RBN1 Camera and Lights

From RBN/C3 Documentation

Cameras and lighting in Rock Band are controlled via MIDI notes and text events on the VENUE track of your MIDI file. This document will run through the details of how this system operates. The camera system in Rock Band is essentially a controllable randomizer, which will allow you to give general information on how your song will look. Because the camera system is randomized, the performance will look a little different every time, so it will always be fresh. The lighting system allows you to control the lighting scheme for your song, but each lighting command looks slightly different in each venue in the game, adding another element of variety to the on-screen performance.

As we continue to release new songs for Rock Band, we continue to push this system farther and farther, creating fresh, new looks out of this seemingly limited number of tools. We're excited to see how the RBN community uses this system to make their songs look awesome.


  • 60 C3 = This MIDI note is the basic camera cut command. When this note is placed on the VENUE track, the game will randomly switch to a new shot of the band. By using MIDI Focus Notes in combination with a camera cut, you can make the game choose more specific camera shots based on how you want to direct the performance.

MIDI Focus Notes

Focus notes are authored in various combinations to narrow the pool of shots picked by the randomizer during the playback of a song.


  • 64 E3 = focus on the vocalist
  • 63 D#3 = focus on the guitarist
  • 62 D3 = focus on the drummer
  • 61 C#3 = focus on the bassist

The above notes can be combined with one another to access shots that feature two or more players. All camera focuses must be authored in conjunction with the basic camera cut command (C3, or MIDI note 60). You may focus on one, two, or four characters. The only legal 3 character focus is guitar/bass/vocals. Any 3 character combination including the drummer will result in the camera system picking a random camera shot, rather than the one you specify.


  • 73 C#4 = no close-ups.
  • 72 C4 = allow only close-ups.
  • 71 B3 = allow only far shots.
  • 70 A#3 = no behind shots.

The above notes allow greater specificity in selecting a shot. For example, authoring C4 in conjunction with the basic cut note (C3), and an instrument focus note will force the system to choose from the pool of shots featuring a character from close up.


  • 87 D#5 = makes the guitarist sing along.
  • 86 D5 = makes the drummer sing along.
  • 85 C#5 = makes the bass player sing along.

The above are sing-along notes--they apply the lip-sync animation from the vocalist to other characters during playback. Unlike focus notes that regulate camera cutting, these notes must extend for the length that the author wishes to make the selected character sing along. For example, if there is a harmony part being sung (in the master) for two measures, then the author must extend the sing along note for two measures.


  • 40 E1 = spotlight on vocals
  • 39 D#1 = spotlight on guitar
  • 38 D1 =spotlight on drums
  • 37 C#1 = spotlight on bass

Spotlight notes can be used one at a time or in conjunction with each other, in any combination. Like the sing-along notes, spotlight notes must be authored for the length of time the author wishes the light to remain active. When the note ends, the light will turn off.

More specifically, the position where the spotlight note begins is where the spotlight will begin to light up and the end of the note will be where the spotlight will begin to fade. Take that into consideration when you place these notes, as you may have to finagle the starting and ending points of the note to achieve the desired effect.

Post-process notes

These notes are used to apply video post-processing. These are video effects that are added on top of the existing camera shot to provide additional ways to make the performance look awesome.

Proc changes are initiated at the next camera cut, and their notes can have varying lengths, which will control how long it takes for the full effect of the post-proc to apply. See songs like Conquer All for use of a long fade into a post-proc (in that case, the negative (F6) note).

To get an immediate post process change, place a short (1/16 or smaller) midi note directly above a camera cut.

  • Trails - 110 (D7) = Delayed video feed/video feedback style effect
  • Security Camera - 109 (C#7) = green proc with video lines; like a security camera.
  • Black and White - 108 (C7) = black and white with video lines; like a black and white security camera.
  • Lines - 107 (B6) = color with video lines.
  • Blue Tint - 106 (A#6) = blue proc with video lines.
  • Mirror - 105 (A6) = mirrored screen with psychadelic post proc.
  • Bloom B - 104 (G#6) = kinda the same as below
  • Bloom A - 103 (G6) = high end, bloomy film
  • Photocopy - 102 (F#6) = cool, black and white, framey, '90's MTV style proc
  • Negative - 101 (F6) = inverted colors
  • Silvertone - 100 (E6) = black and white, but more pristine
  • Sepia - 99 (D#6) = sepia tone
  • 16mm - 98 (D6) = 16 mm grain
  • Contrast A - 97 (C#6) = black and white, less pristine than silver tone
  • 96 (C6) = Return to default.


All lighting presets and directed cuts are called in the list editor section of the VENUE track.


Before any lighting calls can be used, a song section cue called [verse] must be called first.

  • [verse] = marks the verse of the song. This event should be placed at 1.1.00 of the VENUE track in almost all cases.
  • [chorus] = marks the chorus of the song
  • [lighting ()] = default lighting state--seen at the beginning of each song before actual play begins.

Verse and chorus effect the way each lighting preset looks, most noticeably in the default lighting state, [lighting ()]. These presets use Lighting Keyframe Triggers to 'animate' through lighting banks.


  • [lighting ()] = default lighting.
  • [lighting ()] + [verse]
  • [lighting ()] + [chorus]
  • [lighting (manual_cool)] = cool temperature lighting.
  • [lighting (manual_warm)] = warm temperature lighting.
  • [lighting (dischord)] = harsh lighting, blend of dissonant colors.
  • [lighting (stomp)] = all lights on or off. Keyframe note 48 C2 turns off and on.


These notes are used to cycle through banks of lights in 'animate-able' lighting presets. These are used to move a lighting preset through it's keyframes in time with the music. Only the lighting presets listed above use keyframe triggers.

  • 50 D2 = go to the preset's first keyframe
  • 49 C#2 =go to the preset's previous keyframe
  • 48 C2 = go to the preset's next keyframe


These presets cycle automatically.

  • [lighting (loop_cool)] = blend of cool temperature colors.
  • [lighting (loop_warm)] = blend of warm temperature colors.
  • [lighting (harmony)] = blend of a harmonious color palette.
  • [lighting (frenzy)] = frenetic, dissonant colored lighting.
  • [lighting (silhouettes)] = dark, atmospheric lighting, shows of the darkened silhouettes of the characters. A spotlight will fully illuminate the character.
  • [lighting (silhouettes_spot)] = same as above, but characters are slightly visible. A spotlight will fully illuminate the character.
  • [lighting (searchlights)] = lights that sweep individually.
  • [lighting (sweep)] = lights that sweep together in banks.
  • [lighting (strobe_slow)] = strobe light that blinks every 16th note/120 ticks.
  • [lighting (strobe_fast)] = strobe light that blinks every 32nd note/60 ticks.
  • [lighting (blackout_fast)] = darken the stage quickly. The event should be placed at the point where full darkness is desired. The game engine will automatically fade out from the previous lighting state over a period of 0.2 seconds.
  • [lighting (blackout_slow)] = darken the stage slowly. The event should be placed at the point where full darkness is desired. The game engine will automatically fade out from the previous lighting state over a period of 2 seconds. Because of the long fade out, the event will not go into effect if the previous lighting state is placed too close to the position of the event.
  • [lighting (flare_slow)] = bright white flare that fades slowly into the next lighting preset.
  • [lighting (flare_fast)] = bright white flare that fades quickly into the next lighting preset.
  • [lighting (bre)] = frenetic lighting used during a Big Rock Ending. Looks like [lighting (frenzy)], only crazier.


These calls trigger an explosion and a sound effect on the note they are called. These should be used sparingly, to really accent certain parts of the song. We usually only use Pyrotechnics 2 or 3 times in any song, if it's used at all.

  • [bonusfx] = Triggers the explosion effect. [bonusfx] will only be seen in arenas, and the system will ignore the [bonusfx] call in smaller venues. A song with 6 [bonusfx] calls played in an arena will show 6 explosions, but the same song played in in a small club will show none.
  • [bonusfx_optional] = Same as the above, but the effect will only be triggered when the player is doing well.

In Big Rock Endings, [bonusfx] should not be authored because the effect will be triggered automatically. For instance, if the player(s) are finishing a BRE in an arena, and they hit the last note and score the bonus points, the effect will be triggered. If they don't, the effect will not be triggered.


