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Control/Dimming iPhone RFU

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by 3D, Dec 7, 2008.

  1. 3D

    3D Member

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    Anyone heard about this yet? I'm really interested in where I can get it. Anyone know. Its not on iTunes yet.
     
  2. venuetech

    venuetech Well-Known Member

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  3. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    What console specifically? There are a few ways to do it out there, just depends on how creative you want to get. As far as I know, no one has made a native RFU yet.
     
  4. 3D

    3D Member

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    specifically the etc line. express, expression, etc. thats what we use at my college so i thought it might be a good addition.
     
  5. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    3D, have you seen this thread: http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/get-organized/8470-running-list-iphone-apps-uses.html ?

    Now for the rant. WHY? do you want this? If you answer "So I can focus lights from the catwalk without having to run back and forth to the board," I feel that's the wrong answer, and here's why. Professional lighting focuses are run with a minimum of four people: #1-Person on the board in the booth (or onstage on an RFU), #2-Lighting Designer standing onstage directing, #3-Person manipulating the fixture, #4-Extra Person (often the ME) reading the plot, troubleshooting, managing the crew, directing other projects. Many will say "We don't have enough people for that." To which I reply, then you aren't training/recruiting properly. Putting a newbie on the board or RFU is a great way to indoctrinate them. Likewise, teaching someone how to focus a fixture saves one from having to run all over the theatre to every lighting position. Keeping the most knowledgeable person on the ground with spare lamps/color/accessories and able to be dispatched anywhere to solve a problem also just makes sense. If you regularly find yourself the only one "doing lights," it's time to change that mindset. First, it's unsafe to work in a theatre alone. Second, it's lonely and boring. Theatre IS a collaborative art, isn't it? /rant off

    As others have said, any iPhone-as-RFU-application will be console-specific. And will never be as fast or complete as using the actual console or manufacturer's dedicated RFU/RRFU.
     
  6. jyenish

    jyenish Member

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    It is a fair point that we should continually train individuals to run the board and teach them how to focus, however, not everyone is in a position where this can happen. Some of us work at institutions that don't have that many students dedicated to working in tech theatre let alone lighting. Granted we can make it as fun as possible but it's still dependent on students wanting to get involved. If work stopped because there was a lack of minimal recommended persons on the task I don't know how many of us would ever get a show up.

    Then take into account that an RFU is there for convenience. "Because I can focus from the cats" is a perfectly legitimate desire. If it makes the process happen faster or more efficiently why shouldn't someone focus from the cats. At the end of the day it is one tool in a bag of many. It is there to be used.
     
  7. TheDonkey

    TheDonkey Active Member

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    Agreed.

    I'm in a Theater tech class with 3 other people, thus your team of 4, in theory,

    Problem: 1 person in the booth playing with clear-coms/sound system, one person sitting around taking this as a free block, a third person TRYING to get the two slackers to do something by yelling from the stage to the booth, and me, the one that's supposed to be DIRECTING the others as to my lighting design, sitting on the catwalk waiting for dimmer # 7 to go to 75% or for the bell to ring and this hell to end.

    There's other people in the theater that're there to talk to or if I fall, but they don't do much as far as work goes.

    Our school and lighting board is too old to support an RFU of any type so I'm out of luck there, but I can totally see how it would make my job sooo much easier. For one, I wouldn't have to come into the theater 3 hours before doors open to PROGRAM the WHOLE 2 hour long play because I could only manage to get everything hung while, quite literally, getting kicked out the night before.
     
  8. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Get a NSI 1000 series console (little 6 fader, 512 channel test console) and run a DMX cable to the cats. Plug in to the DMX line while focusing. Probably too expensive, though.

    RFUs are very console specific. If one was to write an RFU application for the iPod touch or iPhone, say for the ETC Express, you'd most likely have to sell an interface with it that somehow linked in to the console via ETCnet or the RFU port, which would probably cost as much as something like the solution described above.
     
  9. Traitor800

    Traitor800 Active Member

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    Another solution, is to pick one dimmer in the center of your cats and then take a 25' or 30' cable up with you and just keep plugging and unplugging the lights that you need to focus. While this is not the best for the lamps or the plugs it does work.
     
  10. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    This is why products such as Focus Phone and dmxPhone are so expensive. If you must, I prefer the former, as it maintains one's channel patch. As [user]soundlight[/user] said, another alternative is the Pocket ConsoleĀ®, now available in wireless.:)
     
  11. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    An RC4 Pocket Console? Awesome!

    I mentioned the Leviton 1000 series though, because it has keypad patch, which is quicker than a pocket console when doing focus.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2008
  12. theatretechguy

    theatretechguy Member

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    About six months ago I got the ETC wireless RFU. Since all the venues I work in are using ETC boards, I simply take it site to site. I really couldn't live without it now. While I work in a high school, there is no regular "lighting crew" that can come and assist with hangs and focus. All my battens are "dead hung" and must be focussed with lifts, so the remote really comes in handy. One thing about the RFU is that it's in a steel case and seems pretty rugged. I doubt it would survive a fall from the catwalk, but it's less expensive to replace than an iPhone. When I'm working with lights (and their environs) its a dirty place and things like iPhones and cell phones get dirty really fast.
     
