Why are there no 'MIDI' LFOs in Live ?!?

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Robert Henke
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Why are there no 'MIDI' LFOs in Live ?!?

Post by Robert Henke » Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:36 pm

...this is a long story. I try to make it short.

First of all, we (Ableton) would want to have modulation devices like LFOs in Live too. So, why the are we not doing it ????

The reason is a technical reason that leads to a conceptual problem, and we need to
solve the conceptual problem, which is very tricky, first. Then we can address the
technical problem, which is a huge effort. It's basically rewriting an important part of the engine.

So, you want to ask what is the problem? The problem is the ambiguity between
automation data, which is e.g. the parameter changes you can record in the arranger, and modulation data, which is the clip envelopes.


In the current internal data structure, each parameter can be controlled by exactly
one automation and one modulation. The automation is always directly the
movement of a 'knob' in the pannel, and this movement can be created by a
moving a knob with the mouse, or by an automation curve in the arranger, or by a
midi mapping, or by a macro control. The modulation which currently only can be
provided by a clip envelope belongs to that parameter and is independent from the
automation. The point where these things come together is the parameter itself.

When we invented the clip envelopes for Live 3 this structure seemed to be a good
concept, since the user does not need to do anything but drawing a clip envelope,
and he/she still can change the parameter that is modulated and there is no further understanding needed.

A better system from a todays perspective would allow any parameter to be
controlled in a relative or absolute fashion by many sources, and therefore allow for things like:

-automation of parameters within a clip, and not just modulation.
( -> automation recording not just of MIDI CCs but all parameters from within a clip )
-more then one modulation source per parameter ( -> LFOs !!! )
-control of a single parameter from various sources with variable curves. ( e.g. macro controls )

This sounds all very exciting, and would improve Live dramatically. However, it
would be the one single most complex re-design of the software since version 1.0.

It would change not only the way the engine handles automation data, but would
also require new interface strategies. It raises questions like: Is there automation
in the clip or in the arrangement or both? If so, which one wins if you move/delete
things? How to visualize multiple modulations? Can an LFO be modulated by itself?
What happens at overdub, ... and many more little things that can drive you nuts
if you sit in front of a whiteboard and try to solve them...

We planned to address the automation story for Live 7 but we had to realize that it
would be too risky at that time, and there were too many open questions. We are
still continue thinking about it, because it is obviously very very desirable.
However, it might turn out that the changes would be so drastic that it would be
impossible to open older documents in that new version and things like that.
Things we simply cannot do anymore, too many users rely on us.*

We could find a it-somehow-works solution for the LFO idea. But it would be a
dirty hack, and would make it even harder to finally come up with a better solution
for all the above mentioned wishes.

So, at the current state of affairs, it is not too likely that the LFOs will come soon.

Now you can hang the messenger,
Cheers, Robert.


*as a side note, this happens to a lot of companies: Mac OS 9 had to die because
there was no way to maintain and improve it anymore. Protools has this huge
legacy of the TDM hardware, that makes it hard to re-write the audio engine
without making customers who payed a gozillion for their old systems totally
mad...

Lo-Fi Massahkah
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Post by Lo-Fi Massahkah » Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:43 pm

Ah. We love it when you get technical. :D

Or is it just me?

Seriously, I love that you come on here and actually explain things. In an honest and straight forward way.

Cheers,
.m

roach808
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Post by roach808 » Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:45 pm

Best thing I've read all day, *cheers*

8)
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lola
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Post by lola » Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:48 pm

Lo-Fi Massahkah wrote:Ah. We love it when you get technical. :D

Or is it just me?

Seriously, I love that you come on here and actually explain things. In an honest and straight forward way.

Cheers,
.m
+1
Love this company!

Too bad it can be implemented soonish.... but hell..it's not like the most necessary thing
Last edited by lola on Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Tone Deft
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Post by Tone Deft » Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:50 pm

wow, the brutal honesty, thanks!

OK, all you office workers, steal dry erase markers and whiteboards from work and send them to over to Henke and company.

now, about that Cycling 74 announcement... :?
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glitchrock-buddha
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Post by glitchrock-buddha » Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:55 pm

Well that's fine. I mean, won't this cycling74 thing allow for tight integration between the live instrument and custom effects, meaning LFO's wherever we want them?....right?......

right?......
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Lo-Fi Massahkah
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Post by Lo-Fi Massahkah » Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:57 pm

Tone Deft wrote:now, about that Cycling 74 announcement... :?
Uhu...!? On that note...

