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How would I use these light console features?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by gafftaper, Jan 24, 2007.

  1. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Hi,
    I'm in the process of preparing to purchase a light console for a new college theater. We want to have a nice collection of intelligent lights in our inventory (Selador Strips, VL1000's, and a set of Seachangers). I've been looking at the new Strand Light Palette consoles. My background is purely conventional lighting and I can program an ETC Express like a monster. But when it comes to some of the advanced features on the big boards, my lack of experience with intelligents (lack of intelligence?), leaves me unsure what features I need the most. I just downloaded the user manual and I'm slogging through it but it's not exactly easy reading. So I thought I would post my questions here looking for some real world examples of how the following features would be used:

    First: there is the 100 key "direct action keypad"/"quick action selection panel": is this sort of like programmable push button submasters. Use them to select preprogrammed focus points or to call up a color in the wash?

    Second: "Two timed playbacks" Does this create a time delay on actions that the submasters or keypad buttons call for?

    Third: "12 direct access playback faders" Are these essentially fancy submasters? What is the difference between these and a submaster?
     
  2. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Here is my two cents on the issue of new consoles. It sounds like the console you are looking at is the new LightPallette VL. Here are some answers to your questions based on what I have learned about these new consoles.
    1) Your direct action keypad as I understand it functions like you thought, you can store attribute groups for quick recall.
    2) Your two timed playbacks are the equivalent of the A/B C/D faders on your Express, or the X1 and X2 on a Strand 300 or 500 series console.
    3) The 12 additional faders allow you to control multiple cue lists. In Expression land and Strand 300/500 land even if you have both faders active they read the cues off the same list. On the new Pallette and on the ETC Eos each fader can control it's own individual cue list.
    If what you are used to is the ETC Express, you will find that it is a big jump to move up to the Strand or even to say the ETC Obsession II. At my theatre we run a Strand 520 and 530, and they both handle all of the ML's we can throw at them. When I was in college we used a Strand 300 and it also had no issues with many ML's in a rig. From my standpoint as a 500 series programmer I would look into the LghtPallette Live as opposed to the VL. One of the nice things about Strand is that all of their consoles in a given series run the same software so the biggest differences between the Live and the VL are in what you have direct access to as a button on the faceplate, the software is the same.
    Here are a couple quick questions for you:
    Is there a reason you decided to make the switch to strand?
    -I ask because you say you know ETC language really well
    What kind of dimmers do you have?
    -This I ask because some of the newer consoles can access dimmer features if the console and dimmers are the same brand.
    I hope that helps a little.
     
  3. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    It's a long story, here is the short version... I was expecting to have final say on Strand vs. ETC and get to choose my console. Unfortunately, that didn't happen when it went to bid and instead it all went Strand. So currently I'm getting Strand C21 Dimmers and a Strand "Classic Palette". I've got nothing against the Classic Palette, it's would be a great console if we were going to just use conventionals. What the guy who designed the system didn't know is that we are hoping to spend about $200K on intelligent toys. I'm concerned about it really being a pain in the butt without the encoders and some of the buttons up top on the Light Palette series, plus there are things like being able to have multiple monitors, larger hard drive, faster processor, etc... At this point I'm dealing with a huge hassle and expense of change orders with the contractor to make any changes, so going to an all ETC system is basically impossible. I'm sort of pushing it with the powers that be just changing my console.

    I am really interested in the possibility of switching to an EOS but I'm a little concerned about that working with my Strand dimmers using the ethernet protocols. I've had a hard time getting an answer from anyone as to if that combo is possible and if possible, is it practical without a lot of pain and heartache. Also as you suggested, I think there are some features I will lose if I don't keep the system all Strand. On the positive side, I have used and loved the Horizon software, so I was really excited when the big buyout happened. It's really logical and easy to use so I don't expect too much pain learning the new system.
     
  4. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    There is a possibility that using ETCnet3 (which is at least partially ACN compliant) and an ACN input card on the dimmers, you could use ACN as your protocol of choice. But I'm not sure how that'd work right now.

    If have lots of say in the intelligent budget, see if you can do a console trade-in down the road when you get the intelligents. That might work.
     
  5. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Well, there are a lot of advantages to going all Strand, and from what I hear the C21 dimmers are supposed to be nice dimmers, and there is a great advantage to the fact that if you ever want to upgrade any or all to sinewave dimmers you won't need a new rack. Also the Strand consoles will be able to talk directly to the dimmers and you should be able to control your dimmers via 1 ethernet cable as opposed to a DMX run for each universe of dimmers.

