The above Ad will no longer appear after you Sign Up for Free!

Control/Dimming Black Box Light Board (Any Suggestions)

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by GainesWorthy, Nov 19, 2008.

  1. GainesWorthy

    GainesWorthy Member

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    Hello, I am currently looking for a no less than 38 dimmer light board. One that is ideal for a black box. Right now, I have the ETC Smartfade in my mind.

    Any suggestions you guys have would be very helpful!

    -Gaines


    P.S. Price is a concern, the cheaper, the better!
     
  2. Diarmuid

    Diarmuid Active Member

    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Cornwall, UK
    There was a thread around here quite reccently about the smartfade, a search should turn it up.

    I think that it depends on what you want to do with the desk? I know its a black box, but what do you intend to do in it?

    Personally I think that the smartfade can be quite a nice desk but then when I used it I was only really controlling 12 channels. Bearing in mind that even the smartfade 2496 can only control 24 channels in two preset mode (and you have 38 channels), then the desk is unlikely to really be of any use in a two preset configuration.

    Bearing in mind also that the actual memory stack function on this desk, seems to be quite difficult to use, then you probably wont be able to use that with too much ease. So you're looking at buying a desk capable of pretty much only being used in a single preset format, or with submasters.

    Thats my personal views on the smartfade.

    A couple of questions that might make it easier to give you decent suggestions. How many people need to be able to use this? Just you, other students or teachers and totally untrained people? (I'm not saying that all drama teachers are unable to use a lighting desk, just a lot of them.) Also what is the desk mainly going to be used for? Turning on a couple of lights for a rehearsal, lectures, or performances?

    I hope that some of that might have been useful... if not I'm sure there'll be someone more helpful along soon!
     
  3. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

    Messages:
    4,365
    Likes Received:
    501
    Occupation:
    Prop-tart
    Location:
    Chicago
    I hate to burst your bubble, but dimmers and light boards are actually separate items that must be bought separately and used together. The "standard" for basic light boards is Leprecon, but while those are probably more than you are willing to spend, I would take a look at Chauvet, Elation, and Lightronics. Be aware that those companies are not top of the line, and are not meant to be used hard. They're meant to be, cheap, affordable, extra light to medium duty boards. The ETC Smartfade, is the tops, IMHO, of the small boards. I have used one and was actually rather impressed by its capability. If you can afford a Smartfade, I would get that.



    For dimmers, you are in a black box. How many lights will you be controlling and at what wattage a piece. 38 dimmers is kind of an odd number to find. Finding a portable, all-in-one pack of 24 or 48 dimmers will be much easier. If you absolutely want 38, you are likely stuck buying separate 4 or 6 channel dimmer packs, which might work for your needs. OR do you already have dimmers in place?

    So tell us more about your space. Another HUGE factor to consider is what kind of power source you have. Is this something you are looking to just plug into the edison outlet on the wall, or do you have a proper three phase tie in and all that jazz.

    Again, I;d check out Elation, Chauvet, Lightronics, and Leprecon. All of these companies design and sell products with price in mind.
     
  4. GainesWorthy

    GainesWorthy Member

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    I apologize for my lack of details. I was in a rush to post this, when I should have taken the time to put in the who, what, when, where, and why, (sometimes how).

    The board will primarly be used by trained people, our teacher is trained. (I do agree with you. They put English teachers as drama teachers.)

    We will use this board for shows. We usually do at least one show in the main theatre and one show in the black box per semester.

    Also, I apologize for the "38 dimmer" statement, I realized that when I just re-read my post. I mean to say "38 channel"

    I wish they would do the express series again. I am very upset that it was discontinued. The Express 48/96 is the common main theatre board choice.


    I should also mention that there was a board in the Black Box, it just now arches when used, and we are finding a replacement. I can get you every piece of info come tomorrow. Yes I know, unprepared.

    Thanks again,

    Gaines.

    P.S. I am looking at the boards suggested so far.
     
  5. brethughes

    brethughes Member

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Assuming the Main Theatre has more circuits than the black box, and you are in love with the Express line, I have two thoughts that come to mind.

    First option- Move the express 48/96 to the black box, and buy another console from ETC, like an expression obsession etc. for your main theatre. Then you don't necessarily feel like you are buying a huge overkill board for your black box.

    second option- Just because you can't find a new Express, doesn't mean you can't find a used one in great shape. I know how buying used equipment goes in a school, but you may be able to get around it. Just do your research on the board before buying it. Used equipment can be great assuming it was taken care of to start with.

    Good luck.

    Bret Hughes
    Park City Schools
    Eccles Center for the Performing Arts
    Park City, Utah
     
  6. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,612
    Likes Received:
    2,624
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    Yes except the Obsession is also a discontinued board.


    1) Most important question: What is your approximate budget?

    2) Clarify how many dimmers you have in your house. 38 doesn't make sense. Do you have 48 and ten are used for house lights?

    3) Do you have any moving lights, gobo rotators, color scrollers anything that uses DMX control?

    4) Is there any possibility that you will get money to buy some of those DMX controlled toys or rent them for a show?

    5) Do you have a particular style of console operation in mind: two scene preset, Submasters, pre-programmed cue stack with a go button?

    Answer those and then we can help you better.
     
  7. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,026
    Likes Received:
    770
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Express, Expression, Insight and Obsession are all discontinued.

    I believe that ETC has enough parts around to make a custom Express, but they have stated that it would cost more then a comparably equipped Ion with fader wings.

    Another option would be Strand, which has a following among members here on CB.

    Steve B
     
  8. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    43
    Occupation:
    Teacher
    Location:
    Central Wisconsin
    If you have the money and don't need all the bells and whistles of a full theatrical light board, I'd go with the Smartfade. I would not use it, however, in a situation that calls for a lot of cue writing. It's a PITA to access all the cool functions of the Smartfade, it's not as intuitive as a theatrical board.

