MIDI Device Panel Objects - Custom Bitmaps

In building a custom MIDI device panel, Cubase provides a common set of objects that one can drag and drop into an edit panel. Consider, for example, a ‘Knob’ object. Cubase offers a variety of visual designs, but they are visually bland. I noticed one can drag a Cubase-provided knob into an edit panel, right-click it and select “Import Bitmap…”. Can Cubase import animated GIFs? When I import an animated GIF into cubase, it draws all of its frames and offsets them away from the targeted Cubase knob, rather than allowing me to substitute the animated GIF for the Cubase visualization.

Here is a screen shot:

I dragged a Cubase knob onto the edit panel, renamed it ‘Test Knob’, gave it a continuous controller assignment, and attempted to import an animated GIF. The screen shot shows a portion of the animated GIF’s component frames offset at the top-left relative to the Cubase ‘Test Knob’ image.

Maybe I am missing something obvious?

Thanks for your feedback.

Midi device panels is a rather old and has become a rather buggy application to work with, but can still be useful in some areas. It can still be very useful for external gear. I’m not sure how you got to this screen where you dragged a knob? But with panels you can control the ‘midi’ instrument that’s associated to the external instrument/effect it was created for.

Unfortunately you don’t mention what device you want to control and how? The receiving instrument needs to be able to respond to what you have set to control? You can drag a knob and set it to send CC32 but if the receiving device isn’t configured on what to do with CC32 input nothing will happen.

It can still be very useful for external gear.
Yes, that is my intent. I have some external hardware synths and effects units, all of which are MIDI-enabled. For quite some time, I was shopping around for a universal MIDI librarian/editor, but the one well-known product had tenuous reviews. I remain hesitant in purchasing it. My second option was to buy individual librarians/editors for each hardware unit. Unfortunately, while I own some very popular hardware synths of yore, you just cannot find support and products in this specialized area.

Enter Cubase. I was thrilled to read about its MIDI Device Panel. It provides an opportunity to work within one application (i.e., Cubase) to meet my needs, and this is a big plus for streamlining my workflow. It seems to solve the ‘editor’ part of the equation. All I need to do is map MIDI Device Panel GUI objects to each device’s specific MIDI implementation. Since I have the original manuals for the external hardware, I have the information that I need to effect proper mappings. Secondly, if acquiring a MIDI editor application for an external hardware synth is difficult, it is practically impossible to acquire one for a hardware MIDI-enabled effects unit. For example, I have a TC Electronics D-Two, a MIDI-enable digital delay device. Its user manual, too, provides a MIDI implementation chart, but good luck locating a D-Two MIDI librarian/editor application.

With respect to a MIDI librarian functionality, although I have not tried this yet, it looks like I will be able use Cubase to send/receive MIDI SysEx data to/from my external gear. In this way, I can use Cubase as a basic MIDI librarian. With some thoughtful file management, I can organize my MIDI-enabled external gear’s ‘patch’ and ‘bank’ files and create patch libraries for them over time.

Unfortunately you don’t mention what device you want to control and how?
At this stage of the game, I am not focused on actual devices and their mappings. Instead, I am interested in the front-end GUI.

I’m not sure how you got to this screen where you dragged a knob?
If by ‘screen’ you mean the image of horizontally-aligned custom knobs located at the top-left relative to the Cubase ‘Test Knob’ knob, Cubase places the image there by default after right-clicking on ‘Test Knob’ and selecting the ‘Import Bitmap…’ context-sensitive menu item.

By the way, after I dragged a Cubase ‘Knob’ object onto a Cubase ‘Panel’, I must have selected the ‘Backgrounds’ dropdown menu in the objects selection area, which is why you see ‘Backgrounds’ and not ‘Knobs’ in the objects area at the right.

I assume ‘Import Bitmap…’ is available for every Cubase object and not just for a Cubase ‘Panel’ object.

Here’s the manual for Device Panels:

Sorry but I don’t think it’s possible to use custom animated knobs. Unfortunately this part of the DAW hasn’t been touched in a while. The Macro Page Designer in Halion 6 is far more impressive in comparison.

Thanks for the link. I see your point… from the ‘MIDI Devices’ manual"

You can import custom bitmaps in the following formats: PNG (Portable Network Graphics), PSD (Photoshop) or BMP (Windows bitmap).

Yeah, no animated GIF option. I’ll have to revisit Photoshop. As I recall, though I may be wrong, Photoshop layers can themselves contain animated GIFs. I wonder if importing such a PSD file into a Cubase ‘Knob’ results in substituting the stock Cubase ‘Knob’ image and exhibiting a replacement animated GIF behavior.

The Macro Page Designer in Halion 6 is far more impressive in comparison.
I purchased the Absolute 3 collection when I purchase Cubase 9.5 Pro, and I have not had an opportunity to delve into the Halion 6 macro capability. However, I did see a couple of tutorials. You’re right; it’s more sophisticated that Cubase’s MIDI Devices GUI feature set. Perhaps Steinberg will consider leveraging Halion 6’s macro engine, if possible, within Cubase. Now, that would be very interesting.

In the meanwhile, I’m still thrilled with Cubase’s MIDI Device capabilities. Naturally, I would opt for a more realistic rendering of the external MIDI-enabled hardware when creating a MIDI Device. It lends itself, psychologically at least, to a more enjoyable end-user experience. However, I am more interested in functionality than I am aesthetics, and I look forward to building out MIDI Devices and/or GUIs for existing MIDI Devices that will work my specific collection of external MIDI-enable gear.

I think it would be great if Steinberg could update the device manager to be fully customizable and add additional controls/widgets. In that way there is no need to purchase any extra software for editing and managing external synthesizer via sysex. No need to get software like Soundquest, Ctrlr and many others.
But I’m afraid that Steinberg sees this part as a rather exotic relic from the early days which wastes space…probably not in any priority list :frowning: