Ableton Live and Synced Video for Concert
July 18, 2012 3:55 PM   Subscribe

The band uses Ableton Live for backing tracks (drummer uses a click track - metronome). From the arrangement view (Live's VSTs are used also) is there a way to place video in a track and have it stream from a Macbook while the audio streams to a soundcard? If not, what is the easiest way to play videos in sync with the backing tracks?

Using one Macbook is preferable.

What will I need to display the video hardware wise?
posted by M83 to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
you could try Resolume
posted by 3mendo at 6:10 PM on July 18, 2012

You absolutely can.

If you've got a sound card attached to the Macbook, the easiest solution is to use a sound card with multiple outputs, and route the audio to different outputs than the click track's coming from.

If you don't have any spare outputs, you'll need to use the headphone out from the Macbook. This will require you to make an aggregate audio device. This just uses software to pretend that multiple audio devices are one, which lets you trick software into sending audio out of any output you want. The one exception is that you can't have audio coming out of the headphone jack and out of the speakers at the same time, because the hardware simply doesn't allow it.
  1. Open up Audio MIDI Setup. You'll find it in Applications/Utilities.
  2. You should see the sound card and the Built-in Output in the top left pane. Click on the little plus symbol at the bottom left, and choose Create Aggregate Device
  3. In the right hand pane you can now tick the various inputs and outputs you want to include in your aggregate device. You'll probably want to tick the Built-in Output and the sound card in question. You may also want to include some inputs depending on your needs. Note that you can also set the clock source at the top if you need to.
  4. I'd also change the name of your Aggregate Device so that it's easy to find later. To do that, double click on it's name in the left hand bar.
  5. Now go into Live. Open up Preferences and choose the Aggregate Device under Audio Output Device. Click on Output config and make sure all the relevant outs are switched on.
  6. Now you should be able to route the click track to the sound card outs and the video to your Macbook's built in outputs. Enjoy!
To display the video: depending on the Macbook in question, you'll likely need an adaptor from either a Mini Displayport, Mini DVI, or Micro DVI going to VGA or DVI, depending on the monitor/projector in question. If it's a TV, you might need to connect to an HDMI port. You can buy the right adapter from Apple or from somewhere like
posted by Magnakai at 6:24 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you Magnaki- any idea what type of projector specs I should be looking for projecting vieo either over or behind the band at a small venue?

Projector Max Resolution: ?
Projector Aspect Ratio: ?
Lamp Brightness: ?

For now, Magnakai's steps (once I go through them and I do them correctly so they work) are what I am looking to do before moving to using a separate piece of software.

Resolume is a possibility in the future. Resolume looks fantastic, but will require two laptops according to the company.
posted by M83 at 8:04 PM on July 18, 2012

Sorry, I can't help with any authority - I never really handled that side of things. For what it's worth, I remember getting perfectly good images from pretty unassuming models. I would be surprised if they were particularly expensive.

You're going to have to decide what the max resolution should be - you'll have to eschew the cheapest models to show images in HD. Again, the aspect ratio will be to your taste and to suit your video. The necessary brightness will be affected by how dark the venue will be. If it's a normal show in a reasonably dark room, I imagine you won't have too many issues. Mounting it may be the biggest problem. While I've never used one, there are such things as short-throw projectors, which let you place it very near the screen. I think you really need to examine your situation and come up with a list of requirements that the projector has to meet.
posted by Magnakai at 2:04 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ok - just got back from the Apple Store after two trips - having a 2008 Macbookneeded a mini-DVI to DVI adapter to DVI to HDMI - I am going to try this on my TV first.

Oh, how I dread doing this kind of thing the first time. The learning curve of steepness.
posted by M83 at 12:39 PM on July 20, 2012

Response by poster: I am unable to route the video to the macbook's built in outputs.
posted by M83 at 1:54 PM on July 20, 2012

There are two things you have to arrange with video - the sound and the picture.

Let's cover the sound first. I'll assume you've followed all the previous steps. I'm also referring to Live 8 here.
  1. When you're in Live, in the Arrangement view, you'll see four tiny little circles under the right hand scroll bar. Make sure the top one, I/O, is switched on. Flick it on and off to see which panel is the I/O one.
  2. In the IO panel, switch the audio out from Master to Ext Out. You can then choose exactly which output to send the sound from.
Right, so now the sound should be coming out of the Macbook's built it outputs.

The video is somewhat simpler. I've never done it to a TV via two adapters, but the principle should be similar. Once you attach the TV to your Macbook, both screens should flash and you should see an extended desktop on the TV.
  1. First of all, you'll probably want to go to System Preferences -> Displays. A menu should appear on both screens which will let you choose the right resolution independently.
  2. Now, open up Live and get the video on screen. The video should be in a popup window. Just drag and drop this over onto the second screen.
Viola! It's not perfect - the video disappears if Live loses focus, and it's a bit of a performance hog. An ideal setup would use something like Modul8 synced to Live, but this should suffice for a limited budget.
posted by Magnakai at 2:28 PM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: 1.Always on.

2 Yes. Very clear on this. I actually use a break out box to send insturment groups to the mixer to give the sound guy an easier time. That is a check.
Um, no the sound is coming out of each track via the Saffire.

Maybe I wasn't clear - I DO NOT need the sound from the video.

Ok - so sound is no issue. I am all set. Well, maybe not - now I have sound coming out both my internal and external speakers. I am sorry, but I need to shut off the internal speakers.

Onto video -
1. Ok, got it.
2. I see. (Also use manual to help if needed.)

It works. It could add a little extra time to setting up backing tracks - but it works.

I think my question was confusing. I only needed the video part.

Ok. This works - very easily - which has me looking at RESOLUME now. : )

Thanks again Magnaki.
posted by M83 at 2:58 PM on July 20, 2012

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