    In terms of Consoles, all of the new LP series have the rotary encoders for ML's and intelligent fixtures, it just becomes a question of what else you want. So if your contractor hasn't locked you into the Classic Palette then you should push for your upgrade. My personal philosophy with computer equipment is that you should buy the best device you can afford since it will be out of date before you want to replace it. The thing to keep ion mind with all of these new consoles is the channel count you need and how many attribute channels you need. If you are going to be buying a bunch of intelligent fixtures youcan start racking up the channel count fast so make sure if you are providing specs to your contractor that you tell them how many channels minimum you need as both Strand and ETC will unlock more channels for you, but it costs more.

    I have to imagine that the new LP series from strand is their answer to ETC's EOS. I have to say it is the first ETC console that would tempt me back to ETC land. It incorporated so many of the features that Strand already had, and on the basic level it programs like an Obsession II. I had the chance to demo it in my theatre (on a pre production model) and from my standpoint on the productions we do (which are by no means small in any way) I wasn't missing much on my Strand 530. The point of that was that it seems that between the EOS and the LP series as one console to control them all you probably don't need one over the other, they are right in the same league.

    Now, what soundlight said about ACN may be true. the EOS does speak a variant of ACN so it may be able to speak ACN to Strand Dimmers. There is also the ability to setup a DMX node (which I believe comes with every EOS since they don't have built in DMX outputs) at your dimmers and run one ethernet cable between console and node/dimmers. You may not be able to get dimmer feedback on the console, but everything else should work fine.

    So, I have tried not to be biased, though I would go Strand, and I hope that this was not too much information at once.
     
  6. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Yeah I've resigned myself that it's going to be a Strand console. The future "EOS junior" would be just about perfect for me. However I get nervous when we start talking about adapting things and experts say I SHOULD be able to make that work. I want a system that is ready to talk to itself and doesn't start out with a weird hitch in it. As I said, I'm very happy with the Horizon software. I really wouldn't be thinking about changing to ETC if it wasn't for the fact that I'm an "ETC Guy". But I can get over that, so I'm going to get myself "Strand-ed".

    I just e-mailed my local dealer about the trade in and upgrade idea. Depending on the prices they give me, I can't imagine it costing more than dealing with the contractor. I think it's likely to cost me less and it's certainly a lot less hassle than dealing with change orders. So thanks for that idea!
     
  7. lightbyfire

    lightbyfire Member

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    I would like to start by saying that in the past I have had serious issues with Strand and their approach to lighting consoles.

    With that out of the way, I really like what I have read of the Light palette. I have extremely high hopes for the console, and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of ours (hopefully within the month). I read through the manual, and agree that it is a little difficult to get through, but the adaptations they have made seem extremely intuitive.

    As I understand it, the 100 key pad would be most usueful if you intend to program heads up, otherwise it is only two other keystrokes to get the same grid of 100 keys on the monitor and then point and click to attain the same end result, essentaily each key is user definable as a look or group. So you could use it as a focus point quick key or a selection of fixtures without attirbute information, or whatever is necessary, but you can do the same within the software if you have the Live or Classic. In other words I think that that function is very useful for ML purposes and will cut down programing time significantly.

    As far as trying to switch consoles, I recomend that you try for a LP series rather than ETC, because as you said "should work" is a scary phrase. While I think the EOS also sounds like a very good console, I am willing to bet that since you have a strand system you will have dificulty with a seamless interface. As far as ACN I do not know enough about it.

    Good luck getting things straightened out.

    Also Strand has put up the offline editor, which really gives a better feel for the console interface than just the screenshots the manual has.
     
  8. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Thanks for the tip on the off line editor. I was hoping they would post it but hadn't seen it on their yet. I've got it now and I'm going to play!!
     
  9. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    I think that if you're getting intelligents the trade-in idea is almost necessary. And yes, it would go around the budget fixing that would be required. Just make sure that they aren't going to put the console in to some sort of college-wide fixed asset inventory system, that it will just be in your inventory system and switchable whenever you want to trade it in for the big one.

    Personally, I'd go for the LightPalletteVL model with the 100 or so direct selects. When I find myself going through a few clicks to get to positions, colors, gobos, and other things that are used over and over again, it really annoys me. I would love a panel of direct selects like that. But to each their own! Good luck on this project!!

    (And post pics if you ever end up getting the Seladors and Seachangers.)
     
  10. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    I think you should adopt a wait and see attitude. Since you can't change it, don't.
    I too am an ETC man, but mostly due to the reliability of the ETC product and the terrific service, not a result of the OS.
    I'm currently of the opinion that Strand builds console that simultaneously deal with ML's and conventionals better then the existing ETC Obsession/Expression console series. It may well be that either Congo or EOS will be one up on Strand, but EOS is still in beta testing, while Congo, while generally received, forces you to wrap your head around reverse polish syntax.
    Strand has great dimmers, very good networking and decent consoles, that with the merge of the Marque OS makes them even better. Strand also does some stuff with accessories - WiFi remote, Laptop console remote, that are a bit smarter then ETC.
    If I were in your shoes, I'd get a hold of the Off-Line editor and start to learn the OS. I think you'll like what you find.
    SB
     
  11. lightbyfire

    lightbyfire Member

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    SteveB brings up a really good point. The wireless RFU and laptop station has proven extremely useful to us.

    Particularly in our university setting where there is often only a handful of technicians available, to be able to have the electrician who is up in the cats focusing also have the ability to turn the lights on and off for the designer as he moves to the next fixture is really effecient. And it is is all off the shelf technology so it is also relatively reliable if you remember not to let the battery run dry (wipes the software) I feel that it is a major selling point for its ease, channel checks are much easier.
     
  12. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    The bid said I was supposed to get a "wired remote". I checked with the dealer and fortunately, Strand doesn't really make one anymore. So I'm getting their cool wireless PDA remote setup and an ethernet cable to plug in if I should ever feel the need to be strapped down.

    I've taken a look at that remote software and it's really cool. You can bringing up individual channels, submasters, cues, macros, even run a dimmer check routine that will bring the channels you require up to "X"% wait "Y" seconds and then bring them back down. That will save TONS of time.
     
  13. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    You should also look into the Strand Designer's Remote. I don't know if they make one that works with the new consoles, but if they do it is a very useful tool. All it is is a little USB flash drive that contains Strand's XConnect software. You can plug it in to any Mac or Windows computer and connect your computer to the Strand Network and it will allow you to bring up the console displays and control the console right from your computer.

    I find it useful for designers who like to move around the theatre during tech and still see the displays, or for preview night instead of having a tech table. I also use it as a wireless RFU since I don't have a real wireless RFU (it is a lot cheaper than a WRFU). Oh, and it comes with a nice blue LED bite-light.

    It costs about $100, and is totally worth it if it will work with the new Light Palettes.
     
  14. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Thanks for the tip on the designer's remote. I'll check on getting one as well. The Strand web page for the designer's remote contains oddly very little information. It's literally one sentence and three pictures with a link to an old cut sheet. The sheet mentions that it works on 300 and 500 models, however the 300 and 500 series is no longer available on the website. I have the feeling that they are working on the replacement for it that will work with the new Palette series.
     
  15. lightbyfire

    lightbyfire Member

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    As far as the Designers Remote, we were told that we would recieve new dongles to activate a version for pallete at some point, although I do not believe they have it ready to ship with the first series of consoles.

    The Designers Remote is extremely helpful, durring runs of the show we log it in to our tracking backup so that if we have problems the operator just has to swivle his chair and start pressing the G button and the show takes over. (of course we have had some issues where the backup asserted itself without user imput, but that has hopefully been fixed)

    The WRFU and Designers Remote were extremely good ideas, and Strand will lock off all acessory programs in the PDA and laptop for you so that you cant load games or excessive software and slow down the system. (although getting uptdates becomes more complicated) The great thing with the dongle system though is being able to back up shows onto CD or flash drive off of a 300 series console, thereby avoiding the volatile memory problems, and the danger of demagnetizing floppys.
     
  16. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I talked with my Strand rep today and you just download the free off line software from the website (which is available now) and buy a dongle which apparently isn't quite available yet. But will still only cost about $100.
     
  17. KaR356i

    KaR356i Member

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    wireless remotes

    I'm not familiar with the strand wireless remotes, but we do have one for our ETC Obsession II. It seems really great at first, and is incredibly usefull when focusing on your own or up in FOH, however there are some issues. Perhaps the newer ones work a bit better, but I can tell you that the wireless remote on the PDA we have has some major issues. Mainly it's the PDA itself or the extended battery pack the wireless card goes in. Even with the extended battery pack it consistantly runs out of power, and even when fully charged it pops up the 'extended battery critically low' message which cuts the wireless connection. To reset it you have to take it out of the bulky rubber case, take the card out, press the tiny reset button, and then put everything back together and wait for it to come back online.... it really becomes quite annoying. We have gone through new chargers, new main batteries, and new extended battery packs in an effort to fix the problem to no avail.

    That's just my experience with the one they had at the theatre when I got there, and it is by no means brand new :)

    So, I guess the point is, you may save yourself some trouble if you make sure you get some background on the PDA the software is on and the battery life/issues it may have!
     
  18. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I've heard similar complaints about the ETC's RFU PDA. I was told by a Strand sales guy that their PDA is made by some company that makes them for law enforcement. He claimed that they are amazing durable, easy to use, and unlikely to fail. We'll see...

    On the other hand with Congo and EOS, ETC has gone retro with their technology. Yes, you can use now use a household cordless phone as an RFU. Just hit the channel number# and you are turning lights on and off.

    Imagine this feature at work... lights flashing on and off every time someone makes a phone call across the street. I hope there's an easy way to shut it off.
     

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