this year.
    So, Windows and Linux users, PLEASE send us tips! (actually, generally we get a whole lot more reader tips on music than motion – if that ever starts to change, I think we'll get a nice feedback loop going)

  • Tim

    While I think this is very cool I am slightly confused.
    So the Quartz composer patch is able to receive information on an art-net network, and from that structure of 512 channels you can do what you like with the information.  What about getting the information back out again?  Or in fact sending information in the first place?
    Does this require a third party plug – in  , ie Kineme's art-net tools for example?  How are you able to send structural information back out to either the lighting desk on the network or a USB dmx device?

  • I'm still trying to figure out the best setup for a very small (two lights) dmx to quartz composer/vdmx rig. I've seen the enttec ODE box for art net and I've seen some DMX to USB adapters, and both were over 200 dollars… that's almost what one of my lights cost.

  • Cj

    Was just trolling for quartz to dmx solutions. Tim, you're correct (to be confused): the Synthe-FX QC patch receive only. The kineme artnet patches will send/receive, but only with the artnet protocol.

    Wiley, $200 for something that translates UDB (via ethernet: read: cheap cable runs) to DMX is a steal IMHO. And, considering the growth of artnet over the past couple years, its becoming more solid.

    I've banged my head against the Enttec 'open' dmx USB interface long enough. Time to pick up a UDB enttec..


  • Luz now has live human-controllable DMX support, in addition to its top-notch live motion graphics.

    You can take any input that Luz supports (Gamepads, Joysticks, Wacom Tablets, MIDI, Wiimotes, OpenSoundControl, Audio Analysis, and soon Kinect Body Tracking) and directly control DMX lights with it.

    Luz is free and open source on Linux: