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Control/Dimming ETC Express with Emphasis--Help!

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by soundcatt, Nov 29, 2008.

  1. soundcatt

    soundcatt Member

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    So one of our schools was recently completely rebuilt and in the theater they installed an ETC Express 48/96 along with an ETC Expression console (server). Also as part of the package they purchased a few Varilight TS1000 moving lights. According to the Expression manual, I have to use expression to patch in the moving lights as that way their "personality" can be set.

    BUT....the electricians installed the TS 1000 in a couple of locations and when one of the music teachers potted up some stage lights the varilights came to life. I was able to control pan and tilt and color and the gobo wheel and the dimmer without patching anything in Expression server. (All of the channels are patched 1 to 1 on our Express console.)

    So here's the question: If I don't go through the trouble of patching the moving lights with expression console and just use the Express 48/96 and I assign them a starting DMX channel (after which they'll take the next 10 or so as control channels) am I missing out on any functions or features? The lighting scheme is constantly changing and I don't want to have to constantly keep setting up the plot for every iteration in Expression if I don't have to and just do it for the major gigs that the theater hosts.

    Any thoughts?? Thank you!
     
  2. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    The lights started up because they were receiving instructions via DMX from the console to do so. Just because you don't have the personality patched in the console doesn't mean that the lights won't respond, it just wont be as easy to control them via the console as it would if the personality was set up and patched properly.

    You will still be able to control all of the features and functions of the fixtures - It's just that the console won't be able to deal with them as well.

    PS you say "Server" - do you have emphasis with your expression?
     
  3. photoatdv

    photoatdv Active Member

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    You could theoretically control an entire ML rig using channel level. There would be some sort of DMX plot for your lights. Ex. control channel 1 is fixture control, channel 2 is pan course, channel 3 pan fine, ect.
     
  4. soundcatt

    soundcatt Member

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    Yes...I don't really have much prior experience with Emphasis so the learning curve is pretty steep right now...Its kind of funny, when the installers trained us on the board (good thing I have some experience with lighting controls as calling it training would be an overstatement) they said - "Don't worry about Emphasis, you'll never use it" and they quickly moved on to another topic...Go figure....Do you have Emphasis experience? I'd love to bounce questions about Emphasis off of someone who has actually used it before as I'm the only person in the school district that has any clue how the light console works so every time they want to do something they look to me for advice/tech...
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2008
  5. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    Absolutely, Please PM me.
     
    soundcatt and (deleted member) like this.
  6. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I would like to see this topic kept out in the open. I too have an emphasis system in one of my theatres, its a great system for what it is, but it does have some really odd quarks, especially when it comes to moving fixtures. I have been a WYG user for years, I even I find emphasis a bit odd. There are a few people around here who have emphasis, and probably 100's more that will find this site because of it. Ask your questions here, lets keep this stuff in the open.

    First though, give us what your typical setup is, or what you would like it to be. We should be able to walk you through how to use the emphasis system well enough to get a show up.
     
  7. soundcatt

    soundcatt Member

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    Thank you !!!!!!! I certainly will!!!!!!!!!
     
  8. soundcatt

    soundcatt Member

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    Thanks in advance to all!!!

    So here's what I've got...You all probably won't need all of the detail but I'll throw it in anyway. (I'll get the exact numbers when I get there today if it becomes important as I'm doing this from memory)

    Express 48/96 console with Emphasis server

    6 each TS1000 Varilights

    An assortment of Source4 750s 26, 36 & 50 degree (about 45 or so)

    20 Altman 1000 watt Fresnels

    Border lights (6 strips)

    5 each - 3 section cyc lights

    We also just received a wireless RRFU....

    We have a JRClancy Scene Control for our fly system...

    To give you an idea of how the theater is set up:

    1000 seats total, 600 in the orchestra section, 200 in each of two "mezzanine" sections located to the left and right of the rear of the theater with the control booth in the middle of them. The control booth is 2 floors - sound on the 1st floor, lighting controls and follow spots on the second floor.

