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Control/Dimming ETC Smartfade

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Goph704, Nov 4, 2008.

  1. Goph704

    Goph704 Active Member

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    So, anybody else had a chance to really play with one of these yet? It's a hybrid between a computer board and a Leprechaun two scene preset. I just did a show with one, and It was more than a little rough. Mostly programming the stack was long and drawn out and I didn't really love the way the patch was set up. Our show was beautiful, but most of my time as the ALD was spent working on re-learning the smart fade. Still I'd really like to hear if anybody has had positive experiences with it, and if so, how those shows went.
    -Goph
     
  2. CavezziMagnum

    CavezziMagnum Member

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    I've used both Smartfade and the Smartfade ML. And they are definitely NOT the new express as it claims to be. We have used them successfully on more architechtural style gigs, where it is mostly looks on memory faders (submasters). However, for theatrical use, I would not recommend it.
     
  3. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Smartfade and Smartfade ML never claimed to be replacements for the Express(ion) line. They also were not really developed with theatrical use in mind. More for small venue concert and club applications.
     
  4. willbb123

    willbb123 Active Member

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    I have used the normal Smartfade for a few community theater shows. The first one was a very simple show and I programed half a dozen or so submasters and ran the show by just switching between them. The last show I did with that group I could not run the board so I set it up so all they had to do was hit the go button. We had a pretty good idea of what we needed to program when we sat down, so there was no need for x.5 cues (which I dont believe that it can do).

    I use the expression 3 at the theater I work at now, and I love it. At my highschool we had a Leprecon Lp624 which I HATE.... If I had a choice I would always use the expression. But there was a time where the highschool was thinking about hiring me back for a few shows, and I was talking to the community theater group to see if I could use the Smartfade.

    The smartfade isnt an ideal board for theater, but its alot better then the leprecon.

    I believe ETC is making software in which you can connect the board to a laptop and you would get full control. I know they have it out for the ML but I thought I read that the normal one's software was coming out summer 08?
     
  5. willbb123

    willbb123 Active Member

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    I had never thought about using them for concerts. The smartfade would be perfect. I am always running out of submasters on my expression. On the smartfade you can program both the top set and bottom set of sliders as sub masters so you can get a total of 24.
     
  6. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    My total experience with a Smartfade is at the ETC booth at USITT '05. It's not a theatre board. It's not a concert board. It's their entry into the DJ and NSI markets.

    No offense to the guys at ETC, but I think "Smartfade" is an incredibly poor name for the thing. I wouldn't call it a hybrid between an memory board and a manual two-preset (like a Leprecon) -- it's a DJ or club board, and terribly overpriced for what it does.

    I think it sucks, but that's just me.
     
  7. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Have a Smartfade 2496. NOT FOR THEATRE!!!

    I use it mainly for busking at talent shows, etc. where it's easier to just go with the flow rather than pre-program everything in. I find it good for concerts where the lights just go up and down on the groups singing - just use the submasters.

    I wouldn't use this board for a theatre unless I absolutely had to. I'd rather use my Leviton board.

    However, if this is true:

    I may consider it.
     
  8. bdkdesigns

    bdkdesigns Active Member Fight Leukemia

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    My experience with the Smartfade is that people who have never used a console have loved it and people who have used a console before hate it.

    We personally own three of them at our venue. One is owned by the Montana Rep and goes out on the educational outreach tour across Montana in the fall, the second one was purchased so that our Dance venue can bring up basic looks during special events, and the third one was donated to us from a casino in Vegas who hated it.

    Just the other day, the music department came to us in a panic because their console went down. We handed them a Smartfade and they loved it so much that now they want to buy one. So I would have to say that the DJ crowd is a fair statement in terms of who can use them. If you know the ins and outs of a normal lighting console, the Smartfade seems to drive people nuts. But the inexperienced crowd seems to love it in my experience.
     
  9. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Occupation:
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    ETC had demos of both a PC and Mac interface at LDI. The smart fade doesn't have an on board video card so you have to plug it into another computer to use the screen. So yes there is now an option to add a video screen to Smartfade. I'm not sure if you have to buy a new Smartfade to get the video option or if it's simply a software download to make your old Smartfade work with a computer.

    This story is a little unfair but at the same time I think it makes a point. At LDI, there was a young lady doing demos of the Smartfade (I think she was one of the ETC scholarship winners). She had apparently been trained by one of the ETC experts on the whole sales pitch and she offered me a demo. I'm a skeptic but I'm ready to give it another shot so I said sure. In the back of my mind, as an educator, I'm also curious to see how a younger person handles the board. Three times in the middle of her demo she went to do something and it didn't work because she was some how in the wrong mode, and had to go back and hit a couple of buttons to get her to the right mode to be doing what she wanted to do. True she was young and had not had an extensive training on it, but I think her demo makes the point of what's wrong with Smartfade. She is obviously a knowledgeable and skilled young technician to have gotten the ETC scholarship. She had also obviously been well trained by an ETC expert on how to use the console... but she still has a hard time using it without getting lost in color changing confusion.

    Now to be fair to the young lady at LDI... I've seen one other demo of Smartfade, and one of Smartfade ML both done by ETC sales reps. In the other two demos the rep also made mistakes and got confused about what mode they were in. At the same time I've seen demos of Congo, Jr, Eos, and Ion... some by ETC reps and some by dealers. In all those other demos I've never seen the confused "oh no what does that color mean, I think I'm in the wrong mode, but how do I get to the right mode, I've got to make this work without looking like I don't know how to use this board" deer in the headlights look.

    Sorry ETC I hate to be critical of you guys. I love your company, your service, your attitude, all the employees I've met have been wonderful people, and I am happy to recommend ALL your other products.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008
  10. zuixro

    zuixro Active Member

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    We have a Smartfade 1248 (or maybe 2448, I can't remember) in our blackbox space, and we hate it. It was left by the last theatre director, who only used it to bring all the lights up and down at the same time, no cues, no areas. We pretty much just use the submasters (or memories as it calls them), and it works ok, but we still don't like it.
     
  11. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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  12. thenelsontwins

    thenelsontwins Member

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    well, they work. they work better than a Leprecon of the same ilk. If I am out doing a tiny show/event I take a smartfade. I don't generally get to do those, sadly.

    One known issue is that a series of their production run has problems saving to the memory card. As in, it won't do it.

    I have found this to be the case with our two. Luckily most of these events are set it and forget it kind of shows, but I have had run into this problem where I needed to save and was unable to.

    ETC will correct this problem.
     
  13. JCLighting

    JCLighting Member

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    So does anyone know how to connect the SmartFade 2496 to a PC yet? I'm still stuck.....

    BTW, I'm not a professional lighting guy, but I've worked in theaters for many years. I like the SmartFade for our show set-up. I can organize the scenes and just step thru the memories from set to set. I just want to be able to connect my PC so I can match levels on some channels for minor transitions. Maybe I'm using this thing wrong, but it's easy for me to use....
     
  14. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    I believe this is what you're looking for.

    Mike Nicolai
    ETC, Inc.
     
  15. strandcentury

    strandcentury Member

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    My school runs a SmartFade 2496 in our auditorium. While it is no where close to being an Express (nothing comes close to that console) it still does have some benefits. The offline editor is really nice for a console in the entry level price range but the programming of the submasters, effects, and especially the stack is not very productive and does take a while to get your head around, I find you have to take too many little "trips" when programming the console, but I have now gotten quite used to it. Last year we ran our first major show off of it. Overall, playback felt just like another walk in the park, we had 34 cues and they all ran swell. Programming on the other hand was a little more tricky. Since it was my first time programming on this console, I messed up a lot with fade times and what not, but then SmartSoft came to the rescue. On the way home every day on the bus I would fix all that went wrong, right from my laptop computer. Now, what I think would really improve the console would have been some kind of keypad for command line entry. Although even if the command entry bar was put into SmartSoft for both live and offline use, that would be great, seriously... since when do you see an offline editor where dragging faders with your mouse is the only means of modifying levels. Overall though, ETC has never let me down with their equipment, I would have to give the SmartFade 8/10 personally.
     

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