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

ETC Smartfade ML Impressions

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by gafftaper, May 4, 2007.

  1. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,569
    Likes Received:
    2,576
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    I just had the chance to play with one of the three existing Smartfade ML's and thought I would write up my impressions of it.

    When walking up to it your first impression is that it looks like another one of those little NSI boards. It's so small and unassuming. You couldn't hook up a video console to it if you wanted to because there's no output. It's only about 2 feet wide and just 6 pounds... and it's also pretty cheap with a street price a little over $3k. Then you notice that it's got encoder wheels which definitely gets your attention.

    On the back it has two DMX universes, Midi in and out, and USB to interface with a PC. I think you can only edit one instrument at a time on the smartfade, the PC interface and additional software, allows you to look at them all at once... making up for the lack of monitor I suppose.

    There are 24 buttons in the upper left corner. Each one gets programmed with the profile of up to 24 intelligent instruments. When you select an instrument the row of 24 sliders across the bottom become attribute controls. Below the sliders are a series of buttons that are labeled with which attribute they control. These buttons light up to indicate which attributes are active for the selected instrument. You can of course use the encoder wheels as well.

    You can set up a series of palettes. And the 24 buttons in the upper left become the your favorite palette aspects. In the case of color palettes they magically glow the color they are programmed.

    It has some sort of pre-programmed effects however either they aren't on the prototype console yet or the rep didn't know how to access them. This thing was so prototype many of the buttons had a simple typed piece of paper inserted in them to tell you what they do.

    Show data is saved to the console's internal memory and to SD memory cards.

    Conclusion: It's not for everyone and it'll never compete with a big Hog or GrandMA. But for a small theater, church, school, or club that wants to add a few moving lights and doesn't want to program a HUGE amount of effects it's a great option. It's very easy to use. The price is really low. It's just a great little product. It strikes me as a great companion product to all those ETC Express consoles out there. You've got a great console for your conventional needs but you want to upgrade and add a few intelligent instruments. The Express can do intelligent gear but it's a pain in the butt. Just buy one of these little guys run it right along side.
     
  2. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,664
    Likes Received:
    329
    Location:
    PA & NJ
    I can easily see this thing becoming a modern day MLC-16, one of the most popular club boards of its day for being easy to operate and quick to use automatically - chases, etc. I'd love to get my paws on one to test out.

    (Of course, the MLC-16 is still being made by NSI (now under leviton), but it's not as popular as it was)
     
  3. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    9,435
    Likes Received:
    1,834
    Location:
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    My personal opinion, why spend 10k on movers when you are only going to spend 3k on a console, when for around 5k you can get a much better package that will give you the full potential of your lights and more. It's kinda like buying a Jag and keeping it in a dilapidated shed.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2007
  4. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

    Messages:
    546
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    Lucky you! I have been trying to get my hands on one and can't! And I am a Rep!

    I was told list price was $ 2,995.00 It may have changed since then, but that's what I was initially told.

    Better yet - hook the two consoles up via a midi cable and have one fire cues on the other. One go button, and you still get alot of flexibility out of the set up.


    You make some great points. It isn't for everyone. But it does do what it does very easily and very well. Couple that with that it comes with ETC's support and it makes for a pretty great product.
     
  5. DarSax

    DarSax Active Member

    Messages:
    606
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Bethesda MD
    Quite simply, that interface sounds brilliant, and incredibly easy to use. From the makers of the Express, who'da thunk? (Everyone, hopefully)

    At any rate though, it of course doesn't sound like the most powerful of boards, but for travelling bands, djs, etc. who don't have the time or know-how to learn how to use a more powerful board, the Smarfade sounds like an extremely easy-to-use console.
     
  6. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,569
    Likes Received:
    2,576
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    The Rep told me this was the first time it has been shown outside of USITT and one or two other major trade shows. They still only have 3 prototypes. There are buttons on it that have no label. And most of the buttons that are labeled are labeled with a piece of paper carefully inserted inside the button. It's still in a very rough form. The Rep was struggling along with the customers trying to figure out how it worked and passing out a photocopy of the cut sheet from the website as the color version isn't out yet.

    Yeah now that you say $2999 list that's probably right. I was looking at a lot of different products today and it was hard to keep track of prices.
     