    The stage is 65 ft wide at the proscenium and about 40 feet deep.

    There are 2 FOH electrics which run parallel to the proscenium and are above about the 10th row of seats - 36 circuits total FOH

    There are 4 electrics on stage, each about 70 ft long with about 25 circuits on each.

    Everything is currently patched 1 to 1. If I remember correctly there are about 175 dimmers which include connections for booms on the right and left on the back wall of the proscenium as well as on the back wall. Also included in the dimmers are the edison outlets on the electrics. There are 2 outlets on each.

    98% of the time, the theater is used for the daily operation of the middle school that its attached to. They have drama classes and band/orchestra rehearsals and assemblies and such. As long as we can throw some light on the stage, its not really important to them where it comes from.

    The other 2% of use is band concerts, school plays and outside productions. The school is scheduling outside groups to perform there as a revenue generator for the schools. For example, a local dance company will be performing the Nutcracker next weekend and there is a vocal group and a brass ensemble scheduled in the spring.

    So here's my vision of where I'd like to get to both personally and for the facility since the more I know, the better the facility will do:

    1st (and let's start here) I need to get a grip on Emphasis. When I've worked with it, I feel like I'm not sure where to start. I'm not technically challenged in any way but in my head I've got to make it make sense. If anyone could help me get started with Emphasis I think it would go a long way in helping me. I guess the big Emphasis question for me is "What should I do first?" Get a lighting scheme in my head? Draw the pipes? Patch the fixtures? Enter my inventory in the flight case? Go for coffee? :)

    2nd (and I think this is hand in hand with # 1) I need to figure out how to patch the Varilights in Emphasis. I can get them to work and do what I want them to do by controlling them with the Express 48/96 faders but it seems like I'm missing something, and I imagine it would be a nightmare to program a show in Express and have the moving lights do their thing. It must make more sense to program them in Emphasis? I've read the manuals from cover to cover and they keep telling me that its bad practice to patch moving lights in Express...if I could do it in Emphasis, I would. The Drama teachers are all scheming how they're going to use them in their productions and I want to stay a step ahead of them.

    3rd I need to come up with a "house hang" that actually works. I'm thinking my best route for this comes from 2 paths...# 1 - come up with a FOH lighting scheme that nicely lights the front curtain when its closed (its a beautiful color of red) and # 2 come up with a general lighting scheme which lights the stage for band concerts & such. I'll take any suggestions here as well even though its not directly related to the 48/96 or Emphasis. I've also been doing some reading here about schemes for curtain warmers as well as some other lighting info and the advice at this site is great.

    My background is in sound (recording engineer) and video (camera operator, FCP editor, producer) so some of this is new to me. I could program an RPM88 or BLU-16 all day with my eyes closed and ears open but I can't figure out how to patch a light in Emphasis. I hope I haven't opened a bunch of cans of worms all at the same time...figured I'd lay it all out and then we dissect it from there.

    I think I've got all of the tools I need to make this new place something really special for the students and the community and I really want to do it for them. Thanks again!
     
  9. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I can't be much help with the Emphasis stuff as I have never worked with it, but I can help you with some ideas for a basic rep plot.

    If your proscenium arch is actually 65 feet wide then then general rule of thumb would give you about 7 lighting areas across the stage at the proscenium. We generally try to create areas that are about 10 feet across. I would start with a basic McCandless style plot which will give you nice illumination on the stage for a wide variety of events. It is also easy to implement and will allow you to get some isolation of areas if you need it, and it is a good starting point for learning to design with light. We have a short Wiki article on the method here, if that makes sense to you , try it, if you have questions ask.
     
  10. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    Well you ask a lot of questions, and to be honest, all of this should have been covered in your training....

    What kind of server do you have 2D or 3D?
     
  11. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    First things first... you no longer have an express 48/96. You have an emphasis console with an express 48/96 faceplane. This big difference between the two consoles all come down to how you work with moving lights.

