Join Julian Velard for an in-depth discussion in this video The screen control types, part of Learning MainStage 3.
Before we look at the various screen controls you can design and customize your workspace with, I want to talk about what exactly the workspace is in MainStage. The core purpose of MainStage is to allow you to use your computer as a live instrument. The workspace is the custom user interface you design and build for this instrument. The workspace in many other apps, like Logic for example, is where you use tools from the toolbar and so forth, to create a finished product, a piece of audio ready for publishing.
In MainStage, you use the software to create a workspace, which becomes your pathway to use sounds, effects, loops in a live performance. I like to think of it as a separate MIDI controller directly controlling MainStage that your external hardware MIDI controller interacts with. Now I know I may be getting a little meta on you, but know that a well-designed and well-conceived workspace is key to effectively using MainStage. The screen control panel consists of five tabs, Panel Controls, Shelf Controls, Grouped Controls, All Controls and a fifth tab that may or may not be visible to you called My Group Controls, that we'll take a look at later.
You can scroll through a list of screen controls using the scroll bar on the side. Let's make the Screen Control palette a little bit bigger, just so we can take a look at what's available. There are three different base types of screen controls, panel, shelf, and grouped. Let's take a look at each one. Panel controls appear on a two-dimensional plane or panel in the workspace. You can move a panel control to any position in the workspace except onto the shelf of a Shelf control. We'll take a look at shelf controls and what they are in just a moment. While each panel control has an intended function, they can be used for a variety of things.
Let's take a quick look at all the available panel controls. Here you have a box for smart controls, which we looked at earlier. You've got MIDI activity, which is a low CPU version of a keyboard. You've got round knobs, directional knobs. You've got a vertical fader and a horizontal fader. You've got buttons and you've got drum pads. Drum pads are different to buttons because they actually can give you note information. You've also got vertical and horizontal meters, and you've got a VU meter. Here, you've got a parameter text field, which can be set to a variety of things as we'll see later.
You've also got organ draw bars which are exactly the same as faders, but just look a little bit different, like if you've got an organ MIDI controller, and you want to make your workspace look like your MIDI controller. You've got a progress indicator, you've got a wave form screen control. You have a selector, which is how you would build a patch list. You've got a basic text field, and then you've got a background, and we'll take a look at backgrounds later when we look at group controls. Let's take a closer look at shelf controls, and in order to do this I'm going to load up a new concert. There are five types of shelf controls in MainStage.
Shelf controls respond specifically to physical hardware, whereas a panel control can be mapped to anything. When you add a shelf control, it appears on a three-dimensional shelf illustrated by white lines that cover the length of the screen, so let's bring a keyboard in so you can take a look at what that looks like. Here we have a keyboard, and you can see the white lines illustrate the shelf. A shelf control itself can be made bigger when it's highlighted blue. Adjusting the white lines will only adjust the position of the shelf, so right now my keyboard is highlighted blue. I'm going to drag it and make it a little smaller, but if I go in the white lines, you'll see I have a little hand icon, and I can actually adjust the three-dimensional position of the shelf.
Only shelf controls can live on a shelf. You can also have multiple shelves within a layout. If I wanted to add a mod wheel to this shelf, I would just pick up a mod wheel right here, drag it and put it on the shelf, and you'll see if I want a sustain pedal I can put it on a separate shelf. Let's move this shelf up, let's bring a sustain in, and there it is on a separate shelf. Let's take a quick look at all the shelf controls that are available. You've got a keyboard, a mod wheel, which can also become a pitch wheel, a sustain pedal, a foot pedal for expression pedals, and then your basic on off foot switch.
I'm going to delete all the controls in the layout to give you a better understanding of how our next kind of control, group controls work. Group controls are several controls mapped together in a group, intended for quick and easy use. Group controls will typically have a blue number, which designates the amount of the particular control that's in the group. Apple, again, has anticipated your performance needs here, creating some basic group controls. These include arrays of most panel controls. You've got a group of eight directional knobs we can pull in, eight round knobs if we want, eight vertical meters. Let's get rid of these.
You've also got various size keyboards with pre mapped mod and pitch wheels. Scroll down, take a look at those. We have a 61 note keyboard, and typical foot pedal layouts with sustain and expression. Bring your keyboard pedals right here, there you go. There are also some custom group controls, like stomp boxes, amp controls, various patch displays and lists, and a custom control for the play back plugin, as well as a mixer channel strip. Let's just take a look at a few of those really quickly. You can bring in four mixer channels if you'd like. Pretty neat. Let's get rid of all these. Lastly, there's a tab here called My Group Controls, which isn't appearing right now, and we're going to talk about in the later videos, when we get to custom group controls.
Otherwise, you should have a pretty good understanding of how the screen control palette works, and the many screen controls at your disposal.
Julian begins with a quick-start guide for getting a live show ready. He covers the basic tools of the MainStage interface, including patches, channel strips, in-depth uses of the various inspector areas, MIDI mapping, and MIDI FX. He also explains how to design your own MainStage workspace—a critical piece of being comfortable on stage. Finally, he demonstrates how to use the Playback and Loopback plugins, as well as record your performances in MainStage.
- Choosing your MIDI controller and audio interface
- Configuring and optimizing preferences
- Creating concerts, sets, and patches
- A breakdown of the channel strip area and channel strip inspector
- MIDI mapping
- Customizing your MIDI interface in Layout mode
- Using markers, flex mode, and groupings in the Playback plugin
- Live looping with Loopback
- Recording your performance in MainStage