ELation Show Designer 3 Console....can these features possibly be left out?

I have not heard back from the techs yet at Elation but I addressed two issues with the fairly expensive (out of the lower end boards) Show Designer 3 Console. I wanted to see if anyone else has this console and if they have run into similar issues when it comes to "on the fly" playback. Can anyone let me know if I am doing something wrong and this board can actually do what I am trying to do. I am more of a live dance music lighting guy as opposed to stage and theatre so I am wonder if the design of the console was made for theatre where everything is usually preprogrammed but I would still think you would need the features I am having problems with (listed below) from time to time.

(this is what I sent to the Elation guys) :

I was able to thoroughly work with the Show Designer 3 this weekend
past and have come up with what I feel is valuble feeback for you. Do
you have input into the research and developement process? If not, I
would highly suggest that this info is directed towards the
individuals that have the power to make changes in the functionality
and future updates of this board. I have worked with many many
boards in the past 15 years and this board contains some features of
some of the very high end boards but it has a counter-productive
offset mixed within it's architecture.
These two issues that I am about to explain are so large in importance
that we are contemplating selling the board because of it's lack of
capability to do these two functions. It is literally two of the most
important functions (in my opinion) when controlling a nightclub "live"
environment. Furthermore, I think it can make the difference between
selling a lot more boards for the nightclub application when consumers
are debating between products such as a hardware console or software
like Showpro or Light Jockey.
The issues :

(A) NO FIXTURE RELEASE COMMAND : When you are working on a live show and
the lights are moving, attributes are changing, and you have this cool
sequence running......You grab control of a fixture and position it to
highlight someone on the dancefloor. All the other lights are still
running the sequence. Now, you can not release the fixture you grabbed and
it is stuck under your control until you restart the sequence which in
many cases is too abrubt. No matter what changes you make to any amount
of fixtures while a sequence is playing back, you should be able to hit a
command that releases all the changes and movements you altered, back to
the programmed running sequence(s) state. What good is a light that is no
longer moving around the dance floor while all the others are playing
back? When the fixture is deselected, it should simply revert back to
it's preprogrammed state and release any attribute that you changed on the
fly (unless ofcourse you record it before deslecting it)

This is the worse of the two issues. Let's say I have 20 color change
fixtures (this issue can happen with any attribute). I have presets
recorded in which simply adjust the color channels. I have included all
the fixutres when making the preset.
Button 1: Red
Button 2: Green
Button 3: Blue

Now, I play back the fixtures and turn 10 of them on blue and 10 of them
on red. Lets say they are moving heads as well, so they are spinning
around and lighting up my dancefloor. In a club situation, the light guy
is workiing on the fly with the DJ to compliment his music with the proper
colors. I want to change the red fixtures to blue and also the blue
fixtures to red (swap them). I select the red fixtures only and then tap
the preset page button....Now the problem appears......the BLUE preset is
already lit up because some fixtures are already blue. So you can NOT
change the red fixtures to blue using the blue preset button even though I
only have the RED fixtures selected. Since the blue is already lit up,
hitting it can not turn it ON since it is already ON. Instead, hitting
the BLUE preset button turns off the blue preset, thus shutting off the
fixtures that were already blue (even though they are not selected) and
the red fixtures stay red because I just turned OFF blue. Now, when I hit
blue again..the red fixtures I have selected will turn BLUE and the
fixtures that were blue simply stay OFF because they are not selected.
The only work around is to use the same scenerio except use the jog
wheels to rotate the blue channel on and the red channel off, then do the
opposite after selecting the other fixtures. THat will just not work in
a live environment where everything is happening on the fly and changes
you being made extremely quickly.
In order for this problem to be corrected, the board would have to know
to shut the preset off when fixtures are selected that DO NOT use that
attribute. SO when I select ONLY the red fixtures and then go back to
the preset pages, the blue preset will not be lit (even though some
fixtures are using the BLUE preset(unselected ones)). This way, I can
now hit blue and turn my red fixtures to blue without shutting off the
already blue fixtures.
A board that addresses these issues very well is the NSI MLC-16 and
could perhaps be a board to look at and copy some of it's architecture.
The Show Designer is much more capable and fuller featured but the NSI
has the leading edge (at more than half the price) in the "nightclub"
application architecture.

I really like the board and hope that these issues are considered
serious enough to address. It seems as though it should be a firmware
issue and something that can be changed with a chip update of firmware
upload. I can easily see changing the protocol so that one function
of the "BACK" button could be to release the fixtures as explained in
the first issue.
As for the other issue, it just needs to know to deselect the presets
when fixtures are selected that do not use that preset trait. Not
deactivate the preset (since other fixtures are using it), just deselect
it so it can be reused for the newly selected fixtures (which are not
already using it)

I'll give you a call to talk about this and see if this is serious enough
to have it put on the R & D team's plate of things to have a meeting
For now, I don't want to sell the board if I think there may be a fix down
the road, but if your team thinks it is not an issue to deal with for this
particular console model, then the board will ultimately serve me no
purpose for club application.


Well-Known Member
I asked Elation for tech support on a couple lights once. Never got a response. That was, however, in the pre- Eric Loader days so things may have changed. And for nearly $3K, I'd consider an Avo. A few bucks more, but a lot more flexibility. Or you could step down in price to a pc based solution. A Hog PC or Martin LJ will give you less dmx channels (unless you go with 2 dongles) but you'll be able to do all the stuff you're asking about.


CB Mods
I have actually had good experiences with Elation support. I have called and emailed them multiple times, and they seem to have been receptive of feedback I have given and had good info for me.

len said:
And for nearly $3K, I'd consider an Avo. A few bucks more, but a lot more flexibility. Or you could step down in price to a pc based solution. A Hog PC or Martin LJ will give you less dmx channels (unless you go with 2 dongles) but you'll be able to do all the stuff you're asking about.
Unfortunately, you don't really save anything if you already own an almost $3k console, so upgrading isn't always practical.

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