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Lighting Console Basics

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by jmac, Dec 31, 2008.

  1. jmac

    jmac Active Member

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    Forgive the basic inquiry, here, but I come from limited experience, primarily with low end Leprecon boards.

    First some background for perspective (I know you need this to answer my questions; I've been reading the other posts!). In our community theater venue, we have to rent everything, and it's all rather bare bones. We get everything up on Monday, and run shows (musicals) for the following two weekends (6-7 shows total). I function as lighting designer, electrician and board operator, and work evenings only (this is obviously not my full time job) and have done about 5 shows like this so far. So please don't mention movers to me yet, as much as I would like you to.

    Minimal conventional lights only. Size: 24-channels with dimmer packs on low end. Biggest show had 48-dimmer rack plus couple dimmer packs, some DMX strobes and 36/72 console. Each show, it's likely a different model Leprecon board, sometimes fully functional, often not. I have been using the boards as memory consoles, programming a preset for each cue. I have not yet tried programming a cue stack, because I generally have my hands full trying to learn the basics of lighting design, trying to learn a different board, get rusty Altmans with bare wires to work, and repeatedly editing presets (seems cumbersome on these boards..) because of my novice state.

    I run the show by manually raising and lowering preset "y" faders, and adding in channels on the "x" faders to fix problems when needed.

    Looking ahead a bit, I would like to learn how to use the better boards (I think probably not meaning a $35,000 Full Hog right now, whatever that is) but maybe try one that can manage a color scroller or left elbow, I mean right arm, someday, if I could sneak one into the rental order...

    But what I'd really like to do is have my own console (that could handle some modest amount of the "fancy stuff" as I hopefully grow into it), and so I could be with it for more than two weeks, two or three times a year. Then maybe I could learn what all it can do, figure out things like cue stacks, chases, how to program scrollers and movers, etc., and rough pre-program a show ahead of time which would allow more time for learning how to focus, etc., etc. during tech week. At this point, I am just toying with the idea, as it is a big expense, and I have a wife, and kids...

    So I've been researching numerous verbages on Smartfades, Ions and Baby Palettes and the like. Here are my first questions (I know you were wondering if I had any), so I can start to understand what I'm talking about:

    Sub-Masters and Playback Faders: Are these the same thing? Are they something other than a slider that can be programmed to run one or more channels? Do they refer to hardware and/or software capability? For instance, the Ion specs. say it can connect to 6 fader wings of 40 (or 240 total), for a maximum of 300 submasters and/or 200 playback faders! What does that mean?? Why are those 3 numbers different?

    Also, are the submaster/faders used more for programming the show or running the show, or both? Not having used a "go" button yet, I think I might be uncomfortable not having a bunch of sliders, and some of these boards don't have many. But maybe, I just need to learn a new way of doing things?

    Tracking: Should I be learning this concept at this point? That is to say, is everything going this way, or is it useful primarily for big shows with lots of ML's, etc.?

    Playbacks: Palette says it has dual memory playbacks. Does this mean it can store two cue stacks simultaneously, like for two shows, or Act I, II?

    Encoder Wheels: How do they make life easier for programming movers?

    One last consideration: Our summer show is outdoors, and it is hot and humid in the afternoon, and then cool and dewey by 11pm. We pack it all up each night, and things get knocked around some. Do these newer computer style boards hold up in such conditions, like the Leprecon boards seem to? Do they come with flight cases?

    Ok, that's it for starters. I apologize if I gave too much life story. I'm new to forums, so please bear with me. Let me know if I should limit a post to one or two questions. Thanks, this place has been of great benefit to me in a short time already!
     
  2. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    Oo goody, I love these kind of questions! I'll do my best to stay simple and include just the basics (something I usually have trouble with), but if you want a more in-depth explanation, just say so. Happy reading!

