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Mixing ETC and Strand

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by gafftaper, Feb 22, 2007.

  1. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    So does anyone know if there is a problem with doing the following:

    Run DMX out of an ETC Congo into a Strand Node programed for DMX in, converting to Strand Shownet, running through the ethernet system to control Strand C21 dimmers.

    Once both companies work out their ACN protocol, the node could be removed and the two could connect directly over ethernet.

    I think I would lose some of the ability for the console to communicate with the dimmers about their status, but I'm ok with that.

    Anyone see any other potential problems?
     
  2. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Isn't that sort of like, "crossing the streams" ? What happens when the very fabric of space and time rips to shreds just because you wanted to make ETC and Strand play nice together ?

    :twisted:
     
  3. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Not only is it crossing the streams but I'm going to have to fight the red tape of a contractor and change orders in order to do it.
     
  4. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    No problem in terms of the DMX data out of the Congo getting to the dimmers

    I just wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Strand to offer software updates to the Shownet nodes to receive ACN, and I would really doubt they are going to offer software updates to the rack CEM's to read ACN. If you don't get an ACN link between console and the nodes, you are limiting all the potential that ACN offers, down the road in terms of communications with ACN compliant devices

    But they might. Before I plunked down $20,000 on a Congo though, I might want to ask Strand what their intent is, with racks and node updates to ACN.

    Curious, do you have the Congo currently, or have you played with one ?, and if so, what's your impression. Reason I ask is I'm looking for a longer term solution to my Express 48 w/ Emphasis.

    Thanks in advance

    Steve B.
     
  5. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Hey Steve B,
    Strand says multiple times in their promotional materials that the C21's are "ACN Ready". The question is will they upgrade the software? How is that upgrade done? Yeah... I'm definitely skeptical with you on that one.

    I'm stuck in a situation where the C21's are already purchased and on their way for the contractor to install. But I've still got some time to change the console. I'm not the most happy with the Strand console I'm getting so I'm looking at changing to Congo.

    I really like Congo. I've seen several demos of it and had a lot of chances to play with it. The only negative I see is that you have to learn a different programing syntax than you are used to with other ETC consoles. It's not hard or bad, just different. I'm looking for a college theater console that is fairly easy to learn and yet expandable to handle high end toys. The great thing about Congo is that it has a nob that you can flip for it to instantly become the world's largest single scene preset board... which is great as a teaching tool.

    The Strand Light Palette VL is probably the closest competition to Congo. Congo has more submasters, VL has more programmable direct access buttons. Congo has programmable LCD screens all over the place so you can program what all those buttons and submasters do (VL doesn't). VL has the very user friendly Horizon software... and a built in keyboard that slides out from under the console, and a mouse. Congo has everything on the board, no mouse or keyboard necessary to navigate which I really like (although the optional keyboard is nice for programing those LCD screen titles). That's a huge advantage to Congo for me... I don't like having to use the keyboard or mouse all the time. Congo has a the "dynamic effects library" which allows you to instantly program moving light effects or take an effect from the library and edit it to do what you want. As far as I know the VL doesn't do that. In general, the VL is very computer software focused, Congo is much more direct access with a TON of buttons.

    A couple cool tricks on Congo: a freeze button that freezes the current look on stage and allows you to continue to programing without effecting the lights on stage. A set of 6 knobs and 3 buttons that operate completely independently of the rest of the console. So you can have quick control of things like house lights, work lights, non-dim circuits for the movers, fog machine. A very cool little set of buttons.

    Also Congo Jr. is pretty sweet. With the submaster wing attached You get a few less buttons and sliders and you lose all the LCD screens that tell what those sliders do... but that's about it, functionally it's the same console for $12K-$15K That's another strike against the Palettes if you want to have encoder wheels, you have to get one of the light palette models which cost about 20 grand more. In some cases you are actually getting less knobs and buttons on your console and in return all you are getting is a faster processor, encoder wheels, and more channels. I may be wrong, but I believe Congo Jr. has the same number of channels as the big board. So you get a lot more for your money.

    One more comparison, for those who are really picky about their moving light control, Congo allows you to program different times for every attribute of your moving light in the same cue. So you can have the Cyan wheel move in 8 seconds, the Magenta move in 10 seconds, the gobo change in .5 seconds, the x axis move in 4 seconds, the y axis move in 20 seconds, the iris move in 18 seconds... all in ONE Cue. The VL can't do that.
     
  6. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    If you want to get out of your Express w/ Emphasis I think you would be happier with an Eos than a Congo. The Congo uses a slightly backwards syntax where the syntax on an Eos is basically the same as the Obsession II which is almost the same as Express.
     
  7. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    It is kind of funny that I got my post in only a minute after gafftaper's, though now I think I would elaborate on the Eos. I realize that not many people have got to play with them yet, but being that I live in the city that is home to the Eos with serial No. 00001 I actually have.

    The Strand LightPalette series is actually designed to compete with the ETC's Eos. The Eos is really the only thing that would make me consider switching to ETC for a console. In the new LightPalettes, which I have yet to play with, the combination of Horizon with Strand OS should prove to be a vrey cool thing. Strand, IMHO, really had a much better OS than the Obsession II. Then along came Eos.

    I only got to play with a pre production model when ETC brought it to town to show the guys down the street at the LDS conference center here in Salt Lake City. (Now they have Eos #1 and something like 4 more coming to be installed) With Eos, ETC took everything that was good about the Obsession and meshed it wish all that I love about Strand that Obsession didn't have. They also added a host of really nice features.

    The basic Eos can be configured with 4 displays, two internal to the console and two external. The two on-board displays are full size touch screens that can be configured a host of different ways. You can have macros, direct access buttons, channels, and more right as a nice configureable button. In the channel display, ETC has finally decided that MLs can be under one channel (like Strand) as opposed to dealing with "ML Live" thus making calling MLs and conventionals easier.

    For basic programming the syntax, as I mentioned in my previous post, is almost identical to Obsession II. This is a great thing because you don't have to re-learn the wheel. The Eos attribute encoders now support force feedback at both a coarse and fine setting. This allows you to get feedback right from the encoder to know you have say, advanced to the next color in a gel string on on a color wheel.

    Here are some other really nice ML features on the Eos. First is Reference and Mark cues. Imagine Strand's "AutoMove While Dark" but better. You need your MLs to be preset for a particular cue, you tell the Eos that cue X is a reference cue for the fixtures you need. Now, you can either have Eos automatically find the Mark cue (cue where the lights preset) or you can set it manually. Since Reference and Mark cues are dynamic, if you ever change the position of the lights in the Reference cue the mark cue automatically updates.

    Next nice ML feature, attribute splitfades like the Congo. My favorite ML feature: color selection. We were told at the Eos demo that by release the console will have the entire Gam, Rosco, and Lee swatchbooks as color libraries for CMY and RGB colormxing devices. You can also select colors by inputting their HSV values or tapping on the color wheel. Also, if you use multiple kinds of MLs, the color wheel will show you what colors all of your fixtures can make.

    Here is yet another great feature of the Eos, the ability to import your LightWright file. Not sure if it is capable of importing the softpatch from it yet, but they say it will be able to, but this allows you to name lights and channels for use by other Eos features. Eos also features a customizable channel display, want your channels to appear on the screen in the orientation of your light plot, you can do that.

    The other thing that the Eos has that could be a good feature is true multiple cue lists. You can run completely independent cue lists on separate faders/GO buttos so that you can control many individual things. I haven't figured out how I would use this feature, but I am sure that I would if I had it.

    The biggest downside to the Eos that I have found is the fact that it does not have any onboard DMX outs, you have to use a DMX node (which comes with the console).

    Now is the time that you say: "Why is the guy who swears by his Strand pushing the Eos?" Well, really the answer is that I haven't had the chance to play with Strand's new LightPalette consoles so I can't say anything about them. I just know that I like the Eos. I kind of feel like if I were going to consider a Congo I would compare it to a Hog, not a LightPalette, and I think the Hog would be a better choice.

    The other reason that I would take the Eos over the Congo in an educational setting is that your students are more likely to encounter an Eos when they get out of school than a Congo. Also, if they learn the Eos syntax they will be able to sit down in front of any Obsession II and program away. And since currently the Obsession is basically the most prevalent console in use, this seems to be a more logical choice.
     
  8. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    The software updates are done just like any other software updates will be done, over the web interface. All shownet devices have a web interface, go to that address in your browser, there should be an update software button on there. I know strand was going to convert the stuff over pre gentyle, what is happening with that now, I don't know. The gear is defenitly able to take it though. Its going to be a pretty big leap because to do it right, EVERYTHING has to get updated from dimmers, consoles, nodes, Remote monitors, and all that good stuff.
     
  9. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I've been lucky enough between several local demos and LDI to have had the chance to play with Congo, Palette, Light Palette, and limited time on EOS (ETC had a very busy booth at LDI).

    I'm coming from a background of all conventional lighting. The fact that I hope to have $100,000 available for some intelligent lighting and LED's in my new theater is a HUGE leap forward.

    ETC got tired of seeing a Hog/MA running movers while their Obsession only ran the conventionals on the same show. Thus EOS was born to take on the Broadway/Vegas market on it's own. Congo on the other hand is sort of a European twist on the Expression designed to take on their mid-range market. For those of us who would like to be able to run a few movers but don't regularly run 40 at once. The missing piece in all this is the third console that is coming out in a year or two to replace the Express consoles.

    One more really interesting piece are the Jr. Models. Congo Jr. is a ton of fire power in a $12,000 box. You get way more than a palette of the same price range. But guess what "EOS Jr." (or whatever it will be called) is coming too. The ETC guy said you can look for a scaled down version to come out later this year. That should be REALLY interesting for the educational market as you'll have the power of EOS, obsession language, but it won't be $35,000.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2007
  10. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    To all,

    This is an extraordinarily timely discussion as I just spent this past weekend watching our young hotshot program my movers and statics for a concert, using a Light Jockey and Fingers, alongside my Express 48, that I normally would have done with just the Express and Emphasis.

    I've also been thinking a lot about Emphasis and being glad we upgraded, as it has features that plain vanilla Express can't handle, but that live, on the fly ML control is not a strong point, as LJ so painfully pointed out, thus the interest in Congo, to the point of reading a bit of the manual.

    I'm at a large'ish performing arts facility at Brooklyn College (no student/theater dept. events in my space, it's nominally a Local 1 house), and find the Express, and most importantly the Express/ion OS a major advantage in the events we do as we get events almost every week whose cues come on an Express/ion disk. There are something like 10,000 Express consoles, and probably 2,000-3,000 Expression/Insight consoles in use, worldwide, so this capability is not a small issue. It saves us hours of time. Believe it or not, I need a console with a lot of manual faders, as ton's of folks run either 2 scene, or 1 scene with a lot of subs, or bring a disk with cues. Thus I had an initial interest in upgrading to an Insight III, but decided that the OS was not ML friendly, even with Emphasis.

    So, wanting to stay with ETC is/was paramount (I also have an entire ETC Net2 system nodes, CEM+ racks, Net2 Unison) as they are the 800 lbs gorilla, and I'm now researching Congo or Jr.

    FWIW, Obsession in any flavor IS NOT an Express/ion. One's a tracking console in it's approach - an old Light Pallette, the others a preset console in it's syntax. Neither deals well with ML's.

    I'm also not currently interested in Eos (besides the price - which I recently saw a trade journal list at a price of $35,000 - $55,000), as it's essentially a cuing console. It doesn't have anywhere near enough manual playbacks/subs/faders to meet my requirements. Neither does Congo, or Jr. with a wing, as I really need at least 120 faders of some type, if only to have real channels on sliders available, as well as playbacks, inhibits, etc... Thus I'm waiting to see if either Congo Sr. will support a playback wing, or if Congo Jr. will support a 2nd wing for 80 sliders. Or what trickles down from the Eos OS ?. These are going to be my big question for ETC (as well as "Are legacy Net2 devices ACN upgradable ?"), what's in the works to replace a 48 or 73 channel Express and/or a Insight III ?.

    Thanks for listening.

    Steve B.
     
  11. fredthe

    fredthe Active Member

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    I would expect things to work as you describe, however there may be an additional factor...
    I presume that you will have additional Strand Nodes for DMX out to movers, etc. My only concern would be if they could be upgraded to ACN, so they would be compatible with the direct ethernet out of the ETC. If they aren't, you would have to replace them with something that was.
     
  12. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    The EOS already supports a playback wing. It's listed in the EOS spec/brochure on the ETC website. I was very intrigued when I saw this.
     
  13. fredthe

    fredthe Active Member

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    Um, actually, the Palette/Light Palettes can do just this (and have it different for every instrument.) It's quite simple to do.
     
  14. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Steve B,
    EOS is a true tracking console. Congo is a preset, although I was told by the rep that some of it's ML features use a modified form of tracking... not exactly sure how that works.

    Check out the Strand Sub Palette for 128 submasters of fun.

