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Channel levels by slider or keypad entry?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by SteveB, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Posts in this thread prior to 01/14/08 were pruned from this thread: http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/lighting/10638-new-light-board-high-school.html, so continuity may be somewhat lacking. -DL
    Alex

    You have to explain to me how it's faster to refer to a magic sheet, then key in "Channels 1 - 5 @ F" then simply moving faders for Channels 1 thru 5 to full, especially when you have a piece of tape under the faders labeled "Fnt Wrms" or some such (or a nice Ion LCD display)

    There is NO way a keypad is ever going to be faster at the job of initial build up of looks and cues for the basic, but ESSENTIAL lighting that is not exclusively moving lights or the more complicated accessories for static fixtures, provided the desk has enough manual faders to get the job done, or the show is designed around the manual fader capacity of the desk. This

    The reason consoles went to keypad entry was the impracticality of having more then about 70 or so faders in a convenient and easy to reach layout. Once consoles moved into the hundreds of channel numbers, then a keypad became the better choice. And keypads become essential when you need to edit a recorded look.

    I admit to feeling like a Luddite here in my opinions of the need for consoles that have manual capabilities. I really hope that such consoles don't disappear, as my job gets more difficult when that happens.

    Steve B.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2009
  2. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    Re: New light board for a high school

    Lets look at this a little more in depth.

    If we take 5 channels to full, can I do that as fast with faders than with a keypad? Maybe. But what about channel 1-5 at 82? What about channel 1 and 27 at 57? What about channel 1-12 and 21-23 at 76?

    If you are programming a show with less than 24 channels then maybe you can build the show with faders. But beyond that a keypad is faster and easier.

    As you said it is faster editing for sure with a keypad.

    I don't mind desks coming with 24 or 48 channel faders (and at least 12 subs is a must) as long as they have a keypad as well.

    Mike
     
  3. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Re: New light board for a high school

    From Grand Stage, Chicago's website: C21_Upgrade_kit.pdf.

    Individual channel faders are only useful for initially setting levels, and if necessary their functions can be replicated using submasters, each with a single channel assigned. Subs are infinitely more useful.

    Several CB members have recently acquired Ions, and don't seem to be lamenting lack of individual handles for each channel, which are useless with moving lights, and unwieldy over 48-60 channels. Anyone remember cutting sticks of various lengths to be allow one to fade up or down multiple channels? Why would anyone want to return to that?
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2009
    atm999 and (deleted member) like this.
  4. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    As to channel handles or only keypad, I find that I use only the keypad (unless I'm actually running the board in manual two-preset, which is rare for me and everyone else these days).

    The space I light most is a high school in town. They have an Express/2448, which only five years ago replaced a terribly aging Producer/2. The P/2 is a memory-assisted manual, where there is no theatre stack; the only memory stuff there are the pro patch and pro submasters. In hindsight, it's probably Teatronics's take on the later Mantrix/2. So, historically everything's been manual, except for two shows I lit just before getting the Express, where we rented a memory board.

    Even in the first days of the Express there, we only rarely used manual two-preset control. I cued everything from the keypad, and I suspect most of the other designers who have done stuff there work from the keypad as well.

    The way I see it, two-preset is there as another possible operational mode. You get a Preset Palette because sometimes you might need two-preset; but when you don't, you do it the normal way with the stack. And since in college the only times we used two-preset (aside from the studio space that still had the old Hunt board) were for directing scenes .. and even in later years, we cued those out.

    My experience (and I started manual) is that unless you need to be able to do two-preset occasionally, you don't need to buy a console with channel handles. You won't likely cue from the handles anyway, and having them sometimes makes you develop bad habits.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2009
  5. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Re: New light board for a high school

    Looking at in even more depth:

    "If we take 5 channels to full, can I do that as fast with faders than with a keypad? Maybe. But what about channel 1-5 at 82? What about channel 1 and 27 at 57? What about channel 1-12 and 21-23 at 76?"

    In my experience on consoles where I am setting levels exclusivley with a keypad, with a designer calling levels, he/she is almost always initially setting levels in even numbers - I.E. 50 - 60 - 70 - etc... and tweaks levels in 1/2 points - 55 - 65 - 75, etc... all the while looking at the result. SOMETIMES we use Ch @ or trackpad /wheel for an even more refined value, which is where you start to see levels of 57 and 82, etc...

    The designer might just as well be running up a manual fader while observing the effect being created. Just as accurate, as accuracy in fader positon isn't importent, the light level is important.

    "If you are programming a show with less than 24 channels then maybe you can build the show with faders. But beyond that a keypad is faster and easier."

    Problems then with manual faders.

    Anything above 60-70 handles becomes troublesome. Below that and you can get very fast at building up a show, especially if you are both the LD and console operator.

    Once a show is recorded - IF it's recorded and not being run on the fly on faders and subs, then the keypad is essential.

    If an LD is VERY organized, they might spend the time to build up Channel Groups. Shelly has much to say about this and I agree that Groups can save tons of time and that I rarely see LD's using them. Go figure.

    Anything involving ML's and/or scrollers etc... requires - AT LEAST a keypad, and better choice would be dedicated ML controls - encoder wheels, direct selects, etc...

    I have no problem with getting new console operators conversant with building up a show on a keypad, but they need to know what manual faders can do and how they can save time. Which is why I have been very argumentative with ETC about making sure that all those nice subs on Ion have better functionality to allow the subs to be used to build and run shows efficiently - things like Supermasters (an Emphasis trick) that alleviates problems that Derek points out like how to control all those handles.

    I'm beginning to feel like Frank Wood here.... anybody remember Frank Wood ?.

    Steve B.
     
  6. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    Re: New light board for a high school

    I love control groups. I let the programmer set them up though. So that he is more familiar with them.

    Like I said, I don't mind either way, although I could do without the faders and would not shed a tear. It is much faster for me to set up a show with the keypad (of course I don't have to look or think about it when I use a keypad). But that is my personal preference. I would never tell anyone what is faster for them. Universal statements tend to get us in trouble. But if someone is brought up on a keypad from the beginning I would have a hard time believing that it would faster for them to use faders.

    As far as wierd numbers, I was thinking about in editing. I often put channels on a wheel (which ends up in odd numbers) and then in a later rehearsal I will say "add 5" or "add 3 to that channel" which is very difficult to do on faders. But you are correct in building I oftren build with everything at full just to get something on stage. Then again I often build five or ten cues and copy them ten or twenty times to take into tech rehearsals.

    But yeah, keep the channel faders (as long as I am not going on tour with the console) it doesn't bother me. Just be sure and include a keypad as well (at least and preferably a keypad and encoders). When I build a show I will use the keypad. If my programmer prefers to use faders as long as he can run them as fast as I talk, I don't care.

    Mike
     
  7. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    Re: New light board for a high school

    I haven't heard that name in a long time. From the old Stagecraft list, right?
     
  8. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Re: New light board for a high school

    Yes, he's still there, and [user]SteveB[/user], don't worry. I doubt anyone would compare you to Frank.

    Your devotion to two-scene preset and "one handle per channel" isn't even that unpopular. I've often run Expressions as single-scene preset and lamented not having more than 24 handles (I use: top row=groups, bottom row=looks). Back in the day, our Kliegl Entertainer had 96 channel handles and 48 subs, and many visiting LDs preferred it to our Performer: "Star Policy" showroom. Let's see, it would take an Ion with three 2x20 and one 2x10 wings to approximate that. On the other hand, recently, I've never felt I needed more than the grandMA's 20 faders and 40 executor buttons.:)
     
  9. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Re: New light board for a high school

    I would still contend that keying in values is much more efficient. Getting a group of channels even to even values requires more thought on faders than on the keypad. Also, if you want to bring up more than 10 channels at a time you are kinda hosed. Consider that if the LD wants the channels at 50, you have to not only grab the right handles, but you have to watch the screen to make sure you get to the right place. Sure, going to 52 when you are aiming for 50 may be OK, but if you hit 55 then when the LD asks for 60 it may not be as much of the change the LD wants. Then there is the whole issue of grabbing the right handle at the right time.

