Lumen Video Synthesis on the Mac

We should have a space to speak about Lumen and how it might interface with our hardware world.


Hey @catbiscuits! I actually use Lumen all the time with my LZX system and other analog gear, and find that the two worlds are really complimentary!

Here’s what I use to get Lumen & Hardware playing nicely with each other:

Lumen to Hardware:

This is the direction I go most often, because I really love the look of Lumen run through LZX feedback patches or analog glitch stuff like the BPMC Fluxus Duo.

  • Most of the time I will just use a cheap HDMI->RCA adapter to send Lumen’s signal out to composite video. One problem with this option is that if you’re looking to use Lumen & LZX together, and the Visual Cortex is the only input on your system, then you are just getting a black & white signal into LZX, since that’s how the Cortex ingests composite video. It works in full color with the old LZX Color TBC and I’m assuming the forthcoming TBC2 module as well. Also the signal is not the highest quality, which is to be expected with a $10 adapter, but it’s a great option that I still use all the time. Plus, sometimes the low-quality signal is a totally charming??
  • The next step up, which allows you to get a color signal out to LZX with the Visual Cortex, is something like this HDMI->YPbPr adapter. I use one that was about the same price as the one linked ($30) when I bought it, but seems to be discontinued. Like the other cheap adapter, it also has some signal quality issues. Still though, by using a component signal with the Visual Cortex, you can use Lumen’s Red, Green, and Blue oscillators as three independent oscillators in your LZX system at a really low price, which is awesome!
  • These days I will often use the Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle (in the setup described in the next section) to get Lumen’s output into the analog world, just because the video quality is noticeably better than the much more affordable options above. However, I will still reach for one of those other options if I’m recording video on my computer using the Blackmagic, since you can’t use it for output and input at the same time, as far as I can tell.
  • Finally, one old-school option that I love is pointing an analog video camera at a separate monitor that’s got Lumen’s output displayed full-screen on it.

Hardware to Lumen:

  • I mostly use the Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle with the free Black Syphon utility to get analog video into Lumen. Lumen cannot directly use a Blackmagic device video signal, but the Black Syphon utility creates a Syphon stream for the Blackmagic device, so Lumen can use it without problems. I should note that in general, the Blackmagic is really picky about the video signal it gets for input, and I had to spend quite some time fiddling with the settings to get it all working, but now I use it all the time without problems.
  • Sometimes I’ll also point a USB webcam at a TV with the LZX output on it, and use the webcam input with Lumen, for a different look.
  • I’ve seen some really cool demos from people using the Doepfer A-192-1 CV-to-MIDI Interface to use audio-rate eurorack signals to control Lumen’s UI via MIDI Mapping.

I hope that helps. I would love to hear if anyone has anything else they use to interface between Lumen and hardware!


I had to give up Lumen when I moved to Windows. It was the right decision, but I really miss Lumen. It’s a great tool and a pretty fantastic onramp to video synth…their manual is great.

Not to derail, but if anyone is in a similar situation, missing Lumen after moving off of Mac - Hydra builds on the ideas in Lumen but goes in a different direction.

Ultimately I jumped into Vidiot to make up for losing Lumen.

Cool! Thanks for all the info. I actually own Lumen now so I’m getting started with it. Also decided what the heck, another good recommendation for the Fluxus Duo, so I ordered one. Hoping it has enough CV for me.

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Love the CV to MIDI combo for modulating Lumen!

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I use a crappy hdmi-> composite converter to go from lumen into vc only seems to want to sync on 480i not 576i which is ok as the tv I use a 10 yr old Sony flatscreen - crts here (nl) on the other hand will mainly only handle 576

I use a Logitech webcam to feedback into lumen from time to time with varying results

I have an a192-1 which I use sometimes… it’s a bit of a pain to use to be honest, because unlike with a controller you usually have multiple cvs going in all generating continuous streams into midi which means that when you open the midi mapping in lumen you get the automatic midi mapping constantly switching channels

But it does work pretty well once you have it working

I’m currently rearranging a few things so it’s not properly set up … But i’m considering sensory translator -> attenuators -> a192-1 as then there’s a bit more control - without having to open midi in lumen as well as patching in a befaco joystick to the

@jgrlicky - can we please have global midi mapping off and be able to edit and save midi mappings easily globally would be ok but with the patch would be better

I always capture with an iPhone from a 40” flat screen tv (composite from vc)

I thought processing video from lumen was the direction I would mostly take with my lzx modules… as before I got it I generally had a processing3/praxis_live/lumen feedback workflow butI find in reality I mostly don’t plug the laptop in… may have to fix this soon though

I think some of this has to do with the midi in lumen

Check my Instagram for results - when I use lumen I always #lumenapp - user name is jimhowell1970

@Agawell - Great to hear about your setup, thanks for sharing! And I love the textures in your work on your Instagram. :clap:

This month, I ended up rewriting all of Lumen’s MIDI code to be way more performant, and cross-platform to boot - Windows here we come :grin:. That rewrite isn’t released yet, but global-midi-mapping-off is one of the things that I was thinking of adding in with that update. Thanks for letting me know it’s important to you!

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Thanks Jason

It’s great when you get direct contact with the people who make the tools you use and they actually see and like what you do with them

and seeing that you actively take feedback is also much appreciated!

midi mapping on/off would be a game changer for anyone who uses a cv/midi converter (where you can end up with continuous streams of cc messages so anytime you want to go and edit the min/max values you need to try to remember which cv was mapped to reset it) as opposed to a controller (where it’s really easy to just use one knob/button at a time)

another brilliant thing would be the ability to edit the midi-mappings (json files?) especially if hot swappable (even if it needed midi-mappings on off or something to read the new settings file) and even if just an advanced (undocumented) thing - or automatically (adjustable timer??)

I might even teach myself how to live program json file editing from praxis_live if you put this in or program a midi-cc to change the settings - like a preset shifter

would be especially great for longer audio-visual performances