Express 48/96 + Movers

Jezza

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Jul 18, 2005
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Poughkeepsie, NY
Hey all, in reference to an early post I made about renting moving lights for a concert that I've got going on in February, I wanted some input from those of you who are familiar with moving light programming. I currently have access to 2 ETC Express 48/96 boards. In addition to close to 60 channels of conventional fixtures for this concert, I am planning to rent around a dozen 7 channel LED PARS, 2 VL2500s, and 2 Techobeams.

Having never ran movers on an Express board and only on the Expression line, what are your thoughts on setting up the boards in a master/slave situation with one board for the conventionals and one for the toys? I like the idea of being able to grab the faders that correspond to the movers instead of throwing any of them above my fader capability in terms of DMX adressing (I'm a big fadder guy). Would it be too tricky to run both boards siumtaneously even w/ 2 board ops? Are there any tricks to running movers on the Express w/o encoder wheels? The trackpad seems hopelessly stupid for any type of real focusing. Let me know what your experience has been, any thing would be great. Thanks!
 

Pie4Weebl

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Hi, I just finished a show a few weeks ago that ran off of an expression II and have worked with the express a bit. I If you are programming the show yourself the format of the express board will be easy to change over to and movers operate the same way, sans encoder wheel. Also from a rental house you should be able to pick up one of these fairly cheaply:



No clue what they are called but you can program macros into them which makes grabing all units and dropping one color or a gobo in a piece of cake.
 

SteveB

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Brooklyn, NY
The only way to slave 2 Express consoles is via cue control via MIDI. I doubt that's going to be any real use to you. The Express has no DMX input, so..... SOL on that part.
Pie4's picture shows a digitizer tablet, which cannot be used on an Express. No extra pointing devices are available, in any case, on an Express.
I only recently started using 5 Studio Spots with my Express 48/96 and that's with an Emphasis server, which doesn't really add a whole lot of ML control except additional channels (which are actually crucial) as well as many additional playback functions via subroutines on submasters. WYSIWYG is very helpful as compared to plain vanilla Express, but in truth the bottleneck ASAI'mC, is the console itself as using the fixture windows plus the trackpad is a PITA as compared to even an Expression III.
Thus I'm no expert, but would start with using all those extra sub pages as attribute controls - I.E. Page 2 as fixture 1 attributes 1 thru 24, Page 3 as Fixture 2, etc...
In truth, I found the Trackpad easy to use as a pointing device. My prior experience was with a Technobeam, which has more limited beam travel and loved the trackpad. Moving head fixtures swap their trackpad pan when the fixture head upstage, but I'm OK with it, and as there's no split level wheels as on an Expression, it's a moot point. I truly dislike the requirement to use the fixture windows and would recommend submasters.
Or another console. Any other console - Light Jockey, AVO Pearl, whatever.
Sorry I can't be of more help, but note that there's a new tips/tricks section on the ETC website. Maybe a post there can get you some additional answers.
SB
 

soundman

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Sep 4, 2003
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Nashville TN
Thats the designer work sheet, and its only for expression 3. running both boards at the same time should be no problem with MIDI. Programing will be a little intresting but not impossible. Do you know what the function of these lights will be? Reprogramable speacils VS effect lights.
 

Jezza

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Jul 18, 2005
Location
Poughkeepsie, NY
that little tablet gizmo looks pretty nifty. I wonder if you can figure out the name or manufacturer for me. Yeah, I mean I can write a whole bunch of macros and group a whole funch of control channels together to make things easier, maybe do a bunch of that with the offline editor before I start my tech to simplify things. I was just wondering whether anyone has any other advice or creative solutions to by problem. The Express although it is outfitted to run movers really isn't the board to do them on. Thanks for the help!
 

