Using a Control Surface with the Audio Mixer

A control surface is a hardware device with faders, knobs, and buttons that you can use to control functions in Final Cut Studio applications, including the Final Cut Pro Audio Mixer and various components of Soundtrack Pro, Motion, and Color. You can use a supported control surface to remotely control track faders, pan settings, mute and solo buttons, transport controls, color balance controls, and effects parameters in Motion. Control surfaces emulate traditional audio mixing and video editing consoles, giving you tactile control over multiple controls at once.

Final Cut Pro supports two kinds of control surfaces:

Important: This section covers Mackie Control protocol control surfaces only. For information about connecting Euphonix control surfaces, see Connecting Euphonix Control Surfaces.

To set up a MIDI control surface, you need the following:

What Is MIDI?

Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) is a standard protocol that allows electronic music devices and control surfaces to send and receive performance data. This allows you to do things such as control a synthesizer with a keyboard or control an audio mixing application such as Final Cut Pro with a control surface.

Choosing an External MIDI Interface

There are a wide variety of MIDI interfaces available. When you select a MIDI interface, consider the following:

  • You need a MIDI interface that is compatible with Mac OS X.

  • Most interfaces connect to your computer via the USB port, although some PCI and FireWire audio interfaces include MIDI ports.

  • You should purchase a MIDI interface that supports the number of control surfaces you need, plus any additional MIDI equipment you may want to connect to your computer.

Installing a MIDI Interface

In many cases, installing a MIDI interface is as simple as connecting the interface to your computer. If your MIDI interface does not appear in the Control Surface Configuration dialog, the MIDI interface may require driver software. This may be included with the MIDI interface, or you may be able to download MIDI drivers from the manufacturer’s website. Make sure you follow the installation instructions that came with your MIDI interface.

To set up and connect a MIDI interface to your computer
  1. Install any MIDI drivers necessary for the MIDI interface.

  2. Connect a USB cable between the USB port on your computer and the MIDI interface.

  3. Make sure the MIDI interface is connected and turned on.

Choosing a MIDI-Based Control Surface

Different control surfaces use slightly different communications protocols, so not all MIDI-based control surfaces are compatible. Final Cut Pro supports Mackie and Logic Control control surfaces and Mackie and Logic Control XT control surfaces.

Connecting a MIDI-Based Control Surface

Once you have your MIDI interface connected to your computer, setting up a control surface is simple.

To connect your control surface to your MIDI interface
  1. Connect the MIDI output port of the control surface to a MIDI input port on the MIDI interface.

    Figure. Diagram of a MIDI connector.
  2. Connect a MIDI output port on your MIDI interface to the MIDI input port on your control surface.

  3. Make sure the control surface is turned on.

Configuring Final Cut Pro to Work with a Control Surface

Once a control surface is connected, you need to establish communication between the control surface and Final Cut Pro. You set up control surfaces in Final Cut Pro in the Control Surface Configuration dialog.

Figure. Control Surface Configuration dialog.
  • Control surface arrangement area: This area displays icons of the currently assigned control surfaces. You can click a control surface icon to select it, and you can double-click the icon to adjust the control surface’s settings. If you have multiple control surfaces, you can drag their icons to rearrange their order.

    The order of control surface icons affects the fader ordering on your physical control surfaces. For more information, see Arranging Control Surface Order.

  • Add and Delete buttons: These buttons allow you to add or remove control surfaces in your configuration. The number of control surfaces allowed is limited to the number of MIDI ports on your MIDI interface.
  • Shift Order Left and Shift Order Right buttons: These buttons allow you to move the selected control surface icon to rearrange its order.
  • Summary area: This area displays information about the currently selected control surface.

Configuring a MIDI-Based Control Surface

This section explains procedures for working with a MIDI-based control surface using the Mackie Control protocol.

Important: For information about configuring Euphonix control surfaces, see Configuring Euphonix Control Surfaces.

To configure a MIDI-based control surface
  1. Choose Tools > Control Surfaces.

    The Control Surface Configuration dialog appears.