    Alright, first question - submasters and playback faders. A submaster is, as you probably know, a simple slider that can bring a bunch of channels up to a certain level. You simply set a look on stage, then record that look into a submaster. From then on, whenever you bring that submaster up, that exact look will be replicated (and if you only bring it to 50%, then the look will be reduced by 50% intensity). It's pretty good for a smaller show that may just be renting out a facility. For example, at my school we have a number of submasters programmed, and the lighting person can just adjust the colors and look on stage by changing which submasters are up. As for playback faders, it took me a while to understand this too. Basically, once you get into using cues (with the GO button), each cue will be run in a Playback Fader. The fader basically "fades" the previous cue into the next cue. The fader on the board will consist of the GO button, the two sliders (up and down), and probably some combination of CLEAR, BACK, and such. That's what the fader physically would look like. For most shows, you will probably only use one fader. When you would use more than one fader is if you had multiple cues running at once - for example, you start off a scene with a very slow sunrise on the cyc which takes about 10 minutes to complete itself. However, other light cues also need to occur during this period. Basically, if you need cues to occur independently of eachother, and with different fade times, you'll need to use another fader. However, I can guarantee you that you will NEVER need 200 playback faders :).

    The fader wings on the Ion are pretty simple. See this link to the ETC page on the Ion. When you order the Ion, it generally comes only with the normal console - in the picture on that site, that would be just the console to the left. You can choose to order Fader Wings, which are really just sets of submasters that can be used with the Ion - an example of this is the right side of the photo. To keep costs down, the standard Ion does not come with any submasters, as you can see. So many organizations will choose to buy a fader wing as well so they can use submasters. There are different sizes of fader wings, and the number is basically just the number of sliders that you'll get. You definitely do not need as many fader wings as they say you can have, I would recommend getting one fader wing since you are used to working with submasters.

    As for "a way of doing things" - in professional theatre, submasters are never used to run a show. In order to keep the lighting as consistent as possible, every look is recorded as a "cue - very similar to a submaster except that it has a set fade time and can do other things. The cues are recorded as numbers, and are simply triggered in numerical order by pressing the GO button for each cue. In most theatre shows, the Light Board Operator comes in with almost no knowledge of the show. He puts on a headset, and the Stage Manager will call every light cue to him. Every time the SM says "Go", he presses the GO button. Since it is a show that does not change from night to night, this setup works best since it has the most consistency. I would HIGHLY recommend learning to run a show like this, as it is definitely the most efficient way to make sure the lighting works exactly as desired. Another advantage is that cues can do lots of changes instantly, and in very quick sucession right after one another. Submasters are used to run the show often in concerts, but they are also used in situations where a group is only renting out a space for a day or two. There will be a large number of submasters programmed, such as "Blue Wash", "Front Warm Wash", "Red Wash" and such, and the person at the board can simply mix and match those looks to create whatever he wants. This is the more versatile of the choices, since you can change the lighting looks instantly, but it does not offer the consistency desired for a theatrical performance.

    For programming the show, many people have different opinions on this. Professionally, all programming is done via the keypad, and this is something you should learn if you don't know how to do it already. Some designers will make it easier on themselves and program a number of submasters for different looks to help them when they program the cues for the show. For example, if a designer wants a blue wash on stage, rather than going through each channel that is in the blue wash, she can simply bring up the pre-programmed "Blue Wash" submaster and record that look into the cue. (NOTE: I am intentionally leaving out Groups here for simplicity - if you want to learn about these also, just say so.) The vast majority of the higher-end boards will have no Channel sliders at all, so you should learn to program from the keypad as soon as you can. Remember that Ion picture? All those sliders (which were in the Fader Wing) are NOT channel sliders, they are submaster sliders. And to program a submaster, or anything else, you need to use the keypad. It's pretty simple in concept, you basically just select the Channel Number and then select what intensity you want it at. Just make sure that before you get a new board, you are very comfortable with programming via the keypad - at first it seems like it would take too long, but it actually becomes much faster after you learn some of the shortcuts you can use. (Again, not including those here.)

