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Newbie lighitng questions

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by LightingManEvan, Aug 22, 2009.

  1. LightingManEvan

    LightingManEvan Member

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    Hi everyone. ;) I am new here but have read alot here on this forum.

    I have been doing lighting for my high school production since 2007 and I had a few questions for you guys here. I work with a fairly old board, it has 2 scenes and all lighting changes are run manually between scene 1 and scene 2. We have no intelligent fixtures but I make do with what we have. When we have to move a light we go up in a lift to either move it, replace it, etc.


    Anyway,I have read online of a "GO" button that is used for the actual lighting changes. I have not seen anything like this on our board with the 2 years I have worked on it, and it would be great to have because as of now all the changes are made manually between the 2 scenes. So, is this something that is only on newer boards or have I just missed it?

    Basically, I set what I need on Scene 1, then for the cue switch it to what I have set on Scene 2, then change the lighting on scene 1, etc. Also, is it normal to do what I am doing with doing the cues manually between scene 1 and scene 2? I would love to be able to hook up my laptop and use DMX software to run the board (I know there is DMX software but havent looked in depth into it so I dont know if you could run a board from a computer with it) because that may be easier working with the cues. I work and set submasters and use them in the shows but mainly its between the scene 1 and scene 2 thing.

    So if you guys can please answer my questions, it would be greatly appreciated. And sorry if these questions are so basic even though I have used the board for 2 years now, its just an old basic board and an old monitor hooked up to it, which I dont use as it works intermittently, but if it worked better I would use it much more often.

    Thank you.
  2. Sean

    Sean Active Member

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    Welcome aboard!

    Reasonable questions. You're most likely using what's know as a "2 scene preset" board. While scene "A" is on stage, you're "preseting" scene "B". When it's time for the shift into the next scene you slide two "scene masters" to the "B" preset, and start again with the "A" side.

    No, there isn't a "Go" button, unless it's obviously on the board.

    Do you have any photos of the board you're using? Can you give us a description?

    --Sean
  3. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    You are on whats known as a Two-Scene Preset. It was the state of the art up until the 1980's, and up into the 1990's in most high schools. Infact, the ETC express console, which is the most popular computerized lighting console ever built, still maintained a two scene preset interface. It was just discontinued about a year ago.

    There is nothing wrong with using a two-scene preset console. Many people still argue that you learn more about lighting using a two-scene preset then you do typing on a keypad. You do not have a go button.

    If you wanted to go the computer route, do a search for MagicQ, you can get a setup for about 141 dollars that will be able to run your lighting system if your system is DMX. There is a good chance that it is not. Doing this, you will ignore your current lightboard all together and use this system in its place. You will have a large learning curve with this system and its hugely overkill for what you need.

    Personally, unless you have more then about 24 dimmers I would say stick with the 2 scene preset. If you are able to do what you want to do with what you have stick with it. Now, if you are looking at a system expansion get rid of the console you have, but until then I would save your pennys.
  4. LightingManEvan

    LightingManEvan Member

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    Sean, at the moment I do not have any pictures of the board. Its just a 2 scene board, the submasters, effect controls (useless to me unfortunately) and the keypad which I do not use often, like I said.


    Also, I will forget the computer idea as I am able to do what I need to do with the 2 scene stuff. It works for what I need and we do not have very many lights. I wish I had more creative control and more equipment or bogos which I have read about. Do some high schools have bogos? My school doesn't have any, but that may be normal- I wouldn't know.

    Thanks for the advice so far, if you have more (like advice for the use of the keypad) pkease post. Also, I need help with this...when we do the lighting I usually write down what lights and what levels are needed for each cue. So I will write down "cue #1- submaster 6 at 50 percent" or each light used in the cue and their respective level. I then type up the list and its fairly easy to use for the show. This is only done because I have to do it manually between 2 scenes, is there any other way for me? Or would we need a board that allowed the cues to be programmed in sequence? Sorry, I have worked with the board for awhile but its an old and limited one. Thanks for all your help!
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. fredthe

    fredthe Active Member

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    Welcome! Be sure to go over to the new member board and introduce yourself.

    As was mentioned, you probably have an old 2-scene preset board, with no memory capability. If you can't post pictures, a make and model number would be good, if you can find them.

    Also, if it's an older board, you probably can't control it by computer. Depending on what control signals is uses to the dimmer, even replacing it with a PC or a newer board may require additional converters. So, let us know what it is, and we can help from there.

    -Fred
  6. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

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    First off we are happy to help out people who know very little. Send us the brand and model number of your light board (or just post a picture if you aren't sure). You probably don't have a go button but you may be able to do a lot more with submasters than you are currently doing. The high school I used to teach at had a two scene preset console with submasters like yours. We were able to run our whole show using submasters quiet easily. Heck I've got a fancy new light board and there are times I use just submasters. Hopefully we can give you some better tips and strategies about getting the most out of your light board.

    Secondly take some pictures of your theater, your dimmer rack, your light board, your lights, anything interesting that you would like to know more about. Post them here and we will help you to better understand the equipment you have and how to use it safely and effectively (The easiest way to post pictures here is to host them somewhere free like flicker or photobucket then link to them here by clicking on the little square symbol with a mountain and the sun in the editor).

    Third. "Bogos" I think you mean "Gobos". Gobos are thin pieces of metal that you slide into a slot on any standard ellipsoidal spotlight. You can buy hundreds of gobos from Apollo, Rosco, and GAM. The gobo holder should only cost about $15 at most. Basic steel gobos cost less than $10 each. Typical high school uses include projecting a leaf pattern on the stage to make it feel like the actors are outside. Or maybe a window or jail cell frame. There are fancy gobos made out of glass that produce amazing color images but but they cost $60 and up and require a different type of holder. Finally there are gobo rotators. This is a small machine that slides into the accessory slot on a modern ellipsoidal spotlight... older ones may not have them. The rotator holds one or two gobos and can spin them in different ways depending on the device. The best rotators have independent control of both gobos and you can adjust them to spin in different directions at different speeds. This can be used for all kinds of amazing effects from cool swirly things to fire and water. Rotators cost from about $400-$800 depending on the style you get. However you can rent them fairly cheaply for a week... which is a great idea for a high schools with low budgets.

    As for working with a two scene preset Console. I use the following system. Make a spreadsheet with a grid 24 boxes across (or however many channels you need) and two boxes high. Right 1-24 in all the top boxes leave the bottom boxes blank. Now copy that and squeeze as many of them as you can on a page. Photocopy a bunch of copies before you get ready for the show. Fill in the blank squares with the number each slider needs to be at for each look. Every scene in the play get's it's own little chart. Get fancy and make room to write in a cue line and cue number so that it's easy to follow. This is also VERY helpful working with submasters if your console doesn't have a view screen, as it makes it much easier to go back and change the submaster later if you know exactly what you recorded.

    Don't be shy, if you keep asking questions we'll be glad to help.
  7. LightingManEvan

    LightingManEvan Member

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    Fred,

    I do not have access to the board until school starts back up, so no way for me to figure it out. I do not know it off hand, if someone named a few brands from 1980s-1990s that are 2 scene I may be able to recognize, but I am not sure.

    Also, if anyone can help me with the keeping track of cues that I posted in my last post here, that would be appreciated.

    Thanks for all the help so far!
    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

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    I posted above while you were posting about keeping track of cues.

    See this thread for a list of many of the greatest light boards ever made.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2009
  9. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    There are so many,

    but the most popular 2 Scene preset boards that come to mind are NSI, Leviton, Colortran, Lehigh and EDI.

    I can't think of any others off the top of my head but I know there are many more.
  10. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

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    Leprecaun, Colortran, Strand, ETC
  11. dramatech

    dramatech Active Member

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    The fact that the OP mentioned a keypad on the board, indicates that it may very well be a two scene preset with memory submasters. If that is the case, it would be very helpful in creating scenes that are in memory and just activated by the submasters.
    Most of the two scene preset boards over the last 20 years had that feature, the only problem is that each manufacture had their own way of programming the subs.
  12. mstaylor

    mstaylor Well-Known Member Departed Member

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    Don't forget ElectoControl, they did a ton of hs and college installs in the 80s.
  13. LightingManEvan

    LightingManEvan Member

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    Hmm...none of those brands/models mentioned so far "click" with me as being one that I use but I may just be able to recall the brand.

    And I would love to use the keypad more but I just dont...I use it for looking up a dmiiner number so we can find it out when we need to replace it or something, very rare for me to use it much during shows.

    I am not in school now and wont be able to get a picture before October when the show starts, but I can try to lay out the board using this quick picture I made.

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for all the help so far everyone!
  14. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

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    Sorry dude, there are dozens of potential boards built in that time period that match that description. They all work very similar with a few quirks.

    Odds are very good that you have several pages of submasters. This means you can record submasters 1-12, then flip a switch to page 2, and record submasters 13-24, flip a switch to page 3, and record 25-36... or something like that. When you play them back you simply flip the switch to the next page, the memory holds the submaster currently in use on until you bring it down and then knows to change to the new page when brought back up. For example you have submaster one at full, switch to page two and you still have submaster one up. Slide submaster one down you go to blackout. Bring submaster one back up and now you are looking at 13. Flip back to page one, slide it down and back up again and you'll be back at 1.

    This is the way you should be running your shows. Odds are good you won't run out of submasters if your gear is that basic.

    Can you record a show file to disc? If yes then you can switch discs at intermission and now you have 36 submasters before and after intermission (just guessing at the # of pages you have. These boards typically have 3 or 4 pages). Some boards even let you load a show file without disrupting the current submaster. In that case you can load files right in the middle of a show.
  15. LightingManEvan

    LightingManEvan Member

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    Gafftaper, I have 4 pages and use all of the submasters usually. I use the submasters in addition to the scene 1 and scene 2 changes to run a show.

    But to run an entire show with only submasters, I would do this....

    -Set all submasters during tech and stuff and have a submaster for each cue
    -Change between submasters for each cue and change the "page" switch to move onto the rest of the submasters, is this right?

    I just cannot see running an ENTIRE show with the submasters just by switching the submasters up and down and switching pages, I dont know, just have never done it that way before.

    I remember reading the manual once and there was something about using a floppy disk with the board, but dont remember anything else about it.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2009
  16. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

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    Check around the back of the console. That generation of console often had the option of saving the show file to floppy disk. An important safety feature since the rest is just in static memory. It's really lame if your board hiccups and forgets the show. Always back it up to a disk even if you aren't swaping discs mid show.

    As for running a show from Subs it's the only way to go on a board like that. That's why they put the subs on in the first place. Record them all and just fade up and down from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 etc. Why spend the whole show changing EVERY channel when you can do it all ahead on subs? Number the subs in your script so that you can follow the cues. While on a new board you number in order on an old board like that I number them as page 2 sub 1, page 4 sub 5, etc. Write it right in your script so you know which sub to go to.
  17. LightingManEvan

    LightingManEvan Member

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    OK, I will look into that when the show starts. Right now, I just run a show by changing individual channels and going back and forth btwn. scene 1 and scene 2.

    With some shows, they set it up so one cue is put a Stage Right Special so I usually would just put up that channel not set it on a submaster because its only 1 light, does that make sense?

    Next show I will try to tell them that its best to just run the entire show from the subs, but he may want to keep the subs we have on there already because we use them for various things (but they can always be recorded or moved to a different sub on a different page, I would guess.) thanks!
  18. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

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    What you do is save your normal every day settings to disk then restore them after the show.

    Sometimes you've got a scene where a special light comes in and goes out while the rest of the lights stay the same.
    In that case:
    -Have the full scene recorded on a submaster
    -leave the submaster on
    -bring up the individual channel up and fade it back out when the special is done
    -you are back to just the submaster on... move on to the next scene

    In shows where there are very few different looks used over and over then just record the limited number of looks on the same page and go back and forth between the submasters.

    The point is why spend all the time moving all those sliders around when the submasters will do it for you? Just be sure to take good notes about what is in each submaster as you will run into a point where you need to edit one and it's really tough if you don't have good notes.
  19. LightingManEvan

    LightingManEvan Member

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    Sounds GREAT to do it this way, I really hope I get to try it this way in our October show.

    I will just convince them to let me backup the submasters we already have to a floppy disk and then we can set all the submasters as per our show. And taking good notes I will def. do, I already do that, and its best to have it all written down incase a sub. needs changing.

    Thanks for all your help. :grin:

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