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Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Tyler, Nov 21, 2006.
throw it out there, many may disagree, but I'm a fan of Horizon. Say what you want < and I know that you will > but, it can be built on a laptop, or desktop pc, it has fantastic upgradablitiy. You can run it on screen, you can get wing panels. The basic interface gives you 512 channels or a rack mount 1024 unit is availible. No I don't get paid for recommending them. I used to work for E.T. when it was owned by Rosco, which is where I was indoctrinated. < I did just get out of a production meeting with Gordon Pearlman though, ok enough name dropping> google it take a look. It's right up there.
Either are ok, but you'll find that 99% of the lighting world doesn't like working with pc based lighting controllers. Those that I have talked to seem to think that they can crash easily, are not very flexible, etc. However, in the 6+ years I've used LightJockey it's NEVER crashed. The other reason is that ALL pc based controllers are missing easy to use playback handles. So doing stuff on the fly can be difficult.
It is POSSIBLE to emulate handles in LJ, and probably in the Hog PC, and maybe in others as well. However, you'll need to buy a product which accepts dmx in, and also buy a fader board or possibly even a midi controller which can send output into the pc controller.
The upside of all pc based controllers is that trying them out is free. Typically, you can just download the software and test drive it as long as you want, even try out the visualizer for free. You won't be able to actually connect it to any lights, but you can see how it works.
I've written a help guide for LightJockey at http://www.ukslc.org/Technical_Articles/Monthly_Features.html , plus there is a very large forum which helps users http://www.martin.dk/forum/forum.asp?FORUM_ID=14 .
If you're using the short version of Axis 3.0 and like it some one is blowing smoke at you quoting $ 1300.00 for the full version.
You shouldn't pay more than $ 749.00
Jands Vista software/hardware package.
Although, in a theatre situation, I'd suggest using an actual console. Some recommendations (some high-end and some low-end)
-Jands ESPII Series
-ETC Express Series
-Zero88 Fat Frog (24/48) also capable of using 12 intelligent fixtures.. AN EXCELLENT theatre console regardless
-Leprecon LP1500 Series
Talk to your local lighting dealer, I'm sure they can give you some suggestions based on your needs, what equipment you currently have, and what you might need in the future.
Personally I've never had Horizon crash on me either. If you maintain you P.C., start with a good stable system, you shouldn't have any problems. I will include the caveat that I strongly discourage the use of the Ligthing control PC for anything else besides the control program and possibly support software for lighting ie litewrite etc.
I agree that one of the coolest things about PC based consoles is that you can download the software and use it for free. you can even write a whole show at home and take it to the theatre and load it on the system there.
I'd have to disagree about theatres not liking pc based consoles though. We have Horizon to run our shows on and had to get an ETC express for touring companies and others to use. I admit it takes a bit longr to set up a show on a PC based console but long term it very flexible and versitle. I love the ability to set up dimmer profiles for individual cues and the ability to build HTML hot sheets for patching, fast call cues presets etc.
Lastly there are wing panels which are expandable for the horizon for those who can't give up the "hands-on" feel of a "real" lightboard or if you want to assign permanent submasters.
I agree, though check with at least two or three different suppliers / distributers
ETC or Strand. I may just be prejudiced against crappy PC controls, but from what I've seen, the design programs on the computer never get used because of time or laziness, and it's not at all as easy to use. All you need is a good board with cues, channels, effects, etc. Just the basics. If you want to any more than that, then anything under that price is crappy, and not worth it.
(I have only worked on Strand and ETC boards, so I don't know how the others run, but I have been warned against them)
Schniapereli, if you don't know the whole picture, don't try to state your opinion as a fact!
I am currently using an ADB Mentor system, and i find that it is great, other than a few little problems/niggles it is easy to program and user-friendly. It is compatible with movers (although it does take some time to get used to the system) and has some really excellent, useful features.
There are also many other great manufacturers of lighting boards out there; in fact, Strand and ETC are not generally the choice of professionals, in my experience. I know that many choose to use systems such as the Flying Pig Systems Hogs or the MA GrandMAs. Other good manufacturers include Martin and Zero88. Generally, I think that there is little real difference between the real top-end boards and I think, even at lower levels, it is largely a matter of choice.
sorry for that but that post above got me going .
I probably didn't write that the way I was thinking it. I tried to make myself look like the worthless biased newbie who still remains hoplessly oblivious to all technical reality.
From what I've heard, and what I've seen, the main board for professionals (the ones people have actually heard of) mainly use ETC or Strand. Old Vic Theater I know for sure suppleis 2 Expression 2 boards from ETC, but the traveling show usually bring their own. All other professional boards I have seen have been ETC, and I have spoken to many professionals about their opinion, and they have recommended ETC or Strand (most say ETC)
But, again, This is just what I have studied, and I am not a professional. They are all just personal opinions to different people.
Sorry if my post before was offensive because of me seemingly declaring myself leader over the competent people. (if you saw that Dilbert comic. )
No, well, not really. As always, it depends what you need. ETC consoles are great, and close to standard for theaters with no or few moving lights. However, if I was specing a rig of 500 moving heads, I would opt for a Hog3 or a GrandMA, not anything by ETC or Strand.
Its really impossible to get behind one console and say that hands down, console A is better then console B. Every console has its strengths and weaknesses. For instance, the ETC Express line is a very easy console to learn and program relatively complex things in. 800 cues, 10 pages of subs, that will work for most shows. However, if you have a DL2, I would not want to try to run it off an Express.
Not an attack of course, just making the point that people really can't/shouldn't stand behind a board and say "This is the right console to get always". Zero88 has some great stuff, but they are not exactly a "mainstream" console maker.
Not to pick on you Tyler but don't you think that was an important bit of information to determine BEFORE you made your decision? That is IMO a key part of this decision process.
Martin in the past offered a product called Fingers which was an assignable control surface. DMX in is possible but you need to set it up and assign functions to faders etc.
suggest you visit the Light Jockey Martin forum
Also suggest you go to
and download under controller Light Jockey 2 the latest manual
I think you'll be happy with it. As far as the dmx in, any other desk that outputs dmx can be used to send commands to LJ, provided you have the hardware to accept it. I'm assuming you're buying new, which means you'll get the new 2 universe USB box.
Feel free to contact me if you have any issues. Or another guide is at
I think as far as conventional boards ETC and strand are always the standard. Saying you wouldn't use one with a dl2 is like saying you wouldn't try to pull a semi trailer with a sports car. Moving light boards and conventional boards are two very different things, even if they do overlap some. I don't think you find people debating between an expression and a hog.
also you can download showxpress try using the software before buying the hardware
conventional board just as if you have a ML rig and an automated lighting board. The bigger is better rule does not apply to lighting boards or software. if you have ever tried running a show of conventionals with a hog and then the same show with an ETC or strand, you would find the hog cumbersome and overpowered, and have much better luck on the ETC or Strand. But put DL2s in your Hog and your on for a party.
In general if you are looking for a simple set of 512 controllable channels that will basically direct only dimmers or maybe scrollers and some ICues you should stick to a basic hard board or a system like Light Jockey, which is designed for a smaller scale environment and also has upgrade capabilities which some physical boards lack. it is after all easier to add a universe in a digital world than a physical one.
ETC Insight 3 (although it was an ARRI board when I first met it.) It is a great conventional rig board and can (if you are patient) work well with movers. Being an old guy I am not as comfortable with movers as I should be and am working on that. I agree the Jands Hogs and the Grand MA are great mover boards.
I don't like PC systems probably because I have spent much of my lighting life in theatres where more than half our shows are one night stands that require an abnormally high level of busking a show from commands over the cans. PC's just don't seem to cut it in those situations. Great for long run shows with a reasonable amount of plotting time.
This is a funny thing, I've heard several people here make a similar statement, that they prefer to not use a pc based console on theatre. I have spent almost my entire proffessional life in the theatre, except when I was off doing movies, rocknroll or Corporate gigs. In all that time I've always preferred using something like an ETC , etc. for doing one off gigs like modeling shows, rock n roll etc. something easy and quick to set up. I prefere to use something like Horizon < for example > in a Theater enviroment. A Place where you have a week of Techs and long runs and you can better utilize the nuances that PC consoles offer.
Am I crazy ? or am I the only one who runs shows for weeks on end and actually has techs and designer times etc. ?
Theatre based rather than corporate or rock and roll (well ok occasionally rock and roll) I seem to have worked in high turnover receiving houses who do occasional production stuff. This has meant that I needed a board where I could operate on the fly. The board however also needed to be able to plot big shows about 4-5 times a year hence the ETC.
ETC Express Console. It's great for theatre. What kind of lighting were you thinking of? Musicals or Flash and Trash (Light Shows)?
The ETC Express boards come with an offline editor so you can edit Cues away from the board and at home.
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