Light Board, Conventional

DarSax

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Yes, I know there are a million different threads about light boards, and I'n no doubt going to be looking at almost all of them, but I was wondering if you all could give me some input on my situation?

  • I'm being given between $5 and $6,000 to work with.
  • My theater has 32 dimmers total (29 or so that work.
  • I'll need enough cues to run a fairly to very complex show.
  • I do not need to have moving light capabilities.
  • I'd like effects capabilities--chase, cycle, all that jazz--and fairly complex/customizable too. This one's not so big of a deal.
  • It needs to be reasonably durable (not like 'throw it against a wall' durable, but I mean, I don't want a cheap plasticy board. I won't deny it--we're a high school.)

So far, I'm thinking of the ETC Express 24/48 or 48/96. Any comments on this? I've heard of it's dependability and widespread use, basically a workhorse, which works for us. In order to save money (or, if need be, in order to get it at all) I'm willing to buy a used board.

Would you reccommend any accessories--monitors, etc. for this board (or for others?)

Are there any other boards that you guys would suggest for this purpose? Comments on the Express? Meaning of life?

If you'd like to know: Our old board was a Strand MX-24 console, basically the same slider config as the 24/48, with a grand total of 96 cues.
 
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Van

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I personally love the ETC Express and have used it in a ton of situations. I like it for on the fly and totally preprogrammed shows. It is as you stated a workhorse and while I wouldn't throw it against a wall, it could probably take it. I used to joke saying , "yes, I speak ETC." it an extremely easy interface to learn and the keystroke sequence is extremely easy to use. That being said I'll also say that I'm a fan of Horizon by ET. ( it might have something to do with the fact I used to be a feild tech for Rosco ET.) I have heard pros and cons from a wide range of individuals, and I really think they kind of cancel each other out. It is extremely expandable, if you ever do need the ability to use moving lights or expand the capabilities of the board you simple pay for the next software version up. Another advantage is that the software can be downloaded from the website, and your students can learn it at home for free. You can write complete shows at home then save it to disk take it in and plug it into the computer running the horizon system.( can't do that with an ETC) Coupled with WYSIWYG you can write and run the whole show, watch it play out and fix things in the virtual enviroment before you even hang a fixture. I'll let someone else talk about other options but I think both of these have great potential.
 

Footer

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The express is a great console. If you do go the express route get the 48/96 or the 125 or 250. The 24/48 only real downside is the channel handles that think they are subs. I would also give a look into the strand pallete. The console is not totally rolled out yet, but when it does it is going to be a fantastic console at a very resonable price. It can run laps around the express in terms of features. The new interface is also very easy to pick up and use. I would also consider in the price of the console any remotes that you will need (these save SO much time). I am currently working with an express 72/144 and I find it very limiting after working with strand gear for some time. The express is a great console and for what it does it does it very well, but there are more options out there.
 

DarSax

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Bethesda MD
You've certainly gotten me interested, Footer--the classicPalette looks very, very nice to me. What do you mean by not totally rolled out yet? And have you used a Palette board yourself? I'm definitely going to look into it.
 
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soundman

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Van said:
Another advantage is that the software can be downloaded from the website, and your students can learn it at home for free. You can write complete shows at home then save it to disk take it in and plug it into the computer running the horizon system.( can't do that with an ETC)
I beg to differ, http://www.etcconnect.com/downloads.asp search for offline and the console you want. I beleive the express, expression, insight and impression us ethe same download and you just select the type everytime you start the software.
 

DarSax

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Heh, yes I actually downloaded the Express software already to try it out. From my initial tinkering, it seemed easy enough (though without the board, it was kind of weird.) Was a big help, though. Wish Strand would actually come out with the offlinePalette though, I really really want to try that out. By the way--I only found the expression and insight programs I think, no impression.
 

Van

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soundman said:
I beg to differ, http://www.etcconnect.com/downloads.asp search for offline and the console you want. I beleive the express, expression, insight and impression us ethe same download and you just select the type everytime you start the software.
Ah yesssss , BUT, there is always a butt. The interface the actual "console" is different. Unless ETC has started making a keyboards for your home PC and Laptop. You might get familiar with the system, the "functionality" of the board but you don't have the exact same "expirience" as you would running the console itself. Horizon is run off the PC with the PC keyboard there is no having to go back and learning which function key translates to what PC keyboard key. Whereas horizon is "What You Learn Is What You Run" ( WYLIWYR would that be Willie Were ? ) Not arguing, just talking.


(You don't have to beg to differ with me, People do it all day long under their own recognances just for fun )
 

Footer

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DarSax said:
Heh, yes I actually downloaded the Express software already to try it out. From my initial tinkering, it seemed easy enough (though without the board, it was kind of weird.) Was a big help, though. Wish Strand would actually come out with the offlinePalette though, I really really want to try that out. By the way--I only found the expression and insight programs I think, no impression.
It was suppost to be out by now, but I have a feeling they will release it at LDI when they formaly role out the board (though many theatres have allready bought one. I used the pallet for about a week at the begining of the summer and it was pretty intuitive from the get go. It was still running beta software and after a week it stopped outputing DMX (the software version before it had to use a sn110 node to output, the DMX out on the console was dead). These problems have all been fixed since. One nice thing is after you learn strand speak you can take that to about any conventional console on the market and run it without a problem. I had never touched a pallete and within 10 min i was up and going.
 

DarSax

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Footer4321 said:
It was suppost to be out by now, but I have a feeling they will release it at LDI when they formaly role out the board
Do you know about this? (As in, do you know that they are going to formally roll out the board at LDI, or do you have a feeling that they're going to roll it out at LDI) Urgh. I'm suppoesd to get quotes for boards, and fast--but if the Palette is going to be formally unveiled soon, I might have to stall my budgeters...
 

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DarSax said:
Do you know about this? (As in, do you know that they are going to formally roll out the board at LDI, or do you have a feeling that they're going to roll it out at LDI) Urgh. I'm suppoesd to get quotes for boards, and fast--but if the Palette is going to be formally unveiled soon, I might have to stall my budgeters...
It is officialy out, but the whole line has yet to be released. They are planning to release the big brother of the pallete that will replace the 500 series, and when they do that they claim they will also release pallete off-line. Dealers are selling the pallete currently. The board I used was Grandstage's demo pallete. You can get a quote now.
 

DarSax

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Bethesda MD
Ah, excellent. Thanks very much--the board really does look rather promising, I must say.
 

soundlight

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I'd wait until after LDI to get a board, because ETC is rumored to be replacing the express and expression series with a new board to be released at LDI. I'd see if that can hold it's own against the Strand.
 

DarSax

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Bethesda MD
soundlight said:
I'd wait until after LDI to get a board, because ETC is rumored to be replacing the express and expression series with a new board to be released at LDI. I'd see if that can hold it's own against the Strand.
Are you SERIOUS?! I thought it wasn't coming out until next year...if Express replacement is coming out in October...wow.
 

soundlight

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I don't have solid evidence. They might also just be revealing the board at LDI, and releasing it for purchase next year. But I've heard that it might be replaced.
 

soundlight

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gafftaper

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So here are the rumors I've heard:

Told to me by an ETC sales rep:
ETC is going to be announcing the replacement of the Express line at LDI, like what Strand is doing with Pallete, look for a similar product on the outside with a lot of cool new stuff under the hood.

Told to me today by a dealer friend who had spoken with a Strand rep only a few minutes earlier:
When Genlyte purchased Strand recently, this meant that the very cool Marquee software was now in the same family as the new Strand Palette. So, production of Palette series was put on hold while they do some software work. My friend wasn't sure if this means that the Palette software is being replaced with the Marquee software, rewritten to be more like the Marquee software, if it's just being updated to be compatible with Marquee software, or if there are just some bugs in the beta they are working on. We should know more by LDI if not sooner. Hopefully they are rewriting the software to be more like Marquee as Marquee rocks.
 

gafftaper

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As for the original question:

It sounds like you plan on using this board in a highschool, as such I would say definitely go for a two scene preset style board like the Express or the PresetPalette. In my opinion two scene preset boards are a fabulous way to teach beginers lighting.

I've used Horizon as well, and loved the software but hated the lack of control console. The Marquee is essentially the same software and they have a two scene preset console, unfortunately I think it's somewhere up closer to $15,000. Plus it's greatest strengths are it's ability to deal with intelligenet lights and accessories, which based on your budget doesn't sound like it's a concern for you.

You can get the offline software for both Express and the Palette series so that you can design at home or have your students do designs. I would wait for October if I were you and see what happens at LDI.
 

DarSax

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Bethesda MD
Gafftape: I was contacted by an amazingly helpful Las Vegas rep; Bobby Iforgethisname, Harrel? is off working on making the Marquis compatable with the Strand boards, but then after that is working on the Palettes to get them ready.

Oh, it was you both times. I'm doing just that, waiting to see what comes out in October and reading the reivews from LDI.

However. HOwever however however...if the Marquee is $15,000, then in a word, crap. I found the presetPalette somewhere for 5k, but if they're like the same board (and I've researched them both and they almost are), then that might mean the price of the pP going up too. Uh-oh. (Well, I'll have to wait and see anyways.)

Thanks for the advice and info though!

IN the meantime, I'm just going to rent an ETC Express 24/48 for my fall musical, it's readily available, easy, etc. etc. And, if prices would go up on the boards (which would be supremely dissapointing) and we had to live with one, we'd already be semtained.