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Light Design+PC-based Control? w Sound?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by TorontoAlchemy, Jan 26, 2007.

  1. TorontoAlchemy

    TorontoAlchemy Member

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    Hi,

    First off, thanks to everyone for the wisdom and experience that is shared so graciously here.

    THE BACKGROUND
    I manage a small rented blackbox theatre and presently operate lights with a Colortran Status 24/48 board and 32 dimmers.

    The venue was not built as a theatre, is somewhat irregularly shaped with vertical support beams on stage, and the breakers are domestic 110v/15amps.

    We use satellite DMX daisy chained dimmer packs, 4 dimmers per pack. Each dimmer pack (family of 4 dimmers) is powered by a single domestic breaker. (ie the breaker blows at 110vX15 amps = 1600 watts)

    THE QUESTION
    I am considering moving from our console to a PC based system. As such my questions are:

    1. Can the PC based system give me realtime feedback on the watts in use per "family of 4 dimmers"?

    If so, can I set an override so that the control will never allow a dumb operater to go over capacity and blow the breaker?

    2. Do the various PC based systems integrate smoothly with the design PC software available on the market? (ie can I design in my design software and then smoothly load into my PC controller?)

    3. Do PC systems allow me to integrate sound cues with the lighting cue? ie a lighting/sound cue for thunder+lightning flash, etc?

    4. Realistically my budget is in the lower range of $1000-$4000 for the PC control + the PC design. Any suggestions?

    Many thanks for any advice or input.

    Simon
     
  2. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Occupation:
    Project Manager, Stagecraft Industries, Inc.
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    Portland, Or.
    1. Can the PC based system give me realtime feedback on the watts in use per "family of 4 dimmers"?

    There are several version of console/dimmers that have this ability. I'm not sure about the specs on your particular dimmers.

    If so, can I set an override so that the control will never allow a dumb operater to go over capacity and blow the breaker?

    If You calculate your load on a given dimmer you can set the maximum that that particular dimmer will go to in most boards now days, eg. Dimmer [email protected]@level75% would be an old way of programming it into an old etc or strand board. Horizon software allows you to set profiles for individual dimmers that do things like , Flicker, Jumps, inverse etc.


    2. Do the various PC based systems integrate smoothly with the design PC software available on the market? (ie can I design in my design software and then smoothly load into my PC controller?)

    Most P.C. based console will integrate seamlessly with WYSIWYG etc. Again my knowledge is in Horizon where I know you can design the entire show in WYSIWYG then plug it in and watch the entire show run on te rendere and horizon at the same time.

    3. Do PC systems allow me to integrate sound cues with the lighting cue? ie a lighting/sound cue for thunder+lightning flash, etc?

    There are ways to tie sound and light cues together through PC based consoles. SMPTE and MIDI being the two most popular, I would not reccomend however, running both software systems on the same PC, that simply won't work.

    4. Realistically my budget is in the lower range of $1000-$4000 for the PC control + the PC design. Any suggestions?

    The design softwatre iteself could cost you your budget, the console prices are going to fit in there pretty realistically. Do not do what I've seen before in some smaller venues, where a director will go to the board and say,"Oh but we can run Accounting software on the computer during te day and then run shows on it at night !", If you go to a pc based console the PC is for light control only, don't load anything else on it
    Hope that helps, You'll get a ton of responses on this, Everyone is going to have very varied opinions.
     
  3. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
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    Seattle, Washington
    All you need is a $360 Rosco Keystroke and a second computer running good sound effects software. The keystroke has a DMX plug on one end to go to your light control computer and a USB on the other that goes to your sound computer. You can then configure the Keystroke to trigger any key board "stroke" when it's DMX channel is called for by the light control computer. Set it up so that it presses the go button on your sound computer and you are done. Really quick and easy.

    As for sound software, I'm going to be buying Stage Research's SFX it costs about $500 for the standard edition and I'm told is excellent.

    I'm also a Horizon Fan, they've got some cool wing panel accessories to give you some add on faders. Check out the new Strand Palette Software as well, it's based on the Horizon software. Although I bet the Strand software costs more than the straight Horizon does. Here's the link to Horizon software. Also Check out Marquee PC it's another variation of the same software. There was a split and a buyout so you can buy the same core software in three slightly different variations from Strand, Rosco, or Horizon/marquee.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2007

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