M-PC is a professional-grade lighting console just waiting to be unleashed on your computer!
It allows you to control any DMX lighting fixture right from your computer and it’s one of my favorites for people who are ready to drive a pro-level console.
Plus, I really like how the developers have a) left the MIDI door open and b) given a lot of options for inexpensive DMX output.
Here’s how to get up and running with M-PC:
Step 1: Download The Software and Learn
It probably seems obvious, but I’m going to say it anyways! – Downloading the software and getting it installed is the first step.
You can download the latest version of the software here, which runs on Windows: http://controllersupport.elationlighting.com
Before you install, make sure your computer is fully updated with all security updates!
Once you’ve gotten that taken care of, it’s time to begin learning. Here is a series of videos I created (and I few I didn’t) to teach you how to program M-PC from the ground up.
Even if you’re used to professional-grade lighting consoles, I’d still suggest checking out the tutorials!
While M-PC is fairly intuitive, it also is different and unique from other consoles – and like anything, it will take some work to learn.
Step 2: Get DMX Output and a Control Surface
Get DMX Output
Getting DMX out of M-PC is one area where the software is quite generous.
First things first, you can get 1 Universe of “free” output with an Enttec interface or clone – you don’t have a pay a dime to Elation to unlock your software. You can also get up to (4) total universes using various M-Series USB devices, such as M-DMX, M-Touch, M-Play, and M2PC.
Note: 3rd Party, “Enttec Compatible” interfaces are great, but sometimes output less-than-smooth DMX out of M-PC. Real Enttec interfaces are recognized by M-PC and give you smooth DMX. Don’t have an interface yet? The M-DMX is the most cost-efficient interface available.
M-PC also offers you 4 x FREE Universes via ArtNet or sACN, which you can get converted to DMX via a node. (Here’s my guide on Art-Net and sACN nodes)
Need more than 4 universes? There are a variety of ways to make that work, and you can check them out via this handy chart on Elation’s website!
Get a Control Surface
When it comes to getting faders, buttons, and knobs to control your lighting, you’ve got 2 options:
Option 1: Buy M-PC/M-Series hardware and get universes included.
The M-Touch is a really cool USB-controller with 1 universe output that gives you both a powerful programmer section and playback faders and buttons. I do a full review on the M-Touch here!
The M-Play is based on the same technology as the M-Touch, and features 12 faders and 48 playback buttons. Yes, 48 buttons to program whatever you heart desires! (And my heart loves playback buttons!)
On the more expensive end, you can get the M2PC, which gives you 2 universes of DMX output and is expandable to 64 universes. It’s got the look and feel of a traditional lighting console, all in a compact size!
Option 2: Use MIDI controllers for a custom setup and buy output via M-DMX boxes/Ether2DMX8/One-Key (see above).
Configuring MIDI controllers to work with lighting consoles can be a little bit of a headache.
However, when it comes to M-PC, a great app called “MPCTools” saves the day, and keeps your head clear!
MPCTools is a project by Portuguese engineer Ricardo Dias that allows easily MIDI map various USB-MIDI controllers into M-PC.
Though many controllers aren’t too much cheaper than the M-Touch and M-Play, it still provides a great way to make something custom for yourself.
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