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October 23, 2009

Using FLStudio as a MIDI controller for Protools 8

Using this dashboard with FLStudio, one can control Protools just like a hardware MIDI controller. This means one has the ability to record MIDI note and automation data from FLStudio directly into Protools. In addition, one can control the dashboard with other hardware controllers, easily allowing any controller to be integrated into Protools.


Getting Started

Download the Protools 8 Dashboard

Download the Protools 8 Dashboard file and unzip the contents somewhere on your disk. The zip package contains FLS presets along with another zip package of artwork for the dashboard. You do not need to unzip the artwork package.

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Install a virtual MIDI cable

Launch FLStudio

Configure the virtual MIDI cable in FLStudio

Open the MIDI settings by choosing Options -> MIDI Settings from the menu. Select one of the virtual cables listed in the Output list, and assign it a port number. Pay attention to both the name of the port and the name of the cable. I normally assign Maple Midi Out: Port 1 to port 1 of FLStudio.

Install and load the Protools Dashboard

  1. Add a new Dashboard channel generator. (Channels -> Add One -> Dashboard from the main menu)
  2. Open the Dashboard menu by clicking the down arrow next to the padlock icon.
  3. Choose Unzip Dashboard from the Dashboard menu.
  4. Navigate to the location of the unzipped Protools 8 Dashboard files and select the file named Protools 8 Dashboard Artwork.zip. The artwork files will be installed in the proper location.
  5. Now load the included preset file (Protools 8 Dashboard.fst) by double clicking the file in Windows Explorer. It will be automatically added as a new channel in FLStudio.

Set up Audio output

Depending on your system and audio interface, Protools may issue a DAE error if FLStudio is currently using the audio interface. You will need to configure FLStudio so that it is not using the interface you will use with Protools. ( Options -> Audio Settings). Typically the quickest choice is to use the sound card which came with your computer. Once Protools has started, you can change this setting to any available interface. If Protools doesn’t allow you to start with FLStudio running, you can try selecting ‘None’ from the list of interfaces, but once Protools has launced, you must be able to switch to another interface, or else FLStudio will not send MIDI data.

If you wish to use the audio capabilities of FLStudio, it is better to use Rewire to send the output through Protools to your audio interface. If you are planning on using rewire, wait until after Protools has launched to close FLStudio.

Launch Protools

Configure MIDI Input

  1. Open the Input Devices dialog (Setup -> MIDI -> Input Devices) and enable the virtual cable which is linked the dashboard.
  2. Open the Midi Controllers tab of the Peripherals dialog (Setup -> Peripherals -> MIDI Controllers)
  3. Add a new controller.
    • Type: M-Audio Keyboard
    • Receive From: [your virtual cable]
    • Send to: Microsoft MIDI Mapper
    • # Ch’s: 8
  4. Click OK.

You now should be able to move the sliders on the Dashboard in FLStudio and see the corresponding mixer fders in Protools move.

Using the Dashboard with Protools 8

The Dashboard works as a virtual MIDI controller. It sends MIDI commands just like a hardware controller. The dashboard emulates the Axiom Pro series. You may read the manual for more in-depth information.

Transport

Play, stop, rewind, forward and record act as you would expect in in PT8’s transport window. Holding the loop button while pressing the transport keys gives more options. Loop + Play enables loop play, and Loop + Record enables loop record. Loop + Stop will undo the last action and Loop + RR or FF moves to the beginning or end of the song, respectively.

Sliders

Sliders 1-8 control the corresponding sliders in Protools. The sliders are controlled in banks of 8. The bank will change if you select a track outside of the current bank of 8, or if you use the change bank buttons.

The master fader on the Dashboard (red) maps the rightmost master fader in Protools.

Buttons

  • The buttons below each slider are known as slider buttons.
  • The mode button switches between mixer mode and insert mode. When in Mixer mode the sliders can only be used to control PT8’s sliders. In insert mode the sliders can control plug-ins.
  • In insert mode, the flip button switches the movements of the dashboard sliders from the Protools mixer to the plug-ins.< br /> In mixer mode the flip button switches the use of the slider buttons between these functions:
    • Select track
    • Arm track to record
    • Mute track
    • Solo track
  • The mute and solo buttons mute and solo the currently selected track when the flip button mode is set to select tracks.
  • The map button cycles between various controller mappings for plug ins. Pressing this button also changes the function of the plug-in button.
  • The plug-in button has various effects. In mixer mode, it cycles through the currently selected track’s inserts. In Insert mode, it displays and hides the currently selected plug in. It can also function as a second map button on some plug ins.

How to control Plug-ins

If you would like to also edit plug in controls, you need to enable the Insert mode with the mode button. You must then press the flip button to switch the function of the sliders from the mixer to the plug-in. This can get a little confusing because there are no visual indicators to let you know the status of the Mode or Flip buttons.

Once you have switched to insert mode, pressing the map button will auto-map the sliders on the dashboard to various controls on the plug-in. Pressing the map button again will cycle through various maps. On some plug ins (such as the Digirack 7 band EQ, pressing the plug-in button will provide additional controller mappings.

Important note about program launch order

It is very important you launch FLStudio before launching Protools. Protools will take control of all MIDI connections unless they are open prior to Protools launching. Thus, you must make sure FLStudio is using the MIDI cable before starting Protools.

You can run FLStudio as a Rewire client inside of Protools, but for the MIDI functionality to work, you must still start FLStudio (stand-alone) before Protools. Once Protools has started, you can close the stand-alone instance of FLStudio and use Rewire normally.

MIDI Continuous Controller (CC) numbers

Here is a list of the CC#s used by the M-Audio Axiom 61. You can use these values to set up hardware controllers or create your own dashboards.

CC#

12 – mute selected track
13 – solo selected track
14 – move bank left
15 – move bank right

17 thru 24 – Pan knobs (incremental/endless)

33 thru 40 – faders
41 – master fader

49 thru 56 – Slider Buttons
57 – Flip button

74 – Map Button (undocumented in Hypercontrol manual) (soft key 1)
75 – Plugin Button (undocumented in Hypercontrol manual) (soft key 2)
76 – Soft key 3
77 – Soft key 4

109 – Mode button
110 – Prev track
111 – Next track

113 – Loop button
114 – Rewind
115 – Fast Forward
116 – Stop
117 – Play
118 – Record

Thanks to Analysis_SR at the DUC for most of the MIDI CC info


4 Comments

[...] folllow up on my previous post regarding using FLStudio as a MIDI controller, here’s a template so you can use [...]

Pingback by Trikome » Control Protools’ BOOM with FLStudio’s Step Sequencer — October 25, 2009 @ 11:07 am

Don’t ever stop this type of brilliant work!

Comment by Kevin Bruff — January 5, 2010 @ 12:02 am

the best instructions ive ran into online thanks alot

Comment by HD — January 29, 2010 @ 7:47 pm

wow. fantastic. just what I needed!
where do you learn how to do such stuff?

Comment by alowe — July 17, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

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