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Control/Dimming automated control from a PC

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by giwiens, Jan 29, 2009.

  1. giwiens

    giwiens Member

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    Hi everyone. I'm hoping someone call help me out with a project that I have been working on for a while. My background is audio and video/film projection systems. I have essentially no lighting experience but I am doing my best to learn. Just to recap where I work from my intro post: I work in Theatre Operations at the science center in Vancouver, BC.

    The project I have is to control the lights in our automated video projection theatre so that the house lights come up after the show finishes and go down when the show starts. We also occasionally have just that require audience interaction where the participants select what will happen by pressing numbers on a voting keypad, so it would be nice for the lights to come up at those times as well so people could see what they're doing.

    What I have for equipment is as follows:
    - a computer with WindowsXP on it that works as the video server
    - a Strand CD80 lighting dimmer
    - an Enttec USB->DMX device

    So far I have managed to get the lights to work using theatrical software running from my laptop so I can program in scenes and such and get them to change when told to. What I would like to be able to have is to have a command or batch that I could run that would change the lights to the level I need. So far I haven't been able to figure out how to do this. I'm hoping I won't have to write individual programs to set the lights to each level as I haven't done any serious computer programming since first year college and that was in turbopascal (gives you an idea how long it has been).

    Any thoughts? Please let me know if you need more info from me.

    Garth
     
  2. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Sorry I can't help you directly but I have a clarification question that may help someone else... and also bump your thread up to the top again!

    I'm a little confused why you can't just create a 45 minute program that's all timed.
    cue 1 houselights on wait 9 minutes
    cue 2 house to half wait 2 minutes
    cue 3 blackout wait 20 minutes for film
    cue 4 house up to half for audience voting wait 2 minutes...
    and so on

    Do you want to completely remove the light operator from the situation and just press one button to start the whole show with film and lighting?

    Also you didn't mention which software you are using for the video server and the stage lighting.
     
  3. apostlerock

    apostlerock Member

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    As Gafftaper said, what software you are using is pretty much the answer to your question. I was very fortunate to have been given guidance and advice by the friendly folks at cheaplights.com While setting up our new video broadcast production room we stumbled into the new technology by accident. No one will spoon feed you, but you won't have much fun unless you embarrass yourself a few times anyway! God bless you!
     
  4. LightingPenguin

    LightingPenguin Active Member

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    I disagree. If you're stumbling and its for a show, it is NOT fun. You look bad, you can make your theatre look bad, and you can give yourself a bad reputation. We WILL help you if we know how to, dont worry. If you ever have a question, first try finding out the answer yourself. Its always better to do research yourself, as you find more material often times and you learn about other products while reading. If you can't, we'll look ourselves, and see what we can do to help you. We like helping, its almost what this ENTIRE forum is for.

    Now, as to your question, we really need to know the program you're using if you need help from us for programming it
     
  5. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    The rig doesn't matter, only what software is on the pc. Since you have an Entec box, there are a number of programs that are compatible with it. I don't know which are, or how to program them, but they shouldn't be too difficult.

    Seems you want two basic cues:

    1. house lights up or down.

    2. cues to trigger each video file.

    Then load all that into a list.

    That should be fairly easily done, but the specifics will depend on what program you're using. The downside of Entec based products is that since they don't cost, support MIGHT be less than it should be. The up side is that since Entec is basically open source, running video files and a few lighting cues should be possible from one of the many programs that are available.
     
  6. giwiens

    giwiens Member

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    sorry for taking so long to respond. To help clarify what happens in the theatre.

    The Windows task scheduler runs a .cmd file which calls up the video playlist. This playlist is played using Media Player Classic. Every show has its own playlist. For example: show 'Alpha' plays at 11:00am --> At 11:00am scheduled tasks runs .cmd file 'runAlpha.cmd' --> 'runAlpha.cmd' runs MediaPlayerClassic playlist 'Alpha.mpcpl' --> and the show runs. This playlist plays the shows until the scheduled tasks calls the next playlist at 11:30am when the next show plays.

    What I would like to do is have a program that I could call a preset from within a .cmd file which would adjust the lights to the appropriate level.

    As for theatre lighting programs I have been using StageConsole from ChromaKinetics and it has worked quite well for live stuff but it doesn't seem to be set-up for what I need to do.

    Hopefully this answers some questions. Again my apologies for taking so long to respond.

    Garth
     
  7. giwiens

    giwiens Member

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    len you have summed it up pretty good as to what I need to do. One of the reasons for using the Windows task scheduler (other than our IT dept is full of Bill Gates diciples) is the ease of access through the network to edit it when necessary. I would like to keep that.
     
  8. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    LightJockey will run your cues, but there's a couple caveats:

    1. I'm not sure how to do video with it. I know you can control an Arkaos video server, and probably other video servers, but cost may be an issue. I THINK it may be able to launch files from Windows Media player, which might work for your video, but again, I don't use it that much so I don't want to say for sure.

    2. LJ won't work with Entec. You'll need to get the LJ box. About $1250, maybe cheaper on ebay if you can find a used one.

    3. If you do go that route, LJ has a cool plug-in called Manager. One of its many features is that you can create cues that start at a specific time of day, or based on some parameter such as sunset (and you can dial that in based on your latitude/longitude), etc. You can also make an html page which allows you to run cues from any other pc in the world.

    Best bet if you want to get a more definite answer on the video issue is to go to the Martin LJ forum.
     
  9. giwiens

    giwiens Member

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    Thanks everyone for your help and comments. It looks like it may be a case of us trying to hire a programmer to write some programs to get the lights to go to the levels we need.

    I really appreciate everyone who read my posts and replied. It really helps to have a printout of forum postings to help prove to those who fund stuff that you have talked to the experts.

    I'm looking forward to continuing being a part of the community here.

    Garth
     
  10. OTO1702

    OTO1702 Member

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    There is probably some other softwares out there but for a cheap way to do what you want to do, you can actually use a software named Freestyler. This software is free and fully compatible with your enttec box.

    freestylerdmx

    Its pretty easy to use and simple to program, if you have some cues, I do not see where it can fail !

    Good luck !

    OTO
     

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