    I suppose if you are LD and board op, it may be easier to have handles, but if you know you plot by channels or groups then it should be just as easy to key it in.
     
  10. Edgineer

    Edgineer Member

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    I've had the pleasure recently of teaching local HS students on the Rosco EclIPSe console installed there (24 handles, 4 pages). I've found that the lesser experienced students (or newbies) are somewhat split as to which ones would lean towards handles or the keypad for individual channels. I like to show them all the options and see them use their thought processes from there. The current group of tech students is very inexperienced. What I have noticed above all else is the benefit they seem to get out of learning group/sub fading, whether it be for building their scenes out of zones, individual fixtures, or full scene washes.
     
  11. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    I used a slider system all my high school career, on crappy DJ boards, except for when we would rent an Express for our Musicals - and then the pro lighting designer we would hire would do all programming.

    I personally have adapted very well to the keypad and I find programming cues a lot more efficient on the keypad, as I don't have to switch sides from the board. I find it much easier to create groups or submasters of lights and assign them to cues. Plus, if I have to do multiple lights, it's easy to type 1 - 4 AND 7-10 AT 75 than move each individual fader to 75 (which never actually happens, it's usually 75 plus or minus 3...)

    Plus, then afterward I can just hit RECORD CUE 1 TIME 3 and everything's good.

    Edit: Can we add a poll to this thread?
     
  12. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    My feelings are this: Since using the handles only work for setting the initial scene, and the keypad MUST be used for editing, why learn two contradictory methods? Maybe it's because I learned on a console that didn't have channel sliders. In fact, I can't remember ever using a memory console that had sliders for every channel, even the ETC Insight 108.

    In almost all professional genres, the LD does not run the console. The board op/programmer takes instructions from the LD and makes it happen. [user]SteveB[/user] et al are in a non-standard situation when they function as both LD and LBO, and then it's for a one-off and not a show where repeatability is required/desired.

    I'd rather have all my handles as submasters/faders/executors, giving ME the choice of whether I wanted to put a single channel, group, cue stack, or chase on each. This discussion is not far removed from our other popular debate: http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/...-poor-express.html?highlight=two-scene+preset.
     
  13. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    At my high school we currently have an Express 48/96 which we use for all our shows. I actually learned to run a board using the keypad, and the channel sliders kind of came later. I learned the entire Express board using only the offline software and the manual, and the first time I touched it I was recording complex multi-part cues and such. Since the offline doesn't have any channel sliders (something that I spent a couple weeks trying to figure out), I was kind of forced to use the keypad, so now I find it easier. I have worked shows in 8 different local theatres just in the past few months, and each has a different board, ranging from tiny preset boards to the Eos, and relying on sliders just isn't an option for many of those boards.

    Someone here mentioned Shelley's book and his use of Groups. While I personally think he may have gone a little bit overboard with his groups, I always program lots of groups before I start cueing. It's very easy to just type Group (5) @ FL, and your temp wash goes to full. Generally before I start cueing the show I will set up some basic looks on the board which I record as subs. Just things like "morning wash" "night wash" and such. I use the sliders for these since it's easier to find what I want. Then I usually take this home and program the show roughly on the offline editor - obviously using a keypad. Then I just bring the disc back in and load it into the board, and my basic cue structure is all set up. I then go through the show cue by cue making minor fixes to levels, but in general the channels that I want up will be up by this point.

    Short Answer: I use the keypad.
     
  14. thommyboy

    thommyboy Active Member

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    I use the be-jeebus out of subs and groups. But individual channels are all done on the keypad.
     
  15. church

    church Active Member

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    Both have their place - and I do remember using bits of broom handle to operate the dimmers on resistance boards - when I do a show even a one nighter I will program cues through the keypad and record the cues with the times and run from the GO button. When there are more than 30 channels using sliders per channel and presets is prone to error unless you are very careful. I have run Strand SP 60 boards (3 presets plus groupings) in shows with 300 cues and it is hardwork.

