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Moving Light Controller

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by nmccoart5, Aug 9, 2008.

  1. nmccoart5

    nmccoart5 Member

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    Hello,
    I am a high school senior and for my school's annual variety show i am the lighting designer and board op. We have traditionally used conventional lighting instruments and tinkered with some martins, but this year i am looking to go bigger. I am looking into getting about 12 to 15 martin macs. I was just looking for suggestions on what type of board i should use. I am looking for something that will be easy to learn and program, as we rent our equipment and only have it for about 1 week. Possibly something with software so that i will be able to program the show prior to reciving the board. Here are some of the choices i have from the rental company.
    Martin Lightjockey, jands hog 1000, nsi mlc128r, and the martin xciter.

    i have read that i should stay away from computer controlling a show, and a console is best. Remember i am on a high school budget.....

    Thanks for your help
     
  2. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    On advantage to pc based controllers is the ability to download for free and mess around with them as much as you want. Some have visualizers that allow you to see what you're doing. However, if you go that route, remember that they all need a hardware interface to make actual lights work. So if you can't get the interface, the software doesn't do much good. So since you'll be renting something, I'd find out what is available, then download the software and see which one you like the best.
     
  3. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    The Hog1000 is totally compatible with HogII PC, so if you go that route that is a good option. The hog console are faily strait forward for what you need them for. Lightjockey will also do what you want it to do.

    I think your best option would be to jump in your car and go to the rental house and demo each console and decide what you like best (Or what someone at the rental house knows best so you can call them when it goes down).
     
  4. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Remember you're on a high school budget? 12-15 Mac's, even on rental, is quite a bit for a high school budget.
     
  5. Pie4Weebl

    Pie4Weebl Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Yeah that was my thought. Movers, distro, that adds up fast...

    Any other companies you can rent from? I would go for a GrandMA...
     
  6. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    I wholeheartedly agree. Also you should be able to get package pricing and that usually means that they will be giving you a system known to work together.
     
  7. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    To add to the advice above, and possibly offer a reality check.
    I don't want to burst any bubbles, but even if you could afford it, there's no way you can learn a moving light console and program 15 moving lights, in the time alloted. I'm guessing your budget will allow a maximum one week rental. "martin macs" could be anything from MAC250 through MAC2000 Performance for hard edge, and MAC300 through MAC2000WashXB for wash lights. A week's rental for the above ranges from $75 to 275, per fixture. The console's rental would be from $100-$1000 for the week. Some shops will also charge for cable, both power and data.

    If you start now with a PC version, you'll learn a little by yourself. But you will not be in a position to program a show. I would inquire if your friendly local light vendor would be willing to give you lessons as part of the rental. You'll also need assistance with the hanging, powering, and data-ing of the fixtures, I suspect.

    In my opinion, the range of gamut of learning a console runs (from worst to best, and in they order they should be under-taken)
    1. Reading the console's User's Manual. (You also need to read the fixture's Manual.)
    2. Playing with the PC version of the software, with or without a visualizer.
    3. Following online or offline turtorials. grandMA has a DVD available.
    4a. Working with the actual console in the lighting shop.
    4b. Above, controlling a few fixtures.
    5. Taking a formal class, taught by the manufacturer.
    6. Watching (shadowing) an expert, who's willing to teach.
    7. Programming the show yourself, but with the expert next to you to answer questions.

    What Brand/make/model console does your HS currently have? If it has any memory capabilities at all, I would suggest renting I-Cues or similar. This would allow you to attain some experience relatively easily, and at much less cost. It's not the toys, as toys are only tools, it's what you do with them, that counts.

    There's a very good reason professional Moving Light Programmers command $500-$1000+ per day. It's not as easy as it looks.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2008
  8. nmccoart5

    nmccoart5 Member

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    Thanks so far.... derekleffew... i have worked with martin macs before i just wanted to get some other ideas or recomendations. I have used a Grand MA Ultra Light a few times and know the board fairly well. The only problem is that the rental house that we use, and get a good deal from (many discounts) dosn't carry any MA lighting consoles. I am 100% aware of the prices of renting martin lights. Although i did say HS budget, we have a fairly good one.

    Thanks All
     
  9. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Yea, moving lights can bust your brain open! You have to think in three dimensions and be able to imagine how they will interact with each other as well as your standard lighting. Just translating an idea into reality can be a real task. Here are a few thoughts to add to Derek's post.

    1) Don't mix fixtures. If you are just starting out its easier to to use a system where all the fixtures respond to the same commands.
    2) Keep it simple. Grouping some fixtures on the same address may sound primitive, but it cuts down on show variables.
    3) Practice! Rent one fixture and a simple board and run it through the works as much as you can, trying out every feature and every combo. This will help build a mental database which can not be achieved by reading spec sheets.

    Good Luck!
     
    derekleffew likes this.
  10. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Now see, you should have said that in the first place.

    Once you've used GMA, only Hog3 and Maxxyz can compare in sophistication, and not favorably, in my opinion. Where are you? Overnight shipping the 29 pound Ultra Light is not that expensive, and maybe we, privately, can offer rental suggestions.

    Hog1000 is not so different from grandMA in syntax. Depends on how deep you've gotten into the GMA features.

    A very inexpensive option is Chamsys MagicQ software (free download) running on any XP machine (cost=0), with the $60 Enttec Open DMX USB dongle. Purchasing this would allow you to use it all the time, but you'd miss the "dedicated control surface," and only one universe. Chamsys is very Hog-like, but more evolved than the II.
     
  11. nmccoart5

    nmccoart5 Member

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    Another question... we normally rent the ETC Excpress 250 for conventional control. I know that board can handle movers, but i hear its a real pain to program them, never mind run. Also the offline software has no visualizer, which i think would be an important part for me, as a somewhat inperianced programmer...... Also seeing how i only have the board for one week and NEED to be able to have everything programmed before i get the board or lights!!!!
     