    I have a Leviton Innovator, it's a cheap board but it works well if you treat it nicely.

    If you truly want an Expression, buy used.
     
  9. brethughes

    brethughes Member

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    True story... My bad.... Sorry
     
  10. thommyboy

    thommyboy Active Member

    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    14
    I am a little surprised that gaff has not jumped on this with his standard Strand suggestion...I guess I will.

    Check out the Strand Basic Pallet. As you are a school this is a good opportunity to expose your students to both the RPN and more of a command line syntaxes....syntacies....syntai...syntax (like moose)...more than 1 syntax.

    This would be a significant increase in cost over the smartfade; I believe it would be closer in cost to an ION w/ a fader wing.
     
  11. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    9,440
    Likes Received:
    1,840
    Location:
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    So is the HogII, doesn't mean they aren't still being used every day. I think this might be the perfect situation for a used express to come in. Take a look around, there will be a pretty good number of them hitting the market fairly soon.
     
  12. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

    Messages:
    4,077
    Likes Received:
    682
    Occupation:
    Controls Technician - TAIT Towers
    Location:
    Lititz, PA
    First off, none of the Strand consoles use RPN as a programming syntax. As far as I know, only the ETC Congo is using that at the moment.

    Now that I have seen Eos, Ion, and the Palette OS, I actually am kind of torn between what I like better (at least for my theatre). I can see the merits of the Basic Palette for a space like the OP describes. I have a feeling when you price it out, the basic Palette would come in at lower cost compared to Ion and for the most part the only flexibility you dont get with the Palette is not being able to add fader wings. Both consoles will give you pretty sufficient "Future Proofing." I did get the feeling that the learning curve on the Strand side is a little less steep.

    In general, I would stay away from SmartFade for theatrical use. I know that people miss Express(ion) but it is really time to get over it. I think that once more of the new generation consoles get out into circulation people will realize that life doesn't revolve around Express(ion) and there are better alternatives even for the simplest of venues.
     
  13. LekoBoy

    LekoBoy Active Member

    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Moralton, ST
    Have to agree with Footer. The Express family of consoles is the most successful ever created. Plus, there's a huge benefit to having the same console in two different spaces, both in training and for backup purposes. Somewhere on here is a list of vendors for used gear, check it out.
     
  14. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

    Messages:
    782
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Arlington, TX
    I'm an Expression fan, and in my mind that's a perfect fit .. but ..

    - what's the existing board?
    - it troubles me that you say the existing board arcs when you use it. This may mean problems that are not the board proper.
    - do you need 38 channels of manual, or 38 channels of memory? Would a (yes, I know Expression is dead) Express/2448 work? Express/125?
    - what's the control protocol on your dimmer rack? If it's a proprietary protocol like one of the ana muxes, you'll need a black box protocol converter or a board that natively speaks that linguini.

    In my mind, Smartfade isn't a good choice if you will have anybody driving it who's ever used a real board before. Great for the DJ/club market, bad for the theatre market.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2008
  15. thommyboy

    thommyboy Active Member

    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    14
    Thank you. I misspoke on that. I guess the phrase I was looking for was simply expose students to various programing mindsets. i.e. [cue] [1] [delete] on Strand vs [delete] [cue] [1] on ETC
    In my experience it seems that Strand has a more 'flexible' input style, but that could just be me.
     
  16. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,612
    Likes Received:
    2,624
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    Gaff's waiting for the original poster to respond his previous post with answers to questions. Most important is approximate budget. If they've only got $1000 to spend then everything that has been posted in this thread is pointless.

    and Baby Palette's price falls nicely in between Smartfade and Ion.
     
  17. jsarge36

    jsarge36 Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have to agree with Bret on the fact that you can always buy a used Express 24/48 or 48/96. But I also bought a new 24/48 last year for a studio theater so I would make sure you can't still find new.

    But from the education standpoint, if you are attempting to educate potential pros than go with a board with common syntax to what is out there and th SF is not that common. If it's just to get some lights on in the theater than the SF isn't that awful.

    IMO: The Smartfades are not a good idea. Like a few people have commented on the Cue stack is unique. Not to mention when I called my vendor and asked for prices on the Smartfade, Leprecon comparative, or Express, he basically suggested I steer clear of the SF. I also feel like it is not longor before they discontinue that line as well.
     
  18. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

    Messages:
    4,365
    Likes Received:
    501
    Occupation:
    Prop-tart
    Location:
    Chicago
    The cue stack is unique but it's really not that hard to understand. The one I used over the summer was owned and used by a SOUND guy. So if he can figure it out ... :evil:

    Also, there is *supposed* to be an upgrade coming out that will allow you to connect a monitor to it.
     
  19. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,612
    Likes Received:
    2,624
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    I saw the Smartfade with monitor at LDI... not sure if it's actually available yet. There is a MAC and PC version. If I remember right you can't just plug in a monitor. You have to provide a whole computer.
     
  20. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    4,443
    Likes Received:
    2,842
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV, USA
    Correct, [user]gafftaper[/user]. One cannot just plug in a monitor. ETC has taken the position of moving the onus of the display to a client-supplied computer, thus keeping the costs down, as well as providing offline editing. SmartSoft. The computer is not required for operation, but personally I would never light a theatre show with a desk that does not have a display. What LD does not carry a laptop these days?

    From the site referenced: "In spring 2008 SmartSoft will be available to support the entire SmartFade console line, on a PC. Mac versions will follow thereafter." [user]sclausen[/user], looks like someone needs to update her website.:)

    As to the SmartFade family being discontinued, I doubt that, as ETC is actively and aggressively supporting it. More at ETC - SmartFade & SmartFade ML forum.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2008

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice