A MIDI controller allows you to improve your workflow in video and music production software. The Akai Professional APC MINI controller works great for beginners and professionals. The controller is not an essential tool for every content creator but it is helpful. Each adjustment or feature is within reach with this controller.
The Akai Professional APC MINI controller is designed to work with the included music production software. As this blog does not really have a connection with music production, the implementation of the controller in other software began.
Even though, the Akai Professional APC MINI controller comes with a license code for Ableton Live Lite, this review will take a closer look at the implementation of the MIDI controller in other software and tools.
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Launchpad buttons and faders
The controller is compact and features enough buttons and faders to work with most tools and software. The Akai Professional APC MINI controller has a multicolor launchpad grid with a total of 64 assignable buttons. Near the bottom, you have nine faders.
The buttons on the Akai Professional APC MINI controller are small and made of rubber. This makes the controller comfortable and easier to get used to. Compared to other more expensive MIDI controllers, the buttons and faders of the Akai Professional APC MINI controller are equal to the task.
Despite the controller being made of plastic, it still feels solid.
Macro buttons and keyboard shortcuts
The buttons of the controller were assigned to keyboard shortcuts using a macro button tool. These keyboard shortcuts were later assigned to specific tasks in the Open Broadcaster Software Studio software. The faders were assigned to a software-based audio mixer for precise control over the audio levels of the inputs.
However, the faders are not motorised and if you use a computer mouse to change the position of the fader in the audio software, you will have to physically adjust the position of the fader on the Akai Professional APC MINI controller. More expensive controllers tend to include this feature.
More advanced features for computer wizards
After a few hours of work, you can assign different keyboard shortcuts to the buttons with the help of a macro button tool. The more experienced users can also change the colours of the 64 launchpad buttons, but the technical information is limited and you have to do a lot of research to make it work.
Still, the Akai Professional APC MINI controller is one of the best additions to the streaming setup. In Open Broadcaster Software Studio you can start the broadcast with a single button, switch between the available scenes or change the volumes of a microphone or capture card using the faders and a software-based audio mixer.
Time for research
If the software you are using supports keyboard shortcuts, MIDI controllers or operation with a macro button tool and you have time to research the more advanced features of the device, the Akai Professional APC MINI controller is the MIDI controller for you.
Akai Professional APC MINI controller
The Akai Professional APC MINI controller features enough buttons and faders to control most audio and video production tools if you want to research the more advanced features.
Retail price: 99.99 euros
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Disclaimer. This post contains copyrighted images from the Akai Professional APC MINI Controller, a MIDI controller developed and produced by Akai. The fair use of copyrighted works for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting or research is not considered as an infringement of copyright.
Controlling Resolume with the mouse is great. You can access every parameter and set it with precision. But during a live performance, you'll want to have more control than what the mouse can offer. Sometimes, you want an exact thing to happen at an exact moment, without having to scroll and search for it with the mouse. That's where shortcuts come in.
You use shortcuts to assign a button on your computer keyboard or MIDI controller to a control in Resolume. Sort of like how CTRL-C and CTRL-V are shortcuts for copy-pasting. Except this time, you get to decide what the shortcuts are.
Resolume supports external control via your computer keyboard, MIDI controllers and OSC messages. If you're running Arena, you can also use DMX input from a lighting desk.
In this chapter, we'll show you how to control Resolume with a MIDI controller.
Assigning MIDI Shortcuts
You can assign shortcuts for your MIDI controller in exactly the same way as you do for your keyboard.
The only difference is you need to let Resolume know you've got a MIDI controller connected first. You do this via the MIDI tab of the Preferences.
For now, all you need to do here is toggle on MIDI Input and MIDI Output for the device you want to use. That's it. We'll worry about the rest later.
Tip! Not sure if your MIDI controller is working or not? Fold out the MIDI monitor on the right of the MIDI Preferences. Resolume will show you all the MIDI messages it's receiving from all enabled controllers. If you're seeing messages come in here, but Resolume is not doing anything with them, something is wrong with your shortcut setup. If nothing is showing up here, something is wrong with your MIDI controller.
Let's start with a simple shortcut. We want a shortcut for the blackout button. So when we use that shortcut, the whole output should go black. This is useful as a sort of panic button ('oh no, get it off mah screen!'), or to create tension before a big drop.
You create shortcuts by opening the Shortcuts menu, and choosing which protocol you want to create a shortcut for.
