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ETC Smartfade

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by ihitwithstix, May 30, 2016.

  1. ihitwithstix

    ihitwithstix Member

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    So, the band is looking at options for an upgraded DMX controller.. We played a small theatre that had an ETC Smartfade console and it seemed to work well for them. Does anyone has experience with this console? I need to know things like ease of programming, durability, compatibility with external operatiing (e.g. Mac or Windows) systems, basic stuff like that. One other possibility is a used Avolites Pearl, but the sheer size of that console makes it an unlikely candidate. Input, please! And thank you!
     
  2. sclausenETC

    sclausenETC Active Member

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    Technoj and ihitwithstix like this.
  3. TJCornish

    TJCornish Well-Known Member

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    What are you trying to do with it? Dimmers only? Non-moving wash LEDs? Movers?

    I have a Smartfade ML and it is reasonably easy to use for a modest LED/mover rig. There are other Smartfade models that are dimmer only, and I would stay away from those. Sarah is right in that the Smartfade series is sunsetting, so unless you find a very good deal, the Colorsource series makes more sense.

    RE ease of connecting to a computer - the SmartFade has driver compatibility problems with modern operating systems, so from that angle I would say it's out of consideration.

    There are lots of other desks too, and comparing only console size between a SmartFade and a Pearl suggests to me that you have some research ahead of you to define your needs.

    The Martin M-Touch is the best value-priced system out there at the moment, but it is a real desk (like the Avo you mention), and programming requires an investment in time to understand the workflow. It is capable of MUCH more than either the Smartfade or Colorsource series. < insert training wheels analogy here >
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2016
  4. ihitwithstix

    ihitwithstix Member

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    We have a couple of small movers, which I use for spots mostly, but we are expanding our collection. I'd like to upgrade to Martin Rush series or Elation or even Clay Paky's once we have the budget. I need something that is very easy to program certain elements. In other words, I want to have the whole show set, but still have the ability to re-aim the movers with just a few mouse clicks, without rewriting the rest of the stationary washes and pin spots. I will say that we have also been considering a PC or Mac based system from Entec, but I'm a tactile guy; I need to feel the faders move and watch the lights respond to my touch.
     
  5. ihitwithstix

    ihitwithstix Member

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  6. TJCornish

    TJCornish Well-Known Member

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    Any non-junk board will allow you to update focus palettes without rebuilding your show. What you are looking for is "busking" capability.

    The Smartfade ML and presumably the Colorsource consoles are actually decent busking desks if you set them up right.

    Once again, the Martin M-touch bridges software and hardware in a unique way and is worth a look.
     
  7. ihitwithstix

    ihitwithstix Member

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    The problem, as far as I can tell, is that the Martin isn't Mac compatible. That's a big red flag.
     
  8. TJCornish

    TJCornish Well-Known Member

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    Why is that a problem? A dedicated touchscreen PC plus the M-touch surface are less expensive than the Avo and the Colorsource products.
     
  9. Krawford

    Krawford Member

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    A nice thing about the smartfade is that it has a good dmx through. you could get a chamsys or enntech dongle and run your looks and have the smartfade in the loop for tweaking the wash and levels.
     
  10. TJCornish

    TJCornish Well-Known Member

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    How do you figure? The SmartFade ML doesn't have a DMX input, and ETC has not updated the drivers so that it requires significant goofing around to get it to work on both the latest Windows and Mac versions, so I'm not sure how that works or why that would be better than the $100 Chamsys dongle or Entech dongle.
     
  11. Krawford

    Krawford Member

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    Oh my, I misread the top post as them already having a smart fade. that's what I get for posting right after waking up....

    I was assuming a non ML which does have a dmx in/out which i happen to have in a theatre I work in. I just plug in my little dmx/usb if we have a lot of movers or fancy things happening.

    If your getting a pc to run chamsys a touch screen is super nice.

    Sorry for the sleepy post!
     
  12. Pie4Weebl

    Pie4Weebl Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    For all the baby bands we send packages out with the Martin M touch is a pretty perfect solution, paired with a small touch screen laptop. It has real moving light software, and great hardware at a low low price.
     
    TJCornish likes this.
  13. ihitwithstix

    ihitwithstix Member

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    Short answer: The band already has a Mac, so whatever additional hardware/software we get must to be compatible.
    Long answer: Because Windows sucks ass. I've run both OSs before. I've got both types of machines in my home. Putting Windows on a Mac is like putting a lawn mower engine in a Ferrari. I need the system to work. Every night. WIthout a lot of patches, fixes, run arounds, etc.
     
  14. TJCornish

    TJCornish Well-Known Member

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    If Apple made touchscreen Macs, Martin might have other options, but at the moment, the choices are Windows or Windows, as a touch screen is required for any reasonable lighting software, no matter the brand or system.

    You're free to do as you wish, but Windows 10 doesn't suck - especially if you use it as a dedicated machine for your lighting rig, which you should do. The practice of trying to use the same PC for critical show operations, web browsing, gaming, torrenting, etc. is where PCs get cruddy. You will not have this experience if you consider the PC as part of the desk and leave it alone other than the normal monthly Windows updates, which by the way, Apple has, too.

    FWIW, many of the ETC desks run Windows under the hood, the Avolites desks run Windows under the hood, MA wings are PC only, Hog wings are Windows only, etc. Zero major lighting desks are based on OSX.

    FWIW v2 - the least reliable piece of software I [used to] use is Apple Mainstage. I got tired of mid-show crashes after a couple hours of running, and did a full wipe and reinstall of my MacBook Pro, which didn't help. I have since fired it.
     
  15. MarshallT

    MarshallT Member

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    There are a couple of options similar in size and price to a Smartfade. I would not suggest a Smartfade to anyone these days, ML or otherwise. They are a bit dated, and there are better options out there. Check out Pathway's Cognito 2, or ETC's Colorsource. My opinion is that the Cognito has a bit more functionality, but in a pretty silly looking package. Good luck.
     
  16. Rob

    Rob Active Member

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    Ahhh - that hurts ;) We think it's the Fisher Price of Lighting Boards (so said Bill Price - no relation to Fisher as far as I know).
    Check out the video series on Cognito to get a feel for it. OSX and Windows OLE both available here. List of dealers with demo desks here.
     
  17. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    That title will always belong to the original microVision.
    [​IMG]
    Can't even find a color photo online, but trust me. Pink and gray color scheme, tiny round silver buttons, faux granite wheel hanging off the side. No contest to the Cognito. BTW, I dislike all the "micro consoles."
     
  18. Nsimmons

    Nsimmons Member

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    Vx76 or do you not class them as major?
     
  19. Rob

    Rob Active Member

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    We called that wheel the Barny Rubble wheel.
     
  20. Rob

    Rob Active Member

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    'tis a major desk - but not for sale.
     

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