    Tracking is a concept which will drive you insane if you use it accidentally, so I will give a brief explanation here. However, it is a tricky concept to grasp at first, so dont worry about it too much. Let's pretend you've cued your entire show - your board is there and you have around 50 cues programmed in for your show. Then you go decide to hang some running lights backstage - they will be simple small instruments hung on the ends of each electric and pointed into the wings, gelled blue. To save time and energy on running cable to each of these lights, you decide to just plug them into some spare dimmers on the electric. Great. But now, you realize that you have to go through your entire show and add in the "Worklight Channel(s)" into each and every cue. Sounds like a big waste of time, right? But not to fear. With Cue Tracking, when you add a channel into a cue, the channel stays at that level until it receives a change. And that makes little to no sense to you. Let's look at the difference. So Console A is a Non-Tracking Console, and Console B is a Tracking Console. Console A says "unless I receive specific instructions to keep at this level, then the channels are going to Zero", while Console B says "I have this channel set, but I'm too lazy to actually change it until I'm specifically told to". So in the case of Console B, when you program the new channels into the first cue of the show, you will discover that the channels are now recorded into every cue in the show! (This is a gross oversimplification of Tracking, just enough to make sure it doesn't screw you over. There is an excellent article on Tracking in the CB Glossary which you can check out if you wish, but don't worry if you don't fully understand it at first.)

    Alright, last couple questions. I don't personally have experience with the Palette (someone will come along who does), but I can give a basic description of Cue Lists. Traditionally, you could only record one Cue List in a console - so, there could only be one Cue 1, and only one Cue 7. If you needed to have multiple shows loaded into the board, you would generally start your first show at Q1, your second show would start at Q500, and maybe your third at Q800. This was not the idea situation, but it worked reasonably well. When you have Cue Lists, this problem is avoided. Generally, the newer boards can support more Cue Lists than you'll ever need. Lets say there are two shows running in your theatre at the same time, Show 1 on one night and Show 2 on the next night, then repeat. In an older board, you would probably end up having to reload the appropriate show from a disc each night, wiping out the show from the previous night. This is not fun, because what if you forget to put the correct show in, or what if it doesnt work? With different Cue Lists, you can simply choose what Cue List you want to use - Cue List 1 for show 1 amnd Cue List 2 for show 2. It's very easy to work with both cue lists, and it saves you time and worry. Also, you can program a quick cue sequence, maybe for a dance show that is just here for one night, without having to worry about clearing the memory on the board.

    Encoder Wheels: They really do help with movers. When you program via the keypad, as I said, you basically type in the channel number to want to modify and then type in the level you want it at. It's usually easy to guess about where you want it, and then you can easily move it up and down until it's exactly what you want. For movers, this isn't the case. Positioning of movers is provided by changing the number in the channel, but it is much harder to guess a good number. Traditionally, you would run your finger along the Trackpad until you got the mover pointed exactly where you wanted it, and making small changes would be very difficult - and often, you would press too hard or something and the mover would fly off in another direction. An encoder wheel just provides something you can turn - similar to the old telephone turn-wheel things on older phones - that makes selecting a value much easier, faster, and less painful on your fingers from the constant use of the Trackpad. That's basically all it is - another way to change levels. There's no fancy software capability attached or anything, its fairly simple.

    I'm not sure if you're aware or not, but most of the console manufacturers offer an offline editing program for their consoles. This allows the user to program and update the show at home (without seeing the stage obviously) when time in the theatre is limited. However, it can also be useful for familiarizing yourself with a certain board. This summer I did a show where I never saw or used the board until 5 days before the show. But by using the offline software and the manual extensively, I came in with the entire show programmed and saved on a disc, and with an extensive knowledge of exactly how the board worked. With just minor level changes in the cues (which took under an hour), the show went into tech week with full lighting after me only spending about an hour in the theatre.