The interface will now change color. For MIDI shortcuts, we went with a nice pastelly cyan.
Everything that has changed color can have a shortcut assigned to it. So find the Composition Bypass button in the top left of the interface and click on it with the mouse.
Now press the control you want to use for this. I suggest to use a button that's easy to find on your controller. Ideally you can find it without looking down. Maybe something on the corners of your controller?
Either way, press the button and voila, you've assigned your first shortcut! If the Bypass button was big enough, you could even read which shortcut was assigned to it.
Press the Escape key to exit the Shortcut mode, and you can now bash your shortcut to toggle the Composition Bypass on and off. On and off. On and off. On and off. Okay. Stop. That's enough.
Let's dig a little deeper. Go back into Shortcut mode, and select the Composition Bypass again. In the bottom right of the interface, you'll see the Shortcuts tab. This tab is only visible while you're in Shortcuts mode. In this tab, you can see all your shortcuts in a handy list.
You can also choose different options for your selected control.
You'll see a bunch of stuff about Channels, Notes and Midi Output. We can worry about that later.
Right now, we're only interested in one option, namely 'Piano'. All buttons in Resolume can be set to Piano mode, which means that they will be on for as long as you hold the key or button down, and turn off when you release it again.
Akai Pro Apc40 Ableton Controller
'But Resolume, that's not how a piano works at all!' Yes, you're right. Piano is easy to remember and reminds you that you're playing an instrument. If you prefer, you can call this option Momentary or Flash or whatever floats your boat.
Once you enable Piano mode for a shortcut, you also get the option to Invert. This will let you turn the control OFF while the button is held, and ON when released.
Nerd alert! For some arcane reason, some controllers (like the NanoKontrol) will send CCs instead of Notes when you press a button. I won't bore you with the technical details and a long rant on how this makes no sense. If the shortcut for your button says CC instead of Note, and you don't see the Piano and Invert options, just change the Mode to Button and you'll be golden.
You can get even further down the rabbit hole when you assign a button shortcut to a slider parameter. Let's first set up a fun parameter to play with.
Put the Invert RGB effect on a clip. Leave all its parameters alone, but just change the effect's Blend Mode to TimeSwitcher. You can now strobe the inverted clip, using the Opacity parameter to control the rate. Pretty cool, right?
Now go into Shortcuts mode, and assign a shortcut to the Opacity of the Invert RGB effect. Pick a button on your controller that makes sense to you.
You will see new options appear in the Shortcuts tab. The biggest one is a big slider called 'Range'. You're now assigning a button shortcut to a slider, and a slider has more values than just on and off. With the Range option, you can see what values the slider should jump to when the button is pressed and released.
Let's set the values to 0 and 0.10. You can either drag the in and out point with the mouse, or click the values and enter them numerically. After you exit Shortcut mode, you can now hit the ] key to strobe the clip with 10% opacity and off again. Braaaaap!
In this mode, you also have the Piano option. Br-Br-Braaaap!
Instead of just toggling, a button can also be used to set a slider directly to a specific value. In the shortcuts panel, you can change the Mode from Toggle to Value. Don't worry, we'll cover Velocity as well. Be patient, young grasshopper.
In Value mode, you can use your controller to set a slider to a specific value. So pressing the button will set the Opacity of the Invert RGB to 0.10, regardless of what it was set to before. This is great for resetting a parameter to a certain value.
Multiple shortcuts are especially awesome! You can assign more than one shortcut to a parameter. Simply select the shortcut, right click it and select 'Duplicate Shortcut'.
You will see that your shortcut is now used twice. By clicking one of them, it becomes selected and you can change it to whatever you like, just by pressing a different button.
Now each shortcut key can have different settings.
Let's set both keys to Toggle Mode, with Piano turned on. Set the range of the first shortcut to 0 and 0.05. Set the range of the second shortcut to 0 and 0.1. Now you can strobe the invert effect at different rates. Because they're set to Piano and the minimum range for both shortcuts is 0, releasing any button will always turn the effect off.
Tip! If you're not that big on blinding your audience with epileptic strobing, you can also think of things as using multiple shortcuts to set the Hue of a Colorize effect to specific values. This way, you can quickly match the color of the video to the color of the lights.
When you assign shortcuts to clip triggers or controls on the layer, clip or group panels, you'll see this target option. The Target option lets Resolume know exactly how you want to apply the shortcut. There are three modes:
This target just applies the shortcut to whatever order the clips or layers are in. This is the default mode for shortcuts on the layer and group panels.
For instance, shortcuts for Layer Opacity default to By Position. Because you probably always want your first fader on your MIDI controller to control the first layer in your composition, regardless of how you re-order the layers afterwards.
This Clip, Layer or Group
This target applies the shortcut to this specific clip, layer or group, regardless of where you move it.
This way, you can assign a shortcut to always trigger a specific clip, like a color flash. It doesn't matter whether that clip is in layer 1, column 1 or layer 27, column 95. It will always be triggered by that specific shortcut.
Beware! When you delete that specific clip, layer or group, of course the shortcut disappears with it!
Selected Clip, Layer or Group
This target applies the shortcut to whatever clip, layer or group is currently selected. This will always be the clip, layer or group that is currently shown in its respective panel. This is the default target for any shortcuts you apply on the clip panel.
'Come on, Resolume! Why you gotta make this so difficult? I just want to set things up and be done with it. Ain't nobody got time for this! Just tell me what to do already!'
If you're unsure about what any of this means, just go with the 'By Position' target for all your shortcuts. It makes the most sense when working with a fixed controller layout.
The 'Selected' target is very powerful to optimise controller real estate, but you need to be aware of what you're doing.
The 'This' target is usually only necessary to control a very specific thing on one particular show only.
Shortcut Groups are shortcuts applied to a group of Radio Buttons, or to a Dropdown. Not sure what Radio Buttons and Dropdowns are exactly? They're explained in detail, with examples, on the Parameter page.
Shortcuts assigned to these type of control are special. A regular control usually has only two options, On or Off. These controls have a lot more.
The Clip Direction controls have four options, Forward, Backward, Pause and Random. The Autopilot has four also. The Layer Blend Modes have so many options I lost count.
When assigning shortcuts for these controls, you enter a whole new level of sophistication. This is where you go from someone who mashes buttons to a distinguished shortcut connaisseur.
The most basic one is assigning a shortcut directly to a particular 'item'. Item sounds a bit strange perhaps. It simply means you could for instance assign one key to play the clip forwards and another key to play the clip backwards.
You do this simply by selecting the buttons in the interface, and assigning a key to them. You will see which state you have assigned in the Mode box.
The same way, you could also assign shortcuts for each Layer Blend Mode that you like, or for the Auto Size options on the layer.
Piano is also available as an option when you assign a shortcut directly to an item. When Piano is toggled on, pressing the shortcut will switch to that item, and releasing it, will switch it back to whatever is was set to.
This way, you can quickly set the clip to random playback during an especially hectic part in the music, and then release the button to go back to whatever direction it was playing at before.
It get a bit crazier by using the Select Next Item, Select Previous Item and Random Item options. By selecting these, you can cycle through every item in that group of controls.
Apc Mini Midi Controller
This way, you can for instance cycle through all the layer Blend Modes. You just keep on pressing the same button until you land on one you like.
Cycling Specific Items
If you really want to get to the nitty gritty of shortcut control, try duplicating your shortcut, and then assigning it to a different item in a group.
For instance, assigning the same key to both play forwards and play backwards, will let you toggle between these options with one button. Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. If you really want to go full control ninja, you can even use Piano in combination with this.
You can assign as many items to the same key as you like. Resolume will cycle to the next assigned item on every key press.
You can also assign MIDI CC shortcuts to a group. This will let you cycle through every option in the group. In most cases, this is not so very useful, but it can be fun to cycle through all the layer blends with a rotary.
You can find a special Shortcut Group in front of the clip triggers. It's revealed when you enter MIDI shortcut mode. When you assign a shortcut to it, you can trigger all the clips in that layer with a single control. Assigning a MIDI CC will let you trigger clip 1 through 128 by sending different values on that same CC.
Tip! This works on columns too.
MIDI Specific Modes
When you're assigning shortcuts for use with a MIDI controller, you get access to a few special modes as well. Which modes are available depends on whether you're assigning a MIDI Note message or a MIDI Control Change (CC) message.
Tip! Every MIDI Message allows you to change its Channel and CC or Note values. If you know what you're doing, you can use these to manually change the MIDI message associated with the shortcut. If you're just assigning shortcuts for your controller, you don't have to worry about this.
MIDI CC Options
MIDI Control Change sounds very impressive, but it's basically just used for sending values between 0 and 127 from a fader or rotary knob. When assigning a MIDI CC shortcut, your options are Absolute, Button, Relative and Fake Relative.
Absolute is pretty straightforward. It just lets you control the range of the parameter with the range of your fader or rotary knob. This is the mode you'll want to use on most standard MIDI controllers.
For instance, using Absolute mode, you can assign a MIDI fader to the Opacity of a layer. Pushing the fader up makes the layer fully visible. Pushing the fader down makes the layer invisible. Yes, I'm actually explaining this to you. I'm nothing if not thorough.
If you want, you can Invert this behaviour, or set a specific Range.
Button is a bit weird.
Some MIDI controllers, like for instance the Korg NanoKontrol series, can send out CCs when you press a button. This makes very little sense from a logical perspective, but I'm sure they have their reasons.
Using Button mode, you can tell Resolume that this CC is actually being sent by a button. This way, Resolume no longer thinks you're moving a fader, and you get access to all the cool button specific modes like Toggle and Value.
Some rotary knobs don't send out fixed values between 0 on their left side and 127 on their right side. Instead of coming to a stop on each end, you can twist them endlessly in both directions, and they will keep sending out different values. For instance, the APC40 MK1 has a relative rotary above the master fader. The MK2 even has two, the second one is placed on the top right next to the Tap button.
This is very useful for setting parameters with a big range that you need to set precisely, like Position X or Y, adjusting the BPM. You can also do fun things like scratching the playhead with these type of knobs.
If your controller has a rotary like this, you'll want to use Relative mode for it.
In Relative mode, you can change the responsiveness of the rotary by changing the amount of Steps the rotary controls, or its Step Size for each turn of the knob. These controls are dependent on each other, so changing one will update the other. Basically, a higher Step Size will mean fewer Steps, and a bigger change in value when you turn the knob. A lower Step Size means more steps and a smaller change in value.
Toggling on Loop will cause the parameter to loop back to the beginning when it reaches the end, so you can keep on spinning forever. Also, you can Invert the shortcut.
Fake Relative is not some shady figure claiming to be your uncle at parties.
Some controllers have rotary knobs that you can spin endlessly, but that aren't actually relative rotaries. Instead, they send out regular values between 0 at the far left and 127 on the far right and you're supposed to use them like a regular, Absolute rotary.
The APC40 series has them on both the MK1 and MK2.
Using Fake Relative, you can trick these rotaries into thinking that they're actual endless relative rotaries, and you can use all the options you have for the regular Relative mode.
MIDI Note Options
MIDI Notes are messages that turn something On or Off. Their usually sent by the buttons or pads of your MIDI controller. On some controllers, they can send 'velocity' values, based on how hard you press the button.
Because MIDI Note are basically the same as your keyboard, you have the same options for Toggle, Piano, Range and Value. Between these, you can cover most bases.
One special mode is Velocity. If your controllers supports this, you will send velocity values when you press the button. The harder you press, the higher the velocity will be.
In Velocity mode, you can set the Range as well. This way, you can do fun stuff like changing the scale of a clip by pressing a button. The harder you press, the bigger the clip will become, with a maximum of 200%. When you release the button, it will drop back to 100%
MIDI Clock is kind of an odd one out in this chapter. It's not really a shortcut, but more a means of syncing Resolume with other devices or applications. Because it's not a shortcut, you set it in the MIDI tab of the Preferences.
The principle is simple. Let's say you're playing together with a musician, running Ableton Live. It makes sense that you both want to run at the same BPM. So when she starts playing faster, you follow along automatically.
One way to do this is to use MIDI Clock. Your musician friend can enable MIDI Clock output in Ableton (it's called Sync there) and send this to you via a MIDI cable, virtual MIDI port or even via MIDI over a network. Resolume will then listen to this, and put your sets in sync.
The MIDI Clock protocol consists of a few commands, most importantly Clock Tick, Clock Start and Clock Stop.
When you first enable Clock Input for a device, Resolume will wait for the Clock Start signal. Most devices send this when you press play.
It will then listen to each Clock Tick. These get sent on every beat by the master application. Resolume's BPM will follow along, as if you were tapping the beat by hand. All the time. Automatically.
Via the dropdown, you can decide how Resolume reacts when it receives a Clock Stop. In 'Start/Stop' mode, Resolume will stop the BPM when the master stops. In 'Switch to Manual' mode, it will continue running, even when the master has told it to stop.
