Controlling multiple parameters simultaneously with widget groups

Controlling multiple parameters simultaneously with widget groups

A lot of people asked about controlling multiple plugin parameters from a single knob or slider and wondered why we didn’t have such a facility in our very first release of Gig Performer.

Apart from the obvious reason that if we waited until we had everything everyone wanted in our audio plugin host, it would never get released, the more important reason is because we were never happy with the way multiple parameter support has been done in other audio plugin hosts. We also had what we felt would be a better approach. However, we had to wait for some other functionality to be implemented first.

We’ve known from the beginning that the ability to control multiple parameters simultaneously would be very important. But we’ve never really liked the way other audio software implements that concept. The typical approach, used by many audio plugins and some audio plugin hosts, is to “attach” multiple parameters to a knob, with circular scales around it, each representing a particular parameter. The approach doesn’t scale (no pun intended) so you can typically only associate two or three parameters with the knob.

Further, it’s very hard to know which parameters are actually attached because there’s generally no room to display that information. This approach is the only way possible in systems that have a limited number of knobs. For example, you often have just four or eight knobs available to use as “macros” in this fashion.

The other approach, is to keep a separate list of mappings from a single knob to parameters, along with the desired scaling. This works and you can have as many mappings as you wish but you still can’t “see” what’s happening when you’re actually performing live.

We decided we could build a more intuitive system for controlling multiple plugin parameters and we based our design around the concept of fader groups. Anyone who has used a sophisticated audio mixing system knows that you can take a group of faders and associate them with a master fader. A typical example is to have a group of faders to control different parts of a drum kit, typically called a subgroup and then have a master fader to adjust the overall volume by moving all the faders in the subgroup.

So in Gig Performer, we introduced widget groups. Widgets can belong to a named group; there is no master/slave relationship among widgets in a group but if you have 4 (say) knobs in a group and you turn any knob, the other three knobs will move in sync.

Therefore, if you want to control four separate plugin parameters together, all you have to do is associate a knob with each desired parameter and then put those knobs in the same group. Then just associate one of those widgets with a slider or knob on your MIDI controller and you have instant real-time control of multiple parameters from a single source.

Here’s a picture showing two sets of widget groups. (Detailed video below)

Picture showing two sets of widget groups, Gig Performer

This approach really scales nicely in Gig Performer because there’s no real limit on the number of widgets you can have. If you want to control 20 parameters with one knob, throw 20 knobs into a new panel, associate each of them with a parameter, add desired scaling, then create a “master” knob your main panel (if you use that approach) to control them all. Do it again for another group of plugin parameters.

Try doing that with other audio plugin hosts where you have to drop your plugin parameters on a single knob to control them.

Widget grouping is available in Gig Performer 1.5.0 and above.


Related topics:
How to add a widget to a widget group? (User Manual)
Larry the “O” talks Gig Performer Widgets (Youtube)
How to control multiple parameters with a single widget (GPScript)

Scaling Curves

Scaling curves allow you to control the shape of the output of a widget or convert an incoming note velocity to a new velocity. Various predefined curves are available and they can be tweaked as necessary. You can also just draw your own curve as well to achieve the effect you require.


MIDI File Player Plugin

You can load up to 128 MIDI song files in a single plugin instance. Switch from one song to another, mute tracks and/or change their channel numbers. Tempo can be controlled by individual songs or you can use the global tempo and tap tempo to control the BPM interactively.


Favorites and Presets

Create a sound by placing and interconnecting your desired plugins, such as a synth, some effects and perhaps a mixer. Select them all and then save the selection as a named favorite. The favorite will subsequently show up in all plugin insert menus, making it easy for you to recreate that configuration whenever you need it again. This feature is also very powerful for creating your needed sounds on your studio computer and then transferring them to your touring laptop.


Probabilistic Sound Designer

Parameters you select in an open plugin are captured into the Probabilistic Sound Designer dialog window. When you click Randomize, you're only adjusting those selected parameters. Each entry in the PSD dialog has a curve but unlike widgets where the curve controls scaling, in the PSD the curves are used to define the probability of particular values being selected. Make sure the filter cutoff never gets too slow so as to block all sound. Perhaps adjust the max range of the VCA attack parameter so that the sound doesn't have too much delay. Constrain the octave ranges of the oscillators, perhaps ensuring that 1/3rd of the time we select 8' and 2/3rds of the time we select 4'. The possibilities are endless.


More Widgets

Numerous new widgets are included in Gig Performer - a new sustain pedal, plastic knobs, drum pads and more colored sliders. Shapes can be colored with different borders and fill colors and morphed from rectangular to circular. Your creativity is now the limit to creating fabulous front panels in Gig Performer.


MIDI Message Helper

Select MIDI devices by name. Choose the MIDI message type and adjust the appropriate parameters for the specific type



Layout management

Gig Performer supports arbitrary resizing. Layout your widgets the way you want - resize the main window and the widgets will grow or shrink as necessary to maintain the same interrelationships. No matter what size screen you have, your front panels will still be neat and usable.


Undo Support

If you move your widgets around and/or resize them, or even delete them by mistake, the Undo facility will correct your mistake. Minor moves to a widget by mistake will no longer spoil your design


Plugin Channel Count

Some plugins support a large number of outputs and they depend on the traditional channel strip to control how many ports should be available.   When you only need a stereo pair, it is convenient not to have a large horizontal block. In Gig Performer, the number of available ports  is controlled by the channel count override, which can be applied to individual plugins and will be remembered when the gigfile is reloaded or if the plugin is saved as a favorite.


Input muting and output fading

Rather than a single audio length tail, Gig Performer 4 gives you the ability to control input muting and output fading separately. Input muting controls how much time it takes for audio input to be silenced when you leave the rackspace. Output fading controls how much time will be taken for audio to fade out when you leave the rackspace.


Faster Plugin Finder

Instead of searching through menus of perhaps hundreds of plugins (you know who you are!), the Quick Plugin Finder makes it easy to find the plugin you need by simply typing partial strings. For example, as shown here, to find the Modartt Pianoteq 7 plugins, it's enough to type pia mod 7 (in any order, by the way)  to restrict the list of available plugins to those matching your query. The Quick Plugin Finder also knows about manufacturers, presets and favorites.



Touch Friendly Input

Any entry field can be changed by either dragging your mouse (or finger) up or down, or by using the large popup touchpad where you can just tap on the squares to enter a value. The large popup keypad also does validation so you can't enter an invalid value. You can also just tap the BPM field to pop up a larger view where you can quickly change tempo, tranpose, trigger Tap Tempo and enable Ableton Link, the last allowing you to synchronize Gig Performer with any other application that also supports Ableton Link.


New Tuner Display

The tuner view makes it easy for guitarists to quickly check and adjust their tuning. You can toggle into the tuner view from any other view and toggle right back as soon as you're done. All output will be silenced automatically while you're in tuning mode. You can adjust the concert reference pitch from its default of 440 Hz to suit your own needs. The tuner view fills the entire screen so you can easily see it from a distance.