    I am going to leave the recommendation of preferred boards to others, as I am very familiar with the ETC line, but not much outside of that. I apologize if I insulted your intelligence here a little bit, but I tried to explain almost everything rather than assuming what you already knew. I also apologize for the length of this post, although I still have a long ways to go to beat out Ship. The CB Glossary (which is currently not very functional, but you can still search for things) has information on a lot of this, and I would recommend looking there. If you don't understand anything I wrote, just say so and someone will try to clear things up.

    To all CBers. Yes, I realize I vastly oversimplified things here, but that was done on purpose. I intentionally didn't include all the details of everything, just to keep the amount of information to a manageable level. Please dont kill me. :neutral:
     
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  3. cwhitson

    cwhitson Member

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    Well put....!

    I would recommend that whatever board you do go with that you go with one from ETC. Whether it is an older board or a newer one....it will be VERY EASY to find someone who can help you out with it as it is one of the most used and very easy to program and make changes whether using the board or the offline software. Unless you live in a remote area, finding someone who can even show you in person how to do intermediate level programming would not be hard.

    Good luck....it all comes with time. Just don't try to over do it. Try one new thing at a time until you get good a using it and recognizing problems. Otherwise you will go nuts when something goes wrong.
     
  4. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Ladies and gentlemen you know what my post is going to be.....The first thing to do when programing with a Leprecon is:
     
  5. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Use a hammer???

    [USER]rochem[/USER], nice post!

    Just a warning, don't be too worried about using movers. Small regional theatres really don't need them and can get by without them. Expand your horizons by starting with a few color scrollers or a few Right Arms or iCues. Don't force them into your design - you're not designing a rock show here. Light should support, not detract, from the action on stage.

    Also, if you are nervous using a "GO" button, a few hints:
    1. Plan your show carefully. Go through your script page by page and insert numbers that correspond to cues. Don't forget to include cues for house lights (if applicable) scene changes, black outs... everything.

    2.Program it all into the board.

    3.Then run through the show using the "GO" button to double/triple/quadruple check that everything is the way is supposed to be. It makes life a lot easier, though also somewhat boring if it's simple up-down cues...

    4. BACK UP YOUR SHOW in case something happens... BACK UP often and to one or two disks.

    Also, learn in Tracking mode (if you go with an ION that's default.) I learned Cue-2-Cue and it's really hard for me to do tracking now...
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2008
  6. xander

    xander Well-Known Member

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    Roche did a pretty good job answering your questions. My two cents is simply this:

    Any board you buy new these days will program automated fixtures. Some better than others, but it is all really just a matter of personal preference. If you go with a used board, then you will have to decide what will fit your needs in that department. If you are just looking for scrollers, rotators, moving mirror, or right arm, then again, any board using DMX512 protocol can control those, some will be easier than others though.

    I think your biggest decision to make will be to go with a tracking console or non-tracking console. Since it is your first step into real computerized control, I think it is the biggest difference between boards; speaking from experience. I learned to program in the ETC family (non-tracking, up to the Ion). The first time I used a tracking console was a disaster. It is simple enough to get used to a different syntax or operating system as you move from one brand to another, but tracking is a whole different way of working. Anybody that grew up on ETC will say that it is the easiest to learn, but I know people that grew up on Strand and they will say the same thing. Which ever you choose to start with will stick with you for the rest of your life--that's not to say that you have to stay with one brand/board/style forever, I just mean it will stay with you, like anything you do for the first time.

    All of that being said, I would research what kind of dealers and repair shops you have in the area. You don't want to buy something that you can't get fixed or get replaced quickly or efficiently--you don't want to have to ship it across the country just to get it looked at. So when you find your dealers go to them and ask questions. Any good dealer will set you up with a board and let you try it out in shop. They aren't going to teach you how to use right then and there, but if they are like the dealers in my area they will be glad you help you out.