  12. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I won't put anything beyond an elipscan or scroller on any type of expression line console. Very few consoles come with a visualizer for their offline functions. Many consoles come with WYSIWYG for this, but you have to buy the console first. What I would suggest is to get ahold of the offline editor, "rough" in all of your focus points, marks, what have you. Label everything. Put in your cues using those focus points. No, you won't be able to see whats actually going on but if you have your focus points in and your cue structure in, it will be easy to go in later and update your pallets and you should be set.
     
  13. beltsvillecrucib

    beltsvillecrucib Member

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    If those are the only choices you have go with the Hog1K hands down. For a variety show with a one week load in/programming time, I'm assuming a lot of the show is going to end up being done on the fly. You're going to want direct access to as many playbacks and pallettes as you can and the Hog is great for this. If you are going to want to use the EFX engine to create custom effects just bring a laptop with you to FOH with Hog2PC on it and create your effects on there. You can preprogram your show on Hog2PC. The board does not have its own visualiser, but no economical solution to your problem will. I believe only the MA and Maxxyz have onboard visualisers.

    Where are you located? Reason being, a rental house I used to use has that same exact stock of consoles and recently just purchased a Vista S3 that goes for the same rate but is not advertised. This might be a viable solution as it is fairly easy to learn provided you have done some video/timeline work.

    Don't bother with the Express as 12-15 macs will eat through your control channels real fast. Not to mention the snafu it would be to program it.
     
  14. nmccoart5

    nmccoart5 Member

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    I am located in Rhode Island.
     
  15. photoatdv

    photoatdv Active Member

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    I second the DON'T use ETC. In order to do that you'd pretty much have to know what every control channel does and manually set the values. You wouldn't have enough channels and you'd spend way more time memorizing stuff than designing.

    Congrats though on learning MLs. I don't know of many HS students that get to. I'm jelous... I want to get to use MLs for a production.
     
  16. beltsvillecrucib

    beltsvillecrucib Member

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    Are you renting from ALPS or ECLPS? ALPS has a vista S3 for the same price as the hog. Or if you want you can get a Hog 500 from High Output for 150/wk cheaper than the 1k.
     
  17. DarSax

    DarSax Active Member

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    Rhode Island, eh? This sounds EXACTLY like what my high school, down to renting the Express 250 for the year's other shows. That's a little scary. (I am not from Rhode Island, for the confused)

    Here's a couple hints, from doing just what these guys are advising you not to do (and they have a lot of sense to do that).

    1. In such a short amount of time, your board is going to be important. It's tough to think that by spending more on a board, you get less in the way of lights, but from having your 1 week turnaround, running out of time was MUCH more destructive than not having enough hardware. You NEED an intuitive light board. I've heard meh things about Hog500s/1ks, so I'd spring for the Hog2 if you can get it. (I'll be lambasted for recommending a too-powerful board, but if you have high aspirations, it'll get you there.)

    2. For whatever board you get, you probaby can get some sort of software, but even more importantly, the manual. You better have read the manual at least twice going into your programming week, and have written down page numbers for presets, etc. If you can also get ahold of the software, try it out.

    3. Don't worry about visualizers, you aren't going to have time.

    4. When programming in such a short time, program the acts you care about less (and are the least intensive) first. After you do a few, and are warmed up and accustomed to the board, you can program the ones you're excited for. If you do your favorite acts first, as the week progresses and you learn more about what you can do, you'll want to go back and redo them (but won't have time). Don't leave them for too late though, or they'll be rushed and you'll be disappointed.

    If you have any more questions from someone who's done pretty much exactly what you're doing (not to discount other replies from other members who are, almost without exception, far more knowledgeable and qualified than I), let me know. Good luck!
     
  18. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    If you're familiar with MA, and you're on the east coast, I'd try and get one, even if it means calling NY or something. Freight shouldn't be that big of a deal for someone with a budget for a dozen moving lights.

    And IIRC MA offers a pc download as well, which means more time creating palettes, etc., beforehand. That would give you more time for focus, etc. once you have the actual desk in house.
     
    derekleffew likes this.
  19. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    </ lambasting ON> You heard erroneously: Hog500 and Hog1000 program exactly like the HogII, other than the inability to create custom effects, which in this application is the least of our worries. Hog1000 is actually the best of the three for busking, having more physical masters. The difference is the hardware layout and number of buttons/handles.

    There's a soupçon of validity in this
    , in that the Hog2PC emulates a HogII desk exactly, so the transistion between the PC version to a 500/1000 desk could be confusing to a novice.

    The same problem exists when learning on grandMA onPC, and then operating an UltraLight, but, since you've had some experience with the UltraLight, you're already a couple of steps ahead. Starting over with any other console family would put you at, at the least, -1.

    Exactly which MACs are you planning to rent? The suggestion above about getting all the same type is quite valid, but I disagree with sharing addresses. The instant you do that, you'll discover you absolutely MUST have this light pointed there, and that light pointed here, and each in a different color/gobo.

    Just my 2¢, from one who has been programming MLs since 1986. </ lambasting off>
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2008
  20. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    From your list, I'd say Hog1000 due to the probable live nature of the show and the hog's larger playback fader section.

    And as has already been asked, what Macs are you planning to get? I'm definitely with the crowd saying get all of the same type, as it will definitely speed up programming. I do use pan/tilt inverts for half of the stage on occasion, because it makes creating some effects easier in short programming time, but always address fixtures individually if you have the channel space! It's very easy to select multiple fixtures on any good moving light board.
     

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