Yulik Yagudin is the Chief Audio Engineer at CineLab SoundMix, which is a large audio post-production facility in Moscow, Russia and he contacted us wanting to share a different way to control the Dolby Atmos Panner plug-in. Over to you Yulik...
Development of immersive sound formats in movies still poses a demand for new creative tools for audio post-production, with Dolby Atmos, being the most advanced innovation in film audio, a good example. Although Avid has developed a controller, and still developing DAW environment for Atmos content creation, there remains a lack of suitable 3D panning controllers.
The solution I'd like to share was inspired by Fairlight, implementing Leap Motion sensor into their mixing console. I first saw it at the IBC 2015 show in Amsterdam, it impressed me quite a lot. Later, I realised that the sensor itself is very affordable, at around $80-90 and decided it would really be worth experimenting with it in Pro Tools. Unfortunately, at that time the MIDI implementation of Dolby Atmos Panner was tailored just for JLCooper joystick and it took some time as well as conversations with Dolby team (who helped me a lot) to bring a working solution to life.
The last version of Dolby Atmos Panner plug-in now accepts generic MIDI CC (Continuous Controllers) commands to control 3 axes of movement as well as size (divergence) parameters. What is needed is to be able to translate Leap Motion sensor data into MIDI. This can be accomplished with the help of GECO software, which is now available as freeware. Certain adjustment and setup of GECO is required to obtain necessary functionality. To help get you going you can download my GECO setup file, which can be further adjusted to achieve the desired behaviour.
All you need to do is:
- Install Leap Motion drivers on your Pro Tools machine,
- Connect Leap Motion sensor to available USB port,
- Install GECO,
- Load setup file into GECO,
- In Dolby Atmos Panner plugin click on setup button and select GECO virtual MIDI port as joystick input. You can leave second field blank, as we do not expect any feedback from plug-in
- Select automation data to be written and set track automation to touch or touch/latch mode.
Then you should be ready to go. Note that panner window must be active to write automation. In the suggested configuration you can initiate touch by simply closing your hand while it's in the sensor's visibility. Unfortunately, there's no way to easily exit Touch mode other than stopping playback - it's a limitation of generic MIDI control of plug-in.
You would probably need to adjust sensor area limits in GECO to achieve the desired sensitivity and proper response.
Due to a fact that the sensor is very sensitive to USB connection speed, there's a problem if the host computer is located remotely in a machine room. The only way round, in this case, is using a separate computer (say Mac Mini) running Leap Motion and GECO at your workspace and connecting it to Pro Tools machine via network MIDI driver. A short video demonstrates this kind of setup showing GECO screen on MacBook Pro, serving as transmission machine and Pro Tools DAW with Atmos Panner, receiving and recording automation data.
Will It Work With The Integrated Pro Tools Dolby Atmos Panner In Pro Tools?
Anticipating the obvious question as to whether this setup will work with the integrated Atmos panner in Pro Tools 12.8.x, the answer is unfortunately no. While all functionality of panner plug-in was inherited by integrated panner, controlling the latter via generic MIDI CCs is not currently possible, unless Avid adds a new MIDI personality to Pro Tools to allow this.
I'd like to express my appreciation to David Gould and Tom Kodros from Dolby for their kind help and inspiration in making this happen.
I hope this idea will be useful and any input is very welcome and appreciated.