  13. bri4827

    bri4827 Member

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    I run a VNC client on our Emphasis server (i forget which one but I believe it can be run without being installed) and a VNC viewer on my ipod for bringing up channels. We also use a cheap tablet PC off of ebay to do the same - works great if you wanna pull up submasters or get a little more complicated than the keypad.
     
  14. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    There are a lot of options besides iPhone to transmit DMX to the dimmers or whatever, and I can see where a roadie prep-ing a tour would find it useful.

    Issue I have with DMX devices is they're not console specific and are not following the console patch (assuming conventionals), and that makes them a pain to use on occasion and are NOT a substitute for an RFU or an operator on a console with the patch in it.

    Derek makes good points (as usual) about having enough people on the call to get the job done correctly and efficiantly, though it['s not unusual to work with fewer. I did a Nutcracker focus today with 3. Myself in the self powered JLG lift (functioning as a self focusing LD/ME), one elec. on deck to trouble shoot and run for stuff, a 3rd on the RFU calling channels and focus notes. The rest of the crew (8) did drops, tree, etc... had we used a standard Genie, we would have had 2 more elec's to crank/uncrank the outriggers. With an outside LD I would have done what Derek advised and floated and trouble shooted.

    Having an iPhone, Radio Remote, WiFi etc... would not have changed the way we work as sometimes you cannot be efficiant by yourself, but need a crew working as a team to get things done quickly.

    Steve B.
     
  15. DarSax

    DarSax Active Member

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    Didn't someone come on here a while ago and post about how they connected their Strand (? Wasn't ETC) board to a wireless network, and as long as their iPhone was on the same wireless network, they could use it as an RFU?
     
  16. Balo

    Balo Member

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    This is the only iPhone based wRFU development that I have seen recently for the new Strand Light Palettes or any console to date.

    strand-dev.com • View topic - (HTML JS) mote lite - webapp remote

    You're better off to get an old windows mobile device on ebay, network your console to a wireless router, and find the wRFU software for your favorite console. I've had great success with it and an Expression 3, Obession 2, Strand 550 & Strand 300.

    Enjoy!
     
  17. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Won't work with Express or Insight/Expression III, as they are Net1 only, which does not support WiFi connectivity. You have to use Net 2 for that and have an Emphasis server in place.

    WiFi does work with ObsII.

    But have you priced the ETC WiFi software recently ? (if they still sell it as Emphasis has been discontinued, as example). Not cheap, for obsolete stuff and the connection with Windoze Mobile (or Pocket PC or whatever they call it) is spotty at best.

    Steve B.
     
  18. dramatech

    dramatech Well-Known Member

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    OK, I have erected the flak barrier to guard against all of the flak that I am going to get from all of you.
    I volunteer as an ME at a community theatre that does 12 productions a year and we have just started our 39th season. Our method of focus is a bit simpler than most suggested. We use an American DJ "Dr DMX". It comes with a three pin XLR, which I have replaced with a 5 pin XLR. The suggested list price is $50 and to find the only connector that fits correctly another $7. I have purchased 4 of the units so far at $35 to $42 with shipping. The shipping on the connector from mouser.com is about $5, so I usually make it a larger order and purchase a number of other items I need to make the shipping more viable. I purchase Belden digital audio cable for 8 to 10 cents a foot at a great surplus store in Orlando. I purchase Pomona 5 pin XLRs from mouser for less than $3 each. All told, I have less than $60 invested for a quasi focus remote with cable.
    I focus from the genie with the LD on the floor checking the plot and pushing the genie. Some of the LDs would rther be in the genie with me on the floor doing the plot and pushing.
    Each of the 5 LDs that we use have first commented on what a crappy method it is. By the second time that we have used this method, they prefer it, when given a choice of using more people with someone at the board. If we can find a third person, they push the genie and run for things needed. In matter of fact, two of the designers have had me purchase and modify the "Dr DMX" for them to have for their personal use.
    Now the "Dr DMX" can do up to 12 dimmer channels at various levels in the hold mode, so that you can check instrument to instrument focus. It is not a great device for calibrating scrollers as the "full" intensity is not full. But for focus who cares, and when the LCD display dies after being dropped for the fourth time or some scenic painter spashes it with paint, it is only $40 something to replace. It is so cheap that we keep a spare just in case it gets killed. Oh it also has a lazer pointer built in which is more fun than useful, and can operate in IR, if you can find a receiver for it. Also the instructions which were translated by a chinaman that thought he knew English, are less than wonderful. I wrote my own instructions and made many copies.
    OK, now you can all tell me how using AMDJ crap is bad and how you would only buy a focus remotes that cost multi hundreds of dollars if not thousand, plus but what I save buys me more lighting instruments, and most of our lighting assistants are teenagers that the second a member of the opposite sex enters the theatre during focus, they will drop the remote focus device and proceed to move their attention towards the entering party.
     
  19. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    "OK, I have erected the flak barrier to guard against all of the flak that I am going to get from all of you."

    Sounds like you developed a system that works and is cheap. Given the $50, I doubt I would have bothered changing it to 5 pin XLR, simply going with a 3 to 5 adapter, but you get no flak from me.

    SB



    SB
     
  20. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    I wholeheartedly agree. Above, I didn't mean to imply that the "professional" way was the only way, perhaps more like a goal to shoot for. Personally, I'm more of a "whatever works" kind of guy. So you may remove the flak jacket.;)

    (Just curious though: How/why can Full not be DMX 255?:confused:)
     

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