    Also I would think that ETC will come out with a big submaster console before they finish releasing their new consoles so who know what's coming.

    ------------------------

    Fredthe... my understanding is that the Horizon/Palette software can't break down times for all 30-whatever individual attributes of an intelligent light. I've been told it groups them together. That may be wrong, I'm relying on what the Congo sales guy told me. He said he had a big debate about it with the Horizon software guys at that big theater tech for churches trade show last month, and he won. Again that may be wrong or it may be a technicality of how you word the question... but it's what I was told.
     
  15. fredthe

    fredthe Active Member

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    The Palettes can do this also... you can even put in your own image to pick colors off of. You also have the choice of CMY/RGB/HSV, independant of what the devide talks.
    Another feature that the Strand matches.
    I've had a demo of the Light Palette, and our local high school theater will be getting one (Classic) in a couple of months. I haven't used the Congo, but the theaters TD (who really wanted a Congo) was quite happy with the switch to the Light Palette after the demo.
    I expect that the Light Palette/EOS discussion will eventually come down to religious preferences:)
     
  16. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Welcome to the real world... people have been fighting over this crap for YEARS

    Obsession II or 520/550
    Express or 300
    GrandMA or Hog
    Hog II or Hog III
    Hog PC or Hog iPC
    Strand Minipallet or Microvision FX
    3 scene preset or two scene preset
    ....i can go on....

    Personally I am never letting go of the strand 500 series line. Untill those consoles sprout legs and hang my plot for me, I'm staying behind a 500 series or a Hog III
     
  17. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    In the end my decision of Congo over Light Palette isn't based on any particular function, or feature that Congo can do and Light Palette can't. No it's primarily because I want all my buttons on the console and to use a keyboard/mouse as little as possible. That's pretty darn close to religious preference.
     
  18. fredthe

    fredthe Active Member

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    As you say, this may be a technicality. I've been spending a lot of time with the off-line version (as I've been giving a lot of advice to a local HS on their theater renovation, and I expect I'll be the one teaching them how to use their Light Palette Classic when they get it in another month...) And it does let you specify different times for pan, tilt, each color, zoom, etc. Now, Strand does translate the 30-odd channels into a common set of attributes (what they call the "Abstract Control Model") so you really arn't specifing times on a per-channel basis, it's more per-attribute. I still think it's as much control as I'd ever want.


    You also commented on the use of the keyboard/mouse (as opposed to hard buttons.) On the Light Palette, the only use for they keyboard seems to be for labeling things, like ques and quelists; it's really just there as a convienence. The mouse is useful (if you're used to windows stuff)... I consider the built-in touchpad useless, so we will be adding an external mouse. (At some point, we may get the touchscreens, but they aren't in this years budget...) From what I've seen though, even the mouse isn't necessary for normal operation, it's mainly useful for things like the built-in web browser (used for configuring the dimmers and DMX nodes). I even found that some things, which I thought I could do with the mouse, (like setting the que times) actually require you to use the hard keys.


    (Note, I'm not necessairaly trying to convert you from your choice of a Congo... just provide more information on the Strand. If you're the one that will need to work with it daily for the next 10 years, then personal preferance certanly plays a large part in the decision.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2007
  19. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Interesting Fred. That converting into the abstract control model is probably that "technicality" we were talking about where it's close but the sales guy can argue his Congo is better.

    Also I want to note that if you'll look around you'll see that in other threads I'm defending the new Strand consoles as great software and a console that needs some serious consideration.

    I've been through a long crazy process with choosing a console... or not choosing because of a mix up in the package going to bid without my ok. It's now all over and I'm getting a Strand Classic Palette. The system designer planned a nice conventional system for us and that console would work well. However, we are fund raising and trying to install a bunch of intelligent gear as well. In which case the 500 channel/1000 attribute limit and lack of encoders put that console a over it's head pretty quickly. I went the rounds with the contractor and change orders and determined it was going to cost around $20,000 to upgrade to a Light Palette. At the same time I've been told I can get a Congo Jr. for about $12k and a full size for about $22k. SO... We decided to take the Classic Palette and purchase a Congo later for our intelligent gear. It will end up costing us about the same or less depending on which one I get and I'll have two consoles. What a great advantage for my students to get to learn to use two different new consoles.
     
  20. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    It would not surprise me at all in the future if they come out with an encoder side car for that line. It would be a simple USB device. ETC did the same thing with the express line a few years back.
     

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