Installing JL Cooper's EclipseCX customization software (in 13 tedious steps)

I'm a big fan of colorist control surfaces. My company invested in the JL Cooper EclipseCX. I'm approaching the 6 month mark of ownership and I've found that it's not without its own set of quirks and annoyances. Prime among those annoyances is the fact that Apple's Color natively offers only limited support for this control surface. From my original review:

Important keyboard commands are missing, as well as the missing Master Gain/Gamma/Lift controls. Moving quickly between shots using the transport buttons is too unresponsive. When copying and pasting grades there are too few buttons chasing too many controls. . . Keyframe management is clunky and should work better if placed elsewhere on the panel. . . Overall, I think the Color team really should to take another look at their control surface support for the JL Cooper and tidy things up a bit.

I still agree 100% with the above assesment. But here's the good news: We don't have to wait for the Color team to address these concerns. JL Cooper has their own customization software that solves every problem I've outlined above. And if you're willing to dig into the software, nearly every feature JL Cooper users have requested is available - save one; the Inside/Outside toggle.

Here's the bad news: The software is an initial PITA to setup. Royally. Unpredictably. Frustratingly. PITA.

I've complained mightily to the JL Cooper Powers That Be about the nonsensical installation problems that surround getting the Eclipse software up and running for the first time. Why does it take so long? I have no fracking idea. But I've installed this software a dozen times in two different locations and it generally takes about 45 minutes - and I (think) I know what I'm doing.

But I've finally developed a few methods for making the install problem as painless as possible. Here's how I do it, in its mind-numbing detail:

Disclaimer: The current b6 software is just that, beta. It's available for download off their website. Here's the link. Like me, use at your own risk. I am not employed or any way associated with JL Cooper other than as an end-user. If you want to bitch at them, please do so. Here's their contact page. If you, however, want help with setting up the software and ask for help in a nice manner - I'll be happy do so either via the comments for this posting or, preferably, on the Yahoo Color-L mailing list (the latter is the preferred choice, since it can take me a few days to respond on the website).

The first time you do this - set aside a few hours. Don't try to squeeze this in 20 minutes before a session - you're asking for trouble. Let's start:
  1. Begin by making sure your control surface is talking to Color using the methods outlined in the Color manual. Don't bother with the Eclipse software until you've done this step. This will ensure you don't have other networking issues getting in the way of your install. Once it's working, write down the IP address and port you've entered into Color.
  2. Download the JL Cooper software from this page.
  3. Have you ever installed any version of JL Cooper Eclipse or MCS software before? If so, you must absolutely uninstall it using the provided uninstaller. Then go into ~/Library/Preferences and delete the .plist file associated with the JL Cooper software. If you leave that prefs file in there it'll destroy you. And it doesn't seem to be removed by the uninstaller. Removing this file clears up 80% of the issues I've had in the past. You should do the same.
  4. Restart the machine.
  5. Install the JL Cooper software
  6. Go into System Preferences > Universal Access and click Enable access for Assistive Devices.
  7. Restart the machine.
  8. Open the EclipseCX software. Go into prefs and enter the networking info that you wrote down in Step 1.
  9. Import the Color keyset from ~/Applications/EclipseCX Software/keysets/. You've now loaded the keyset that talks to Color. Modifications here effect how the Eclipse "talks" to Color.
  10. Test this software by moving a trackball and spinning some knobs. You should see the software interface respond. If not: Quit out of the software, turn off the control surface. Turn it back on. Log out of your account. Log back in. Open the EclipseCX software and re-test by pushing buttons, moving knobs, etc. It should be working now. If not, restart the computer and try again. NOW it should be working. If not, make sure the EclipseCX software prefs match the network settings on the Eclipse (which it should if you managed to have the control surface talking with Color directly.)
  11. Go
    to the menu setting Actions > Set Ethernet Port for Color Keyset and select the top choice.
    You can go with the default port number. I find that 61000 is a number that works better for me. It's rather arbitrary. Write this number down, we'll need it in a moment. Keep in mind, you might need to change it later, if things don't work so well.
  12. Quit from the Eclipse software. If you're feeling confident, you may launch Color and proceed to the next step. If you want to be safe: Power cycle the Eclipse, the log out / log back in. I find this tends to clear things back to a normal state and increases my chances for success on the next step.
  13. Launch Color. Change the control surface Ethernet setting to: Set the Port to match what you entered two steps above. If you're lucky - the EclipseCX is now talking to Color. If you're not lucky, do the 'normalization' tasks in the previous step. If it's still not working, reboot the machine.
At this point you should have the JL Cooper customization software up and running, talking with Color. If it's not working, the first place to check is the Ethernet Port for Color Keyset. The most likely place for a foul-up is the Port setting. Each time you change the Port, I suggest running through the whole Power Cycle / Log Out-In normalizing routine. It's a good routine that works just as well as rebooting. But, sometimes, a reboot fixes things and suddenly the whole EclipseCX Software > Color thing just suddenly works. If you're still having problems, pick a new port number and enter it in both the Eclipse software and in Color. Then, Normalize the control surface and try Color again. If after a couple shots it still isn't working, reboot.

Does all that seem like a pain? It sure does to me. Drives me nuts. Here's the upside: Once I have it working, it's pretty much bullet proof. It doesn't go down. I've had it working for weeks at a time... until I install the next Beta version and I have to go through this whole routine again! It seems at least a few of the Tangent users aren't quite so lucky (cheap shot, I know... but Tangent users are a mighty quiet lot so I'll take it when I can get it).

Next time: I'll take you through how to customize the control surface and why you should bother. But here's a payoff until then - grab this file. It's the Color keyset I created for the b6 version of the software. It's quite different than what JL Cooper ships, but I think much more useful for the working professional. Be sure to read the pdf with it, it describes how I've set up the panel.

- pi

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