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The current Lightkey version runs on any Mac with macOS 11 Big Sur or newer. Lightkey runs natively on M1, M2, and Intel processors.
Your Mac is running an older macOS version? In this case we also provide older Lightkey versions for download.
The answer depends on many factors, so we can’t give you a simple answer here apart from the minimum system requirements. For example, a substantial project with many moving lights performing complex effects requires a more powerful GPU and CPU than a small setup with a few LED lights. If you run other major applications like Ableton Live or ProPresenter alongside Lightkey, it’s also advisable to have a decent CPU and plenty of RAM.
Please don’t ask us if a particular Mac configuration is suitable for your project—we cannot answer this. Instead we recommend that you download the free Lightkey edition and give it a try with your setup. Lightkey is a modern application highly optimized for Macs, so performance will not be an issue at all in most cases. You can use the built-in app Activity Monitor to compare Lightkey’s CPU usage to other applications.
Note: Even though Lightkey is very efficient, it has to constantly output DMX which prevents the CPU from going idle and increases energy consumption. We therefore recommend against running Lightkey on battery power.
Yes, Lightkey has been specially designed for Macs and can’t be used on other operating systems. We do not currently have plans for a Windows version.
Although we provide no iPhone or iPad version of Lightkey at this time, there are some third-party alternatives:
The software TouchOSC can be used to remote-control Lightkey through OSC or MIDI messages. It lets you to build custom control surfaces for iPhone or iPad which you can bind to arbitrary functions in Lightkey.
Please note that these are third-party solutions from other manufacturers. We have tested the integration with Lightkey at the time this article was written but cannot guarantee this functionality will work without errors and continue to work in the future.
No. We don’t track our users, so no data about your use of Lightkey is sent to us or anyone else. All project information and settings are stored locally on your Mac, and only there. (This also means we can’t retrieve this data if your computer is stolen or the disk fails, so please have a backup!)
We don’t know where you click, what fixtures you have, when you use the software or whether you use it at all. (As a consequence, if you buy a license but don’t use it for months, we can’t give you a refund afterwards.)
The only times when Lightkey connects to the Internet is for activation and when it checks for updates.
When you buy a license, we collect the data required for payment processing and invoicing, and when you activate it we log your IP address and a timestamp. No data is collected beyond that.
All relevant information is stored in your project file, so you only need to copy the project file to the new computer. It also contains copies of all fixture profiles used in the project.
Note that older Lightkey versions may not be able to open projects created by later versions, so be sure to use the same Lightkey version on both Macs.
If you don’t know the location of your project file: To locate the file, first close the current project. Then, in the startup screen, Control-click the project image near the bottom and select Show in Finder from the menu. Alternatively you can use Spotlight to search for files with the .lightkeyproj extension.
We sure do.
The Open Lighting Architecture (OLA) is an open-source software framework for sending and receiving DMX through numerous hardware interfaces and protocols. It is being developed by the Open Lighting Project. Note that Monospace is not affiliated with the Open Lighting Project.
The OLA “daemon” (olad) is installed on your Mac as a separate component by the Lightkey installer (you can even choose to install OLA alone). The OLA daemon is open-source software distributed under the GNU General Public License (a copy of the license is placed at /Library/Documentation/OLA); the source code is available from GitHub or our website. You can use OLA independently of Lightkey; see openlighting.org for more information.
Behind the scenes, Lightkey starts the OLA daemon and uses it to output DMX through USB or Ethernet interfaces. If you already have an instance of the OLA daemon running on your computer (e.g. a newer or self-compiled version), you can even configure Lightkey to use the existing daemon instead.
We are very open to feedback and a lot of the things we’ve added in past releases originate from user feedback. If you have a suggestion for future updates we’d love to hear about it.
It’s often useful if you include some background information about why you need a particular feature. This helps us understand the context of your request and can increase chances that it will be implemented.
Since we receive a lot of feedback, it may take time until we can realize something. Please do not expect a major feature to appear in the next update. And of course there’s no guarantee that we can implement every suggestion.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself to find the right DMX interface:
Do you need a single DMX universe or more?
Do you need an input port (e.g. to connect a DMX console for external control)?
Do you need galvanic isolation to protect your computer from power surges?
Do you need to cover long distances?
You can generally choose between USB and network interfaces.
USB interfaces: Lightkey works with USB interfaces from various manufacturers. Most USB interfaces can output a single DMX universe (an exception is the Enttec DMX USB Pro Mk2 with two output ports).
USB interfaces with a built-in microprocessor buffer the DMX data received from the computer. If they don’t receive new data they continue to send the last state. Some low-end devices do not have a microprocessor: If the computer is busy and fails to send new data fast enough, the interface sends out zero values, which can cause the lights to flicker.
Network interfaces: Network protocols can carry a large number of DMX universes, and Ethernet cabling or Wi-Fi are useful for covering long distances. If you want to output more than two universes you need to use a network interface.
Lightkey works with any interface that supports the Art-Net (versions 1 through 3), sACN (ANSI E1.31), or ESP Net protocols. An Ethernet network or Wi-Fi connects the interface to the computer. Art-Net, sACN, and ESP Net are standard protocols and any compatible interface will work with Lightkey, so we don’t recommend a particular brand or product.
Sometimes Lightkey may recognize a USB interface that’s not on the list of supported devices. That’s because some devices are based on the same microchips as others. Some of those devices are technically identical to a supported interface and will work, but others will not.
Important: There’s no guarantee that those DMX interfaces will work with Lightkey. Only the devices on this list have been tested by us and are guaranteed to work.
Usually this is not possible (there are a few exceptions, please contact us for details). To output multiple universes you should use a DMX interface with multiple output ports.
Lightkey needs an administrator password to communicate with the following USB interfaces:
Enttec Open DMX USB and similar interfaces
Eurolite USB-DMX512-PRO MK2
Unless you have one of these devices, you can disable them in the DMX Output settings. You do this by enabling the Serial USB Interfaces output method.
You can use Art-Net or sACN to route Lightkey’s DMX output to a visualizer software like Capture. Here’s what you need to do to receive Art-Net data on the same computer:
Choose Lightkey > Manage Fixtures… and make sure the desired output universe(s) are patched to Art-Net.
Choose Lightkey > Settings… (or Preferences…) and then click DMX Output > Art-Net.
Select Manual and then select "Use loopback device”. This enables other applications on the same computer to receive Art-Net data.
The visualizer software should now receive Art-Net data from Lightkey. Make sure it expects the data on the correct DMX universe.
If you use sACN, all you need to do is patch the desired output universe(s) to sACN.
Some DMX wall switches take over control from the primary controller when its output becomes zero on all channels. If your wall switch uses this behavior, enable the option “Set all channels to zero” in the General pane of Lightkey’s Settings (or Preferences) window. Lightkey will output zero on all channels before it quits or closes the project so your DMX wall switch can take control.
During the installation of Lightkey you may see a message “System Extension Blocked”. This security mechanism which was introduced in macOS High Sierra and requires you to explicitly allow the use of system extensions.
Lightkey relies on several system extensions to communicate with USB–DMX interfaces. Before you can use Lightkey you have to allow loading these extensions in System Preferences.
Open System Preferences and go to Security & Privacy > General.
In the dialog that appears, select the two items and click OK.
Lightkey can control bulbs, LED strips, plugs, and other types of lights of the Philips Hue brand. Products by other manufacturers which connect to a Philips Hue bridge will often work as well, but we can’t guarantee compatibility with them. Other smart light systems are not currently supported.
Any smart light switches for Philips Hue lights will continue to work when you control your smart lights with Lightkey. Note that when you operate the switch while using Lightkey the lights won’t change in Lightkey’s Preview, so it’s best to use light switches only when Lightkey isn’t running.
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