    The only thing that I noticed that Roche didn't answer is the durability question. No, boards these days are not going to like wet weather. That is just simply because they are highly technological pieces of equipment made of tons of little circuits. But, if you take care of the equipment and make sure it doesn't get wet, it will last you a long time. You can buy flight cases for anything out there but I don't think any are going to come with it at no extra charge.

    While, I like these forums and are greatful they are here, go to your local professional theatre and talk to the ME. Find out what they use. Maybe they can teach you something. And there is just nothing better than talking to someone in person.

    -Tim

    P.S. While you are used to doing sliders and presets so you will probably want something with sliders, you really need to start learning the keypad as soon as you get a new board. It is much faster and you need it in order actually use any of the abilities a board has to offer other than intensity up-down. You might think about getting a board without sliders for cost's sake and then keep using whatever you are using now and practice with the new board until you are comfortable.
     
  7. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Rochem has written a very good reply, but as is the norm with CB, he will discover the great variety of differing experiences the users bring to the forum. and that caution must be taken to avoid absolute statements such as "As for "a way of doing things" - in professional theatre, submasters are never used to run a show."

    And although he goes on to state " Submasters are used to run the show often in concerts, but they are also used in situations where a group is only renting out a space for a day or two. (snip) but it does not offer the consistency desired for a theatrical performance."

    As example, I'm a professional, been doing one-off's in my road house for 27 years and the vast majority of my shows (on an ETC Express 48/96) uses 2 scene preset as well as submasters. We have no need to attempt consistency, as that is only desired when an event is the same, day to day, which one-offs are not.

    A correction is then needed to explain that submasters, as well as the term used on many consoles that are designed for manual control (Avo's, Leprecons, Ions with a LOT of submasters) - Playbacks, are built in features to allow the LD/Operator to create lighting looks in a quicker fashion then can be achieved using a keypad and typing in "Ch's 1 thru 5 @ Full".

    Thus there is still a need and use for manual control and one of the many features the ETC Ion allows (any console with submasters allows) is to have a single submaster or playback to function simply as a channel fader. Sometimes it's something as simple as the channel controlling the curtain warmers, or whatever, but every submaster console allows this function - to run a show manually, when it is often much faster to stick a piece of tape on the board and label the subs as Red Bax, or DC Sp Bax, etc... Often enough, this is much faster then referring to a magic sheet and calling up levels via a keypad.

    Thus the need for manual consoles

    As a comment on multiple cue lists, one of the best examples I saw for the need for multiple cue lists was the NY City Ballet. A company with 100 or more dance pieces in their repertoire. In years past, with consoles that only allowed a single sequential cue list, they might have a disk with 6-7 dance pieces on it, labeled 1-99 for Sleeping Beauty, 101 thru 199 for Swan Lake, etc... then swapping disks to get Cue 1-299 on disk 2 for a Twyla Tharp piece, then to a third disk to get the latest Cues 401-499 for Apollo.

    Each nights repertoire would be different and to say that disk management was an issue, is an understatement.

    Thus a console such as Eos helps to simplify life as each piece can have a start number at 1, with the cue list label reflecting the ballet name. Changing the rep order is much easier now.

    Steve B.
     
  8. iLightTheStage

    iLightTheStage Active Member

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    I didn't read all of Rochem's answer, but I would suggest getting a used ETC Express 48/96. The learning curve isn't intense at all, and you can use the board as a two-scene preset (kind of the way you've been using the leps) or with submasters, or with a GO-button. This will still allow you to control simple intelligent lighting (scrollers, right arm, etc).

    You might even find that your local rental shop would allow you to come in and play with one when they are slow. This is one of the best ways to learn a board, and the rental shop often agrees to it, because it means that you are more likely to rent that from them. I would definitely recommend trying to rent a board you are interested in a few times before making the leap to purchasing.

    Hope that helps.
     
