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Camelot Tutorial 2: Getting Started
So you’re trying to get going with Camelot. We’re here to help. A good place to begin is the article The Basics of Camelot: An Overview, which defines the fundamental components of Camelot. Articles about the Camelot features you will want to use with whatever instrument you play or source you use will be coming along soon.
This article is the piece that goes between those two things.
In this article, we will help you to do the necessary basic setup, understand how to get around to the various parts of Camelot, and how to accomplish the most essential operations, especially how to create the components described in the Basics article. This will enable you to start working with Camelot smoothly and without frustration.
This is a good time for us to point out that there is no single right way to use Camelot, for the simple reason that there is no single right way to make a live performance! Once you grasp what is in the application and how it works, you will be equipped to put it to work for your particular needs.
So let’s go!
To begin with, we will focus on basic settings, in particular, on the audio and MIDI settings, as it’s essential that your system configuration is correct before you can really do anything useful. We access the appropriate parameters by clicking the Settings button in the footer to bring up the Settings view. Don’t be alarmed if you see any red circles with exclamation marks in them. This merely means something is not yet correctly configured. Most often, Camelot is not finding a device that was configured previously, which usually ends up being some simple issue like a device that has not been switched on or is not cabled.
Figure 1 - The Settings view is the gateway to a great many configuration parameters and powerful functions.
Without audio output, none of the rest of what you do matters. Click Audio in the Settings view to bring up the Audio settings panel, then click Audio Output Device and select your audio interface or sound card from the list of devices shown. This will be the device through which Camelot will play software instruments, backing tracks, and the outputs from Camelot’s audio mixers.
Figure 2 - Once you select an Audio Output Device, you can give its outputs names you want to see in Camelot.
Finally, you have to create the audio outputs you will want to see and use in Camelot and connect each one to an output on the interface (or other output device). Click the plus sign button (+) at the bottom of the Audio Outputs panel to create a new output and map it to an interface output. You can rename or remap an output at any time.
Figure 3 - Each audio output you create to use in Camelot must be mapped to an actual interface output.
If you will be processing external audio signals, such as a microphone, guitar, bass, external synthesizer, or other instrument, you must do just as you did for audio outputs: click Audio Input and select the interface or device you will be using to bring audio signals into Camelot, then create an Audio Input in Camelot and map it to the interface input. We will address various ways to put these inputs to use in a future tutorial.
Figure 4 - Audio inputs are created and mapped using the same process as for outputs. Audio inputs can be used in many different places in Camelot.
It is especially important to understand the Buffer Size setting in the Audio panel. The choice of buffer size is a tradeoff between how much of a workload you place on your computer and how much latency, or delay, you experience, especially in monitoring.
Figure 5 - Buffer size is a critically important setting. Usually, the best setting is the smallest you can make without getting clicks and artifacts.
Lower buffer sizes give you a system that is more responsive, but places a greater burden on your CPU, which can limit how many effects or software instruments you can run at one time. If you are hearing clicks or other signs your system is struggling, you probably need to raise the Buffer Size, so that the computational load is lowered. However, larger buffer sizes incur more delay in the system, which can begin to make performance more difficult.
The right buffer size, which is to say, the optimal compromise, is a choice you must make based on the resources of your system and your artistic needs.
Now let's configure MIDI controllers and external devices. Needless to say, the first requirement is that you have a MIDI interface or card of some sort for the device running Camelot.
Camelot allows you to activate inputs from and outputs to the MIDI devices you want to use. If you have a professional sound or MIDI card it is quite likely that you will find yourself with many MIDI input and output ports that can be confusing to navigate and can generate configuration errors. Selecting the ports you actually intend to use streamlines the port list and clarifies your setup. So, before starting, we recommend that you select the MIDI ports that interest you and deselect the ports you will not be using.
Go back to Settings view and click on MIDI to bring up the MIDI Settings panel.
Figure 6 - MIDI devices are selected for use in the MIDI Settings panel. Note that Bluetooth MIDI devices can be accommodated, as well as USB and traditional 5-pin DIN devices.
Now click on MIDI Inputs and then click the devices you wish to use in the list of available MIDI inputs that appears. A check mark will appear on a selected device and the device will be highlighted in white. Click any currently selected devices you will NOT use to deselect them.
Figure 7 - Select ALL of the MIDI devices you intend to use as controllers. You will be able to choose later on which you want to use in any given context.
There are many powerful features in the MIDI Inputs panel that will be discussed another time.
If you have any hardware synthesizers or other physical MIDI devices you will want to control from Camelot, go back to the MIDI Settings panel, click on MIDI Outputs, and click on the devices to which you want Camelot to be able to send MIDI messages to select them, just as you did with devices in the MIDI Inputs panel.
Figure 8 - Hardware synthesizers and sound modules must be selected in the MIDI Outputs panel. If you have something like a workstation keyboard, you might be selecting it as a MIDI Output to play its sound engine, as a MIDI Input to use its controllers, and even as an Audio Input to bring its audio into Camelot.
That’s enough about Settings for now. In other tutorials, we will deal with more advanced Settings features, such as those that manage controller mapping (like a pedal to change the sound or scene), manage scanning of software plugins, or provide the ability to create backups and Snapshots (or restore points).
Now that you have completed basic configuration of your audio and MIDI input and output resources, let's have a closer look at how to get around Camelot.
Camelot's GUI, or Graphical User Interface, is divided into three main parts: at the top we have the Header, in the center is the program’s main operating area, and at the bottom is the Footer.
Figure 9 - The header displays the currently active components and provides access to operations. The footer accesses different views. And the action takes place in between.
Footer – Views, Panels, and Settings
Figure 10 - The footer is the key to getting around in Camelot. View buttons on the left, panel buttons on the right, and then the Settings and Panic buttons on the right end.
The buttons in the footer provide the primary means of navigating Camelot’s resources. The six buttons on the left of the footer access the different views.
The buttons on the right side of the footer activate retractable panels that access more global functions, which apply across the entire application. Of particular note are the two rightmost buttons: the red “Panic” button in the right corner, which clears stuck notes and other errant MIDI messages, and the Settings button just to its left, which takes you to a host of critical configuration and control settings for the application, some of which we just used to setup your system.
Figure 11 - The Songs and Scenes views are the highest level views of content in Camelot.
The Songs view allows viewing, loading, and management of Setlists and the Songs they contain.
The Scenes view allows viewing, loading, and management of the Scenes in each Song in the Setlist. Each Scene is associated with a Song, so Scenes in this view are displayed in the Songs with which they are associated.
Figure 12 - The Timeline is where multitrack audio playback and automation features reside. The Layers view is the heart of Camelot, where MIDI and audio items are added to form signal paths.
The Timeline view hosts Camelot’s sophisticated automation system, as well its Backing Tracks playback system.
Layers are where the real software instrument and audio action is. A Layer can be part of a Scene or reside in the Song Rack or Setlist Rack. The Layers view is where Layers are built and modified.
Figure 13 - In the Key Ranges view, layering and splits can be set up for instruments in a Layer. Attachments view allows lyric sheets, chord charts, and performance notes to be attached to a Song or Scene.
The Key Ranges view allows setting the range MIDI notes and velocity values to which a Layer will respond. Setting key range and velocity values for multiple Layers in a Scene or Rack is an easy way to set up layering or splits.
The Attachment view allows a PDF, JPG, or PNG file to be associated with any Song or Scene. Alternatively, a sticky text note can be added and associated with a Song or Scene.
Figure 14 - The Transport popup panel controls Camelot's transport for automation, while the Transpose panel allows MIDI notes for an entire Song to be transposed instantly.
The Transport panel pops up at the bottom of the active view and allows control of Camelot’s transport for playing backing tracks or automation.
The Transpose popup panel is a quick and easy place to transpose MIDI note messages played while a Song is active up or down. Note that audio is not affected by Transpose.
Figure 15 – The Tempo and Sync panel is important for working with a click, as well as with automation. The Mixer panel is the highest level of mixing access and includes onboard effects processing.
The Tempo & Sync popup panel provides access to a number of features related to automation, such as time signature and tempo, but it also has settings for metronome features, and sending/receiving clock messages. Tempo features can be applied to a Scene, Song, or the entire Setlist.
The Mixer panel brings up Camelot’s master mixer and master audio effects. It also provides access to submixing for its primary sources. Some lower-level mixing can be accessed from the Mixer panel, while other lower-level mixing is accessed in context (for example, from individual items).
We have already seen that the Settings view is very deep. It offers access to some of Camelot’s most powerful and sophisticated functionality, but also to some of its basic setup features. We will return to the Settings view time and again as we move forward.
Figure 16 - Sometimes things just go wrong. The Panic Button can fix common MIDI mishaps.
The Panic button is not a view or a panel, just a button. When you have stuck notes, a wrong controller value, or some other persistent MIDI problem, clicking the Panic button will often fix it.
The Header and Main Menu
Figure 17 - The header displays crucial status information and provides access to key areas like settings and the main menu.
The header displays the names of the active Setlist, Song and Scene - information fundamental to understanding where you currently are in your playlist or repertoire. We will go further into the data architecture shortly, but you should always keep in mind these three fundamental coordinates.
Let’s now focus on the application's main menu button, indicated by the icon with three dots seen in the upper right corner. It is very important to understand how to use the main menu, as it enables you to access Camelot’s features through a wizard that guides you step by step.
Figure 18 - The main menu provides a guided wizard that steps you through all major operations.
Let's look at how this wizard menu works. The main menu that appears when you click the three dots icon offers five categories of action you can take: Create and Add, Edit, Copy, Make Template, or Export. Clicking any of these buttons brings up a submenu from which you select the object on which the action should be performed. For instance, to add a new Scene, simply click Create and Add, and then click Scene.
Figure 19 - Choose an action from the main menu, then an object on which to perform that action from the submenu.
The wizard means you never need to search to find a basic function. Furthermore, the icons used in the wizard are also used elsewhere in the program, so as you gain experience with Camelot, it becomes easy to perform the same functions in faster and more direct ways.
For example, in the Scenes view, you will see, next to each Song, the same pencil icon shown next to the “Edit” button in the main menu. (See Figure 24 below.) Clicking one of these pencil buttons takes you directly into Edit mode for that Song with a single click, rather than the three clicks it would take to bring up the main menu and do it from there.
The Timeline, Layers, and Key Ranges views also feature pencil icons that similarly put you into Edit mode for the view, allowing you to rename, color-code, and reorder components.
Figure 20 - Scenes view in Edit mode offers scene management functions. Each view has an Edit mode with some of these same functions, as well as functions appropriate to the specific view.
To summarize, you always have a choice between two ways of operating: by stepping through the main menu wizard, or by taking direct action in the desired context, page, or screen.
Make a New Setlist and Songs
By now, you are probably impatient to get to actually doing things, so let's go straight to the heart of the matter!
Camelot models a live performance by grouping Songs into Setlists. That takes us back to the footer, from which we access Camelot’s different views and panels. The leftmost button on the footer invokes the Songs view, which is where we can build and manage your Setlists.
Figure 21 - The Songs view has tools for constructing Setlists, as well as for managing Songs. Setlists are in the left column, the Songs in the selected Setlist are shown in the right column.
The Songs view features two columns: Setlists are listed in the left column, and the Songs contained in the currently selected Setlist are shown in the right column. As soon as you click a Setlist to select it, you will immediately see its Songs displayed in the right column.
To create a new Setlist, click the New Setlist button with the plus sign icon, or, of course, go to the main menu for the guided process. However you get to the Create and Add Setlist submenu, you will see three options: “From scratch,” for building a setlist from the ground up; “Paste,” for pasting a Setlist you have just copied to the clipboard; or “Import” to open an existing Setlist file.
Click “From scratch” and give your new Setlist a name.
Figure 22 - Naming a new Setlist
A new setlist starts with an empty default song, which you can always modify to build a new Song. Creating another new Song is similar to how you created a new Setlist: you can click the button at the bottom of the column that has a plus sign inside a dotted outline, or use the main menu wizard. The submenu that appears in either case offers the same three choices as for a new Setlist. Click “From scratch” and we will build a new Song.
Now that there is more than one song in your Setlist, try dragging in the list to reorder them. Click the “three dots” icon to the right of a Song name and a contextual menu appears that allows you to perform several useful functions, including renaming the Song. The ease of reordering and renaming can come in very handy during rehearsals or for making last-minute changes before a gig.
Figure 23 - While most of the commands in the Song contextual menu can be executed other ways, Song Info and Export are particularly useful inclusions here.
Songs are made up of different sections, which, in performance, may require different sound presets for software and hardware instruments, as well as changes in audio or MIDI routing or processing. Camelot accommodates this by making Songs consist of one or more Scenes. The Scenes in a Song can be stepped through manually, or, as we’ll see in a moment, automatically at preprogrammed times.
The Scenes button, just to the right of the Songs button in the footer, takes us down one level of detail so we can manage the internal structure of a Song.
Figure 24 - Scenes view shows the Songs in a Setlist and the Scenes in each one.
By default, a Song starts with a single Scene, but the Edit button for the Song, with our trusty pencil icon, enables us to create more Scenes, and, as with Setlists, rename and rearrange Scenes, as well. (See Scenes view in Edit mode in Figure 20.)
Click the plus sign in the box with the dotted-line outline to create a new Scene, and name it.
Figure 25 - After adding a Scene to the default Scene, we now have two. Note the plus sign button at the bottom for adding a new Scene.
The same result could be achieved using the main menu wizard.
Layers & Items
A Scene is a collection of Layers, which are complete signal paths of audio and/or MIDI Items. Layers are the core of Camelot because loading a Scene can redefine every Layer, potentially changing everything: software instruments, management of hardware instruments, audio and MIDI routing and processing, mixing, and effects applied to audio inputs or software instruments.
The Layers button in the footer brings up the Layers view, which has three sections: Scene Layers, Song Rack, and Setlist Rack – all of which can host Layers. Right now, we will focus on Scene Layers.
Figure 26 - The Layers view of our new Scene is as yet unpopulated, but we will soon change that.
Before proceeding, let's take a quick look at the header to understand where we are: our Setlist, the active Song in the Setlist, and the “Chorus” Scene, which, at this point, is empty.
Figure 27 - You are here.
Creating our first Layer is done the same way we have created before: we can press the plus sign icon at the right of the “Scene Layers” group banner, or use the main menu wizard.
We are then presented with the same three options we were offered for Setlists and Songs. We’re going to start from scratch and create a layer to which we’re going to add a software instrument we want to play.
Our work building this layer will focus on the colored section on the left of the Layer, with its contextual menu under the “three dots” icon, and the central section where our audio and MIDI items will be added by the “plus sign” button on its right. The audio settings on the far right of the layer will be explored another time.
Let's start with the Layer management area on the left, which lets us configure the Layer’s audio connections and MIDI settings, including MIDI inputs and input processing, and audio input and output.
Figure 28 - Now we have a Scene Layer we can set up and populate.
In order to play a software instrument, we need a master MIDI keyboard or controller, so click the circle below the Layer name and let's select the controller that we will use as the MIDI input to this Layer. It’s possible to select more than one MIDI input source for a Layer, if you need to.
Figure 29 - The MIDI Inputs tab of the Layer settings allows you to select as many controllers as you intend to use to control that Layer. Note the MIDI Settings panel access at the bottom.
Note that each Layer has a MIDI Settings panel available that offers sophisticated processing of MIDI input, such as octave shifts, MIDI filters, and much more… things that we will explore in future tutorials.
Figure 30 - The MIDI Settings panel holds a number of advanced functions to be explored in another tutorial.
Once a MIDI Input has been chosen, the Layer is ready to play a software instrument, so let’s add one. Press the plus button on the right of the main Layer area to access a wizard that guides you through adding a new item.
Figure 31 - The Add Item wizard has three categories of Items to choose from. Hardware and software instruments will be in the Instruments & Devices category, while audio processors will be in the Post-Processors category.
In this case, since we want to add a software instrument, we select “Instruments & Devices” and are presented with a submenu that lets us choose from Hardware Instruments, Software Instruments or generic MIDI Devices.
Figure 32 - Here is the rest of the path to add a software instrument, the SWAM Flute, in this case. On the left, the Instruments submenu, in the middle folders for all of the software vendors whose instruments are installed, and, on the right, the list of Audio Modeling instruments available.
We select Software Instruments, open the Audio Modeling folder, and select SWAM Alto Flute 3. The SWAM Flute item gets added to the layer, and we can set the volume of the instrument, and, with a double-click or tap on the name, directly access the main interface of the instrument and change its settings as we want. The flashing dot in the Layer management area shows the MIDI activity generated by the controller from which you will play the software instrument.
Figure 33 - Although the display looks simple, there is a lot of power lurking just under the surface.
This is the simplest possible configuration example. Let’s make things a little more interesting and see how we can process a singer's voice.
Create another “From scratch” layer, rename it, and choose a desired color. In this case, the layer must be fed from the audio input to which the microphone is connected. Click the Layer contextual menu and choose Audio & MIDI Settings. MIDI Settings appear first, so click the down-facing arrow in the upper right corner to reveal the Layer input and output settings. Click the Audio Inputs tab and select the Audio Input you want to use.
Figure 34 - Here we select a Camelot audio input, which is mapped to an interface input, to feed our new Layer.
To add an audio effect item we choose 'Post Processor', and select iZotope Nectar 3. For good measure we add another Post Processor item: Valhalla Vintage Verb
Figure 35 - Now we have a Layer with an instrument and one for audio with some processing. Note the different graphic indication of audio input compared to the MIDI input.
Now that we have a nice scene with a software instrument and vocal processing, let's do another one that changes the instrument, while keeping the vocal setup. Since we already have another empty Scene, we might as well use that. Bring up the contextual menu for the mic input Layer and choose Copy to copy the Layer to the clipboard. Now go to the Scenes view and select the empty Scene. Click the plus sign on the Scene Layers section to invoke the contextual menu there and choose Paste Layer: mic input to add it to the Scene.
Figure 36 - It is as easy to copy a Layer and paste it into another Scene as it is to copy a Scene to a different Song, or a Song to a different Setlist.
To change to a different solo instrument, let's copy the layer with the Flute and then, after pasting it into our new scene, add a SWAM Alto Saxophone and delete the Flute by clicking on it, then clicking the Remove button in the top left corner.
Figure 37 - The Remove command deletes an instrument from the Layer it is in.
Finally, we enter Edit mode and reorder the layers to our liking.
Figure 38 - In Edit mode, it is easy to reorder any elements simply by dragging them.
An even quicker way to make this new Scene would be to go to Scenes view, click the pencil icon for our Song to enter Edit mode, click the Duplicate icon on the scene we just made, then add the SWAM Alto Saxophone and delete the Flute.
Scenes are one of the two main components of a Song. The other component is its Timeline, accessed by the button just to the right of the Scenes button in the footer. In the Timeline view, we can manage multitrack playback of backing tracks (in the form of mp3 or wav audio files), add Markers at specific times as positional references, and automate Scene changes to occur during execution.
Figure 39 – The Timeline view provides automation and multitrack playback facilities.
To load a backing track audio file in the Timeline, just press the plus sign button at the right of the Backing Tracks banner, then follow the wizard as it guides you to select the file and place it at the desired time in the Song. Markers and Scene changes are placed in the same way. Other tutorials will detail how to make the most of these features.
Figure 40 - To add a backing track, either select from tracks you've used before or add a new track, then choose the time at which you want it to start playing.
To finish up, let’s just place one Scene change on the Timeline. Click the plus sign button on the right of the Scenes banner and choose one of the Song’s Scenes from the list that appears. You will be presented with the same Position screen you saw when you placed a backing track. Note that if the Timeline counter is not at zero, its location will be the default position for placing the Scene change, however, you can drag the slider until the display shows the time at which you want to insert the Scene change, or simply click in the time fields and enter the time at which you want to make the insertion. Then click Done and you will see your Scene change in the Timeline. Note that even if you never start the transport running, you can still set up a pedal or button to manually step through the Scenes on the Timeline in order.
Figure 41 - The Timeline now has a backing track that will start playing a few seconds into the tune, and a Scene change that comes later. Of course, you may add more than one Scene change.
Well, we’ve given you a lot to think about in this tutorial, and this is just the basics! We hope this is enough to give you a taste of what Camelot can do and how to get started with it. There is a whole lot more to Camelot that we will present in tutorials that areGettin coming soon. See you then!