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.
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.