  9. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    The major drawback to an Express is that it's an inherently preset board (as opposed to tracking), and before the forum blew up yesterday and forgot everything since New Year's Eve, we had all come to the conclusion that tracking is the way to go for the future.

    But if it weren't for all the shiny new boards being tracking boards and talking Light Palette syntax, an Express would be a perfect fit. Actually, it wouldn't be terrible, but a new shiny tracking board might be a better fit.
     
  10. iLightTheStage

    iLightTheStage Active Member

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    True, but I think he has a long way to go until he needs to worry about tracking vs. non-tracking. It sounds like he is mostly self-taught and looking for something to learn on. Once he fully knows an Express, I don't think the jump to a tracking board is that hard once your basic knowledge is set.

    I was also just thinking of the price point of a brand new Ion vs. a used Express. I just personally feel that the Express is among the simplest of boards to lay a good foundation on while still having quite a bit of power (for what it is). But I can also see your argument for learning the more prominent style of programming.
     
  11. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Here is another thread that I had a great post in, that was lost. Cest la vie...

    As I have said many times on CB, there is absolutely no reason to get an Express in this day an age. Yes, they were great consoles. Yes, 90% of the high schools in the US had one at some point. Yes, it is an easy console to learn, but it is outdated technology and it is not worth spending that kind of money on outdated technology. Ion doesn't have to be a hard console to learn, that is the beauty of Ion, it can be simple for the people who need simple, and complex for those who need. It also leaves great room to grow for those who may not use all the features today, but may in the next few years.
     
  12. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    I would actually have to disagree with this. In my brief experiences, I have found that tracking is something that is hard to learn after you've been running a cue-to-cue console your entire life. A local school near me got a new Ion this year which was an upgrade from an old preset board, and I spent many nights there doing nothing but explaining tracking and helping them fix mistakes when they forgot about tracking. I had a really good post here before the forums forgot everything, but basically tracking is more in line with the way a designer thinks about lighting, making it easier once you get the hang of it. I'd say get a tracking console if at all possible, but what console specifically is a little harder to pin down.

    As I have only ever used ETC boards, I am obviously somwhat biased towards towards them. At my school we currently have an Express 48/96 which is great for the new students just trying to learn about lighting, but it is also capable of running a fairly complex show pretty easily. The main disadvantage is the limited channel count and the difficulty in programming movers, although you can program one or two in when needed. A step up from that would be the Ion, which is more complicated, but much more user-friendly once you get used to it. Also, with the Ion programming movers, scrollers, or other DMX devices is much easier. And it's a tracking console. The one disadvantage of the Ion is that by the time you buy all the accessories for your Ion, your price has gone up significantly. As I stated previously, I would recommend getting one fader wing to help ease the transition into more advanced boards and for shows where you don't have the time, ability, or desire to program in each cue. If the Ion with fader wing, monitors, keyboard, etc. is out of price range at the moment, then a used Express would be your next best option. As others have said, the best way to find a board you like is by using them. If there's other theatres, community, high school, or professional, in the area, maybe try seeing if you can play around with their board for a day. If not, spend a couple hours at a rental shop and have a sales guy show you the basics of each board and see which you like best.
     
  13. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Speaking from personal experience, I couldn't agree more with this statement. I taught myself Q2Q programming, and I've been using it for every show. My last show I tried programming in tracking mode (I have an Innovator 48/96) and for the life of me I couldn't figure it out. (Not that I was trying too hard, I just wanted to get it done as I had a few papers to write that weekend as well.) Learn tracking mode!

    I mean, if lights are just going to be up/down... light to blackout to light to blackout... it's not really necessary to go tracking. But if you want to try exciting things, learn tracking. It will make your life easier.
     
  14. JChenault

    JChenault Well-Known Member

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    Several on this thread have said that the Express is not a tracking console. It will happily work as a tracking console if you 'Track' your cues instead of 'Rec' them.

    There are a few things it does not do intuitively in a tracking mode ( like explicit cue only) but the basic concept of tracking is present.

    I know because I have been using this board in tracking mode for the last 10 to 15 years.
     
  15. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Express is inherently a Cue-Only console. Yes, you can do a track record, but it is not the same as a tracking console. A tracking console always tracks, and Express is not capable of doing this. The track feature of Express does not function fully the same as an inherently tracking console. I could go into the nitty-gritty of it, but ultimately Express(ion) is a cue-only platform with limited tracking capabilities.
     
  16. xander

    xander Well-Known Member

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    We had covered this before the server crashed and lost everything...someone, not sure if it was the same person mentioned the Express could be a tracking console as well. Like icewolf said, it is not a tracking console. Period. The track record button allows you to perform a certain function that is extremely useful, but it is in no way a tracking console. End of story.

    -Tim
     
  17. joeboo46

    joeboo46 Member

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    Northeast Pennsylvania
    Also may want to look into an Express 125 or 250 it eliminates the two-scene preset option but honestly i question the practicality of a two scene preset console today. Plus this might eliminate some cost also. Also allows for tracking and will allow to install fixture personalities for small moving light applications, such as i-CUE or scrollers. I think the Express is one of the best consoles to learn on all you need is a little knowledge and you can figure it out.
     
  18. jmac

    jmac Active Member

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    Well thank you all for the valuable discussion and education. Very helpful. I believe I read all or at least most of your posts before they vanished during the server upgrade, so they were not posted in vain, and I responded to several, but my replies and further questions seem to have been lost in the shuffle as well...

    It looks like Ion would certainly be a big step to the future and give me lots of room to grow for a long time. From what most of you say, it does seem like tracking is probably a good way to go, before I get too entrenched in cue only logic. So that looks like a good choice, except the cost may be a little steep for a personal "hobby" board for me. I don't imagine there are any used ones out yet.

    Anyway, I have downloaded the Ion offline software and manual, and have started playing with it, to at least see where things are heading, and to see what the learning curve might be. So far, it looks impressive to me, and also perhaps a bit daunting at first glance. (One problem I have is our community theater does not have a permanent home; we just rent for 2 weeks for each show, so I have no place to play around with things..). I need to perhaps volunteer at another local venue to get some more experience.. But I think I could get the hang of it and grow into it.

    Alternatively, given we will be lucky to get any kind of scroller, let alone a ML in the next 2 years, a used Express would certainly be more than enough to meet our needs, and would be an upgrade from the past rental Leprecons. But as was said, that is investing a still fair chunk of change in yesterday's technology..

    Question- is it best to look for an Express 48/96, or would a 150 or 250 be ok (given either has plenty of channels for us)? Difference in cost?

    I've also read discussions here on the Strand Palettes which look promising as well, except some seem limited in submasters and you can't add wings (?). How do they price out vs. Ion? I think I would prefer the Ion, but can probably get a better deal with the Strands, because I have a better relationship with the local Strand rep.

    Finally, in talking with ETC today regarding questions with the software, when asked, they mentioned there will likely be an Ion "Jr" coming out, hopefully in late spring, but they are not allowed to say much yet. Perhaps less channels (100 is plenty right now for us) and a few less features, and $2K +/- less?? That might be just the ticket. Anybody else have any scoop or comment on that?

    Thanks again for sharing all your experience and advice!
     
  19. jmac

    jmac Active Member

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    Yes, even with the Leprecons, I have never even tried two-scene preset mode.
     
  20. JChenault

    JChenault Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,407
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    Location:
    seattle, wa USA

    Putting on my stupid hat for a moment - If you Always 'Tracked' and never Recorded on the Express(ion) in what way would it's tracking capabilities be limited? I am aware of some minor deficiencies, but not of anything major. What am I missing?

    IE would you mind going into the nitty-gritty ( or give me a pointer )

    Thanks
     

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