Jazzmutant are promising clip names on the Lemur from v2 (that'll go into beta in about a week). In my mind, that would only (?) work with OSC support from Live - so maybe something is happening on that front in Live 8.

.m

ethios4
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Post by ethios4 » Tue Sep 30, 2008 7:17 pm

Thanks so much for taking the time to explain things to us....a huge step in the right direction. Now you'll have even more heads working on this problem! This conceptual barrier has come up before in the discussion of the relationship between session and arrange, so it seems to be holding back more than just a single feature implementation. As a customer, I would rather wait longer for a new version or pay more, than for Ableton to not address this barrier in the near future. I loved the feeling I had in Live 3, that anything was possible and the only limit was my imagination...the feeling that Live could do far more than it was even intended to do. I want to have that feeling again, and for me that would mean being able to route anything to anything else, record anything I want, and feed it all back into itself.

That being said, I would be pretty happy if there was a just a MIDI device that sent out CC data according to an LFO that I could then route back into Live using MIDI-yoke. Not ideal, but it would sure help me pull off some things I've been wanting to do.

nowtime
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Post by nowtime » Tue Sep 30, 2008 7:30 pm

@Robert

Am I hearing you say that there will probably never be automation recording in clips because the engine overhaul would most likely make all old sets non-functional? :(
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Angstrom
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Post by Angstrom » Tue Sep 30, 2008 7:37 pm

nowtime wrote:@Robert

Am I hearing you say that there will probably never be automation recording in clips because the engine overhaul would most likely make all old sets non-functional? :(
nah, I don't think that's what he said at all.
Robert Henke wrote: We planned to address the automation story for Live 7 but we had to realize that it
would be too risky at that time, and there were too many open questions. We are still continue thinking about it, because it is obviously very very desirable.
However, it might turn out that the changes would be so drastic that it would be
impossible to open older documents in that new version and things like that.
notice the underlined and bold segments.
He's saying it's very tricky and that's why it takes time, they must dodge some very nasty obstacles, that means trying a few different plans and seeing what is best. It may be that it needs a "year zero", but that would be the worst case scenario, it may be that one of their alternative plans may bear fruit.

Hats off to Robert for telling us what's going on. :)

hoffman2k
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Post by hoffman2k » Tue Sep 30, 2008 7:40 pm

Lo-Fi Massahkah wrote:
Tone Deft wrote:now, about that Cycling 74 announcement... :?
Uhu...!? On that note...

Jazzmutant are promising clip names on the Lemur from v2 (that'll go into beta in about a week). In my mind, that would only (?) work with OSC support from Live - so maybe something is happening on that front in Live 8.

.m

:lol:

Nah, they just hacked one of the API projects or did one themselves.
Its possible to get clip names right now over OSC or Sysex...
What isn't possible is displaying more then 8 pieces of dynamic text on a lemur V1.6.

hacktheplanet
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Post by hacktheplanet » Tue Sep 30, 2008 8:01 pm

Thanks for the post. It was interesting.

I love reading these nerdy development posts from you Abletons. Feel free to post these as often as you can!
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Lo-Fi Massahkah
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Post by Lo-Fi Massahkah » Tue Sep 30, 2008 8:04 pm

hoffman2k wrote: :lol:

Nah, they just hacked one of the API projects or did one themselves.
Its possible to get clip names right now over OSC or Sysex...
What isn't possible is displaying more then 8 pieces of dynamic text on a lemur V1.6.
So much for hoping. :? :wink:

.m

Machinesworking
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Post by Machinesworking » Tue Sep 30, 2008 8:23 pm

I might be reading too much into this, but it seems like the re-write it if ever happens would also solve the 128 parameter limit? If so, I personally vote for a TDM/OS9 slash and burn style rewrite! (as Angstrom pointed out IF it's necessary)

It's not like you guys have ever made it impossible to use older versions on the same computer, hell even at the same time.

glitchrock-buddha
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Post by glitchrock-buddha » Tue Sep 30, 2008 8:43 pm

Machinesworking wrote:I might be reading too much into this, but it seems like the re-write it if ever happens would also solve the 128 parameter limit? If so, I personally vote for a TDM/OS9 slash and burn style rewrite! (as Angstrom pointed out IF it's necessary)

It's not like you guys have ever made it impossible to use older versions on the same computer, hell even at the same time.
It also sounds like it would solve recording clip envelopes.
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