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Lightroom Controlling Softwares

We’ve already mentioned in the prologue that using a MIDI controller for photo-processing is only available with Adobe Lightroom. The reason is simple: Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) is actually a plugin itself, a part of Photoshop, so you cannot install further plugins in it. As for Capture One, you actually should be able to install plugins, but for developing such plugins, you need the software’s SDK (development kit), and it costs a fortune per year. Chances are that nobody will pay that. However, the Lightroom SDK is free for everyone, and since it’s downloadable from Adobe’s website, anybody can develop Lightroom-plugins.

So we need a small plugin to connect a MIDI controller with Lightroom. (These plugins can be installed via the Lightroom File menu). The job of these plugins is to identify the signal of the MIDI controller via USB and match them to certain Lightroom prompts and functions which are in the plugin’s stock.

This matching is called mapping.

You need to map all the potentiometers (sliders, knobs) on your controller. When you move a slider/knob on a MIDI controller (or push a button), its signal will be detected by the Lightroom plugin. That plugin will know that when the signal comes, which Lightroom slider should be altered and how. This may seem to be complicated for the first time but believe me, it’s easy.

I mentioned above the ‘stock of the plugins’. This means that the developer of the plugin is responsible for identifying the Lightroom functions in the Lightroom SDK and enabling them in the plugin, so there are only as many LR functions available in the plugins, as many the developer puts in it. Some advanced plugins contain almost all the Lightroom features, some others contain only the most important functions. Many of the plugins are being continuously developed, so even if it doesn’t know something today, it may handle it tomorrow.

The most awesome part of this story is that these plugins are free to download from the web. Their developers are working on them from their own power and enthusiasm, however, all include a Donate-button on their website, so if you can, you should send some gift-bucks to them. They absolutely deserve it, as they put a lot of working hours into these plugins.

So all in all, you’ll need a USB-connected controller, a Mac or PC, and an Adobe Lightroom software - preferably a newer version, but if you have an older one, don’t worry, you are not opted out from the game. Moreover, you’ll need a small plugin - as you already know - free from the web and you’ll need to install it in Lightroom. This plugin will start together with Lightroom every time then, and connects it with the MIDI controller, so no need to hassle with it any more.

We’ve already mentioned the question of having less sliders or knobs on your controller than you’d use in Lightroom. No problem, there is a software-based and a hardware-based solution as well. As for the hardware-based: you can change slider layout on your controller with buttons. These slider/knob layouts are called Layers, Pages or Presets by the controller manufacturers, and for some models there are only two options (eg. Layer A and Layer B), but some models have even 32 Presets. No matter how they’re called, the point is that you can switch between these layouts with dedicated buttons, which means your sliders, knobs and buttons do different things on different layouts. If you have a MIDI controller with 8 knobs or sliders for example, then in case of 2 layouts you can connect 16 Lightroom sliders to them, in case of 3 layouts you can connect 24, and you switch between the 8 - 8 - 8 connected functions by pressing buttons. This is the hardware based solution, but there is also a software based option, which is fine if you have a controller that does not have the possibility of switching layouts. We will talk about this later.

So what LR plugins do we have?

MIDI2LR

This is the most popular and the most advanced plugin to date. Most of the controller-users prefer the MIDI2LR and its developer is very active, regular updates are coming almost week-to-week but at least month-to-month. It is important to know that the MIDI2LR is compatible with both Macs and PCs, but you’ll need Lightroom 6 or CC to work with. Earlier LR versions are not compatible, so for those you should use some other plugins which are unfortunately not as good as the MIDI2LR, but not bad either.

Here you can download MIDI2LR for free.

A big advantage for MIDI2LR is its own GUI in a separate window (which runs continuously in the background as long as Lightroom is open). With this user interface you can easily customize your controller: in other words you can easily do the mapping, ie. adding every needed LR function to each slider, knob and button on your controller. You can create more Profiles with different mappings and you can make a button on your controller to switch between Profiles. On one Profile the knobs do this, on the other Profile knobs do that, and you can switch between them with a button. This is the software-solution for the problem of having less sliders/knobs than the number of sliders you would use in Lightroom. 

MIDI2LR contains probably the most Lightroom features ever, it is developed by a guy called rsjaffe (and many people are helping him), so I suggest to use this plugin if you have the latest Lightroom version (ie. LR 6 or CC). If you have an older version, please read on.

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Introduction

Using a MIDI controller for photo processing is quite a new movement in the world. These hardwares are originally built for music editing softwares but thanks to some clever plugins they can be used for photo editing in Adobe’s Lightroom software too. READ MORE...

Softwares

We need a small plugin to connect a MIDI controller with Lightroom. The job of these plugins is to identify the signal of the MIDI controller via USB and match them to certain Lightroom prompts and functions which are in the plugin’s stock. READ MORE...

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