Control/Dimming Help me pick a console!

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by icewolf08, Aug 10, 2009.

  1. Amiers

    Amiers Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.

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    KLM I would look at the ETC express/ion line of consoles then. They are easy to use and are more then capable to handle 60 channels and have subs. Depending on which one you get there is also room to grow. That is just my opinion.
     
  2. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like a used Express 48/96 would fit the bill. 48 channels in 2 scene mode, 96 as single scene, up to 192 channels via keypad. Plus a row of 24 subs. Single VGA monitor is needed.
    Usedlighting.com has a few on sale for about $3000, but I'd be talking them way down if possible.

    http://www.usedlighting.com/search?web=1&k=express+48&category=

    Note that this is a discontinued product, though ETC can and does still support both with phone tech support as well as hardware.

    Another option is an ETC Element 40/250 is about $1200 more, can use dual screens.
     
  3. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    ETC Express was fantastic for it's time but don't spend that much money on 20 year old technology, even if ETC will continue to fix it. The time of recommending buying an Express has passed. If you can find someone to give you one, or pick one up for a couple hundred bucks great. But spending $3000 on an Express at this point is insane. Especially when you consider how much more power you can get in a Pathway Cognito for about the same price.

    If all you really need is a bunch of submasters which you pre-program for others to use, the ETC Smartfade should be able to handle your needs for around $1500. I set one up in a small banquet hall, programmed a bunch of looks and told people which handles to move. Done, I haven't been back in the building in years. It's not what I want to run a complex show on, but if all you are doing is busking 10 submasters occasionally, it's perfect.

    The Pathway Cognito is my favorite entry level console. Cognito runs $3000-$4000 depending on the options you add. Add an iPad for remote control of the Cognito anywhere in your theater. Unless your larger events are really crazy, Cognito will be able to handle them too, saving you rental money.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2014
  4. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Agree with this generally (and is what I myself have stated prior), but as per the OP "The console only needs to be able to control 40-60 individual channels (all just regular old dimmers), and 10 submasters would be more than enough for the venue. We don't cue or anything in there, and we have other consoles that we bring in on the rare occasion we need more control capabilities."

    That kind of begs for a desk with a lot of manual faders and that's not something the Cognito has, nor the Smartfade for that manner. As well, an Ion with enough fader wings is probably too pricey, though if I had to choose between an Element or a Cognito in this case, I'd go Element because of the manual faders. Sometimes the easiest thing to show somebody is a handle that turns on a light, so in this case an Express 48/96 at a decent price would fit the bill. Don't knock that 20 year old tech either, about the only thing (other then no USB drive) the new stuff has is better ML and LED control, which isn't needed in this case.
     
  5. JChenault

    JChenault Well-Known Member

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    Err - this is only the first response if someone says 'a PC solution is not simple'. Choosing the right control system for your lighting depends on a number of factors. I would argue that for many users a well designed PC system is simpler to use and program than just about anything else out there. ( I am of course biased ). I was trying to understand why you thought differently.

    I did not suggest a ChamSys as it is NOT simple.
    Support issues in a school ( calling IT instead of you ) is a valid point - but I'm not sure it has much to do with simplicity for the music teacher.
    They are used to and want sliders is an excellent reason not to consider a PC solution. But again I am not sure how it relates to simplicity.

    I'm really not trying to attack your decision on wanting a console solution - just trying to understand it. Apologies if you felt attacked.


    And now for an alternative solution - If all you really need is the ability for the music teacher to call up various presets - have you looked at Doug Fleenor's preset 10? This is an architectural control that will let you set up to 10 presets of a universe each. That might be the simplest solution of all for your end users if their use is really simple enough.
     
  6. KLM

    KLM Member

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    JChenault, I came off as really defensive and I sincerely apologize for that. I do understand that PC Solutions can be very simple, and I know they come highly recommended for most situations because they're usually much more budget friendly than other alternatives. I guess what I should have said is that I'm looking for something that will be simple AND familiar to the teachers who have already grown accustomed to the current board. Sorry, again! Yeah, we're a university, and IT doesn't love my department already, so I'd like to keep them out of it.

    I like the Doug Fleenor suggestion, and I will definitely look into it. Right now I'm leaning toward the Smartfade 1248 - It seems too simple to mess up, and still versatile enough if we need to make changes. The situation gafftaper described sounds very similar to our needs, and $1,500 seems very reasonable, plus ETC's great support. As for the element and Ion suggestions, that's actually what we bring in for the extremely rare bigger events! Even an element is usually overkill for the venue, though.

    Thanks, everybody, for the suggestions!
     
  7. haley.nicole

    haley.nicole Member

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    We've got the ETC Element in our theatre. It's an amazing board and I really love working with it. You can do a lot with it and it's not as big as a lot of boards, or even older ETC's.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  8. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    I have been an IT guy for 30 years, and a production guy for at least 20, and I am right there to say that a computerized lighting control board has a higher and possibly substantially higher inherent complexity level. Maybe not from the board operators' standpoint, but that isn't the only standpoint.

    There are at least an order of magnitude more knobs people can inadvertently move to break things on a computerized console, even if they're not supposed to.

    So I'm not at all surprised myself to hear that the OP thought that.

    Computerized consoles, for me, have the same relationship to traditional two-scene or stack-preset consoles, that most digital audio boards have to analog ones you can't just sit down and run them, you have to learn them first.

    Okay, sure there's a little bit you have to learn to run a smartfade, for example, but that took me 15 minutes?

    Sent from my SPH-L720
     
  9. JChenault

    JChenault Well-Known Member

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    One of the reasons we were frustrated with what was out there for computerized consoles was that when you walked up to one on a trade show floor, you could not figure out how to turn on a light.

    But that is not inherent in the fact that it is a computerized console, but that the user interface design sucks. A well designed system should not be substantially more complex than a multi scene prset console - but should be more powerful. That was one of the goals in what we did for Plexus.
     
  10. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    That is absolutely bad UX design, yes. In particular, it's *not making a point to provide at least some small fader-to-dimmer or fader-to-scene capability as either a default setup or an easily accessible selection.

    It is, in my humble opinion, nerdview, and it comes from that category of console being designed mostly of solely for -- and, more to the point, by -- people who are accustomed to using that class of gear. That's fine as far as it goes, but end-users come in all sizes and shapes, and it's probably not the optimal choice to make life easy for the high end *at the expense of* the low end.

    Progressive Complexity and Good Defaults aren't easy to figure out, sometimes, but they're the difference between a small chunk of the market, and a medium chunk. Or so saith I, who doesn't necessarily know the entire market. :)
     
  11. Mike May

    Mike May Member

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    nano or hedgehog u can stay under $7000
     
  12. Raconteur

    Raconteur Member

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    Hi Gang!

    Hope I am not missing some etiquette here by adding my question to this thread, but if so I will gladly start a new on.

    The elementary school my kids attend is in desperate need of a new lighting console. They currently have a Chauvet Stage Designer 50, which is running 14 regular instruments (likos and fresnels), as well as a set of 10 RGB LED fresnels. I have designing and running the lights for shows recently, and the board is just driving me nuts. It loses programming and simple things are tedious or impossible (as far as I can tell), so I have recommended they get a new console, and they wanted recommendations and prices.

    We need a 24-channel board (or larger), on a very small budget. The things I'd like to be able to do EASILY are:
    • Program cues of a show and be able to run them manually or via time-slider
    • Add/Edit/Insert/Delete cues from a programmed show
    • Copy a cue and add/insert it so a given look can be modified slightly
    • Manually adjust faders in a cue real-time (the Chauvet board will only let you raise levels, and only on the top bank of faders)
    I know I have worked on consoles that did these things simply, intuitively, and deftly, but this Chauvet console fights me on EVERYTHING.

    Can someone recommend a deck in the $200-$500 range that will cover these needs?

    Thanks for any input!
     
  13. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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  14. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    When they say 48 DMX channels, they don't actually mean that, right? They mean 48 channels of dimming, over a single DMX circuit. Not 48 DMX circuits.

    In any event, where I was thinking he needed to go was probably something like a Smartfade Ml, cuz that will handle the RGB LEDs, but it's way out of his price range if I'm not mistaken.
     
  15. Raconteur

    Raconteur Member

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    Hi Rick,

    Thanks for the response! There are 10 instruments, mounted on poles on each side of the stage, 5 on each side. The top 2 on each side are RGB controlled by channels 1-3. Channels 4-6 control RGB on the next 2 on each side, and the bottom instrument on each side is controlled by 7-9. Does that make sense?

    It is not optimal, and reduces the subtlety with which we can move things around on stage, but, it is what it is.

    I like the Elation stuff, so will definitely have a look at the console you recommended. Do you have experience with it?

    Cheers,

    Chris
     
  16. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    Channel is an over used word in our industry! Yes Jay, they mean 48 addresses MAX, which is just like the current console.

    Raconteur: no I haven't actually used it, but have worked with many like it. The issue is really whether you are controlling each DMX address individually or working with a whole fixture to select an abstract feature like a color (mix of RGB) or an effect. The current board has a "feature" of having fewer sliders to handle the addresses and that can confuse lots of folks. Paging isn't intuative.

    Unfortunately what you really want is something that will likely cost $1000-3000. There are some computer/tablet based solutions in that range that have many more features, but are all a pain to work with. You might find something workable if you bring your own device, or use the teachers computer. The really big issue is that whatever you do, your kids will grow up and this/next teacher won't have a clue without you around. Of course if your oldest is just starting and you have 5 you might be around a while. I spent 12 years attached to an elementary with just 2.

    Perhaps the best thing would be to write a super simple booklet on how to use that system. Include set up instructions and photos of the gear, both back side jacks and what it looks like when done. That might stick around and be used by the next dad.
     
  17. Bryce_J

    Bryce_J Member

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    ETC ion. love that thing to death. not very good for live concerts and on the fly lighting but if u have a play musical or rehursed concert its great.
    also if you plan on moving around a lot i recommend jands vista with a dmx king and possibly there controller although if you use a touchscreen monitor it is really nice.
     
  18. Heather Michaelson

    Heather Michaelson Member

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    HI Everyone - I need some advice on a console. I am the theatre manager/tech director/ lighting designer at a very active and arts based high school. We currently have an ETC Element that I bought for us three years ago. At the time, I did not see that the LED and moving light market would come down in price the way it has to the point where we have now been able to purchase some. I'm looking to upgrade our other theatre, which is smaller and less complicated productions, with the Element moving to there and then a different board in the main theatre. So here it is and I'm looking for advice on what might fit us best. I would sort of like to stay with ETC, but it's not necessary.

    We have....
    125 Conventionals
    2 sets of 9 LED Wash Lights
    8 LED lights for Cycs
    4 Moving Lights
    1 Laser
    2 Hazers

    We are looking to possibly add more lights, especially a few more moving lights.
    Our budget is definitely under $15,000, but I would rather it be under $10,000

    Thank you
     
  19. Les

    Les Well-Known Member

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    Seems like the Ion would fit nicely if you want to stay with ETC.
     
  20. Heather Michaelson

    Heather Michaelson Member

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    Les - that was my first instinct, but I guess I just need to read and watch more about it. Do you think that staying in the EOS line is better than going Congo?
     
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