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Lightning...

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by JerseyMatt, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. JerseyMatt

    JerseyMatt Member

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    Hey guys,

    I will be doing lights and sound for our Community Theater's production of Ghost in the Meadow this October, and I will need some guidance. This is kind of a tech heavy show, and tech needs to be done well to sell the creepy/scary aspect. I asked to get involved from the start, watching rehearsals and working on the set (versus throwing it all together during tech week) so I can come up with ideas and have time to buy things and play around. So this is the first of probably many posts I will be asking for suggestions.

    My first challenge is thunder and lightning. It is called for in several parts of the show (playwright even suggests using it during pre-show to set the mood), many times while other things are happening - so simply bumping channels is completely out. We currently have a Leprecon 612 and MX2400 for the main stage lighting, along with several SlimPAR64 RGBAs, a 4' RGB lightbar (forget the brand) and a couple ADJ 4 channel dimmer packs for practicals. I am going to get a dmxKing eDMX4 Pro DIN and use Martin M-PC to run this show (I'm very tech oriented, so 2 months should be plenty for me to learn its ropes). I figured the best approach would be to use the LEDs since they can strobe colors pretty effectively.

    So for the lightning, how would you go about "randomizing" the lightning flashes in a "pre-programmed" manner so that it can be run as a one-touch cue? My first thought was setting up a chase, but I know on boards the chases usually just follow the BPM. Can that be randomized somehow in M-PC? Cue stacks also came to mind but that will be a hell of a lot of cues to program so it doesn't look the same every single time.

    Also.. The lightning would obviously be occurring out a large window (think french door size), but what do you think of also putting LEDs on the truss and throughout the house pointing up (it's an old church, which has a white acoustic tile vaulted ceiling) to make the storm "feel" more real to the audience - especially during a "power failure" scene at the start of the show?

    Edit: Let me also say that our playhouse is very intimate. It's about 110 seats with a semi-thrust stage and no curtain. The front row is only about 4 feet from the foot of the stage.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
  2. Colin Bishop

    Colin Bishop Church AVL Technician and HS Student Premium Member

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    In an M-Series you can set it to a Chase to randomly go through the cues in it! Also with the effects engine with some clever waves across the fixtures you can achieve a 'random' looking effect. You LEDs may also have a built in random strobe mode, check the manual. For starting with M-Series I'd look at the training videos, Martin just made new ones! (Here: https://www.youtube.com/user/MartinController) That's how I learned, but I used the old videos. Also just continue to ask questions here, I'd be glad to answer M-Series questions.

    Colin

    Edit: There is also a great Facebook group to answer and M-Series questions quickly! https://www.facebook.com/events/1636633406572912/?ti=as
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
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  3. JerseyMatt

    JerseyMatt Member

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    Thanks! I just want to clarify we do NOT have a Martin board. I am going to use M-PC connected to an eDMX4 Pro DIN via ArtNET. We don't have a huge budget. It was hard enough to come up with the money for the Leprecon 612/MX2400 last year but we had to - the 35 year old EDI Scrimmer we were using had broken its last leg... But since Martin lets you use the M-PC software for free, I can swing the $300 for the DMX adapter. Now let me ask you a question since you're familiar with Martin.. Since I can use a port on the eDMX4 as an input to ArtNET, can I connect the Leprecon board to that and will M-PC be able to use it as like a ghetto "wing"?
     
  4. Colin Bishop

    Colin Bishop Church AVL Technician and HS Student Premium Member

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  5. JerseyMatt

    JerseyMatt Member

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    Badass! According to that it'll do exactly what I want! I'll have the DMX adapter in a few days so I'll be able to start playing around with it... :)
     
  6. Amiers

    Amiers Custom Title of Awesomeness

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    I would suggest a show control software to sync audio and lighting but you are strapped for cash so you might not be able to spring for it.

    We implemented a lighting/thunder effect for the opening of one of our act I'll run it tomorrow and post a video for you so you have a reference.

    My setup is completely different but the concept itself should Port over.
     
  7. Amiers

    Amiers Custom Title of Awesomeness

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    So this is done with a little bit of everything I got. Rain, Lightning, and Thunder sound effects come from the show control built in library. That I built into the video that plays throughout the act.

    I got 10 LEDs in the ceiling that strobe when cued and LED bars around the ring to fill out the effect.

    All processed through the show control software.
    image.jpg

    Like I said previously my setup is completely different but this is a good way to get some ideas. I hope it helps.
     
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  8. JerseyMatt

    JerseyMatt Member

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    @Amiers Thanks for the case of venue envy lol! That's very cool! You're right we probably won't be able to swing paid software but with thunder and lightning think I can fake it between what I have and what I'm getting since in nature it's not really synced up unless the strike is very close. My main concern is how to vary the flashes to look real and "random", and not be the same pattern over and over. From what Colin said it is possible with this software, so at least I know I'm on the right track!

    You guys are great! And we are actually close with this playwright, he gives us recording permission so I will be able to show you the final results! :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  9. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    It's my understanding that the Martin Atomic 3000 has randomized lightning built-in. It's also probably 3 or 4 stops brighter than LEDs, unless you have a whole lot of them. :)

    If you can swing the power for the 240V version, even moreso.

    Do you have a rental place around that might have some?
     
  10. JerseyMatt

    JerseyMatt Member

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    That would be cool, but sadly no the nearest rental place is a 9 hour round trip from here. Sucks living in the middle of nowhere lol
     
  11. Silicon_Knight

    Silicon_Knight Member

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    We did a show called The Games Afoot last fall which called for at least a dozen different thunder/lightning strikes. For our production, I rigged an LED Rail light behind the "patio doors" and used a set of chasers with various timings, hitting the various pixels of the rail light. For the sound, I installed a subwoofer and used recorded (and heavily edited) thunder since most of the strikes were just for emphasis (so we needed it short).

    I was on the sound console and someone else was on the light computer, and we just manually synced the start of each sequence (which were timed in duration) - it worked quite well.

    Here's what we used:
    Rail Lights: Elation Pro DLED (today, a Blizzard Pixelstorm COB would be a suitable and readily available alternative)
    LightControl: QLC+ on a Windows laptop w/ ENTTEC USB-DMX Pro Mk2
    Sound: Macs Cues on a MacBook Pro into the house PA + Powered Subwoofer

    I don't think I have a video, but here's a quick shot of the show during the run. The lightning effect was over on Stage Left outside the double doors.
    20161217_202753.jpg
     
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  12. Crisp image

    Crisp image Member

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    While you are looking at using M-PC you might also want to consider MagicQ by Chamsys. Free to use and the EDMX unit you have on the way will also work with it. The software will say demo mode when you do not have any chamsys hardware plugged in but is fully usable for 64 universes. I found MagicQ easier to learn then M-PC.
    Youtube is your friend for both these packages.
    I am a beginner in lighting but learning lots from places like this and YT.
    Regards
    Crispy
     
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  13. JerseyMatt

    JerseyMatt Member

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    Ok I'll give it a shot.. M-PC allows 4 universes over Artnet, which will be plenty, but good to know MagicQ allows so many. Does it have any dumb demo restrictions like not being able to save your work? I've been wading through lots of MPC tutorials on youtube. It's a little odd playing with it without being able to control anything but I'm starting to get the basics down
     
  14. Crisp image

    Crisp image Member

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    No restrictions at all. Just like M-PC no physical faders. I recommend having a quick look at it and then decide what feels better for you.
    I totally understand how that feels. M-PC and MagicQ have a visualizer to go with them (I have nhad no luck with the magicQ one but I think that is lack of capability on the computer front.) which will give you something to look at on screen while programming offline.
    Regards
    Crispy
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2017 at 10:54 PM
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