Syncing a Worship Loop with ProPresenter

ProPresenter Portion of Process

The process of setting up a Worship Loop to Sync with Pro Presenter takes a bit of effort to get setup – but, once setup, the actual sync process is quite simple. This process makes the following assumptions:

  1. That you have Ableton Live already setup and working.
  2. That you have ProPresenter already setup and working.
  3. That you have already followed the setup process for “interconnecting” Ableton Live and ProPresenter.

If you need to complete any of these steps, then those should be done prior to attempting to begin this process.

First, inside ProPresenter, load a presentation (either from Song Select or manually generated – it really doesn’t make much difference). The only minor tweak to a normal presentation is to setup a track (I usually set this as the first track in the song) with a single empty slide. When you are done, you should have a ProPresenter presentation that looks a bit like this:

The next step is to assign Hot Keys to each slide in ProPresenter that you are going to trigger remotely (generally, all of them). In order to simplify matters (which will make sense a bit later), it would be best to use the following keys:

If you need additional slides, then you can also use the following hot keys (although, these will add a bit of complexity to the process):

To accomplish this, simply right-click on each slide, and click “Hot Key” in the popup menu. A small dialog box will show up giving you the ability to set a single letter for each slide. Repeat this process FOR EACH slide in the presentation (remember – don’t try and reuse the same hotkey – as you will get into trouble).

When this is accomplished, your presentation should look a bit like this:

Notice that each slide now has an orange hot key assigned to it. This is all that has to be done in Pro Presenter to setup this sync process.

Ableton Portion of Process

Next, head over to Ableton Live and get into Session view (this can also be done in Arrangement view – but it is more complex) with your loop loaded and ready to go. At Generation Church, we tend to use the Multi Track loops (usually from Multitracks.com – although there are many other locations) – so here is what a basic setup looks like when we start this process:

Next, we need to add a MIDI track to the project. To do this, select any track in your project, then right click and select “Insert MIDI Track”. When you are done, you should have an empty track like this:

Next, you need to assign an instrument to this track. To do this, click the “Show/Hide Browser” button (if needed), navigate to “Instruments” under Categories, then expand Instrument Rack, expand Piano & Keys. At this point, you should see an item called “Grand Piano.adg” – which is what we are going to be using in order to record the actual slide transitions. You should see something like this:

Next, click on “Grand Piano.adg” and drag it on to your project into the empty track that was just created. When you do so, your Ableton screen should look like this:

POWER TIP: One quick note – if you are planning to sync up LOTS of scenes – for example, like our setup where you are going to quite a few scenes in a single file – you only need to have this ONE track to work with. No need to repeat this process for each scene – just for each PROJECT.

Before proceeding any further, there are a couple of setup things that need to be checked:

  1. Make sure that the “computer keyboard” icon is selected. This is what will permit you to record “notes” using the computer keyboard. You may also want to have the Pencil selected (more on this in a few moments).
  2. Make sure that the track you just added is selected for recording.

Next, click the “play scene” button in the master track just to select all of the tracks in the scene – you can immediately stop. Now, you are ready to actually record the slide transitions.

Let’s walk through the recording process a bit before just jumping right in. Basically, you are going to click the record button next to the track you just created in the appropriate scene. When this is clicked, Ableton will being playing all of the other tracks – and is going to allow you to enter MIDI notes by way of the computer keyboard. To do this, you are just going to use the keyboard letters that correspond to the slide that you want. For example, if you have a slide that has a hotkey of “A”, you are going to press the letter A. You will just continue this process as you want the slides to transition.

If, however, you want to use the SECOND set of letters (i.e. the z,c,x, etc), then you have to hit TWO keys. First, you have to press the “Z” key (to trigger the second octave), then you would press the corresponding letter, and then press the “X” key to return to normal mode. This chart shows how these keys interact:

Desired Hotkey

Keyboard Combination

Z

Z (shift lower), A (actual new hotkey), X (shift higher)

X

Z (shift lower), S (actual new hotkey), X (shift higher)

C

Z (shift lower), D (actual new hotkey), X (shift higher)

V

Z (shift lower), F (actual new hotkey), X (shift higher)

B

Z (shift lower), G (actual new hotkey), X (shift higher)

N

Z (shift lower), H (actual new hotkey), X (shift higher)

M

Z (shift lower), J (actual new hotkey), X (shift higher)

Once the recording is complete, just click the stop key. At this point, you have recorded a MIDI track that contains your slide transitions.

Now, the last step is to actually put these MIDI notes into a track that will actually trigger ProPresenter. To do this, you are going to need to add a new track to the project and configure this track to send its MIDI output to the appropriate MIDI port. Ours looks like this:

A couple of things to see here:

  1. Make sure and turn off ALL MIDI input to these tracks. The last thing you are going to want to do is to mess these things up.
  2. Make sure and setup the output to point to the appropriate virtual MIDI port (that was in the setup process – if you may recall).

Now, head to the Grand Piano track you added, select the clip that was recorded, and right click, select “Export MIDI Clip”. Go ahead and save this clip to somewhere that Ableton can find it. Next, expand your Browser in Ableton again, and find this clip – then drag the clip into the appropriate track designed to trigger ProPresenter. One minor tweak, go ahead and select the newly added clip and make sure that “loop” is turned OFF.

After that, just mute the Grand Piano track (you certainly don’t want a bunch of junk blaring during your Worship service), and make sure that the ProPresenter track is NOT muted. Now, when you trigger your scene, this will play along with all of your other clips – and off you go.

Q&A

Q. Oh man, I made a mistake – what can I do to fix it?

A. Well, the answer to that depends on how big of a mistake you made. If you made a minor mistake, then it can be easily fixed in the Ableton MIDI editor. If you made a larger mistake (or several mistakes), then it might be easier to simply “redo” the clip (just delete it and re-record it). If you want to edit the clip, here is the process:

1. First, double click the appropriate clip in Ableton. When you do, you will see the “Piano Roll” down at the bottom of the screen. It will look a bit like this:

2. Each of the little “red dots” in the Piano roll represents a slide change. To edit, first, make sure that the Pencil icon at the top of the screen is active. Next, you can:

                a. If you want to delete an item, just put your mouse pointer over it and click – it will automatically delete the note/slide change in question.

b. If you want to ADD an item, find the appropriate point and enter the appropriate note (see the chart a bit later in this document).

3. When you are done, simply save and you are good.

Q. What if I made my slide transitions a bit early or late? Do I have to record everything over?

A. No way. This is where you can use the clip start item to your benefit. If you want to make your transitions run a bit earlier (i.e. a beat or so before the song), then simply change your start to measure “-1” with an appropriate beat. If you want to start later, then simply increase the start point.

Q. If I need to edit this (or want to use a keyboard), what keyboard key/MIDI notes map together?

A. Here is the chart:

Keyboard Key

BOME Midi Note

Ableton Midi Note

a

C4

C3

w

D4

C#3

s

E4

D3

e

F4

D#3

d

G4

E3

f

A4

F3

t

B4

F#3

g

C5

G3

y

D5

G#3

h

E5

A3

u

F5

A#3

j

G5

B3

k

A5

C4

o

B5

C#4

l

C6

D4

p

C6

D#4

z

C3

C2

x

D3

D2

c

E3

E2

v

F3

F2

b

G3

G2

n

A3

A2

m

B3

B2