The insanely difficult process of getting a MIDI controller to work with Lightroom


posted Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 12:44 PM EST


The appeal of attaching a MIDI controller to your computer and using it to play with Lightroom is obvious and rather wonderful. With so many of Lightroom's settings being controlled by sliders, a real world analogue slider would let you quickly change settings with a tactile interface. But unfortunately, it turns out that getting your computer — especially a Mac — to do it is much harder than you would think.

Over at FStoppers, Chris Knight has been attempting to use a MIDI controller with Lightroom 5 on his Mac. And while he's got it working, it's a massive kludge, but an extremely interesting one. See, while Windows users have a nifty application called Paddy (though it has problems of its own with Lightroom 5), the closest thing on the Mac is called Knobroom, and it's still only in beta. That means bugs, poor documentation, and hardware weirdness.

Knight had to install the software, and manually remap the MIDI inputs. The plugin has to be manually turned on each time either Lightroom, there's an error, a setting is changed, or the controller is powered down. Then the controller itself has to be set up in a very specific way to make it communicate properly with the computer, with the sliders all at specific points.

If you've ever spent hours fiddling with your computer and swearing at the screen while frantically googling for what's broken, you'll know exactly what that feels like.

By all accounts, it sounds like a mammoth pain to make work, and one that only functions when done precisely right. But it's still wonderful, and we applaud Chris Knight for making it happen. But until someone makes Knobroom work much, much better, we're probably going to stick with keyboard shortcuts.