Directed cuts are special camera shots containing animations that don't appear in the normal looping animations that are seen when calling basic focus notes. When calling a directed cut, the text event for the directed cut should be placed where you want to see the 'hit' of the animation. For instance, if a shot of the bassist jumping, or the guitarist kicking the camera is called, the note should be authored on the beat where the bassist should land, or the impact of the guitarist's kick should fall. Directed cuts have a variable amount of pre-roll, meaning that the camera system switches to the directed cut, but not the 'hit', a bit before where the text event is placed on the track. There are two ways to call a directed cut, one that plays the directed cut always, and one that makes it only happen when the player is doing really well.

  • do_directed_cut = always play the cut.
  • do_optional_cut = plays the cut if the player is doing well.

For instance, if there was an interesting ending to a guitar solo, the author could add [do_optional_cut directed_guitar_cam] to trigger a special animation if the player finishes a guitar solo well. Or the author could add [do_directed_cut directed_guitar_cam] to ensure that the animation plays, regardless of performance.


These directed cuts feature the entire band. Use sparingly, as they are very dramatic and should be used for very special moments in the music. Using them too often may make the moments look forced, and cause them to lose their specialness.

Animations for Full Band Directed Cuts

  • [do_directed_cut directed_all] = A pool of varying shots of guitar/bass/vocals interacting with one another. Works nicely for exciting parts of songs, especially ones with sing alongs.
  • [do_directed_cut directed_all_yeah] = previously used in only one song in RB1--The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again". Recently used in songs such as ACDC's "Thunderstruck" and several songs from Motley Crue's Dr. Feelgood album. Tricky to time correctly, but when used in conjunction with [bonusfx], looks nice in glam metal songs and tracks by big bands.
  • [do_directed_cut directed_bre] = for the BRE--all the characters will flail around and shred on their instruments.
  • [do_directed_cut directed_brej] = makes all the characters, stomp, strum hard, or bang on the drums on the BRE final note.
  • [do_directed_cut directed_all_lt] = long shot dollying away from the stage
  • [do_directed_cut directed_all_cam] = like the directed_all group. The entire band interacts with the camera. Use sparingly.


Animations for Individual Directed Cuts

These are directed cuts featuring a single character and have a specific 'hit that should land on the downbeat. Many of these are of the player kicking or headbutting the camera, with the guitar and bass characters hitting the camera with their instrument.

  • [do_directed_cut directed_drums]
  • [do_directed_cut directed_bass]
  • [do_directed_cut directed_guitar]
  • [do_directed_cut directed_vocals]

These are directed cuts featuring a single character when he/she is not playing in the [idle] state.

  • [do_directed_cut directed_drums_np]
  • [do_directed_cut directed_bass_np]
  • [do_directed_cut directed_guitar_np]
  • [do_directed_cut directed_vocals_np]

These are directed cuts where the characters interact with the camera, but are not tied to a downbeat and can be used freely during any section.

  • [do_directed_cut directed_bass_cam] Shots of the bassist showing off; a bit more sedate than guitar_cam.
  • [do_directed_cut directed_guitar_cam] A wide variety of shots, from an Angus Young style move, to some slide-on-the-ground and guitar-behind-the-head antics.
  • [do_directed_cut directed_vocals_cam] Also a wide variety, with some shots of the vocalist 'holding' the camera.

This is a pool of shots in which the drummer points at the camera. Use with caution, because in some shots the drummer won't be playing.

  • [do_directed_cut directed_drums_pnt]

This is a shot of the drummer singing along (no vocalist in shot)

  • [do_directed_cut directed_duo_drums]

This directed cut is intended for long shots. It lasts upwards of 16 seconds and is intended for mood.

  • [do_directed_cut directed_drums_lt] = long shot rotating around the drummer (usually for drum solos).

These are close up shots that are used to emphasize a player, specifically hand animations, lip sync, and kick pedal movement. They are great for interesting vocals sections, guitar or bass solos, or parts with heavy drum work.

  • [do_directed_cut directed_guitar_cls]
  • [do_directed_cut directed_bass_cls]*both guitar and bass are fretboard shots.
  • [do_directed_cut directed_vocals_cls]
  • [do_directed_cut directed_drums_kd] = shot of the drummer's kick pedal.