Jezza

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Poughkeepsie, NY
I guess I spoke too soon. The VLs will be effect and specials, the technobeams just effects. Given the small budget I've got to make the most of what I'm bringing in so the VLs are going to be working pretty hard throughout the show. I've allotted enough time for them to cool down though so they should be happy enough. Steve B, your idea about putting the movers on subpags sounds like an interesting route. I didn't even think about that. Seems like it would make it kind of difficult to grab two fixtures at the same time and have them try and do the same thing, trying to switch back and forth between pages but it could work out. The technobeams aren't too channel crazy so that might work great for them. I'm suprised that you had good experience with the trackpad. For some reason I've hated that from the first moment I saw it. I'm not sure if it's me or the sensativity settings on my boards but they never seem to react how I would like. The thing that makes this whole set up the most difficult is that due to limited programming time and not being familiar enough with the music, I'm really just going to need to be grabbing submasters and cues all over the place that I can just toss in. An insight would be incredble for this, but we can't all be that lucky. Thanks for the advice guys, keep is coming!
 

soundman

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Nashville TN
another trick to gain some ghetto palletes is to use focus points. You could make a focus point for all the differnt gobos for each insterment type, that way poping in a gobo is as easy as [s8] fixture # then focus point number for the desired gobo. Becasue the VLs are CMY it would be very helpful when it comes to color mixing. Also what do you mean by "cool down time" for the VLs? Also the technobeams have some built in macros which will help when it comes to making effects, one of the major draw backs to programing movers on an express
 

Pie4Weebl

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well its too bad the designers pallet isn't compatible with the express, I'm not sure why I assumed it would be.

I know you are trying to keep budget low but you could get a hog pc and programming and playback wing for probably less than $100 a week.
 

gafftaper

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How many dimmers do you have?

My guess is that list of intelligent gear is going to eat close to 100 of your dimmers. Do you have that many extra dimmers to spare? As others have said, maybe you should look into renting a newer console. A new one is smart enough to not eat dimmers and will be easier to use.
 

TechiGoz

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Adelaide, Australia & Singapore
Although the Expression and Express boards should run OK with each other as Master/Slave via MIDI, the problem that may result (as others have said) is programming and 'grabbing faders' as you have said.

SteveB's method of using different pages is good, I would think for the Technobeams. With the CMY colour mixing of the VL1000's it would work too, but other than that you may start to be treading on deeper water. Macro's are well and good, but that may just be complicating things more.

As Pie4 and Gafftape suggested, and I am thinking also, maybe renting a slightly less complicated set up would be a good idea. A hog PC w/ playback wing or even a Hog 1000, I, II or III would work fine. The dimmers for the conventionals AND your movers would be well suited on a Hog or something similar.

Just want to check as someone else asked.. will you have enough DMX channels after your movers etc? It is sounding like a bit, so better make sure of that.

Just a thought or two.
 

soundman

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Nashville TN
He will need about 160 channels just for the movers and the 48/92 only can handle 192 channels. He will need to run both boards but over midi that is not too hard.
 

SHARYNF

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Sep 3, 2006
You might look at a system that is better for the movers, and run two systems. You might be able to rent/buy a pc based system for the movers.

Programing movers on a system that was not designed for them can be a royal pain
sharyn
 

gafftaper

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He will need about 160 channels just for the movers and the 48/92 only can handle 192 channels. He will need to run both boards but over midi that is not too hard.
Still concerned about the number of dimmers the system has and that the express boards will eat up... If he uses two boards with midi, Can he somehow fool one board into thinking it's eating up dimmers that board number 2 is actually using for conventionals.
 

Jezza

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Jul 18, 2005
Location
Poughkeepsie, NY
In response to the # of channels...the Express can hand up to 1024 channels of DMX (at least the version I have can) and I am prepared to use the 2nd universe if I have to so I'm totally not worried. One of the main reasons why I was thinking about the dual-board scenario is in lue of encoders, it would be useful to have all of the intelligents patched into channels 1-96 on the first board and then the conventionals 97-157 on the 2nd board and be viewing 2 different "pages" of channels (for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Express line, you can only view/have access with faders of 96 up to 96 channels at a time, sequentially) giving me access to fader control on every DMX channel that I am running. However, the dual board scenario doesn't sound like it is going to work out to well. As you all have suggested, building some macros or focus points might do me well. I wish my budget weren't so cramped and I could afford to rent a more butch console.
 

SteveB

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Mar 20, 2004
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Brooklyn, NY
Still concerned about the number of dimmers the system has and that the express boards will eat up... If he uses two boards with midi, Can he somehow fool one board into thinking it's eating up dimmers that board number 2 is actually using for conventionals.
It's not about dimmers - or to use a better term - DMX channels, as the Express can handle 2 universes - 1024 DMX channels. As another post pointed out, the ML's only use up 160, so there's enough capacity.

The problem is console control channels as the Express only has 192. Assuming the normal layout of one console channel per ML attribute channel, there's precious few left for conventionals, UNLESS he gangs up ML's. This means not using the normal personalities, but writing one that changes the assignments and allows the intensity channels of the 2 Techno's to be controlled on one channel, as example.

Using 2 side-by-side Expresses divides up ML's and LED's on one Express with conventionals on the other (note that I haven't done the math as to how many DMX channels a ML or LED strip uses). Trouble is controlling. If you put everything into cues, then you can MIDI link to enable one consoles GO button to start the cue in the 2nd console. This means everything must be in cues. As this seems to be a live concert, this may well be a PITA, as you probably want to as much on the subs as possible. I don't think MIDI can trigger subs. Macro's possibly, but if this is a one-off...... it's starting to get stupid.

FWIW, one of the nice things about Emphasis is the ability to run subroutines on submasters. Subroutines are like effects/chases that can be built up using existing cues as a step. Thus it's MUCH easier building and modifying a chase. In Emphasis you can run the SR in a Sub, adding in a Hold for Go step between looks, that allows manual trigger of the next step advance. You can then build up as multiple chases available on all the available subs, functioning like a poor man's Avo, or similar R&R console.

Lot's of neat tricks in Emphasis.

SB
 

Jezza

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Jul 18, 2005
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Poughkeepsie, NY
Yeah I here ya, I'm kind of conufsed as to where you guys get 160 channels for the movers. A VL2500 uses 22 channels of DMX while a technobeam uses 18. Thats only 80 channels of ML. The LED units will only eat up either 7 or 14 channels of DMX, leaving me close to 100 channels for conventionals I guess I'll just be stuck building all sorts of subs and just flying through them as I can't spring for another console nor an emphasis system. Thank for all your input.
 

SteveB

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Mar 20, 2004
Location
Brooklyn, NY
I'd add a couple of suggestions.

1) make sure the console is running the latest OS, as earlier versions did not have ML functionality.

2) Download and read the ETC Express Moving Lights Programming Guide. It's an Adobe file and has very useful info.

3) Use a lot of Focus Points, for positions as well as colors and gobo's. Use commands like: "Fixture 1&2, Only, Color, Focus Point XX, Enter" to get gobos access to assorted attributes. It's sometimes faster then scrolling thru sub pages.

SB
 

disc2slick

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Feb 11, 2004
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Key West, FL
if it is possible to master/slave the boards via MIDI you should be golden. As long as one board has to capacity to control as many channels as you need for MLs. It means programming on two boards, and thats kind of a ***** but it happens, and is the price to pay for having intelligent fixtures (in this case). As long as you link up the boards properly you should be fine, although one head ache the worse.

-Dan
 

soundman

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Sep 4, 2003
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Nashville TN
Yeah I here ya, I'm kind of conufsed as to where you guys get 160 channels for the movers. A VL2500 uses 22 channels of DMX while a technobeam uses 18. Thats only 80 channels of ML. The LED units will only eat up either 7 or 14 channels of DMX, leaving me close to 100 channels for conventionals
but arent you getting a dozen of the LED units? So I took 7*12