    You can patch conventional fixtures just like you would on a regular expression console. The console does not like you to do this, because it does not know what you are patching, but you can do it.

    Heres what emphasis wants you to do....


    1. Draw your theatre in WYG
    2. Put your light plot in
    3. Add your channels to each fixture
    4. Add your dimmer that those lights are plugged into
    5. Add in your "spot" numbers for moving lights
    6. Program your show.
    If you do this method, you can click on any light on the plot and turn it on. If it is a mover you can move it around by clicking and dragging on the screen and the light will move.

    So, I would say for right now you can skip the drafting of your conventional light plot. You need a quick and dirty way of getting your movers in your show. so... do this... ALL IN WYG, NOT ON THE CONSOLE. Use WYG's help section if you have trouble doing any of this. This is all done in CAD mode.


    1. Draw a pipe. Turn it into a hanging position
    2. Go to side bar, under fixtures, and add Your VL1k's to the browser.
    3. Hang those fixtures on the pipe
    4. Right click on each fixture and go to properties
    5. Go to patch
    6. Assign each fixture a channel number (be sure to seperate each channel number by at least 27)
    7. Assign your DMX address for each fixture, I think you already have this part figured out.
    8. Click OK and get back to the CAD Screen.
    9. Now comes the weird part... assign a "spot" number.
    10. Right click anwhere, go to tools then quick tools.
    11. Check the "spot" box. Click Ok
    12. Now, in click on each VL1k fixture. This should assign a "spot" number.
    13. Go to your console. Go to patch
    14. Hit the soft key to go to the moving light patch
    15. You should see your fixtures patched.
    This is just the begining, but this should get you started.

     
  12. sclausenETC

    sclausenETC Active Member

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    Hi there -

    Not to be a pain, but have you considered looking at the user manuals for the Emphasis system? If you take the Emphasis v2.0.1 Visualization User Manual and turn to page 32, I think you'll find enough to get you going quickly. You can choose to enter as much (or as little) information into your show file as you like. The only specific comment I have for you is that the VL1000TS fixtures must be patched on the Server side, not at the console. Also, if you don't want to hack in a drawing, you can insert and patch your VLs in the DATA mode directly, without having to worry about CAD.

    I'm sure that the folks here at CB will be very helpful as well, but instead of posting it to a forum, we wrote it down as a tutorial in the manual. ;-)

    Thanks -

    Sarah

    Sarah Clausen
    Controls Product Manager
    ETC, Inc.
     
  13. soundcatt

    soundcatt Member

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    My apologies for my absence...my boss opened the overtime valve in preparation for our 1st real show this coming weekend in the theater and we've found a bunch of technical issues that we had to work through almost none of which were related to lighting. (I had to relamp a fixture - it was our only lighting issue and it doesn't count as an issue)

    In response to some of the posters all of whom I appreciate their input:

    Yes, I have read the manual for emphasis console...virtually cover to cover and my biggest issue was how to get started. I'm not permanently assigned to the school where the theater is located so I have to travel to our other schools as well when problems arise with their CCTV systems or theater sound systems or TV productions studios, etc....

    But.... in the process of teching all sorts of stuff in the place over the past week I've had some time to spend working in emphasis and I've gotten the moving lights patched. I also figured out that when they set it up, they apparently created a default show (?) which would not allow me to go into cad and draw anything. That was a huge discovery. I wish they would have told me that before. I'm feeling a lot smarter now. The manual really is very good, being in a show file that I could edit was certainly helpful. :oops:

    I was able to patch all 6 of the VL1000 lights and make them do their thing. I even was able to teach their lighting tech how to do it and it worked.

    I did have time to read the responses quickly and I appreciate them all.

    Thanks Footer...after reading your post a lot of additional things make sense.

    Its a 2D server, and yes, the proscenium is 65 feet across.

    Thanks to all!
     

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