  2. In the Use pop-up menu, choose Mackie.

    The Mackie Control Surface Configuration window appears.

  3. If there is not already a control surface icon in the control surface arrangement area, click the Add (+) button, or press Command–Shift–Plus Sign (+).

    A dialog appears with configuration settings.

  4. Choose the following settings:

    • The type of control surface

    • The MIDI interface output port to which your control surface MIDI input is connected

    • The MIDI interface input port to which your control surface MIDI output is connected

      Note: Audio MIDI Setup is a utility included with Mac OS X that allows you to name and configure the devices, instruments, and ports of your MIDI setup. The names of external devices configured in Audio MIDI Setup appear in parentheses after the name of each port of your MIDI interface.

  5. Click OK, then click OK again to accept changes to your control surface configuration.

    You can add and configure additional control surfaces using the steps above.

To change the settings for a control surface
  1. Choose Tools > Control Surfaces.

    The Control Surface Configuration dialog appears.

  2. Double-click the control surface icon.

    A dialog appears with configuration settings.

  3. Change the control surface settings as needed.

  4. Click OK, then click OK again to apply changes to your control surface configuration.

To delete a control surface
  1. Choose Tools > Control Surfaces.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Click a control surface icon, then press Command-Delete.

    • Drag a control surface icon outside of the Control Surface Configuration dialog, then release the mouse button.

    • Click a control surface icon, then click the Delete (-) button.

  3. Click OK.

How Audio Mixer Tracks Correspond to Control Surface Faders

The track number assigned to a physical fader corresponds to the track strips visible in the Audio Mixer. For example, if only tracks A1 and A8 are visible in the Audio Mixer, they correspond to the first and second faders on your control surface.

For more information about showing and hiding track strips in the Audio Mixer, see Track Visibility Area.

Arranging Control Surface Order

If you have more than one control surface configured to work in Final Cut Pro, the physical faders are numbered so that control surfaces whose icons appear toward the left side of the Control Surface Configuration dialog have lower-numbered faders. Control surfaces whose icons appear toward the right side have higher-numbered faders.

Important: For proper track numbering, the order of control surface icons in the Control Surface Configuration dialog should match the physical layout of your control surfaces.

To rearrange the order of control surface icons
  1. Choose Tools > Control Surfaces.

    Figure. Control Surface Configuration dialog showing control surface icons.

    Note: There must be at least two control surfaces connected if you want to rearrange their order.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Press Shift-Left Angle Bracket (<) or Shift-Right Angle Bracket (>).

    • Drag a control surface icon to a new position to the left or right.

    • Press the Left Arrow or Right Arrow key to select a control surface icon, then click the Shift Order Left or Shift Order Right button to move the control surface icon.

  3. Click OK.

    The control surface faders are renumbered according to their new order in the control surface arrangement area.

    Figure. Control Surface Configuration dialog showing the control surface icons repositioned and the track numbers reassigned.

Working with Fader Banks

If your Final Cut Pro sequence has more tracks than your control surface has faders, you can still control the remaining faders by using another fader bank on the control surface. Fader banks allow you to multiply the number of tracks your control surface can control by temporarily assigning the physical faders to higher-numbered tracks.

For example, if your control surface has eight faders, the first fader bank can control the first eight visible tracks in the Audio Mixer. The second bank can control the second group of eight visible faders, and so on. If all tracks are visible in the Audio Mixer, the first fader bank controls tracks 1-8, the second fader bank controls tracks 9-16, and so on.

When your sequence has more tracks than the control surface, Final Cut Pro automatically assigns additional tracks to new fader banks. No additional configuration is necessary.

To switch fader banks on your control surface
  • Press the Bank Left or Bank Right button on the control surface.

    The previous or next fader bank is selected, allowing you to control a different range of tracks in the Audio Mixer.

    If you have multiple control surfaces configured, the fader bank button increases the control surface track numbering by the total number of physical faders. For example, if you have two control surfaces, each with eight faders, the first fader bank controls tracks 1-16, the second fader bank controls tracks 17-32, and so on.