Another useful basic trick, which I like to use for a quick setup, is to along with note values also send a ‘sync’ signal as one of the envelope / control value MIDI outputs from Live that goes as a simple ramp from 0 to 1 over the course of a song. Pitch bend works particularly well for this since it is 14-bit resolution.
With regard to timecode, there are a few different options and a couple of details to keep in mind.
One thing is that ‘timecode’ as a concept usually refers to time in SMPTE clock time. When someone is performing with musical software, such as Live, time is kept track by the number of elapsed measures / beats / sub-beats; the amount of elapsed time in seconds is going to vary depending on the BPM, which itself may vary during the course of a performance.
Within VDMX the Clock plugin is used for working with measure time and the Timecode plugin is used for working with SMPTE time. The Cue List plugin is designed to work with either form of time signature.
Live supports sending MIDI clock, which can be used to set the BPM and measure time of the Clock plugin. Within the preferences for Live under MIDI, there is an option to adjust the ‘clock sync delay’ on a per MIDI device basis which may help with the latency issue, at least with regard to clock timing?
(similarly, if the musician doesn’t mind adding a few ms of latency to the sound output, there is an option in the Live preferences under Audio for adjusting the ‘driver error compensation’ that might help?)
With regard to receiving SMPTE clock, the Timecode can work with two different formats that are relevant here:
- within the MIDI specification there is MTC (MIDI Time Code), however as far as I am aware, Live can only receive MTC, not send it (as far as I am aware… someone please correct me if I am wrong).
- another popular way to send SMPTE timecode (especially as you get to more pro show production) is a format called LTC which encodes the hours:minutes:seconds:frames into an audio signal – it is a pretty neat idea. While Live doesn’t natively support sending LTC, you can generate LTC audio files (eg http://elteesee.pehrhovey.net/) and then load those into Live as an audio track; this of course requires being able to send extra audio channels from the Live machine to the VDMX machine that aren’t included in the main output, so there is a bit more setup involved here.
Here is a tutorial on timecode that might be of interest,