A variety of Directed Cuts featuring more than one band member.

Animations for Band Interaction Directed Cuts

  • [do_directed_cut directed_duo_gb] = exciting set of bass/guitar interactions that are good for 'jam' sections. Also works well in conjunction with sing-along notes.

These are sing-along shots, to be used in conjunction with the aforementioned sing-along notes in the MIDI focus notes section. Guitar and bass will interact with the vocalist.

  • [do_directed_cut directed_duo_guitar]
  • [do_directed_cut directed_duo_bass]


Miscellaneous Directed Cuts

Animations for Additional Directed Cuts

  • [do_directed_cut directed_crowd_g] = guitarist interacts with the audience, like high-fives, showing off for the crowd, etc. Good for more silent breakdown sections.
  • [do_directed_cut directed_crowd_b] = same as crowd_g, but for the bassist.

These are stage dive shots. Currently, only the vocalist does stage dives. These should also be used with caution, to avoid the effect of the vocalist 'teleporting' back onto the stage on the next focus note call. It's best to only use these if there are at least 16 measures of music after the directed cut before singing/tambourine/cowbell resumes, to simulate the effect that the vocalist got back on stage. Another thing to keep in mind is that there is no lip sync in a stage dive cut, so when the character dives, his/her mouth will not move.

  • [do_directed_cut directed_stagedive] = singer jumps off the stage, camera cuts away once he lands.
  • [do_directed_cut directed_crowdsurf] = singer jumps off stage, cuts to additional shot of singer crowd surfing.

Some Tips on Venue Creation

For camera cuts, a basic rule of thumb for beginners is to have a new camera cut every 2-4 seconds.

  • This gives enough time for the shot to be established, and allows for any camera movement that might occur (such an inward zoom or a pan to the left).
    • Many shots tend veer away from its focus when displayed for too long; four seconds virtually prevents any camera angle from losing its focus.
  • It is recommended to have at least one-twelfth of the cuts be directed camera text events; however, it is not necessary to add these special directed cams manually. Directed camera cuts are included in the pool of shots that are randomly produced. A camera cut with a close up focus of the guitarist and vocalist will occasionally appear in-game as the shot specified by the [do_directed_cut directed_duo_guitar] text event, and so are not required.
  • When creating a Venue track, try to create 2-3 special moments for each minute of music. Then it will be easier to add 'filler' shots until the pace feels right, and those awesome moments will shine.
  • Above all, let the feel of the song determine how many camera cuts there are. Some HMX-produced camera sequences feature shots lasting nearly 12 seconds, and the Venue track to Hello There by Cheap Trick averages only 1.5 seconds per shot! The Venue track should reflect the mood and feel of the song, and so will always be the best dictator of camera shots.

Always double-check your lighting cues when using post-proc commands, to ensure that the onstage action is visible. For example, avoid the Photocopy post-proc during a blackout, else you end up with a black screen.

Go ahead and abuse some of the post-procs to obtain the desired effects! Lighting cues vary greatly from stage to stage, but camera effects will always work, no matter what venue the band is playing in.


This section of the walkthrough explains common authoring errors that will result in either the camera system disregarding your instructions and picking a completely random camera shot, or an error when trying to compile your song in MAGMA

Bad MIDI notes

Any MIDI note that is not outlined in the above MIDI Focus, sing along, or spotlight note sections is illegal for use and will return a MAGMA error when you try to build your song. For instance, MIDI note 40 (E1), is a vocals spotlight note. However MIDI note 41 (E2), would result in a MAGMA error for 'bad midi note 41', because the note is not used to control anything.

Illegal focuses

  • Any 3 character focus that includes the drummer is illegal and will result in a randomly selected camera shot.

Illegal lighting/directed cut calls

  • Directed cut and lighting call syntax must be exactly as outlined above in this walkthrough. Lighting calls and directed cuts are also case-sensitive. Misspellings, extra spaces, and capitalization will result in MAGMA errors. Missing brackets/parentheses will also yield MAGMA errors.
  • All lighting calls must be preceded by the [verse] call. Otherwise, the lighting system will not properly initialize, and you will recieve an error in MAGMA