My time in the Congo...Jr.


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Many of you have been following a thread based on my need for a new board. I spent some time on Thursday with jmabray using the congo jr. So I thought I would let you in on my reaction to the board. For those who do not know...I have to get a replacement board within the remainder of the budget year...that means I can't wait for new boards like the ION or Aeo jr. I work in a small Jr. College setting and I am needing something that I will be able to train students on and that will be able to integrate new technology into the facilities for the next few years.

First, I think we can all agree that the Congo Jr. is a right sexy board even with a seperate wing.

2) Though the language was awkard at first...I think I could get used to it quickly. (pressing 14 channel 30 @)

3) The button configuration seemed to be a little awkward. However, I kind of think that in the end we will find it to be well thought out. I didn't like where the Back cue button was located in reference to the Go cue button. I think a student would have a hard time finding it in the dark.

4) It seemed like a lot of jargon was changed on the Congo Jr. for no reason at all. Why change board jargon that we are all comforatable with.

5) I think the wing is a neccessity for any Small College setting like mine.

6) There is a learning curve, but I think any board that you need to train students on needs to have that learning curve. The only way for students to excell is for them to be challanged. There are alot of boards out there right now that have a somewhat steep learning curve, I think you should train students on a board with a somewhat steep curve so they can become flexable in later meeting up with different boards.

7) One thing that came up in the demo is that some functions of the board can become confusing because of one misstep. For instance, the wing has several buttons/switches that need to be put on the appropriate setting for the sliders to function in the manner we want them to. So while we tried to program a slider to run a basic look as a submaster, we had difficulty until realizing that we had a button on that should not be. Yes, I realize that I need to be more comforatable with the board...but I think that this error could have been made by anyone. So we had to go down this checklist of what was going wronge. Its like not being able to turn on your computer because you forgot to have it plugged in, or its in sleep mode, etc.

8) gotta admit, you get alot of bang for your buck with the Congo Jr. All the friggen options made me want it. I like the learning curve for teaching, I like the price, I like that it has enough power and flexibility for any small theatre to run all conventionals and a reasonable amount of dmx devices.

9) I don't like that may be quickly eclipsed by newer boards like the Ion or Aeo jr. I don't like that jargon issue that may give students difficulty when dealing with other boards. I don't like that we have to go down a checklist in order to get some functions to happen.
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Thanks for the honest evaluation of the console. It it's defense, I will say that I think that the "error" we got yesterday,was more a matter of my not being as familiar with this particular console as I am with, say the EOS. (read: completely an operator thing, not a console issue) Had I been more familar with the console, it wouldn't have been a big deal at all and would never have happened. Cest la vie.

Just so that everyone knows, this console is not going to be really eclipsed by another console anytime soon. The ION or EOS jr or whatever it is to be called is a different animal.

ETC has regularly had two styles of consoles:

1) a cue only or state machine (See Express/Expression) This is a console in which the cue is recorded in its entirety. A zero in the cue is recorded as such.

2) a tracking style machine (See Obsession line) This is a console where the only the changes from one state to the next are changed. ie if the level in channel 1 has not changed from cue 1 to cue 5, cues 2 - 5 don't contain a level for channel 1 at all. Only any lighting levels that change from cue to cue are recorded.

The Congo is a Cue Only style console.

The Eos, Eos jr, Ion, etc are tracking machines.

While they are, or soon will be, out there, they are a completely different type of console. Both types of consoles will be supported completely by ETC for years to come. (As will the older Express/Expression/Obsession lines)

As to changing the names of things? Well if you are used to using an AVAB console, the names didn't change at all. But since most of us are not used to those console, it is a bit of a shift, (i.e. instead of calling it a Show file, its a Play file.), but not one that is terribly difficult.

Anyway - again - Thanks for the time yesterday and I am glad that you liked the board.



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While some boards are primarily tracking or primarily blocking cue I think we're past classifying boards that way. In today's world tracking or blocking is really just a cue record mode and more and more both modes are getting used within individual shows. A show we did this past weekend had about 140 tracking cues, 40 blocking cues, and 80 mark cues.

Dread, on the budget thing you can negotiate a deal with a local vendor to put a down-payment on a board that's coming out next year with a prior agreement of an acceptable price on a current board (in case the new one ain't what was promised). We do alot of this particularly at the end of the fiscal year which just effectively allows us to carry over budget from a low-budget year of smaller productions to the next year where we'll have a big musical and a delicious new piece of equipment coming out. Our finance folks are good with it.


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Just wanted to say thanks to Dread for this well written and thought out post. I think it gave a very good impression and honest portrayal of first impressions of expiriencing a new board. Besides all the other stuff, I laughed for about 20 minutes when I read the title of the thread.

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