  7. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,569
    Likes Received:
    2,576
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    I think the target audience is something like a community theater who has a nice full conventional inventory and an Express. For around $20k they can add 5 or 6 Revolutions and a console to operate them. You're right, you're not going to buy one of these if you've got the budget to run a dozen Mac2k's. It's for people who have just enough budget to get into the Elation/Chauvet/ETC Revolution under $5,000 club.
     
  8. Jezza

    Jezza Active Member

    Messages:
    287
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    True, either that or a company who specializes in events, parties, conferences, etc. who need control over a dozen or so movers just doing a few color/gobo changes throughout the night but are tucked way back in corner of a closet out of sight and need as small and as versatile a board as possible. Maybe they've got 100 movers and a Hog or two in their inventory, but who wants to lug around a Hog when they can toss the SmartFade ML in the passenger seat and be up and running a nice small package instantly.

    I would have loved this thing on a few of the jobs I do with a company BearFly Designs out of Poughkeepsie. They haven't graduated to movers yet, however the color-realistic buttons under the faders would be great for static looks on the LED units we use.
     
  9. erosing

    erosing The Royal Renaissance Man

    Messages:
    1,026
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I'm curious as to where you're located because I got a chance to play with this during a private demo not a month ago and the rep didn't mention that there were so few of these boards, just that they were still in development.
     
  10. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

    Messages:
    546
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    I'm in Dallas, gafftaper is in Seattle, Where are you?
     
  11. erosing

    erosing The Royal Renaissance Man

    Messages:
    1,026
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Milwaukee - but the console came from Madison.
     
  12. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,569
    Likes Received:
    2,576
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    PNTA one of the largest theater dealers in this corner of the country hosts a Cinco De Mayo demo show. Reps included: ETC, Strand, Varilite, Color Kinetics, Shure, Sennheiser, Apollo, Selecon, Marquee, Lex, Mackie, Pixelrange, and Robert Juliat.

    The ETC rep was really excited about getting it, and said it took a lot of convincing to get them to send it.
     
  13. erosing

    erosing The Royal Renaissance Man

    Messages:
    1,026
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Yeah I was just curious because I had no idea that the board was that limited during the demo, it might have persuaded me to take a better look at it at the time if I had known, ah well.
     
  14. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    12,569
    Likes Received:
    2,576
    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    I believe it was officially announced at USITT in mid-March so it's REALLY new. It'll be a minimum of another 2 or 3 months before they actually start producing and shipping them. They probably made 3 prototypes so they could have them on display at USITT and that's it for now.
     
  15. Kelite

    Kelite Apollo Staff Premium Member

    Messages:
    2,070
    Likes Received:
    247
    Location:
    Fort Wayne IN, USA
    <Quite simply, that interface sounds brilliant, and incredibly easy to use. From the makers of the Express, who'da thunk? (Everyone, hopefully)>

    ETC's acquisition of the Avab console brands are obvious with the SmartFade line of desks. We have had a SmartFade here at Apollo since last LDI, and it has quite a few cool features within it-
     
  16. hans44

    hans44 Member

    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Florida
    I was lucky enough to have my school's theatre (Pittsburgh Playhouse) host some ETC reps for three days in early April. They brought the Smartfade ML as well as an EOS. We found half a dozen bugs in the EOS (one even crashed the desk...), but I digress.

    The Smartfade was connected to 4 moving heads, but only two of them were patched in at the time. The 2 patched in were LED movers, and controlling them was pretty easy. In about 5 minutes I was moving them around as if I had used the console all my life
     
  17. stantonsound

    stantonsound Active Member

    Messages:
    360
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Charlotte
    Just an update....I recently got a quote on the Smart Fade 2496, 96 Channel Console for $1,459.15. I know that it is not the ML, or moving light controller version, but that is cheap! I am talking to a few dealers and reps to see if I can get one. I am using the updated version of the NSI MLC 16 (NSI MLC 128R) for my small and traveling shows, but this seems to be a much better board.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2007
    ManowarKill and (deleted member) like this.
  18. ManowarKill

    ManowarKill Member

    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ireland
    My first post on what looks like a great site. Production Manager bought me a smartfade ml first gig tomorrow night. Have to say it looks the tits.
     

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