    I will also for one of events usually concerts use subs programmed for a given look and for chases for those events where you are busking through the event and have probably not had a rehersal. Yup happens all the time. I find I can work with 24 sub sliders anything more I never use because I would program cues or reprogram the subs.

    For events where you are doing a concert all of stands in a hall, gymnasium etc. I like the simple two preset boards. Quick easy and cheap.

    My personal experience is that having designed and run shows from resistance boards through large preset boards to modern consoles with and without sliders is that I select the board depending on what is required.

    Having said that I hate a board with only 6 or no sub sliders.


    The board is like any other tool use the one appropriate for the job and for a number of jobs more than one version of the tool will work when used correctly.
     
  16. David Ashton

    David Ashton Active Member

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    I have also ran resistance boards through to my 144 ch Innovator, which does everything I'm capable of, has all the options, has been totally reliable and was dirt cheap because they are not very popular in the US. I like having all the options and use them all at various times.
     
  17. xander

    xander Well-Known Member

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    I am a firm believer in "to each his(her) own." Everyone can have their own preference and I am not going to tell them how they should do their job. But, I am going to make one universal statement.

    While you can argue that moving a slider to full or even 50 or 70 is just as fast as a keypad, when does that not become true? maybe 3, maybe 5, maybe 10 channels? What if the channels are not next to each other? My thought is that maybe you just haven't worked with someone that is very fast with a keypad? I like to think that I am a pretty fast programmer. I can key as fast as the designer can talk, so how can anything else be faster? It just seems to me that once you get more than a few channels or separate them, it just has to be faster with the keypad. The designer says, "ch 10 thru 15 and 20 thru 25 and 30 thru 35 @ 60," those are all buttons, you just type them in as you hear them. Now, what if the designer immediately wants to edit it (which will always happen, no designer gets the initial level exactly right every time with every channel), so (s)he says "@ 70." Now, if you were using sliders you have to go back to all 18 of those sliders and move them all 10%. With the keypad everything is already captured, you just hit @ 70 (or +10 on an obsession or whatever).

    I will grant you that there are cases where sliders can be just as fast, but can you really say that they are ALWAYS just as fast? So, why not use the style that will always get you there quickly?

    That is my universal statement, but I still think everyone has the right to use whatever they want, whatever they feel comfortable with. If you want to lobby desk manufacturers to keep making them, be my guest. Doesn't hurt me any.

    On a related topic, education:
    I am a firm believer that when you are learning/teaching this stuff you should start with the history. Before computer boards multi-scene preset was the norm, so I think kids should still learn it. It is necessary for a complete understanding of the way things work and for some (a lot?) of students, it will be the only way they will understand what is going on. For some people, watching numbers on a screen will not get the point across. However, setting levels with sliders and then manually fading between scenes gives a very visual demonstration of what is going on. For instance, in my undergrad program we all had to design and run a short piece in the light lab using an old two-scene and 12 lights. That should not be the last step though; that should only be a stepping block to computerized desks. Once they have the concept, you move them into more complicated and elaborate things, which, in my opinion, should always include the keypad. If you are not teaching them to use the keypad, then you are not preparing them for the real world.

    end rant.

    -Tim

    P.S. All of what I have said just pertains to doing theatre with a cue stack; if you are busking, doing concerts, corporate, whatever, well then that is a different story.
     
  18. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    Hahahaha... Our first experience was on a piano board in our old lighting room. It took 4 of us to run a 24 channel "board".

    Mike
     
  19. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    My first 12 channel board used 6K auto-transformers with mechanical masters, similar in vintage to this one but a different design.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. xander

    xander Well-Known Member

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    I am not saying there was nothing before multi-scene preset boards, but this thread is about sliders, not piano boards. Plus, you would have to be really lucky to get to play with a piano board thses days, I am sure there aren't very many left out there. It would be great for educational purposes though.
     

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