Tip! MIDI Clock was great in 1996. It's notoriously wavy and not really accurate. Today, Ableton's Link protocol gives a much tighter sync, and is way easier to set up.
Do you like pretty colors on your MIDI controller? Of course you do. So this is where the fun begins.
A lot of modern MIDI controllers have colored pads. By changing the velocity value you send to the controller, you change the color of the pad.
Tip! We have lookup tables for most controllers, so you can select the color of the pad by picking a color, instead of having to figure out what velocity is which color. On the APC40Mk2, we even have preview swatches!
For a simple Toggle or Value shortcut, you can set which velocity to send for the Off and On states.
For Clip Trigger shortcuts, the party really gets started. As it turns out, a clip in Resolume can have a whopping 5 states. So you can choose which color to send out for each state.
Multiple MIDI Devices
Let's say you're really into hardware and have more than one MIDI controller. Maybe you're using two Korg Nanopads for extra triggers. Maybe you're a baller and you have two APC40s decked out. Maybe you get really deep into knob twiddling and have four color coded Consipracies. The reason doesn't really matter. You have your kinks and that's cool.
Resolume is able to discern which device a MIDI message came from. This means you can control different things from each device, even when the devices are sending the same MIDI message on the same channel.
There's no need for Bomes or editors to change channels or anything.
So let's say you have two APC40s connected. You can assign shortcuts to trigger different clips using the same button on each APC. Resolume will see which one you pressed and trigger the appropriate clip.
Nitty Gritty Warning! We make the distinction by marking one APC as the first and the other one as the second, based on the order they are detected. Not by any real difference in the actual device. So don't paint a big 1 and 2 on your devices and expect Resolume to follow that. If you change the order next time the devices are connected, and the second APC is detected first, the shortcuts will be swapped.
This also works for devices from different brands that share the same channel or notes. Your Launchpad XL can exist peacefully next to your Traktor F1, even though they both send the same range of notes.
If you're so inclined, you can still enable input from Any Device. This means Resolume won't make any distinctions and treat all devices as equal. Marx would be proud.
The same goes for MIDI Output. When creating a MIDI shortcut on a specific device, Resolume will default to only send feedback to that device. This way, you're sure that pressing a button on one controller doesn't mess with the colors on another.
If you like, you can change the routing via the Output dropdown. You can send the feedback to a particular different device. You can even send feedback to All Devices, which can be useful for monitoring in more complex setups.
You also have the option to completely disable MIDI output for a particular shortcut, which is particularly useful when using multiple shortcuts for the same function, or more complex control situations.
Tip! When Input Device and Output Device are set to the same device, Resolume will change the Output for you automatically when you switch Input. Some devices have the bad habit of using different names for their Input and Output ports. In those cases, you're on your own.
Apc Midi Controller
You can save presets for every shortcut mode. This allows you to save and recall different layout and shortcut assignment for different occasions.
For instance, if you're a gear head, you can have different presets for each controller you own. A normal person could have have different layouts for the same controller, so you can play different styles of shows with it. Or you could have a separate preset for that one AV show you do with your musician buddy. The sky is pretty much the limit.
Every shortcut you assign is automatically saved into the current preset. You can switch presets via the dropdown in the Shortcuts panel. Here you can also manage your presets via the New.../Save as.../Remove and Rename... options at the bottom of the list.
Presets are simply XML files stored on your computer. So you can exchange presets between computers, or share them with your VJ friends. Or share them with other Resolume users on our forum.
Once selected, you will see a list of all assigned shortcuts for this preset.
Apc 40 Drivers
This list contains each and every shortcut you currently have assigned, so it's very useful to troubleshoot things. If you're a bit of a nerd, you can probably already see what a shortcut is controlling, just by looking at its name.
By default, the list is organised per shortcut name. You can also sort it per value, which makes it really easy to spot double assigned shortcuts. These will be marked in red.
You can delete a unwanted shortcut by hitting backspace or selecting Delete from the right-click menu. Bad shortcut. Bad.
Akai Ableton Controller
Akai Apc Midi Controller
Resolume ships with a few default shortcut layouts that we think are kind of useful. Of course you're free to modify them how you see fit, or completely ignore them. Resolume is freedom.
Peep the shortcuts for the APC40Mk2, the APC Mini and the NanoKontrol 2. Yo.