View Full Version : animating color with MIDI (music data)

05-12-2004, 02:31 AM
I would like to control and animate color with MIDI (music data) in LightWave. Is this possible? How do I go about it? Are there plugins?
Thanks for any help.

05-12-2004, 03:13 AM
Whenever there is a little "E" button next to anything, you can add audio channel as a modifier to it. That applies to RGB channels as well. Actually nearly to everything in LW ;)

As for MIDI, I don't think LW supports it. But it takes only a few moments to convert it to WAV.

05-12-2004, 03:18 AM
I thought this was an interesting request, and a search on flay.com for MIDI came up with the following:


All free, and you should be able to drive channels with MIDI. I don't know about parsing MIDI files and applying specific data to color channels, but maybe some of these developers can halp you out. Let us know how it goes!



05-14-2004, 03:01 AM
Thanks for your suggestions. Am checking them out. Will keep you posted.


05-14-2004, 07:28 AM
Here's how I do it

open sound forge (or your sound program)

load a song
stretch the track for full lenght of your screen.
(I have dual monitors so mine gets pretty big)

do a screen grab

in photoshop (or your paint program) cut the part that you want of the music file and make a new pic and paste and save it.

in modeler make a long box (plane only in 1 layer) the full lenght of your screen (not height).

load the pic and auto size

now starting from beginning, make points at all the high and low spots.

turn it into a spline and then to .mot file

save it

in layout apply that motion to wherever you want with an 'E' envelope graph.
You can then size the highs and lows to get the color range you want.


if you record thru a equalizer into compy, you can filter out things.

like taking a copy of only the low tones and a copy for mid ranges and a copy for high ranges which would all drive certain channels.

and if it's good stereo to begin with, you can also pull out the drums and the guitar seperatly and drive certain things with them.

I normaly do all this when I want to control lights (brightness and flares) but it would work anywhere there is a graph.
Like having a song drive the 'Y' channel of a car going across the screen, so it bebops down the road to the beat:D

I would think that this might be a good plugin or something that Newtek could put into the program. Could make for some very interesting animations if it was automaticly made and you don't have to do all the making of points and such.

But alas...I don't write plugins.

Anyone out there write Plugins or lScript can give it a go??

05-14-2004, 11:06 AM
He was talking about MIDI, and not digitized audio, but what you are talking about has already been automated:



05-14-2004, 11:36 AM
Yep he said midi.
but midi could be changed to wav's so I thought i'd give a hint.

Didn't know it was already automated tho DOH!!

Thanks..e-mail is off

05-14-2004, 12:06 PM
Actually, Freedik (second post in this thread) had the best answer and I missed it! You can add a waveform directly as a motion modifier... no plugins necessary! Did not know that. Thanks, Freedik! So just convert the midi file to wave, and off you go. Still, there are a lot of interesting things you can do with MIDI in animation, like using MIDI controllers to manipulate animation rigs, etc... I hope this gets develpoed further. How about using LW to drive MIDI based real-world lighting rigs? Animate a stage lightshow in Layout and have that converted to a real light setup for a performance... motion, intensity, color... Houdini can do it.


05-14-2004, 02:29 PM
OH YEA...me too

freedik..you need to put important stuff like that in color and big letters:D

05-14-2004, 08:12 PM
check this out

midi controlleed animation in 3DS Max, i think

05-14-2004, 09:47 PM
I believe that lscript supports midi input or has a library that does.

05-15-2004, 07:53 AM
I'm glad if my thoughts have been helpful to anyone.

This thread actually got some ideas going in my head.
You could crack up the midi file channels (violins, drums, chellos etc.) and save them separately. Then use them as motion modifiers for different objects. Hell, you could build a whole orchestra like this :D
(for midi stuff I use Cakewalk for win 3.1, lol... it's great)

Just a silly spontaneous thought...

05-16-2004, 06:56 AM
My objective is to assign note values to color. Converting midi to a wave is not really an option. For example I would like to assign the color red to the note C and green to D etc.

With the MIDIChannel plug in (tmproductions.com) I am able to bring the note values into layout on a null y position channel for example.

The difficulty lies in converting this note value (null y position) into rgb values. I have tried expressions but cannot get it to work as the color assignment is arbitrary rather than function dependant, and the if/then expressions are to simplistic.

Any ideas would be welcome.



05-16-2004, 08:11 AM
Then I would go back to my other plan as before (sorry).
In a music program, instead of a wave file, make music show up as sheet music, print screen and bring to modeler and lay points where notes are and follow bridges till note ends, in higher or lower octives.
save as motion files and apply to the color channel you want.

I've never heard of a note2motion converter.
somebody else might have.

I know band in a box does sheet music from midi and can be printed out.

It doesn't sound all glamourous and stuff, but it dosen't take long to to a song.

05-16-2004, 11:17 AM
Thanks for your suggestions. I have the motion file (MIDIChannel plugin-thanks James-some of you guys might want to check it out). The issue is how do I convert the motion data into an arbitrary rgb value? For example, Y position 36m is red or Y position 37m is green etc?

This is what I would like to calculate.

Regards, Marieke

05-16-2004, 01:12 PM
look up Channel Follower in your docs. It's a motion modifier that allows you to do set driven key type stuff.


05-16-2004, 02:02 PM
The first thing that comes to my mind is using a gradient set to Y distance to object or Y distance to pivot point somehow. Depending on your scene and what you want to color you might have to be quite creative in the set up but it should be possible.

Maybe you could parent a null to your object then apply the .mot to the null.

05-16-2004, 05:05 PM
OK..I got the midi plug
tried it

Saw nothing there for 'Notes' but there are tracks, insturments,drums and such.

But that's as much as I know about midi.

Are those layers in midi notes?

I get the graph in and change colors, and the higher the values the lighter or darker the color gets,and can change colors, red to blue to yellow to green and such, but nothing for the C note to D note, unless I amd not reading the midi file right.
anywhays, here's what I got;

05-17-2004, 03:22 AM
Yes gradients is the obvious solution! Thanks Dana.

I simpley associated a color to the Y position of a dummy nul. The Y position being the value of the midi note.

Thanks for all your help. I'm a newbie and it's great to see that the forum really works!

05-17-2004, 04:51 AM
can you send a practice scene?