$20,000 - $30,000 budget - Need help deciding on a show control setup

voztimbrada

Member
I am currently involved in the planning phase for a new theatre, set to open next year. I am the primary tech advisor, and am trying to educate myself a bit in regards to the various options for show control. I have a fair amount of experience running from computer based systems. But since we will have a bit more budget at our disposal, I'm interested in learning a bit more about the hardware solutions available.

The theatre will be roughly 200 seats, and will be utilizing prerecorded audio tracks a lot for very music centered shows. So I'd like to get set up with show control that uses the audio for the master, or perhaps time code. Lighting design will be fairly involved, and synced with audio. We will also be using multiple projectors and possibly an LED wall. So we need the capability for multiple layers and outputs of video. I'm also very interested in an extremely stable set up. Budget is not infinite, but spending $20,000 to $30,000 on these elements alone is not out of the question. I'm also interested in finding out about options for redundancy, backups without show interruption in the case of a failure.

I'll list the two options that are my primary choices right now, but I'd love to hear suggestions, pros/cons or learn new information that will shed some more light on things. Here are the two scenarios I'm considering at present:

1. Software based set up:

2 Mac Pros
1 to run audio with time code, or midi commands, etc. as well as lights via software console and dmx interface
1 to run video server software ala Arkaos media server or something along those lines
Either can serve as a back up, if one were to fail


2. Harware set up

ETC, High end systems, HOG or comparable board
Hardware media server(s) to run video and audio


Is there a major element/product/option I'm missing? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks in advance!
 

DMXFactory

Member
Sounds like fun! If you are looking for a hardware solution to synchronize audio, video, lighting, and other control elements. You may want to look at Alcorn McBride V16 Pro or Medialon ShowMaster. I work for Alcorn McBride so obviously I am biased and will not comment further unless asked. Good luck!

-Adam
 

voztimbrada

Member
Sounds like fun! If you are looking for a hardware solution to synchronize audio, video, lighting, and other control elements. You may want to look at Alcorn McBride V16 Pro or Medialon ShowMaster. I work for Alcorn McBride so obviously I am biased and will not comment further unless asked. Good luck!

-Adam

Coincidence that you work for Alcorn McBride, as I just finished reading Steve Alcorn's "Theme Park Design" book. Good stuff. It was a really useful tool for learning about the advantages of hardware boxes over PC's etc. when it comes to show control over the long term. I really enjoyed reading it.

I've perused the Alcorn McBride website and am actually very interested in learning more about the equipment. I think for our purposes, we really do need to work with a lighting console, but it looks like a show control unit like the V16 Pro could be well suited to running a lighting console, an audio playback unit, and video playback units while keeping them tightly in synch.

I think my first and biggest question regarding something like the V16 would be this:

Is it possible/practical to have a list of cues or scenes that can be triggered via a go button (just like traditional lighting cues, etc.) over the course of a theatrical show? I know in the context of them park, it would more likely that the show might be triggered once, and then run all the way to the end, and that cycle would be repeated over and over again each time new people enter or ride the attraction. I'm guessing multiple cue or playlist functionality is built into the control software, but I thought it was worth asking, since Alcorn Mcbrides hardware seems to have been designed with theme parks in mind. I noticed there is tutorial or class on the website. I'm thinking I might check that out.
 

voztimbrada

Member
Another biased response, but when looking at a lighting console, know that Cognito does MTC very well. Here is an example. More information and training videos for Cognito can be found on our website. The Pro model of Cognito you'd be looking at has a MSRP of $3650.

Rob, thanks for the info. I actually stumbled across a youtube video a couple of weeks ago with one of your company reps demoing Cognito at a convention. It's a very slick looking board. I like that the user interface is intuitive and not overly technical. For our small theatre, that sort of board seems like it would be a very practical solution.


I browsed the manual briefly, but wasn't entirely sure of the following question:


Forgive my lack of understanding, but does it have the capability to create cue lists or stacks as is more common in theater productions? Or is it primarily the scenes with faders kind of interface, for more on the fly control like you'd find in smaller concerts and clubs, etc? Or perhaps it has the capability to do both? I noticed there didn't seem to be a "Go" button per se, but that doesn't mean the functionality isn't there. Hopefully my question makes sense...
 

voztimbrada

Member
Rob, thanks for the info. I actually stumbled across a youtube video a couple of weeks ago with one of your company reps demoing Cognito at a convention. It's a very slick looking board. I like that the user interface is intuitive and not overly technical. For our small theatre, that sort of board seems like it would be a very practical solution.


I browsed the manual briefly, but wasn't entirely sure of the following question:


Forgive my lack of understanding, but does it have the capability to create cue lists or stacks as is more common in theater productions? Or is it primarily the scenes with faders kind of interface, for more on the fly control like you'd find in smaller concerts and clubs, etc? Or perhaps it has the capability to do both? I noticed there didn't seem to be a "Go" button per se, but that doesn't mean the functionality isn't there. Hopefully my question makes sense...


I just did a little youtube research, and watched another cognito video that actually answered my question. And I saw the playback buttons toward the bottom of the console. This looks like a very real possibility. And I like the price.
 

voztimbrada

Member
Another biased response, but when looking at a lighting console, know that Cognito does MTC very well. Here is an example. More information and training videos for Cognito can be found on our website. The Pro model of Cognito you'd be looking at has a MSRP of $3650.

Hi Rob. Thanks again for the info on the Cognito board. I'm quite interested in it. I thought I'd ask you another Cognito question directly. I've looked through the manual pretty extensively, and couldn't find anything about custom design of movement effects. In lighting software I've used in the past, I've seen them referred to as "Oscillators" in the macro category. Movement patterns (sine, square, etc.) you can apply to a channel (for instance, x and y axis) and tweak the parameters (frequency, chase, speed, etc.). I think on Cognito, you refer to them as effects. My understanding is that a Balllyhoo, for instance, would be a pre-programmed effect you could apply to an instrument, resulting in a repeating ballyhoo-like motion path for the instrument. Is it possible to tweak the specifics of the ballyhoo pattern, or more specifically, design your own? Thanks in advance!
 

Rob

Well-Known Member
Almost all effects in Cognito have four tweakers: Rate/Size/Offset/Repeat. Offset is between lights (i.e., 10 lights in a circle offset 36 degrees) and Repeat is how many groups to split the selection set into (i.e. parallel trusses). The position effects are Ballyhoo, CanCan, PanCan and Circle. Cognito does not let you assign a Sine wave to Pan and a Cosine to Tilt. (That's a little advanced for our target customer.) I hope this helps.
Have you found a Pathway dealer in Vegas to lend you a console? There are a few.
 
Since you're already planning on going with Arkaos, why not couple it with a Jands Vista at the same time?

Timeline programming, simple GUI and can potentially run your audio cues as well!

If you're going to infocomm, stop by booth 5171 and I'll show you how to get it all working :)

Otherwise we can definitely arrange for a demo in Las Vegas!
 

themuzicman

Well-Known Member
Run your audio off of 2x Mac Mini's, one for main and one for a backup, and invest in MIDI Solutions Thru's and Merges and a MIDI Mute to have redundancy on the machines. You don't need a Mac Pro to run audio for things like QLab. The only time I would bump it up to a Pro is if you were running something like SoundGrid Server, otherwise Pro's are total overkill.
 

voztimbrada

Member
Almost all effects in Cognito have four tweakers: Rate/Size/Offset/Repeat. Offset is between lights (i.e., 10 lights in a circle offset 36 degrees) and Repeat is how many groups to split the selection set into (i.e. parallel trusses). The position effects are Ballyhoo, CanCan, PanCan and Circle. Cognito does not let you assign a Sine wave to Pan and a Cosine to Tilt. (That's a little advanced for our target customer.) I hope this helps.
Have you found a Pathway dealer in Vegas to lend you a console? There are a few.

Okay, that all makes sense. Thanks for the clarification, Rob. For our purposes I think having access to those parameters would be enough. I haven't looked at Las Vegas dealers yet. But I would love to demo the console at some point. I'm assuming you have dealers listed on your website, yes?
 

voztimbrada

Member
Since you're already planning on going with Arkaos, why not couple it with a Jands Vista at the same time?

Timeline programming, simple GUI and can potentially run your audio cues as well!

If you're going to infocomm, stop by booth 5171 and I'll show you how to get it all working :)

Otherwise we can definitely arrange for a demo in Las Vegas!



Hi James. Thanks for the suggestion. I'm not very familiar with Jands Vista, but upon skimming the website, I'm definitely interested in reading up on it. It looks like a system that lends itself well to the kinds of performances we'll be producing at our theatre. I won't be at Infocomm this year, but I would definitely be interested in a demo in Vegas. What's the best method for arranging that? Should I contact your company through the Jands Vista website?
 

voztimbrada

Member
Run your audio off of 2x Mac Mini's, one for main and one for a backup, and invest in MIDI Solutions Thru's and Merges and a MIDI Mute to have redundancy on the machines. You don't need a Mac Pro to run audio for things like QLab. The only time I would bump it up to a Pro is if you were running something like SoundGrid Server, otherwise Pro's are total overkill.

You make a good point on the Macs, themuzicman. I think I was leaning towards the Mac Pros for the purposes of running several outputs of HD video. I have worked with Mac Mini's extensively in other installations, and you're right. For audio, they are rock solid. I find that they handle video well, but if you load them down with multiple layers, outputs, etc. they start to max out, which is understandable considering the processors, etc. For video, I was just thinking we'd need something with a little more beef. By buying two Mac Pros, I could use one for audio, as well as a back up for video in a pinch. But, it may not be necessary. One Mac Pro, and two Mac Mini's would still be more affordable than two Mac Pros.

Thanks for your suggestion regarding MIDI Solutions Thru's etc. That's a great idea for creating redudancy, etc. I plan to read up on that as well...
 
Hi James. Thanks for the suggestion. I'm not very familiar with Jands Vista, but upon skimming the website, I'm definitely interested in reading up on it. It looks like a system that lends itself well to the kinds of performances we'll be producing at our theatre. I won't be at Infocomm this year, but I would definitely be interested in a demo in Vegas. What's the best method for arranging that? Should I contact your company through the Jands Vista website?
Email me your contact info and I'll pass it on to our West Coast rep!

[email protected]
 

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