MIDI Extension - Program Lightshows like a Pro

by Exige 2016/01/07

Download the Extension (you need Max4Live installed)

This project has been going on for a while now, with the original idea going back to 2014 and many different versions made since then trying to realise this goal. A MIDI file playing 'instrument' is one of the features I believe Ableton lacks the most, so I'm extremely excited to have unlocked this feature through M4L, it will be one of the most important devices I'll be using in my live sets, and I hope you all find some use for it in your videos & production too. I've included a demo project file in the dl link above to show you how the device works and can interact with Ableton's stock MIDI effects.

The install and use of this device is super simple, remember these few things and you'll be golden:

  • 1. Make sure the folders are in the correct places. M4L doesn't seem to like custom directories, no matter how much I tried to get them to work. The MIDIext folder is the most important one to get right, then inside of that you can create your own preset folders for light/melody packs or project files.
  • 2. Make sure there are no spaces in your filenames or folder names, just use - or _ instead.
  • 3. Remember to save the preset! Unfortunately having an autosave feature work silently in the background seems almost impossible with M4L, however this project-wide save/load system is still super simple, as long as you remember to click save on the Master device.

Demo video created by ULT1MOD:

Further instructions below (it looks like more than it is, just wanted to make sure every detail was covered).

To install:

Copy the ‘MIDI Extension v1.0’ and ‘MIDIext’ to the install directories and [remove the text in brackets].

The ‘MIDI Extension v1.0’ folder goes to Ableton’s Max MIDI Effect folder:

C:\Users\…\Documents\Ableton\User Library\Presets\MIDI Effects\Max MIDI Effect

MacHD\Users\…\Music\Ableton\User Library\Presets\MIDI Effects\Max MIDI Effect

(Or your custom install folder)

The ‘MIDIext’ folder goes to the Max root directory (this will be where preset folders containing the MIDI files go):

…\Program Files\Cycling ’74\Max X

MacHD\Applications\Max X

(Or your custom install folder)

Loading the device in Ableton:

  • 1. To be able to save the state of MIDI Extension devices in your live project, the ‘Midi Extension [Master]’ device must be loaded somewhere in your project (preferably before the MIDI effect rack/chain).
  • 2. After the Master is loaded, the ‘Midi Extension’ device can be loaded anywhere in the MIDI chain - it behaves like and can interact with Ableton’s stock MIDI effects.

Loading clips & saving presets:

  • 1. Firstly, make sure the ‘MIDIext’ folder is installed in the Max root directory, otherwise preset saving will not work.
  • 2. Inside the ‘MIDIext’ folder, create a folder with the name of your project to contain the MIDI files and preset data, e.g. ‘demo-preset’.
  • 3. Make sure there are no spaces in the folder name or preset saving WILL NOT WORK, i.e. ’Project-1’ instead of ‘Project 1’
  • 3. Create or place MIDI clips into the preset folder, make sure they are type 0 MIDI format (single track) or else the seq device will not read them. Once again make sure there are no spaces in the file name or preset saving will not work
  • 4. Drag and drop the MIDI files from Ableton’s browser (it is recommended to add the MIDIext folder to the sidebar for ease of access) onto the MIDI Extension’s file-drop. Adjust the tempo if needed (if not, just leave the tempo numbers at 120).
  • 5. Once done with modifying the main devices in the project, save the project preset into the preset folder through the ‘Save’/’Save as’ buttons on the Master device (For a first save both buttons work the same, however if you have made changes to an existing preset, using the ‘Save’ button will silently overwrite/add onto the preset).
  • 6. When a project is reloaded, open the preset file through the ‘Load’ button on the Master device. It's all pretty self-explanatory. (Test out the Load function in the demo Project file without having to go through steps 2-5).

Most importantly: I hope this opens up a whole new side of Ableton for you, and that it'll take our works to the next level!


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